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Joseph J. Kohn

Joseph J. Kohn

Czech mathematician and university educator
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Czech mathematician and university educator
Countries United States of America
Occupations Mathematician Educator
Gender male
Birth May 18, 1932 (Prague, Duchy of Bohemia)
Father: Otto Kohn
Education Princeton University
The details

Joseph John Kohn (born May 18, 1932) is a Professor Emeritus of mathematics at Princeton University, where he does research on partial differential operators and complex analysis.

Life and work

Joseph's father was Czech architect Otto Kohn who was Jewish. After Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, he and his family emigrated to Ecuador in 1939. There he attended Colegio Americano de Quito,. In 1945, Joseph moved to the United States, where he attended Brooklyn Technical High School. He studied at MIT (S.B. 1953) and at Princeton University, where he obtained his PhD in 1956 under Donald Spencer ("A Non-Self-Adjoint Boundary Value Problem on Pseudo-Kähler Manifolds"). Later he was at the Institute for Advanced Study during 1957/58 (and again 1961/62, 1976/7, 1988/89). In 1956/57, he was an Instructor in Princeton. In 1958, he was Assistant Professor, in 1962 Associate Professor and in 1964 Professor at Brandeis University, where he also served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department (1963-1966). Since 1968, he has been a Professor at Princeton University, where he served as Chairman in 1993-96. He was a visiting professor in Harvard (1996/7), Prague, Florence, Mexico City (Centro de Estudios del IPN), Stanford, Berkeley, Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa), Rome, Buenos Aires, and at IHES.

His work focuses, among other things, on the use of partial differential operators in the theory of functions of several complex variables and microlocal analysis.

Kohn was a Sloan Fellow in 1963 and a Guggenheim Fellow on 1976/77. From 1976 to 1988, he was a member of the editorial board of the Annals of Mathematics.

In 1966 he was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Moscow ("Differential complexes").

He has had at least 65 doctoral descendants.

Film director Miloš Forman is his half-brother through their father Otto Kohn.

Awards and honors

Since 1966 he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and since 1988 a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

He won the AMS Steele Prize in 1979 for his paper Harmonic integrals on strongly convex domains. In 1990 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bologna. In 2004, he was awarded the Bolzano Prize.


  • Bloom, Catlin, D´Angelo, Siu (Herausgeber) Modern methods in complex analysis. Papers from the conference honoring Robert Gunning and Joseph Kohn on the occasion of their 60th birthdays held at Princeton University 1992, Princeton University Press 1995
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