UC Davis Mathematics

William Thurston Lectures

2018 Thurston Lectures

We are excited to announce that the second installment of our annual Thurston Lectures, named after Fields Medalist and former UC Davis mathematician William Thurston and made possible by a generous donation, will be delivered this Spring 2018 quarter by Thomas Hales.

Event details: Professor Hales will be visiting the UC Davis Department of Mathematics during the week of May 9-11 and will deliver 3 lectures: (Click on the lecture to view the recording)

  • Lecture 1: Algebra-Discrete Math Seminar, "Bad Packings" -- Wednesday, May 9 at 4:10-5pm in Mathematical Sciences Building 1147.
  • Lecture 2: Colloquium, "Computer Verification and Math" -- Thursday, May 10 at 4:30-5:30pm
    in Mathematical Sciences Building 1147. The colloquium will be preceded by a reception at 4:00pm.
  • Lecture 3: Third lecture. "Formal Proof" -- Friday, May 11 at 4:10-5pm in Mathematical Sciences Building 1147.


Speaker bio

Professor Thomas C. Hales is a highly distinguished mathematician working in the areas of representation theory, discrete geometry, and more recently computer formal verification of proofs. His contributions are widely impressive and varied. In representation theory he is known for his work on the Langlands program. In discrete geometry, he settled the Kepler conjecture on the density of sphere packings and the honeycomb conjecture. In 2014, he announced the completion of the Flyspeck Project, which formally verified the correctness of his proof of the Kepler conjecture.

William Paul Thurston


William Paul Thurston (October 30, 1946 – August 21, 2012) was among the most original and influential mathematicians of the twentieth century. He transformed the mathematics of foliations, low-dimensional topology, hyperbolic manifolds, the theory of rational maps, and geometric group theory. His work led to a fundamental rethinking of the structure of 3-dimensional spaces.

Thurston received a bachelor's degree from New College in 1967 and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from UC Berkeley in 1972. He spent a year at the Institute for Advanced Study and a year at MIT before being appointed Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University in 1974. In 1991 he moved to UC Berkeley and in 1993 he was appointed Director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. In 1996 he moved again, this time to UC Davis,where he was a Professor of Mathematics until 2003, when he moved to Cornell.  Bill was in the process of returning to UC Davis in 2012 when he tragically passed away.

Thurston’s work revealed the unexpectedly central role played by hyperbolic geometry in the study of low-dimensional manifolds.  His Geometrization Conjecture, which he solved in many cases, changed the fundamental viewpoint from which mathematicians approached the study of manifolds.

Thurston was awarded the Veblen Prize in Geometry in 1976, the Fields Medal at the 1983 International Congress of Mathematicians in Warsaw and the Leroy P. Steele Prize for seminal contribution to research in 2012. Thurston had numerous Ph.D. students, many of whom became leading mathematicians themselves.

"Mathematics is a process of staring hard enough with enough perseverence at the fog of muddle and confusion to eventually break through to improved clarity."

–Bill Thurston, "About me" on MathOverflow


For questions, contact Gladis Lopez-Lytle at mso@math.ucdavis.edu.