Ellenberg, Jordan S. 1971-

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ELLENBERG, Jordan S. 1971-


Born 1971, in Potomac, MD; married Tanya Schlam. Education: Harvard University, B.A. (mathematics; summa cum laude), 1993, Johns Hopkins University, M.A. (fiction); Harvard University, Ph.D. (mathematics), 1998.


Office—Dept. of Mathematics, Princeton University, 808 Fine Hall, Washington Rd., Princeton, NJ 08544 E-mail—[email protected].


Mathematician and writer. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, instructor, 1998-2001, assistant professor, 2001—.


International Mathematical Olympiad awards, gold medals, 1987 and 1989, silver medal, 1988; first place, U.S.A. Mathematical Olympiad, 1989; Science Service, Inc./Westinghouse Electric Corporation scholarship, 1989; Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, 1991-92; National Science Foundation graduate fellow, 1994-97; National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship (declined), 1998; NSA Young Investigator grant, 2001.


The Grasshopper King (novel), Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Author of the column "Do the Math" for Slate online; contributor to scientific journals and to periodicals, including Boston Book Review and Boston Phoenix.


Jordan S. Ellenberg's parents are both statisticians, and their math prodigy son went on to teach the subject at Princeton University. On his Princeton home page, Ellenberg explains that his field "is arithmetic algebraic geometry: my specific interests include rational points on varieties, Galois representations attached to varieties and their fundamental groups, non-abelian Iwasawa theory, counting arithmetic objects, automorphic forms, Hilbert-Blumenthal abelian varieties, Q-curves, curves of low genus, Serre's conjecture, the ABC conjecture, and Diophantine problems related to all of the above."

On his personal home page, Ellenberg talks about his scientific interests, but also about his writing, beginning with his debut novel, The Grasshopper King, which was called a "very strange and over-the-top but amusing novel" by Booklist contributor Elsa Gaztambide. The story is set on the campus of Chandler State University, where the only claim to fame is the university's Gravinics Department. Researchers here study the most difficult language on earth, one in which a four-word sentence can have thousands of meanings, depending on subtleties. Graduate student Sam Grapearbor is given the task of watching Stanley Higgs, a professor who has not talked for more than a dozen years but who is the preeminent scholar on the work of Gravinian poet Henderson, a literary figure and genius who lives in a fictional Soviet republic.

Sam and his girlfriend, Julia, go to Higgs's home every day, where tape recorders are placed at the ready in the event that Higgs decides to speak. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found this plot element reminiscent of works by Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The critic felt that the "distinct tenderness" and "mutual craziness" seen in the relationship between Higgs and his wife, Ellen, reflect "an unconventional but oddly appealing model of married life." Mahinder Kingra also reviewed the novel for the Baltimore City Paper Online, saying that "Sam's self-deprecating narration is witty and satisfyingly melancholic, Ellenberg's characters are genuinely likable, and there is an undercurrent of conspiracies and machinations that keeps the narrative moving forward."



Booklist, April 1, 2003, Elsa Gaztambide, review of The Grasshopper King, p. 1376.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of The Grasshopper King, p. 159.

Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Josh Cohen, review of The Grasshopper King, p. 114.

Publishers Weekly, April 7, 2003, review of The Grasshopper King, p. 47.

Washington Post, June 29, 2003, Kit Reed, review of The Grasshopper King, p. T13.


Baltimore City Paper Online,http://www.citypaper.com/ (April 23, 2003), Mahinder Kingra, review of The Grasshopper King.

Hybridmagazine.com,http://www.hybridmagazine.com/ (March 9, 2004), review of The Grasshopper King.

Jordan Ellenberg Home Page,http://www.math.princeton.edu/ (March 9, 2004).*

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