About Us

The mission of the Kadanoff Center of Theoretical Physics is to facilitate research and education in physical sciences through foundational investigations in theoretical physics.  We are guided by the idea that theoretical physics provides a unified description of physical reality -- that an understanding of diverse physical phenomena can be achieved using common methods and goals.  Advances in one area often enrich another, due to the common intellectual threads that bind them together. The Center strives to create a research environment which bridges divides between disparate physical disciplines, thereby advancing our understanding of physical phenomena in condensed matter physics, statistical mechanics, high energy physics, astrophysics and mathematics. A major unifying theme of current research emphasizes the role of geometry in the theoretical analysis of physical phenomena.

The Kadanoff Center is part of the Physics Department of the University of Chicago, and serves as a platform for the exchange of ideas between different research groups in the Department.  It hosts faculty, postdoctoral fellows, visitors, and a variety of activities including interactive research seminars and programs at the forefront of research in physics. 

The Center's name honors our colleague Leo P. Kadanoff, theoretical physicist and applied mathematician who has contributed widely to research on the properties of matter, the development of urban areas, statistical models of physical systems, and the development of chaos in simple mechanical and fluid systems.  Leo fostered a scientific culture at Chicago that promotes collaboration and a free exchange of ideas across disciplinary boundaries, which we seek to continue through the Center that bears his name. 


Yoichiro Nambu (1921-2015) was a giant of 20th century theoretical physics.  His seminal work on spontaneous symmetry breaking, color gauge theory, and string theory provided conceptual foundations for our current understanding of the nature of elementary particles, their interactions, and unification with gravity.

Leo P. Kadanoff (1937-2015) leaves a legacy of fundamental contributions to theoretical physics, and an interdisiciplinary culture touching many areas of inquiry.  His work on scale invariance and universality in phase transitions shaped the way physicists think about how matter changes from one state to another.  Notions of scaling have since become a cornerstone of how we think about subjects as diverse as the structure of elementary particles, and the dynamics of fluids.

We miss them both.