Predrag Cvitanović Tapped for Humboldt Award

Physics Professor and Glen P. Robinson Chair Predrag Cvitanović is the recipient of a 2009 Alexander von Humboldt Award for his body of work in chaos and turbulence theory.

Cvitanović's award was sponsored by Eberhard Bodenschatz and Theo Geisel, directors of the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in G¨ttingen, Germany. The Georgia Tech and Max Planck Institute groups collaborations, researching chaotic dynamics, span over two decades. Currently Børn Hof's group at the Max Planck Institute is building an experiment to test a theory of boundary shear turbulence developed at Georgia Tech by Cvitanović and J. Ford Postdoctoral Fellow John F. Gibson. The Humboldt award will enable Cvitanović to visit G¨ttingen and collaborate on this and other turbulent fluid flow experiments.

"It is an important recognition of Professor Predrag Cvitanović's decades-long research to receive a Humboldt Research Award, said Gary Schuster, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. Given only to leading researchers in their fields, this honor underscores Dr. Cvitanović's long standing work in chaotic dynamics and turbulence. His international research collaborations also exemplify the global reach of scholarship at Georgia Tech.

In addition to turbulence, Cvitanović's research interests include nonlinear dynamics, chaos, quantum chaos, quantum field theory, statistical mechanics and group theory. Cvitanović is best-known for his introduction of cycle expansions, based on periodic orbit theory, to approximate chaotic dynamics in a controlled perturbative way. Practical applications include a periodic orbit theory of quantum chaos, used in atomic, nuclear and chemical physics, and a periodic orbit theory of wave chaos that can be used to test shapes of elastic objects by their acoustic spectroscopy. He is currently working on completing "Chaos: Classical and Quantum," an advanced, open source graduate online textbook (, based on his work with collaborators on classical and quantum chaos.

Cvitanović earned his doctorate from Cornell University in 1973. Prior to joining the Tech faculty in 2001, he was the Carlsberg Foundation Research Professor and director of the Center for Chaos and Turbulence Studies at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the director of the Center for Nonlinear Science.

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