Nigel Hitchin

Nigel Hitchin

Nigel Hitchin, 2004
Born (1946-08-02) 2 August 1946
Holbrook, Derbyshire, England
Nationality United Kingdom
Fields Mathematics
Institutions University of Oxford
University of Warwick
Alma mater Jesus College and Wolfson College, Oxford
Doctoral advisor Brian Steer
Michael Atiyah
Doctoral students Simon Donaldson
Tamás Hausel
Jacques Hurtubise[1]
Known for Higgs bundle
Hitchin functional
Hitchin–Thorpe inequality
Nahm–Hitchin description of monopoles
Generalized complex structure
Notable awards Whitehead Prize (1981)
Senior Berwick Prize (1990)
Sylvester Medal (2000)
Pólya Prize (2002)
Shaw Prize (2016)

Nigel James Hitchin FRS (born 2 August 1946) is the Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford University and a British mathematician working in the fields of differential geometry, algebraic geometry, and mathematical physics.

Academic career

Hitchin attended Ecclesbourne School, Duffield, and earned his BA in mathematics from Jesus College, Oxford, in 1968.[2] After moving to Wolfson College, he received his D.Phil. in 1972. In 1997 he was appointed to the Savilian Chair of Geometry at Oxford University, a position previously held by his doctoral supervisor (and later research collaborator) Sir Michael Atiyah.

Amongst his notable discoveries are the Hitchin integrable system, the Hitchin–Thorpe inequality, Hitchin's projectively flat connection over Teichmüller space, Hitchin's self-duality equations, the Atiyah–Hitchin monopole metric, the Atiyah–Hitchin–Singer theorem, the ADHM construction of instantons (of Atiyah, Drinfeld, Hitchin, and Manin), and the Hyperkähler quotient (of Hitchin, Karlhede, Lindström and Rocek).

In his article[3] on generalized Calabi–Yau manifolds, he introduced the notion of generalized complex manifolds, providing a single structure that incorporates, as examples, Poisson manifolds, symplectic manifolds and complex manifolds. These have found wide applications as the geometries of flux compactifications in string theory and also in topological string theory.

He conjectured the Kobayashi–Hitchin correspondence.

In the span of his career, Hitchin has supervised nearly thirty research students, including Simon Donaldson (part-supervised with Atiyah).

Nigel Hitchin was the previous managing editor of the journal Mathematische Annalen. The current managing editor is the German mathematician Thomas Schick.

Honours and awards

In 1991 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[4]

In 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) from the University of Bath.

Hitchin was elected as an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College in 1998,[2] and the Senior Berwick Prize (1990), the Sylvester Medal (2000) and the Pólya Prize (2002) have been awarded to him in honour of his far-reaching work. A conference was held in honour of his 60th birthday, in conjunction with the 2006 International Congress of Mathematicians in Spain.

In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[5]

In 2014 he was awarded another Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) from the University of Warwick.

In 2016 he received the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences.[6]


  1. Nigel James Hitchin at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. 1 2 Fellows' News, Jesus College Record (1998/9) (p.12)
  3. Hitchin, Nigel (2003), "Generalized Calabi–Yau manifolds", Quarterly Journal of Mathematics, 54 (3): 281–308, arXiv:math/0209099v1Freely accessible, doi:10.1093/qmath/hag025
  4. "fellows". Royal Society. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  5. List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-01-21.
  6. Shaw Prize 2016
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