Demetrios Christodoulou (Greek: Δημήτριος Χριστοδούλου; born October 19, 1951[1]) is a Greek mathematician and physicist, who first became well known for his proof, together with Sergiu Klainerman, of the nonlinear stability of the Minkowski spacetime of special relativity in the framework of general relativity.

Demetrios Christodoulou
Demetrios Christodoulou.jpeg
Born (1951-10-19) October 19, 1951 (age 67)
Athens, Greece
ResidenceGreece, Switzerland
CitizenshipGreek, U.S.
Alma materPrinceton University
Known forhyperbolic partial differential equations, general relativity, fluid mechanics
AwardsOtto Hahn Medal (1981)
MacArthur Fellows Award (1993)
Bôcher Memorial Prize (1999)
Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2001)
Tomalla Foundation Prize (2008)
Shaw Prize (2011)
Member of U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2012)
Scientific career
FieldsMathematics, Physics
InstitutionsPrinceton University
Syracuse University
Courant Institute
ETH Zurich
Doctoral advisorJohn Archibald Wheeler
Doctoral studentsMihalis Dafermos


Early life and educationEdit

Christodoulou was born in Athens and received his doctorate in physics from Princeton University in 1971 under the direction of John Archibald Wheeler.[2] After temporary positions at Caltech, CERN, and the Max Planck Institute for Physics, he became Professor of Mathematics, first at Syracuse University, then at the Courant Institute, and at Princeton University, before taking up his last position as Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland.[1] He is Emeritus Professor since January 2017. He holds dual Greek and U.S. citizenship.


In 1993, he published a book[3] coauthored with Klainerman in which the extraordinarily difficult proof of the stability result is laid out in detail. In that year, he was named a MacArthur Fellow. In 1991, he published a paper[4] which shows that the test masses of a gravitational wave detector suffer permanent relative displacements after the passage of a gravitational wave train, an effect which has been named "nonlinear memory effect". In the period 1987–1999 he published a series of papers on the gravitational collapse of a spherically symmetric self-gravitating scalar field and the formation of black holes and associated spacetime singularities.[5][6][7] He also showed that, contrary to what had been expected, singularities which are not hidden in a black hole also occur.[8] However, he then showed that such "naked singularities" are unstable.[9] In 2000, Christodoulou published a book[10] on general systems of partial differential equations deriving from a variational principle (or "action principle"). In 2007, he published a book[11] on the formation of shock waves in 3-dimensional fluids. In 2009 he published a book[12] where a result which complements the stability result is proved. Namely, that a sufficiently strong flux of incoming gravitational waves leads to the formation of a black hole. In 2019 he published a book[13] which addresses the development of shocks past the point of formation by studying a free boundary problem with singular initial conditions.


Christodoulou is a recipient of the Bôcher Memorial Prize,[14] a prestigious award of the American Mathematical Society. The Bôcher Prize citation mentions his work on the spherically symmetric scalar field as well as his work on the stability of Minkowski spacetime. In 2008 he was awarded the Tomalla prize in gravitation.[15] In 2011, he and Richard S. Hamilton won the Shaw Prize in the Mathematical Sciences,[16] "for their highly innovative works on nonlinear partial differential equations in Lorentzian and Riemannian geometry and their applications to general relativity and topology". The citation for Christodoulou mentions his work on the formation of black holes by gravitational waves as well as his earlier work on the spherically symmetric self-gravitating scalar field and his work with Klainerman on the stability of Minkowski spacetime. Christodoulou is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.[17] In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[18] In 2014 he was a plenary speaker at the ICM in Seoul. Since 2016 is also a member of the Academia Europaea.[19]


  1. ^ a b "Demetrios Christodoulou Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  2. ^ Demetrios Christodoulou at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Christodoulou, Demetrios; Klainerman, Sergiu (1993). The global nonlinear stability of the Minkowski space. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08777-6.
  4. ^ D. Christodoulou (1991). "Nonlinear nature of gravitation and gravitational-wave experiments". Phys. Rev. Lett. 67 (12): 1486–1489. Bibcode:1991PhRvL..67.1486C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.67.1486. PMID 10044168.
  5. ^ D. Christodoulou (1987). "A mathematical theory of gravitational collapse". Commun. Math. Phys. 109 (4): 613–647. Bibcode:1987CMaPh.109..613C. doi:10.1007/BF01208960.
  6. ^ D. Christodoulou (1991). "The formation of black holes and singularities in spherically symmetric gravitational collapse". Commun. Pure Appl. Math. 44 (3): 339–373. doi:10.1002/cpa.3160440305.
  7. ^ D. Christodoulou (1993). "Bounded variation solutions of the spherically symmetric Einstein-scalar field equations". Commun. Pure Appl. Math. 46 (8): 1131–1220. doi:10.1002/cpa.3160460803.
  8. ^ D.Christodoulou (1994). "Examples of naked singularity formation in the gravitational collapse of a scalar field". Ann. Math. 140 (3): 607–653. doi:10.2307/2118619.
  9. ^ D. Christodoulou (1999). "The instability of naked singularities in the gravitational collapse of a scalar field". Ann. Math. 149 (1): 183–217. arXiv:math/9901147. doi:10.2307/121023.
  10. ^ Christodoulou, Demetrios (2000). The action principle and partial differential equations. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04957-2.
  11. ^ Christodoulou, Demetrios (2007). The formation of shocks in 3-dimensional fluids. Zurich: European Mathematical Society Publishing House. ISBN 978-3-03719-031-9.
  12. ^ Christodoulou, Demetrios (2009). The formation of black holes in general relativity. Zurich: European Mathematical Society Publishing House. ISBN 978-3-03719-068-5.
  13. ^ Christodoulou, Demetrios (2019). The shock develpoment problem. Zurich: European Mathematical Society Publishing House. ISBN 978-3-03719-192-7.
  14. ^ "1999 Maxime Bôcher Memorial Prize" (PDF). American Mathematical Society. Retrieved August 8, 2005.
  15. ^ "The Tomalla Foundation" (PDF). Tomalla Foundation. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  16. ^ "Shaw Laureates - 2011 - Mathematical Sciences" (Press release). Shaw Prize. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  17. ^ "News from the National Academy of Sciences". NAS Members and Foreign Associates Elected. Archived from the original on May 4, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  18. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2012-11-10.
  19. ^ [1].

Further readingEdit

  • Christodoulou, Demetrios; Miao, Shuang (2014). Compressible flow and Euler's equations. Beijing and Somerville: Higher Education Press and International Press. ISBN 978-7-04-040098-4.

External linksEdit