Ken Ribet

Kenneth Alan "Ken" Ribet (/ˈrɪbɪt/; born June 28, 1948) is an American mathematician, currently a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. His mathematical interests include algebraic number theory and algebraic geometry.

Ken Ribet
Kenneth A. Ribet in 2013
Born (1948-06-28) June 28, 1948
Alma materBrown University
Harvard University
Known forRibet's Theorem
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
Doctoral advisorJohn Tate
Doctoral studentsBjorn Poonen

Early life and family

Kenneth Ribet was born in Brooklyn, New York to parents David Ribet and Pearl Ribet on June 28, 1948. He is married to mathematician/statistician Lisa Goldberg.


As a student at Far Rockaway High School, Ribet was on a competitive mathematics team, but his first field of study was chemistry.[1] He earned his bachelor's degree and master's degree from Brown University in 1969, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1973.


Ribet is credited with paving the way towards Andrew Wiles's proof of Fermat's last theorem. Ribet proved that the epsilon conjecture formulated by Jean-Pierre Serre was true, and thereby proved that Fermat's Last Theorem would follow from the Taniyama–Shimura conjecture. Crucially it also followed that the full conjecture was not needed, but a special case, that of semistable elliptic curves, sufficed. An earlier theorem of Ribet's, the Herbrand–Ribet theorem, the converse to Herbrand's theorem on the divisibility properties of Bernoulli numbers, is also related to Fermat's Last Theorem.

Awards and honors

Ribet received the Fermat Prize in 1989 jointly with Abbas Bahri.

In 1998, he received an honorary doctorate from Brown University. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2000.

In 2012, he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society,[2] and was president of the AMS from February 1, 2017 to January 31, 2019.

In 2017, Ribet received the Brouwer Medal.


  1. Chapey, Dr. Geraldine. "Chatting with Chapey: Weber and Ribet Honored", The Wave, October 21, 2005. Accessed September 28, 2018. "Speaking of successful professionals, Kenneth Ribet is a world renowned scholar.... He is a proud graduate of P.S. 114, J.H.S. 210 and Far Rockaway High School."
  2. List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-07-07.

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