Biography:Philip Warren Anderson

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Philip Warren Anderson
Born (1923-12-13) December 13, 1923 (age 99)
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
NationalityUnited States
Alma materHarvard University
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Known for
  • Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1964)
  • Nobel Prize in Physics (1977)
  • ForMemRS (1980)[1]
  • National Medal of Science (1982)
Scientific career
InstitutionsBell Laboratories
Princeton University
Cambridge University
Doctoral advisorJohn Hasbrouck van Vleck
Doctoral studentsF. Duncan M. Haldane
Michael Cross
Piers Coleman
Gabriel Kotliar

Philip Warren Anderson (born December 13, 1923) is an United States theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate. Anderson has made contributions to the theories of localization, antiferromagnetism, symmetry breaking (including a paper in 1962 discussing symmetry breaking in particle physics, leading to the development of the Standard Model around 10 years later), and high-temperature superconductivity, and to the philosophy of science through his writings on emergent phenomena.[2][3][4][5][6]

Education and early life

Anderson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and grew up in Urbana, Illinois. He graduated from University Laboratory High School in Urbana in 1940. Afterwards, he went to Harvard University for undergraduate and graduate work, with a wartime stint at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in-between. In graduate school he studied under John Hasbrouck van Vleck.

Career and research

From 1949 to 1984, Anderson was employed by Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, where he worked on a wide variety of problems in condensed matter physics. During this period he developed what is now called Anderson localization (the idea that extended states can be localized by the presence of disorder in a system) and Anderson's theorem (concerning impurity scattering in superconductors); invented the Anderson Hamiltonian, which describes the site-wise interaction of electrons in a transition metal; proposed symmetry breaking within particle physics (this played a role in the development of the Standard Model and the development of the theory behind the Higgs mechanism, which in turn generates mass in some elementary particles); created the pseudospin approach to the BCS theory of superconductivity; made seminal studies of non-s-wave pairing (both symmetry-breaking and microscopic mechanism) in the superfluidity of He3; and helped found the area of spin-glasses.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963.[14]

From 1967 to 1975, Anderson was a professor of theoretical physics at Cambridge University. In 1977 Anderson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his investigations into the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems, which allowed for the development of electronic switching and memory devices in computers. Co-researchers Sir Nevill Francis Mott and John van Vleck shared the award with him. In 1982, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. He retired from Bell Labs in 1984 and is currently Joseph Henry Professor of Physics, Emeritus at Princeton University.[15]

Anderson's writings include Concepts of Solids, Basic Notions of Condensed Matter Physics and The Theory of Superconductivity in the High-Tc Cuprates. Anderson currently serves on the board of advisors of Scientists and Engineers for America, an organization focused on promoting sound science in American government. He is a certified first-degree master of the Chinese board game Go.

Anderson has also made conceptual contributions to the philosophy of science through his explication of emergent phenomena, which became an inspiration for the science of complex systems. In 1972 he wrote an article called "More is Different" in which he emphasized the limitations of reductionism and the existence of hierarchical levels of science, each of which requires its own fundamental principles for advancement.[16]

In 1984 he participated in the founding workshops of the Santa Fe Institute, a multidisciplinary research institute dedicated to the science of complex systems.[17] Anderson also co-chaired the institute's 1987 conference on economics with Kenneth Arrow and W. Brian Arthur, and participated in its 2007 workshop on models of emergent behavior in complex systems.[18]

A 2006 statistical analysis of scientific research papers by José Soler, comparing number of references in a paper to the number of citations, declared Anderson to be the "most creative" amongst ten most cited physicists in the world.[19]

Awards and honors

He was awarded the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize in 1964, the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1977 and was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1980.[1] He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1982.

