Burt James Totaro (1969 – )

Burt Totaro joined the Johns Hopkins SMPY (Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth) when he was in grade school.  At the age of 12, he moved to New Jersey with his family so that he could enroll at Princeton University.  He graduated in 1984, received his Ph.D. in mathematics at U.C. Berkeley in 1989, and was ultimately elected Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry at the University of Cambridge.  He teaches in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics and publishes dozens of influential articles, treatises, and books. In 2000, he was awarded the coveted Whitehead Prize by the London Mathematical Society; in 2009, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, whose members have included Sir Isaac Newton and scores of other intellectual luminaries.

According to the Royal Society:

“The central part of Burt Totaro’s work has been devoted to the interaction between two of the major areas of pure mathematics, topology and algebraic geometry. Inspired by the Hodge conjecture, Totaro has worked to uncover the fundamental topological structure of algebraic geometry. Each step has made possible the solution of a well-known problem in algebraic geometry and demonstrated that progress towards the Hodge conjecture will come through topology. Totaro’s work has influenced a large group of algebraic geometers to use deeper topological methods in their work. His ideas have also had unexpected payoffs in a wide variety of other mathematical fields, including representation theory, Lie groups and group cohomology.”


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