MacArthur Fellows Program

Jeffrey R. Weeks

Mathematician | Class of 1999

Canton, New York
43 at time of award
Published July 1, 1999

About Jeffrey's Work

Jeffrey Weeks is a mathematician, writer, software developer, and mathematics educator.

He has made fundamental contributions to the analysis of knots, and collaborates with cosmologists to interpret the shape of the universe. His software (available without charge) provides a powerful tool for researchers and for teaching low-dimensional geometry. His mathematical research focuses on describing the topology of knots and hyperbolic structures. Weeks developed a practical computer algorithm for classical knots with hyperbolic complements using a method called “canonical cell decomposition.” This algorithm allows mathematicians to quantify permutations of knots delineated by a user-defined set of constraints, and then to test and group the topological properties of these knots. On the basis of this work, Weeks developed a general-purpose computer program called "SnapPea," which is widely used by mathematicians to explore a large variety of geometrical problems. He has also written texts for young adults and nonspecialists designed to stimulate interest and skill in geometry.


Weeks works as an independent scholar. He is the author of the book The Shape of Space (1985), an approachable introduction to topologic analysis. His articles have appeared in such publications as Nature and the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Weeks received an A.B. (1978) from Dartmouth College and an M.A. (1980) and a Ph.D. (1985) from Princeton University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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