|Alma mater||Swarthmore College |
|Awards||NAS Award in Mathematics (1992) |
Leroy P. Steele Prize (2002)
Heinz Hopf Prize (2009)
|Institutions||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|Doctoral advisor||Raoul Bott|
|Doctoral students||Mark Goresky|
Robert Duncan MacPherson (born May 25, 1944) is an American mathematician at the Institute for Advanced Study and Princeton University. He is best known for the invention of intersection homology with Mark Goresky, whose thesis he directed at Brown University, and who became his life partner. MacPherson previously taught at Brown University, the University of Paris, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1983 he gave a plenary address at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Warsaw.
Educated at Swarthmore College and Harvard University, MacPherson received his PhD from Harvard in 1970. His thesis, written under the direction of Raoul Bott, was entitled Singularities of Maps and Characteristic Classes. Among his many PhD students are Kari Vilonen and Mark Goresky.
In 1992 MacPherson was awarded the NAS Award in Mathematics from the National Academy of Sciences. In 2002 he and Goresky were awarded the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research by the American Mathematical Society. In 2009 he received the Heinz Hopf Prize from ETH Zurich. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.
MacPherson's PhD advisee, Mark Goresky, later became his life partner. Their discovery of intersection homology made "both of them famous." After the collapse of the Soviet Union, they were instrumental in channeling aid to Russian mathematicians, especially many who had to hide their sexuality.