Bjorn Poonen

Bjorn Mikhail Poonen is a mathematician, four-time Putnam Competition winner and currently the Distinguished Professor in Science Professor of Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1] His research is primarily in arithmetic geometry, but he has occasionally published in other subjects such as probability[2] and computer science.[3] He has edited two books,[4][5] and his research articles have been cited by approximately 1,000 distinct authors.[6] He is the founding managing editor of the journal Algebra & Number Theory,[7] and serves also on the editorial boards of Involve[8] and the A K Peters Research Notes in Mathematics book series.[9]

Bjorn Poonen
Bjorn Poonen at Oberwolfach in 2011
Bornc. 1968 (age 5051)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Harvard University
AwardsChauvenet Prize (2011)
Scientific career
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorKenneth Alan Ribet


Poonen is a 1985 alumnus of Winchester High School in Winchester, Massachusetts. In 1989, Poonen graduated from Harvard University with an A.B. in Mathematics and Physics, summa cum laude. He then studied under Kenneth Alan Ribet at the University of California, Berkeley, completing a Ph.D. there in 1994.[10]

Academic positions

Poonen held postdoctoral positions at Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and Princeton University and served on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley from 1997 to 2008, before moving to MIT.[9] He has also held visiting positions at the Isaac Newton Institute (1998 and 2005), the Université Paris-Sud (2001), Harvard (2007), and MIT (2007).[9]

Major honors and awards


  • He co-authored a paper entitled "How to spread rumors fast".[19]
  • Poonen proposed the Big Mouth Conjecture in April 2014, proving it minutes later during a faculty talent show at MIT.[20]


  1. "All Positions Directory | MIT Mathematics". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  2. Amir Dembo, Qi-Man Shao, Bjorn Poonen, and Ofer Zeitouni, "Random polynomials with few or no real zeros", Journal of the American Mathematical Society 15 (2002), 857-892.
  3. Bjorn Poonen, "The worst case in Shellsort and related algorithms", J. Algorithms 15 (1993), 101-124.
  4. Kiran Kedlaya, Bjorn Poonen, and Ravi Vakil, The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition 1985-2000: Problems, Solutions, and Commentary, Mathematical Association of America, 2002.
  5. Bjorn Poonen and Yuri Tschinkel (eds.), Arithmetic of Higher-Dimensional Algebraic Varieties, Progress in Mathematics 226, Birkhäuser Verlag, 2004.
  6. MathSciNet author citations
  7. Algebra & Number Theory
  8. Involve (mathematics journal)
  9. Curriculum vitae, retrieved 2015-01-28.
  10. Bjorn Poonen at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  11. List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-05-26.
  12. "American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  13. "Chauvenet Prizes | Mathematical Association of America". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  14. Packard fellows in mathematics Archived April 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  15. Notices Amer. Math. Soc. 45, no. 6, (June–July 1998), p. 723.
  16. "Putnam Competition Individual and Team Winners | Mathematical Association of America". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  17. "International Mathematical Olympiad". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  18. American High School Mathematics Examination results, page 31
  19. C. Kenneth Fan, Bjorn Poonen, and George Poonen, "How to spread rumors fast", Mathematics Magazine 70 (1997), 40-46.
  20. Poonen Archived April 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
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