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Biographic Information

Jonathan Michael Borwein

May 31, 2004

Jonathan Michael Borwein1 was born in St Andrews Scotland in 1951. He attended school in Scotland and Ontario. After graduating with an Honors B.A. from the University of Western Ontario in 1971, he went to Oxford as an Ontario Rhodes Scholar (1971) at Jesus College, where he completed a Mathematics D. Phil. (1974) in Optimization Theory. From 1974 until 1991, Dr. Borwein worked at Dalhousie University where he became Professor of Mathematics in 1984. He has also been on permanent faculty at Carnegie-Mellon University (1980-82) and the University of Waterloo (1991-93) and has spent visiting periods on French, Israeli and Australian National Fellowships.

From 1993-2003, he has been Gordon M. Shrum Professor of Science at Simon Fraser University and held a Canada Research Chair in Information Technology (2001-2008), under whose aegis Dr Borwein is leading the Simon Fraser CoLab to examine and develop advanced collaborative environments in the mathematical sciences. He was founding Director of the Simon Fraser Centre for Experimental and Constructive Mathematics (CECM) from 1993-2002. He now directs the advanced collaborative Simon Fraser CoLab ( In January 2004, he joined the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie again as a Canada Research Chair, focussing on Distributed and Collaborative Research.

Dr. Borwein spent the first half of 1986 as a ``Distinguished Visiting Professor" at the Université de Montreal and was a Senior Killam Fellow at Dalhousie in 1987-88. He gave the Canadian Mathematical Society's 1987 Coxeter-James Lecture (acknowledging outstanding research by a young Canadian Mathematician) and in 1988 became the only mathematician to have been awarded the Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences' (APICS) Gold Medal for Research. Between 1989 and 1991 he was Chair of the Mathematics Grants Selection Committee of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council and served from 1992-1996 on NSERC's Committee for Collaborative Research Initiatives.

In 1994 Dr Borwein was elected to a Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada. In 1996 he shared the ``Academic of the Year Award" of British Columbia Confederation of University Faculty Associations with P. Borwein. In 1999 he received a ``Doctorat Honoris Causa" from the University of Limoges and his family shared a University of Western Ontario National Alumini Award (Western Family Citation: Professional Achievement). In fall 2001 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as a ``Member whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished." In June 2002, he was featured in BC Business as one of ``25 Power Thinkers. Some of B.C.'s best and brightest." In July 2003 Dr. Borwein was elected a Foreign Member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Borwein sits on the National Board of Computational Inc., Canada's national high performance computing network. He sat on the NATO Advisory Panel on Collaborative Research Grants (1997,1998, chair 1998) and was a member of NATO's new Panel on Engineering, Science and Technology (2000-02). He is the Chair (2001-2003) of the National Advisory Board for the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) of the National Research Council (1997-2003) of Canada and is Chair of the Committee on Electronic Information and Communication of the International Mathematical Union (2002-06, Deputy Chair 1998-2002). From 1995-98 he served on the British Columbia Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee. During 1994-1997 he served as founding chair of the Canadian Mathematical Society's Electronic Services Committee.

Dr. Borwein's research interests include areas of pure mathematics (classical analysis, nonlinear analysis and functional analysis - ``how to prove things"), applied mathematics (optimization theory and operations research, - ``how to do things well") and computational mathematics (complexity theory, numerical and computational analysis, and medical imaging - ``how to do big things fast"). He is founding Director (1993-2002) of Simon Fraser's Centre for Experimental and Constructive Mathematics, where these interests are fused with interests in the philosophy of science and the uses of technology and distributed-learning. A present research focus is on advanced collaborative environments and high performance computing for the mathematical sciences. In this context he has been appointed a NewMIC Distinguished Fellow of the Vancouver New Media Innovation Centre.

He is the author of many papers including a 1987 Scientific American article ``Ramanujan and Pi" (1987), with his brother Peter who now also teaches at Simon Fraser, and ``Ramanujan, modular equations, and approximations to pi: or how to compute one billion digits of pi," (1989, written with Peter Borwein and David Bailey of NASA) which was awarded the 1993 Chauvenet (the MAA's principal prize for a paper) and Hasse prizes for expository writing by the Mathematical Association of America. The ISI ( has identified him as one of the 250 most cited mathematicians of the period 1980-1999.

Dr. Borwein has co-authored or edited ten books including: Pi and the AGM (John Wiley 1987, with P. Borwein), a Dictionary of Mathematics (HarperCollins 1989-2002, with Glasgow philosopher E.J. Borowski), Dictionary of Real Numbers (Wadsworth 1990, with P. Borwein), a Source Book on Pi (Springer-Verlag 1997, 3ed 2004, with L. Berggren and P. Borwein), and Convex Analysis and Nonlinear Optimization (Springer-Verlag, 2000, with A. S. Lewis). He has coedited a book and CD Multimedia Tools for Communicating Mathematics (Springer-Verlag, 2002). His most recent books are Mathematics by Experiment, with David Bailey and Experimentation in Mathematics (A.K. Peters, 2004) with David Bailey and Roland Girgensohn.

The Dictionary of Mathematics now exists as a award winning interactive CD called the MathResource and has spawned a High School counterpart, LetsDoMath, (viewable along with other related software at This has been contrived through the development of a modest but thriving software company, MathResources Inc, based in Halifax and founded in 1996 by Dr. Borwein and two partners. The company also makes software for handheld and wireless devices, and Learning Object Repositories.

Dr. Borwein co-edits the Canadian Mathematical Society/Springer-Verlag series of Books in Mathematics and is on the editorial board of half-a-dozen other mathematical journals including the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society. He served as the President of the Canadian Mathematical Society, 2000-2002.

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