born Oct. 27, 1931, London , England.
    died Nov. 27, 1980, San Jose, CA., U.S.

John Hubbard studied physics at London University, Imperial College of Science and Technology.

Promotor of his B.Sc. thesis (1953) and Ph.D. thesis (1958) was Prof. Stanley Raimes from the Department of Mathematics, Imperial College, London, who wrote two very readable textbooks:
Wave Mechanics Electrons in Metals, North-Holland, 1961;
Many-Electron Theory, North-Holland, 1972.

John Hubbard took his Ph.D., in 1958 on a thesis devoted to the Description of Collective Motions in Terms of Many-Body Perturbation Theory with Applications to the Electrons in Metals and Plasma.

John Hubbard published his famous article "Calculation of Partition Functions" in Phys. Rev. Lett., 5 (1959) N 2, pp.77-78. The famous Hubbard-Stratonovich transformation has been refined and reformulated for the calculation of the grand partition functions of some many-body systems.

He took the position of a researcher at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell in the Theoretical Physics Division, headed by W. Marshall in 1955.

He took the position of the Head of the Theoretical Physics Group at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell in the Theoretical Physics Division in 1961.

During the years from 1963 to 1966 he formulated his famous Hubbard Model in series of 6 papers in the Proceedings of the Royal Society:

1. J. Hubbard, Electron Correlations in Narrow Energy Bands. Proc.Roy.Soc. A 276, 238 (1963).
CITED by 4052 (on 06.2011)

2. J. Hubbard, Electron Correlations in Narrow Energy Bands.II. The Degenerate Band Case. Proc.Roy.Soc. A 277, 237 (1964).

3. J. Hubbard, Electron Correlations in Narrow Energy Bands.III. An Improved Solution. Proc.Roy.Soc. A 281, 41 (1964).
CITED by 1502 (on 06.2011)

4. J. Hubbard, Electron Correlations in Narrow Energy Bands.IV. The Atomic Representation. Proc.Roy.Soc. A 285, 542 (1965).

5. J. Hubbard, Electron Correlations in Narrow Energy Bands.V. A Perturbation Expansion About the Atomic Limit. Proc.Roy.Soc. A 296, 82 (1966).

6. J. Hubbard, Electron Correlations in Narrow Energy Bands.VI. The Connection with Many-body Perturbation Theory. Proc.Roy.Soc. A 296, 100 (1966).

John Hubbard told the story of the invention of the model in the inteview: Citation Classic, Number 22, June 2 in 1980.

He worked at Harwell up to 1976.

He moved from Harwell to the IBM Research Laboratory, San Jose, California at 1976. During the years from 1976 to 1980 he worked on the problems of magnetism of Iron and Nickel and one-dimensional conductors.

John Hubbard was not elected by a fellow of the Royal Society and did not received any Honors or Awards.
P.S. This biography was written in 2005 on the basis of the published works of John Hubbard and small pieces of information from the colleagues. Now the more precise data on John Hubbard biography are available (see text below).


Those who knew John Hubbard describe him as a very shy man – to the point that others, who did not know him so well, may have perceived him as somewhat aloof. Born on 27 October 1931, Hubbard was educated first at Hampton Grammar school and then at Imperial College, London, where he obtained his PhD in 1958 under Stanley Raimes. Unusually for his time and social context, he lived with his parents in Teddington throughout his university education. At the end of his PhD, Hubbard was recruited to the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, Oxfordshire, by Brian Flowers, who was then heading the theory division. An anecdote from this period of Hubbard’s career illustrates his retiring personality.
While at Imperial, Hubbard had dealt with the project assigned to him for his PhD fairly quickly, and had then looked for a more challenging problem. At the time, quantum-field-theory methods, particularly Feynman diagrams, were being applied to problems in many-body theory. However, it was difficult to bring the same methods to bear on the many-electron problem – relevant to solid-state systems – because the Coulomb interaction between electrons made quantities like the total energy diverge. Hubbard realized that these divergences could be controlled: the trick was to sum up an infinite series of a particular class of Feynman diagrams.
When Hubbard arrived in Harwell, he mentioned this to Flowers, who wanted to see the paper. Alas, there was no paper, Hubbard explained, because when he was about to write it up he saw an article by other researchers who had introduced a different method to solve the same problem. Hubbard had found their method physically appealing, checked privately that their results coincided with his, and concluded there was no need for an additional publication on the topic. Flowers then issued an explicit order that Hubbard should publish his groundbreaking work.
Hubbard’s most famous papers are the series he wrote on his eponymous model, starting in 1963. He was not the only one working on the strong-correlations problem: some months earlier, Takeo Izuyama, working at Nagoya University, and Duk-Joo Kim and Ryogo Kubo, at the University of Tokyo, both in Japan, had argued that a proper description of correlations in metals with strong electron–electron interactions could explain the observed spin-wave spectrum. Martin Gutzwiller, who was then working at IBM’s research laboratories in Zurich, had also produced essentially the same model. Yet it was Hubbard’s calculations that showed that the model that now bears his name could in fact describe both the metallic and insulating behaviour as two extremes of the same thing. His application of a Green’s function technique to the model was a template for many other works in condensed-matter theory, and his papers from that time contain many crucial insights, such as the existence of so-called Hubbard bands that are a main feature of our current understanding of Mott insulators.
Eventually, Hubbard became the leader of the solid-state theory group at Harwell, and Walter Marshall succeeded Flowers as head of the theory division. Unlike the shy Hubbard, Marshall, who was also an excellent theorist, was very proactive in hunting for personnel and for funding. This was a blessing in disguise for Hubbard, as Marshall ignored Hubbard’s reticence completely and kept “parachuting” postdocs into his group.
Hubbard left the UK for the US in 1976, following Marshall's promotion to director of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment and a subsequent major reform of its facilities in Harwell. He joined Brown University and the IBM Laboratories in San Jose, California, where his research focused on the study of critical phenomena: phase transitions near which universal behaviour, independent of material specific properties, is observed.
He died, aged just 49, in San Jose on 27 November 1980. (Main source: Stephen Lovesey, private communications)
Jorge Quintanilla and Chris Hooley (2009). "The strong-correlations puzzle". Physics World 22: pp. 32–37.


A. L. Kuzemsky ©, 2006-2011.