Renzo L. Ricca

Renzo Luigi Ricca (24 January 1960) is an Italian-born applied mathematician (naturalized British citizen), professor of mathematical physics at the University of Milano-Bicocca. His principal research interests are in classical field theory, dynamical systems (vortex dynamics and magnetohydrodynamics) and structural complexity. He is known for his contributions to the field of geometric and topological fluid dynamics and, in particular, for his work on geometric and topological aspects of kinetic and magnetic helicity, and physical knot theory.

Renzo L. Ricca
Renzo Ricca (2012).
Born (1960-01-24) January 24, 1960
ResidenceCogne-Gran Paradiso National Park, Aosta Valley, Italy
Alma materPolitecnico di Torino
University of Cambridge
AwardsJ.T. Knight's Prize (1991)
MIUR Visiting Scholarship (2003)
Scientific career
Fieldstopological fluid dynamics, structural complexity,
vortex dynamics and magnetohydrodynamics
InstitutionsUniversity of Milano-Bicocca
Doctoral advisorH. Keith Moffatt


Ricca's main research interests lie in potential theory, ideal fluid dynamics, particularly as regards geometric and topological aspects of vortex flows and magnetic fields forming knots, links and braids, and in the study of structural complexity and energy of filament tangles in various physical systems. His Ph.D. work was conducted under the guidance of H. Keith Moffatt on the subject of topological fluid dynamics. In the year 2000 he co-organized and directed a 4-month research program dedicated to the geometry and topology of fluid flows held at the Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (Cambridge, UK), followed in 2001 by a CIME Summer School under the auspices of the Italian Mathematical Union (UMI). In 2011 he organised a 3-month program on knots and applications held at the Ennio De Giorgi Mathematical Research Centre of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and in 2016 he organised an IUTAM Symposium on helicity (hosted by the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in Venice) that gathered more than 100 scientists from 20 different countries. On geometric and topological aspects of fluid flows and physical knot theory he has published more than 65 papers and edited 2 volumes. His recent work on polynomial invariants applied to study fluid knots was selected to be included in the 2012 Highlights of JPA.


Ricca was educated in Casale Monferrato and Turin, in the north of Italy, and Cambridge (UK). He attended the Liceo Scientifico Palli, and then he read engineering and mathematical sciences at the Politecnico di Torino, where he graduated in 1988. By a prestigious doctoral grant offered by the Association for the Promotion of the Scientific and Technological Development of Piedmont (ASP, Turin) he entered Trinity College of the University of Cambridge, where he read mathematics. In 1991 he was awarded the J.T. Knight's Prize while preparing his Ph.D., which he completed in 1992.


In 1992 Ricca joined the staff of the Mathematics Department of the University College London as a research fellow and then as a senior research fellow and part-time lecturer. From 1993 to 1995 he also held a joint position at the Politecnico di Torino as a university researcher. In 2003 he moved to the Department of Mathematics and Applications of the University of Milano-Bicocca, first as visiting scholar and then as associate professor of mathematical physics.

Visiting positions

Awards and distinctions


Selected publications

  • Ricca, R.L. (Editor) An Introduction to the Geometry and Topology of Fluid Flows. NATO ASI Series II 47. Kluwer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands (2001). ISBN 978-1402002069
  • Ricca, R.L. (Editor) Lectures on Topological Fluid Mechanics. Springer-CIME Lecture Notes in Mathematics 1973. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany (2009). ISBN 9783642008368
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