Professor Sir Vaughan Jones (1952-2020)

It is with deep regret that the London Mathematical Society (LMS) has learned of the death of Professor Sir Vaughan Jones on 6th September.

Sir Vaughan was a highly distinguished mathematician.  He received the Fields Medal in Kyoto Japan in 1990 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in the same year. In 2002 he was appointed Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to mathematics and in that same year became an Honorary Member of the LMS.  In 2018 he was named an Honorary Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.  

Born in New Zealand, Sir Vaughan studied at the University of Auckland where he obtained his BSc in 1972 and MSc in 1973, he then moved abroad to study for his PhD at the University of Geneva. After completing his PhD in 1979 he went to the US, where he taught first at the University of California, Los Angeles (1980–1981) and the University of Pennsylvania (1981–1985). After these appointments he become Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. He was the LMS Hardy Lecturer in 1989.  

Sir Vaughan was particularly known for his work on knot polynomials with the discovery of what is now known as the Jones polynomial, which has origins in the theory of von Neumann algebras. It led to the solution of a number of classical problems of knot theory, low-dimensional topology, and mathematical physics.

From 2011 he was Stevenson Distinguished Professor of mathematics at Vanderbilt University, Nashville and he was also Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley,

LMS President, Professor Jon Keating, commented: 'Vaughan Jones was an outstandingly original mathematician whose work has been highly influential. He was also deeply committed to the mathematical community, through his editorial work and his organisation of summer schools and conferences, especially in his native New Zealand, but also here in the UK. He will be sadly missed'.