Moody, Dr. Robert V.

1996 Winner: Outstanding Leadership In Alberta Science

Alberta Mathematician and the ‘Theory of Everything’

The simultaneous and independent discovery by Robert Moody of the University of Alberta and by Victor Kac in the Soviet Union of the Kac-Moody algebras is of fundamental and historical to mathematics and to physical science in general. As described by Werner Israel, ‘Kac-Moody’ algebras…emerged as the basic mathematical structure underlying superstring theory. This theory, which is under active development, is today’s most promising candidate for a ‘theory of everything’, a theory that will explain and unify the four basic forces of Nature ­ the holy grail that Einstein sought in vain in his late years.

Although it was for this work that Robert Moody and Victor Kac were jointly awarded the 1994 Wigner Medal (possibly the world’s most prestigious mathematical prize after the Fields Medal, the mathematician’s equivalent of a Nobel Prize), Dr. Moody has extended and deepened the understanding of these algebras and has also gone on to explore new perspectives in the analysis of aperiodic order and the structure of quasi-crystals.