John Carlos Baez

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This article is about John C. Baez, the American mathematical physicist. For the John Baez video game programmer and creator of the video game Alien Hominid, see The Behemoth.

John Carlos Baez (b. 1961) is a leading American mathematical physicist, well known for his work on spin foams in loop quantum gravity. More recently, his research has focused on applications of higher categories to physics.

However, Baez is no doubt best known to most denizens of UseNet as the author of This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics. Started in 1993, this irregular series of postings, featuring an unpredictable but often fascinating mix of gossip, superb exposition, intellectual bravura, sometimes pointed criticism, and lively followups, has earned a devoted following world-wide, and is often regarded as an inspiration for the concept of the personal weblog. Baez is also well known on the World Wide Web as the author of an ironical crackpot index.

Baez earned his Ph.D. at MIT in 1986, under the direction of Irving Segal. He can trace his mathematical genealogy directly to the Prince of Mathematicians himself, Carl Friedrich Gauss (see oversized figure below). The only name in this net which may not be familiar to non-Russian mathematicians is that of Nikolai Bugaev, biological father of Boris Bugaev, a.k.a. Andrei Bely (the polymath author of the celebrated novel Petersburg), and Doktorvater of Dmitri Egorov, through whom many famous Russian mathematicians also descend from Gauss.

The singer Joan Baez is a cousin of John Baez.

File:Baez descent.png
Abbreviated mathematical genealogy of John Baez; appropriately enough, the topology is a causal net rather than a simple tree, possibly because technically speaking, Weierstrass's doctorate was only an honorary degree.

Baez currently teaches at the University of California, Riverside.

External links


  • Template:Web reference (As of 2005, Gauss in fact has some 28,500 mathematical descendents around the world, so for a mathematician, descending directly from Gauss is not really terribly unusual.)
  • Baez, John C. (ed.) (1994). Knots and quantum gravity, Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-198-53490-6.
  • Baez, John C.; Segal, & Muniain, Javier (1994). Introduction to algebraic and constructive quantum field theory, Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN 9-810-22034-0.
  • Baez, John C.; Segal, Irving E.; and Zhou, Zhenfang (1992). Introduction to algebraic and constructive quantum field theory, Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08546-3.

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