Daniel Z. Freedman

Professor of Applied Mathematics and Physics, Emeritus
Discovered supergravity at StonyBrook University with Sergio Ferrrara and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen in 1976.

Research Interests

Professor Freedman’s research is in quantum field theory, quantum gravity, and string theory with an emphasis on the role of supersymmetry. His most recent area of concentration is the AdS/CFT correspondence in which results on the strong coupling limit of certain 4-dimensional gauge theories can be obtained from calculations in classical 5-dimensional supergravity.

Daniel Freedman: 2020 Breakthrough Prize Symposium
Courtesy of Breakthrough Prize | YouTube

Biographical Sketch

Daniel Freedman received the B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1960, the M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1962 and 64. Raymond Sawyer was his thesis advisor. Freedman held postdoctoral appointments at Imperial College, U.C. Berkeley and Princeton before joining the faculty at the Institute of Theoretical Physics at SUNY Stony Brook. In 1980 he joined the MIT faculty in applied mathematics, and has been jointly appointed with the MIT theoretical physics faculty since 2001. Professor Freedman’s research is in quantum field theory, quantum gravity, and string theory, with an emphasis on the role of supersymmetry. During the last two years the focus has shifted to the computation and properties of on-shelf amplitudes in supersymmetric theories. A former Sloan and twice Guggenheim fellow, Professor Freedman received the Dirac Medal and Prize in 1993, and gave the 2002 Andrejewski Lectures in Mathematical Physics. In 2006 Professor Freedman received the Dannie Heineman Prize (with Sergio Ferrara & Peter Van Nieuwenhuizen) “for constructing supergravity, the first supersymmetric extension of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, ….” Professor Freedman was also recognized as a distinguished alumni fellow by the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of the American Physical Society.

Supergravity Snags Super Award: $3-Million Special Breakthrough Prize
[Scientific American, 8.6.2019]

Awards & Honors

  • 2019 // Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (co-recipient with Sergio Ferrara and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen) "for the invention of supergravity, in which quantum variables are part of the description of the geometry of spacetime."
  • 2016 // Ettore Majorana Medal (co-recipient with Sergio Ferrara and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen) "for their role in the discovery of supergravity 40 years ago."
  • 2006 // Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics from the APS (co-recipient with Sergio Ferrara and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen) "for constructing supergravity, the first supersymmetric extension of Einstein's theory of general relativity, and for their central role in its subsequent development."
  • 2006 // Distinguished Alumni Fellow, University of Wisconsin
  • 1993 // Dirac Medal, ICTP, Trieste (co-recipient with Sergio Ferrara and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen) "for their discovery of supergravity theory in 1976 and their major contributions in the subsequent developments of the theory. Their discovery led to an explosion of interest in quantum gravity and it transformed the subject, playing a significant role in very important developments in string theory as well as Kaluza-Klein theory"