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Professor Werner Nahm is Director of the School of Theoretical Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Through his pioneering research, he has contributed substantially to a wide range of fields but especially mathematical physics.

Professor Nahm was the first to classify the spectra of string theories by examining the modular properties of their partition functions. In gauge theory, the ‘Nahm transformation’ reduces the equations for instantons and self-dual monopoles to algebraic equations and ordinary differential equations, respectively. In particular, Nahm suggested a new approach to the algebraic equations, through his discovery of what are now known as ‘Nahm equations’.

Nahm is described as a genuine polymath, demonstrated by his broad interests extending to linguistics and deciphering of archaeological inscriptions and texts. He recently brought his unique combination of mathematical, linguistic and astronomical knowledge to bear on the question of the precise dating of Babylonian astronomical tablets, with important implications for the chronology of the Middle East and studies of historical climate change.

Nahm is exceptional for his deep insight into the mathematical structures underlying quantum field theory. His recent work points towards possible generalisations of the classical theory of modular forms and elliptic curves to curves of higher genus, using ideas from quantum field theory.

He was awarded the prestigious Max Planck Medal for his fundamental work on quantum field theory and his pioneering contributions to the development of heterotic string theory. He is one of only a handful of scientists to hold membership of both the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Society.