Hellenica World


Roy Patrick Kerr (1934- ) is a New Zealand born mathematician who is best known for discovering the famous Kerr vacuum, an exact solution to the Einstein field equation of general relativity, which models the gravitational field outside an uncharged rotating massive object, or even a rotating black hole. (The generalization to rotating charged objects was later found by Ted Newman.)

Kerr's extraordinary mathematical talent was recognized while he was still an undergraduate student at the St. Andrew's College in Christchurch, where he earned his M.Sc. in 1953. Kerr then moved to the University of Cambridge, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1960. His dissertation concerned the difficult problem of the equations of motion in general relativity. After a stint as a postdoctoral student at the Syracuse University in Syracuse, he spent some time working for the U. S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Base on the infamous anti-gravity project. In 1962, he moved to the University of Texas in Austin, where in 1963, he discovered his famous solution. By his own admission, Kerr himself did not realize for some time the importance of this discovery (as the title of his paper suggests). In 1965, with Alfred Schild, he introduced the Kerr-Schild spacetimes. During his time in Texas, Kerr supervised four Ph.D. students of his own, despite being (as he puts it), a "party animal".

In 1971, Kerr moved to the University of Canterbury, where he remained until his retirement in 1993. Kerr retired from his position as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Canterbury in 1993 after having been there for twenty-two years, including ten years during as the head of the Mathematics department.

In 2006 Kerr received the Marcel Grossmann Award at the 11th Marcel Grossman Meeting.



  • "Roy Kerr." Mathematics Geneology Project. University of North Dakota. Accessed on August 7, 2005.
  • Burinskii, A,; & Kerr, R. P.. Nonstationary Kerr Congruences. arXiv eprint server. Accessed on August 7, 2005.
  • Kerr, R. P.; & Schild, A. (1965). Some algebraically degenerate solutions of Einstein's gravitational field equations. Proc. Symp. Appl. Math. 17: 119.
  • Kerr, R. P. (1963). Gravitational field of a spinning mass as an example of algebraically special metrics. Phys. Rev. Lett. 11: 237.

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