Mason A. Porter

Professor of Nonlinear and Complex Systems

Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Mathematical Institute

University of Oxford


Big News: As of 30 June 2016, I am a Professor in the Department of Mathematics at UCLA. I will physically move there in the last third of September. (The plan is to retain a Visiting Professor position at University of Oxford for the forseeable future. Starting in summer 2017, I will be visiting here for about one month each summer.) Further updates to my web page will occur at UCLA.

  • CV (8/23/16)
  • Google Scholar Citations

  • Background

  • I was born and raised in the United States. I was technically born in Los Angeles (in California), but I actually lived in Beverly Hills until I went to college.
  • In order, the schools I attended are Temple Emanuel Nursery School (because, of course, you really needed to know that), Hawthorne Elementary School, Beverly Hills High School (yes, I really did go there), California Institute of Technology (BS, Applied Math, 1998; member of Lloyd House), and Cornell University (PhD, Center for Applied Mathematics, 2002).
  • From Fall 2002 through Spring 2005, I did a postdoc in Mathematics and the Center for Nonlinear Science (housed in the School of Physics) at Georgia Tech. (In Spring 2003, I was on leave from that position to be a postdoc in the Semiclassical Analysis program at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California.)
  • From June 2005 until 30 September 2007, I was a postdoc at Caltech in the Center for the Physics of Information. I was also part of the condensed matter physics group.
  • Since 1 October 2007, I have been on the faculty of the Mathematical Institute at University of Oxford. (Can you tell that I take vacations? Quickly check the dates you just read.)
  • This is completely irrelevant for my research group page, but I am a diehard fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers (a baseball team). I'm not going to write a web page this extensive without putting that information somewhere prominent.
  • Got all that?

  • Research Interests

    I am interested in numerous areas of applied mathematics, and I am always looking for new areas to try. (I basically keep adding new research interests.) However, here are a few buzzwords describing areas in which I have already written research papers or have projects in progress:

  • Nonlinear Science
  • Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
  • Nonlinear Waves (including solitary waves, compactons, etc.)
  • Billiard Systems
  • Quantum Chaos
  • Granular Media
  • Nonlinear Optics
  • Atomic Physics (specifically, Bose-Einstein condensation)
  • Network Science
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Mathematical Biology (including biological networks)
  • Synchronization

  • Contact Information

  • E-mail: porterm [at] maths [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk
  • Office: Andrew Wiles Building ("Mathematical Institute"), second floor, room S2.04
  • Phone: +44 (0)1865 280608
  • Fax: +44 (0)1865 273583
  • IM: tepid451
  • Send snail mail to the following address: Mason Porter, Mathematical Institute, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG, UK

  • How I got interested in my research area in the first place

    People run into mathematicians (not usually literally, but I have a few stories...) and sometimes wonder how they got that way. Both normal people and junior scientists (I'm thinking in particular of undergrads and grad students who are still trying to figure out what they want to do) also wonder how scientists got interested in their particular research areas. I think it's extremely useful to provide an answer to this question, so here's my story:

    My initial interest in nonlinear dynamical systems arose from a childhood fascination with patterns. The sketches that I began drawing when I was very young included many such displays of contrasting color. (I glanced through these sketches a few years ago, and several of them look remarkably similar to patterns that occur in nonlinear science. This is a statement either of how little I've progressed since then or of how I was born to study nonlinear science. I'm not really sure which...)

    In high school, I noticed that fractals could produce colorful patterns in the same vein as what I liked to draw, which led to my interest in them. In college, I discovered that what really intrigued me was trying to understand the mechanisms that could produce such interesting pictures and the real-life and man-made systems that exhibited them. Since then, my interests have branched out into several fields of science that can be studied using dynamical systems and other methods.

    In short, while my research interests have diversified in the last several years, my academic interests initially arose largely from what I consider visually appealing.