Cumrun Vafa

Cumrun Vafa

Ask a question about 'Cumrun Vafa'
Start a new discussion about 'Cumrun Vafa'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Cumrun Vafa is an Iranian-American leading string theorist
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

 from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 where he started as a Harvard Junior Fellow. He is a recipient of the 2008 Dirac Medal.

Birth and education

Cumrun Vafa was born in Tehran, Iran in 1960. He graduated from Alborz High School
Alborz High School
Alborz High School , is a college preparatory high school located in the heart of Tehran, Iran. It is named after the Alborz mountain range north of Tehran.- History :...

 and went to the US in 1977. He got his undergraduate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 with a double major in physics and mathematics. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 in 1985 under the supervision of Edward Witten
Edward Witten
Edward Witten is an American theoretical physicist with a focus on mathematical physics who is currently a professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....

. He then became a junior fellow at Harvard, where he later got a junior faculty position. In 1989 he was offered a senior faculty position, and he has been there ever since.
Currently, he is the Donner Professor of Science at Harvard University.


Cumrun Vafa is a string theorist. His research is focused on the nature of quantum gravity and the relation between geometry and quantum field theories. He is known in the string theory community for his co-discovery, with Strominger, that the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy of a black hole can be accounted for by solitonic states of superstring theory, and for expounding the relation between geometry and field theories that arise through string dualities (culminating in the Gopakumar-Vafa conjecture). This topic has been known as "geometric engineering of quantum field theories". In 1997, he developed F-theory
F-theory is a branch of string theory developed by Cumrun Vafa. The new vacua described as F-theory were discovered by Vafa, and it also allowed string theorists to construct new realistic vacua — in the form of F-theory compactified on elliptically fibered Calabi-Yau four-folds...


He is also interested in understanding the underlying meaning of string dualities, as well as trying to apply superstring theory to some unsolved questions of elementary particle physics such as the hierarchy problem and the cosmological constant
Cosmological constant
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...


He has published numerous articles on topological string theories
Topological string theory
In theoretical physics, topological string theory is a simplified version of string theory. The operators in topological string theory represent the algebra of operators in the full string theory that preserve a certain amount of supersymmetry...

, and has written a paper with Andy Strominger about the microscopic origin of black hole
Black hole
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when...


He is also a trustee of Network of Iranians for Knowledge and Innovation (NIKI).

External links