Steven R. White is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of California, Irvine. White grew up in California and got a B.A. from UC San Diego, with a triple major in Physics, Math and Economics in 1982. He completed his Ph.D. in Physics at Cornell in 1987, working with Nobel laureate Ken Wilson, and after a two year postdoc at UC Santa Barbara, joined the Physics Department at Irvine in 1989. He is the inventor of the density matrix renormalization group (DMRG), one of the most important and widely used algorithms for simulating quantum systems.
White is a Fellow of the AAAS and of the APS, and has served as the Councillor for the Division of Computational Physics at the APS. He won the APS’ Rahman Prize in 2003 for the invention of DMRG. In 2008, Physical Review Letters selected White’s original DMRG paper as the Milestone Paper of 1992. Currently White holds a visiting Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario.
White works mostly in condensed matter theory, specializing in computational techniques for strongly correlated systems. These strongly correlated systems include both high-temperature superconductors and quantum spin liquids. As the inventor of the DMRG algorithm for simulating quantum systems, he is interested in ways to improve and broaden DMRG, to apply it a variety of systems, and to understand and develop related tensor network algorithms. White is also active in quantum chemistry, and he was the first to apply DMRG to the ab initio calculation of the electronic structure of molecules.