2003 Japan Prize Acceptance Speech of James Yorke


Your Majesties the emperor and empress, your Excellencies, honored guests, fellow laureates: It is a great honor to receive this prize from the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan. I thank all who participated in this award process.


My research career has been highly collaborative. I could never have received the Japan Prize had it not been for the ideas and efforts of my collaborators and I also accept this Prize on their behalves. I have written no papers by myself since 1970. Combining my ideas with those of others has yielded an output far more valuable, far more creative than had I worked alone.


Below are just those people with whom I have more than ten publications. Unfortunately this criterion omits some like Herb Hethcote; together in 1978 we launched the mathematical theory of the transmission dynamics and control of sexually transmitted diseases.


                            13 publications with         Andrzej Lasota beginning in 1971

                                                15 with        James Kaplan                  1974

                                                17 with        Tien-Yien Li                    1975 

                                                14 with        James Alexander             1976

                                                11 with        John Mallet-Paret             1978

                                                16 with        Kathleen Alligood            1981

                                                83 with        Edward Ott                     1982

                                                81 with        Celso Grebogi                 1982

                                                16 with        Brian Hunt                      1984

                                                24 with        Tim Sauer                       1987

                                                21 with        Helena Nusse                  1987

                                                18 with        Eric Kostelich                 1987

                                                13 with        Judy Kennedy                 1991


The Japan Prize has for me has a special meaning for me. I hope and expect it will enable me to do more research in new areas by giving those in the new field added confidence in my work. I have worked in several seemingly unrelated fields that might be included under the term complexity: chaotic dynamics, epidemiology, meteorology, genomics, and computer network security.  I will jump into other fields in the future. Beginning research in a new field means entering an arena whose researchers may be unaware of our past achievements.


New ideas are often “half-baked” and require time and resources to mature. A grant proposal for work in a new field is often incomplete and lacks the established sound, the jargon and phraseology of the field. If any of the referees lack confidence in the work, it is unlikely a grant will be awarded, and it is the job of referees to be skeptical.


I hope and expect this award of the Japan Prize will open doors for my future research projects in new areas!