Andrew J. Hanson

Andrew J. Hanson
Andrew Hanson.jpg
Born1944 (age 74–75)
Alma materHarvard College
Known forEguchi-Hanson space
Awards2nd place in Gravity Research Foundation contest in 1979
Scientific career
Computer Science
Institutions•Postdoctorial: Institute for Advanced Study, Cornell, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

SRI International

Indiana University
Doctoral advisorKerson Huang [1]
WebsiteAndrew J. Hanson's Home Page

Andrew J. Hanson (born 1944) is an American theoretical physicist and computer scientist. Hanson is best known in theoretical physics as the co-discoverer of the Eguchi-Hanson Metric,[2] the first Gravitational instanton. This Einstein metric is asymptotically locally Euclidean and self-dual, closely parallel to the Yang-Mills instanton. He is also known as the co-author of Constrained Hamiltonian Systems[3] and of Gravitation, Gauge Theories, and Differential Geometry,[4] which attempted to bridge the gap between theoretical physicists and mathematicians at a time when concepts relevant to the two disciplines were rapidly unifying. His subsequent work in computer science focused on computer graphics and visualization of exotic mathematical objects, including widely-used images of the Calabi-Yau quintic cross-sections used to represent the hidden dimensions of 10-dimensional string theory. He is the author of Visualizing Quaternions.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Hanson was born at Los Alamos where his father, son of Norwegian immigrant homesteaders, spent his first postdoctoral years as a nuclear physicist[6] working on the Manhattan Project. His mother was a self-taught ecologically-oriented historian of Central Illinois.[7] His maternal grandfather was Dean of Agriculture at the University of Missouri, and all three of his maternal uncles were professors of physics.

Hanson and his family survived the shipwreck of the Andrea Doria in 1956.[8][9][10] His family was on their way back to the United States from his father's sabbatical year in Torino, Italy, working with Gleb Wataghin on the post-war recovery of the Italian nuclear physics program.

As a high-school student in Urbana, IL, he wrote the core real-time multi-user CDC 1604 operating system used for the PLATO automated teaching project.[11] He received a B.S. in chemistry and physics from Harvard College in 1966 and a Ph.D. degree in theoretical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971 under Kerson Huang.[12] Sergio Fubini and Roman Jackiw[13] were also influential mentors of his at MIT.


As Hanson completed his doctoral work, Fubini introduced him to Tullio Regge, with whom he was a postdoc at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton from 1971 to 1973. (Both Fubini and Regge had by coincidence studied physics at Torino with Wataghin shortly before the Hanson family came to Torino.) He spent the 1973-1974 academic year at Cornell and then was at SLAC from 1974-1976 and LBL from 1976-1978. He worked briefly at the Exploratorium for Frank Oppenheimer, was employed in the Silicon Valley software industry, and then joined the machine vision group of the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center in 1980. In 1989, he moved to Indiana University Bloomington [14], where he served as Computer Science Department Chair from 2004-2009, retiring in 2012, and continues as an Emeritus faculty member.

Hanson's physics research ranges from early aspects of string theory to field theory and general relativity. In 1978, he and Tohru Eguchi derived the Eguchi-Hanson metric, the first gravitational instanton, the class of Einstein solutions bearing the closest known resemblance to the BPST Yang-Mills instanton discovered in 1975. He and Eguchi shared second prize in the 1979 Gravity Research Foundation competition. During his decade at the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center, he worked on the DARPA Image Understanding Testbed and related machine vision projects. At Indiana University, he turned to research in computer graphics and scientific visualization. Hanson's work there focused on virtual reality, the fourth dimension, and quaternion maps of orientation spaces, leading to the monograph Visualizing Quaternions[5] published in 2006 . Recent work has dealt with quantum computing, quaternion methods for proteomics analysis, and computer graphics representations of Calabi-Yau spaces related to the hidden dimensions of string theory. His interactive graphics approach to understanding the fourth dimension is reflected in the iPhone Apps 4Dice and 4DRoom.


  1. ^ Andrew J. Hanson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ Eguchi, Tohru; Hanson, Andrew J. (1978-04-10). "Asymptotically flat self-dual solutions to euclidean gravity" (PDF). Physics Letters B. 74 (3): 249–251. doi:10.1016/0370-2693(78)90566-X. ISSN 0370-2693.
  3. ^ Hanson, Andrew J.; Regge, Tullio; Teitelboim, Claudio (1976). Constrained Hamiltonian Systems. Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.
  4. ^ Eguchi, Tohru; Gilkey, Peter B.; Hanson, Andrew J. (1980-12-01). "Gravitation, gauge theories and differential geometry". Physics Reports. 66 (6): 213–393. doi:10.1016/0370-1573(80)90130-1. ISSN 0370-1573.
  5. ^ a b Hanson, Andrew J. (2006). Visualizing Quaternions. San Francisco, CA, USA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc. ISBN 9780080474779.
  6. ^ Alfred O. Hanson at the Atomic Heritage Foundation
  7. ^ "Elisabeth Hanson Papers (Born Digital Content) | Digital Collections at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library". Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  8. ^ "Andrea Doria The Souls". Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  9. ^ Moscow, Alvin (1981). Collision course: the classic story of the most extraordinary sea disaster of our times--the collision at sea of the S.S. Andrea Doria and the M.S. Stockholm. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 9780448120195. OCLC 7951244.
  10. ^ Simpson, Pierette Domenica (2008). Alive on the Andrea Doria!: the greatest sea rescue in history. Garden City, N.Y.: Morgan James. ISBN 9781600374609. OCLC 233544142.
  11. ^ Dear, Brian (2017). The friendly orange glow: the untold story of the PLATO system and the dawn of cyberculture. ISBN 9781101871553. OCLC 980858516.
  12. ^ Phua, K. K; Low, H. B.; Xiong, Chi (2017). Memorial Volume for Kerson Huang. World Scientific Publishing. ISBN 9789813207424.
  13. ^ Fubini, S.; Hanson, A. J.; Jackiw, R. (1973-03-15). "New Approach to Field Theory". Physical Review D. 7 (6): 1732–1760. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.7.1732.
  14. ^ "Indiana University Bloomington". Indiana University Bloomington.