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Philip Warren Anderson

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Philip Warren Anderson

Philip Warren Anderson
Born (1923-12-13) December 13, 1923
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Nationality United States
Fields Physics
Institutions Bell Laboratories
Princeton University
Cambridge University
Alma mater Harvard University
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Doctoral advisor John Hasbrouck van Vleck
Known for Anderson localization,
Anderson Hamiltonian,
Higgs Mechanism,
Spin glass
Notable awards Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1964)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1977)
National Medal of Science (1982)

Philip Warren Anderson (born December 13, 1923) is an American physicist and Nobel laureate. Anderson has made contributions to the theories of localization, antiferromagnetism, symmetry breaking, high-temperature superconductivity and to the philosophy of science through his writings on emergent phenomena.[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Publications 2
  • References 3
    • Notes 3.1
    • Sources 3.2
  • External links 4


Anderson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and grew up in Urbana, Illinois. He graduated from University Laboratory High School in Urbana in 1940. Afterwards, he went to Harvard University for undergraduate and graduate work, with a wartime stint at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in-between. In graduate school he studied under John Hasbrouck van Vleck.

From 1949 to 1984 he was employed by Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, where he worked on a wide variety of problems in condensed matter physics. During this period he developed what is now called Anderson localization (the idea that extended states can be localized by the presence of disorder in a system); invented the Anderson Hamiltonian, which describes the site-wise interaction of electrons in a transition metal; developed what is now called the "Higgs" mechanism for generating mass in elementary particles; created the pseudospin approach to the BCS theory of superconductivity; made seminal studies of non-s-wave pairing (both symmetry-breaking and microscopic mechanism) in the superfluidity of He3; and helped found the area of spin-glasses.[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963.[9]

From 1967 to 1975, Anderson was a professor of theoretical physics at Cambridge University. In 1977 Anderson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his investigations into the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems, which allowed for the development of electronic switching and memory devices in computers. Co-researchers Sir Nevill Francis Mott and John van Vleck shared the award with him. In 1982, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. He retired from Bell Labs in 1984 and is currently Joseph Henry Professor of Physics, Emeritus at Princeton University.

Anderson's writings include Concepts of Solids, Basic Notions of Condensed Matter Physics and The Theory of Superconductivity in the High-Tc Cuprates. Anderson currently serves on the board of advisors of Go.

Anderson has also made important conceptual contributions to the philosophy of science through his explication of emergent phenomena. In 1972 he wrote a now highly cited article called "More is Different" in which he emphasized the limitations of reductionism and the existence of hierarchical levels of science, each of which requires its own fundamental principles for advancement.[10]

A 2006 statistical analysis of scientific research papers by José Soler, comparing number of references in a paper to the number of citations, declared Anderson to be the "most creative" amongst ten most cited physicists in the world.[11]

Anderson is an atheist[12] and was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.[13]


  • Notes on Theory of Magnetism, Tokyo, 1954
  • Concepts in Solids, 1963 ISBN 981-02-3231-4
  • Basic Notions in Condensed Matter Physics, 1984 ISBN 0-201-32830-5
  • A Career in Theoretical Physics, 1994 ISBN 981-238-866-4
  • The Theory of Superconductivity in the High Temperature Cuprates, 1997 ISBN 0-691-04365-5
  • More and Different: Notes from a Thoughtful Curmudgeon, 2011 ISBN 978-981-435012-9
  • Philip W. Anderson, David Pines, Kenneth Arrow (Editor) The Economy As An Evolving Complex System, proceedings of the evolutionary paths of the global economy workshop, held Sept., 1987 in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Santa Fe Institute Series, Perseus Publishing, 1988) ISBN 978-0-201-15685-0
  • Roger Penrose; Philip W Anderson. "The Large, the Small and the Human Mind", Nature 386, no. 6624, (1997): 456
  • "Thinking big" Nature. 437, no. 7059, (2005): 625
  • "Brainwashed by Feynman?" Physics Today. 53, no. 2, (2000): 11
  • "Computing: Solving problems in finite time" Nature 400:6740, (1999): 115
  • "When the Electron Falls Apart - In condensed matter physics, some particles behave like fragments of an electron" Physics Today 50:10, (1997): 42
  • "Physics: The opening to complexity" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 92:15, (1995): 6653
  • "Twenty years of talking past each other: The theory of high Tc" Physica C, Superconductivity 460, (2007): 3



  1. ^ Horgan, J. (1994) Profile: Philip W. Anderson – Gruff Guru of Condensed Matter Physics, Scientific American 271(5), 34-35.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
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  11. ^ A Rational Indicator of Scientific Creativity, José M. Soler, 2006.
  12. ^
  13. ^


External links

  • (The Nobel Foundation, 1977, 2005).AutobiographyPhilip W. Anderson,
  • Philip Warren Anderson
  • Anderson's Princeton web page
  • Video clip of Philip Anderson speaking at the International Conference on Complex Systems, Hosted by the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI)
  • Oral History interview transcript with Philip W. Anderson 30 March, 30 May, & 23 November 1999, American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library and Archives
  • Oral History interview transcript with Philip W. Anderson 13 July 1987, American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library and Archives
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