Herbert Spohn

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.

TUM Department of Mathematics
Former professor of mathematical physics

born November 1, 1946


Scientific work

Herbert Spohn’s research covers the area of mathematical and statistical physics, as well as applied probability theory, with a focus on dynamic processes. This includes the derivation of kinetic equations, the dynamics of open quantum systems, stochastic interactive particle systems, stochastic growth processes and boundary layer dynamics. In 2011, Herbert Spohn was twice honored for his exceptional academic work. The American Mathematical Society awarded him the Leonard Eisenbud Prize for Mathematics and Physics. This recognized his work on exact universal distribution in the context of the dynamics of driven phase boundary layers and growth processes, in particular their surprising connection to the statistical mechanics of line ensembles, random matrix theory and directed poly-mers in random media. Additionally, the American Institute of Physics, together with the American Physical Society, awarded Herbert Spohn the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics; and the Association of German Mathematicians (DMV) honored him with the Cantor-Medaille in 2014. Herbert Spohn became famous for his work in the microscopic derivation of the Boltzmann equation and the hydro-dynamic limit of stochastic interactive particle systems. Up to now, he has published two monographs and more than 250 articles. Herbert Spohn can therefore take his place amongst the world’s leading mathematicians and physicists.


Short biography

1967 – 1972 Study of physics, universities of Stuttgart, Oregon and Munich
1975 Doctorate, LMU Munich
1975 – 1980 Academic assistant, LMU Munich
1980 – 1982 Recipient of the Heisenberg fellowship of the German Research Foundation
1982 – 1998 Professor of theoretical solid-state physics, LMU Munich
1998 – 2012 Professor of mathematical physics, TUM, and associate member of the Department of Physics



Copublisher of various professional publications (since 1982)

President of the International Association of Mathematical Physics (2000-2003)

Member of the review board of the German Research Foundation (2004-2008)

Guest speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), India (2010)

Chair of the C18 Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) (2009-2011)

Member of the scientific advisory board of the Mathematical Science Center of Tsinghua University, Beijing (since 2011)

Member of the scientific advisory board of the Niels Bohr International Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark (2011-2013)

Member of the academic advisory council of the Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics (ESI), Vienna, Austria (2011-2013) 


Research residencies

Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHÉS), Paris, France

Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton, USA

Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), Santa Barbara, USA

Visiting professor, Rutgers University, USA

Visiting professor, Kyushu University, Japan

International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS), Bangalore, India

Columbia University, New York, USA

Rheinische Friedrichs-Wilhelms-University Bonn, Germany


Scientific projects

DFG priority program 1033: Interagierende stochastische Systeme von hoher Komplexität

DFG priority program 1095: Analysis, modeling and simulation of multiscale problems (2000-2006)

Approximately 25 individual DFG proposals, including topics such as:

"Wachstumsprozesse und Zufallsmatrizen" (2002-2007)

"Stromfluktuationen für stationäre eindimensionale getriebene Gittergase" (2007-2010)

"The unbinding transition of the bipolaron" (2008-2012)

"Exact solutions of the one-dimensional Kardar-Parisi-Zhang equation" (since 2012)



  • Max Planck Research Award (1993)
  • Leonard Eisenbud Prize for Mathematics and Physics (2011)
  • Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics (2011)
  • Tomassoni Prize from La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy (2011)
  • Honorary doctorate from l’Université Paris-Dauphine (2011)
  • Georg-Cantor-Medaille from the Association of German Mathematicians (DMV) (2014)
  • Max-Planck-Medaille 2017 from German Physical Society (DPG)
  • Henri-Poincaré-Prize sponsored by the Daniel Iagolnizer Foundation, International Association of Mathematical Physics (2015)
  • Honorary doctorate from the University Paris-Diderot (2017)
  • Boltzmann Medal, C3 Commission, Statistical Physics of IUPAP (2019)

You can download "Explanations of honors and awards" here [PDF]


Key publications

Lukkarinen J, Spohn H: “Weakly nonlinear Schrödinger equation with random initial data”. Inventiones Mathematicae. 2010; 183: 1-110.

Spohn H: Dynamics of charged particles and their radiation field. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Prähofer M, Spohn H: “Universal distributions for growth processes in 1+1 dimensions and random matrices”. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2000; 84: 4882-4886.

Lebowitz JL, Spohn H: “A Gallavotti-Cohen type fluctuation theorem for stochastic dynamics”. Journ. Stat. Phys. 1999; 95: 333-365.

Spohn H: Large scale dynamics of interacting particles. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 1991.