Kenneth Geddes Wilson (born June 8, 1936) is an American physicist.

As an undergraduate at Harvard, he was a Putnam Fellow. He earned his PhD from Caltech in 1961, studying under Murray Gell-Mann.

He joined Cornell University in 1963 in the Department of Physics as a junior faculty member, becoming a full professor in 1970. In 1974, he becames the James A. Weeks Professor of Physics at Cornell. He was a co-winner of the Wolf Prize in physics in 1980. He was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Physics for developing a theory of second-order phase transitions in matter that accounts for effects on neighboring molecules.

Leo Kadanoff who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 was expected that he would share the award with Kenneth Wilson. To everyone's astonishment (including Wilson's) the award was presented solely to Wilson.

In 1985, he was appointed as Cornell's Director of the Center for Theory and Simulation in Science and Engineering (known now as the Cornell Theory Center, one of five national supercomputer center created by the National Science Foundation.

An even more important insight was Wilson's answer to the question: "What is quantum field theory?" Kenneth Wilson developed the philosophy and techniques of renormalization group.

Since 1988, Dr. Wilson has been a faculty member at The Ohio State University.


  • Dannie Heinemann Prize, 1973
  • Boltzmann Medal, 1975
  • Wolf Prize, 1980
  • Harvard University, D.Sc (Hon.), 1981
  • Caltech, Distinguished Alumni Award, 1981
  • Franklin Medal, 1982
  • Nobel Prize for Physics, 1982
  • A.C. Eringen Medal, 1984
  • Aneesur Rahman Prize, 1993

See also

Wilson loop


Kenneth G. Wilson

Kenneth G. Wilson's Homepage

Nobel Lecture

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