Personal life

Anderson is an atheist[20] and was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.[21]



  • Anderson, Philip W. (1954). Notes on theory of magnetism. Tokyo: University of Tokyo. OCLC 782103851. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997) [1963]. Concepts in solids: lectures on the theory of solids. Singapore River Edge, New Jersey: World Scientific. ISBN 9789810232313. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997) [1984]. Basic notions of condensed matter physics. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 9780201328301. 
  • The economy as an evolving complex system: the proceedings of the Evolutionary Paths of the Global Economy Workshop, held September, 1987 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Redwood City, California: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.. 1988. ISBN 9780201156850. [22]
  • Anderson, Philip W. (2004) [1994]. A career in theoretical physics. World Scientific Series in 20th Century Physics, volume 35. Singapore Hackensack, New Jersey: World Scientific Pub. Co.. ISBN 9789812567154. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997). The theory of superconductivity in the high-TC cuprates. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691043654. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (2011). More and different notes from a thoughtful curmudgeon. Singapore Hackensack, New Jersey: World Scientific. ISBN 9789814350143. 

Journal articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Professor Philip Anderson ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-14. 
  2. Horgan, J. (1994) Profile: Philip W. Anderson – Gruff Guru of Condensed Matter Physics, Scientific American 271(5), 34-35.
  3. Anderson, P.W. (1997). THE Theory of Superconductivity in High-[math]\displaystyle{ T_{\rm c} }[/math] Cuprates. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-04365-4. 
  4. Anderson, P.W. (1997). Basic Notions of Condensed Matter Physics. Reading: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 978-0-201-32830-1. 
  5. Anderson, P.W. (1998). Concepts in Solids: Lectures on the Theory of Solids. Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-02-3231-3. 
  6. Bernstein, Jeremy (1987). Three degrees above zero: Bell Laboratories in the information age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-32983-5. 
  7. Philip W. Anderson (1988). "Spin Glass I: A Scaling Law Rescued". Physics Today 41 (1): 9–11. doi:10.1063/1.2811268. Bibcode1988PhT....41a...9A. 
  8. Philip W. Anderson (1988). "Spin Glass II: Is There a Phase Transition?". Physics Today 41 (3): 9. doi:10.1063/1.2811336. Bibcode1988PhT....41c...9A. 
  9. Philip W. Anderson (1988). "Spin Glass III: Theory Raises its Head". Physics Today 41 (6): 9–11. doi:10.1063/1.2811440. Bibcode1988PhT....41f...9A. 
  10. Philip W. Anderson (1988). "Spin Glass IV: Glimmerings of Trouble". Physics Today 41 (9): 9–11. doi:10.1063/1.881135. Bibcode1988PhT....41i...9A. 
  11. Philip W. Anderson (1989). "Spin Glass V: Real Power Brought to Bear". Physics Today 42 (7): 9–11. doi:10.1063/1.2811073. Bibcode1989PhT....42g...9A. 
  12. Philip W. Anderson (1989). "Spin Glass VI: Spin Glass As Cornucopia". Physics Today 42 (9): 9–11. doi:10.1063/1.2811137. Bibcode1989PhT....42i...9A. 
  13. Philip W. Anderson (1990). "Spin Glass VII: Spin Glass as Paradigm". Physics Today 43 (3): 9–11. doi:10.1063/1.2810479. Bibcode1990PhT....43c...9A. 
  14. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  15. "Display Person - Physics Department, Princeton University". 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  16. Anderson, P.W. (1972). "More is Different". Science 177 (4047): 393–396. doi:10.1126/science.177.4047.393. PMID 17796623. Bibcode1972Sci...177..393A. 
  17. Pines, David (2018-05-04). Emerging Sytheses in Science. SFI Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-947864-11-5. 
  18. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". Retrieved Jun 3, 2019. 
  19. Soler, Jose M (2006). "A Rational Indicator of Scientific Creativity". arXiv:physics/0608006.
  20. Anderson, Philip W. (2011). "Imaginary Friend, Who Art in Heaven". More and Different: Notes from a Thoughtful Curmudgeon. World Scientific. p. 177. ISBN 9789814350129. "We atheists can, as he does, argue that, with the modern revolution in attitudes toward homosexuals, we have become the only group that may not reveal itself in normal social discourse." 
  21. "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  22. Anderson., Philip W; Arrow, Kenneth Joseph; Pines, David; Santa Fe Institute (1988-01-01). The Economy as an Evolving Complex System: The Proceedings of the ... ISBN 9780201156850. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 

External links