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Steven H Strogatz

  • Steven H Strogatz
  • Dept: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Title: Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Math
  • Address: 533 Malott Hall
  • Phone: 607 255-5999
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Steven Strogatz is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University. He holds a joint appointment in the College of Arts and Sciences (Department of Mathematics) and the College of Engineering (Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering).

After receiving his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Princeton in 1980, Strogatz spent two years as a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge. He did his doctoral work in applied mathematics at Harvard, followed by a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard and Boston University. From 1989 to 1994, Strogatz taught in the Department of Mathematics at MIT, and then joined the Cornell faculty in 1994.

Strogatz works in the areas of nonlinear dynamics and complex systems, often on topics inspired by the curiosities of everyday life. He is perhaps best known for his 1998 Nature paper on "small-world" networks, co-authored with his former student Duncan Watts. As one measure of its impact it was the most highly cited paper about networks between 1998 and 2008, across all scientific disciplines, as well as the sixth most highly cited paper--on any topic--in all of physics.

He has received numerous awards for his research, teaching, and public service, including: a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation (1990); MIT's highest teaching prize, the E. M. Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1991); the J.P. and Mary Barger '50 Teaching Award (1997), the Robert '55 and Vanne '57 Cowie Teaching Award (2001), the Tau Beta Pi Teaching Award (2006), and the Swanson Teaching Award (2009), all from Cornell's College of Engineering; and the Communications Award from the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (2007), a lifetime achievement award for the communication of mathematics to the general public. In 2009 he was elected a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics for his "investigations of small-world networks and coupled oscillators and for outstanding science communication." In 2012 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Strogatz has been lauded for his exceptional ability as a communicator. He received the Communications Award--a lifetime achievement award for the communication of mathematics to the general public, awarded by the four major American math societies--in 2007. He has also filmed a series of 24 lectures on Chaos for the Teaching Company's Great Courses series. Professor Strogatz has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio's RadioLab. He wrote a weekly column on mathematics for The New York Times in spring 2010 and fall 2012.

His books include Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos (Perseus, 1994), the most widely used textbook in the field; the bestselling science book Sync (Hyperion, 2003), which was chosen as a Best Book of 2003 by Discover magazine and has been translated into six languages; and The Calculus of Friendship (Princeton University Press, 2009), which chronicles the story of his remarkable 30-year correspondence with his high school calculus teacher, and which reviewers have called "an intimate view of mentorship" (Nature), "wonderful" (American Scientist), "marvelous" (MAA Review), and "a genuine tearjerker" (Bookslut). His latest book, The Joy of x, appeared in October 2012.

Service Interests

Communication of Mathematics

Selected Publications

  • Ratti, C., S. Sobolevsky, F. Calabrese, C. Andris, J. Reades, M. Martino, R. Claxton, Steven H Strogatz. 2010. "Redrawing the map of Great Britain from a network of human interactions." PLoSONE 5 (12): e14248-1 -- e14248-6.
  • Kloumann, Isabel M., Ian M. Lizarraga, Steven H Strogatz. 2014. "Phase diagram for the Kuramoto model with van Hemmen interactions." Physical Review E 89: 012904.
  • Novikoff, Tim, J M. Kleinberg, Steven H Strogatz. 2012. "Education of a Model Student." PNAS 109: 1-6.
  • Marvel, S A., H. Hong, A. Papush, Steven H Strogatz. 2012. "Encouraging moderation: Clues from a simple model of ideological conflict." Physical Review Letters 109: 118702.
  • Marvel, S A., J M. Kleinberg, R D. Kleinberg, Steven H Strogatz. 2011. "Continuous-time model of structural balance." PNAS 108 (5): 1771-1776.

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Selected Awards and Honors

  • Rouse Ball lecturer (University of Cambridge) 2009
  • 2013 AAAS Public Engagement with Science Award 2013
  • Elected member (American Academy of Arts and Sciences) 2012
  • Department of Mathematics Teaching Award (Cornell) 2012
  • Gerald and Judith Porter Public Lecturer (American Mathematical Society) 2010



  • BA (Mathematics), Princeton University, 1980
  • BA (Mathematics), Cambridge University, 1982
  • Ph D (Applied Mathematics), Harvard University, 1986
  • MA (Mathematics), Cambridge University, 1986