Thurston had deep interest in mathematics teaching and communication. In the foreword to The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010 (edited by Mircea Pitici, Princeton University Press, 2011), Thurston wrote: "We humans have a wide range of abilities that help us perceive and analyze mathematical content. We perceive abstract notions not just through seeing but also by hearing, by feeling, by our sense of body motion and position. Our geometric and spatial skills are highly trainable, just as in other high-performance activities. In mathematics we can use the modules of our minds in flexible ways---even metaphorically. A whole-mind approach to mathematical thinking is vastly more effective than the common approach that manipulates only symbols."
Born in 1946, Thurston received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972 under the direction of Morris Hirsch. He held positions at Princeton, MIT, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and, most recently, Cornell. He served as director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley from 1992 to 1997. Thurston had a large number of outstanding students at Princeton, many of whom continue to work in the areas touched upon by his vision. He supervised 33 PhD students in total.
Thurston's honors include the Fields Medal (1982), the AMS Book Prize (2005) (since renamed the Joseph L. Doob Prize), and the AMS Steele Prize for a Seminal Contribution to Research (2012).
Wednesday August 22nd 2012 © AMS