Wilfried Schmid was born in Germany. He came to the United States when his father spent a year as visitor to the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study in 1960. That year Schmid entered the undergraduate program at Princeton University, graduating with an A.B. in mathematics. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics in 1967 from the University of California at Berkeley. After three years as an assistant professor at Berkeley, he became professor of mathematics at Columbia University. He moved to Harvard University in 1978. In addition to his research interests, he became involved in K-12 mathematics education, after a disturbing incident in his daughter’s second grade class. He played a major role in the drafting of the 2000 Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework, and served on the U.S. National Mathematics Advisory Panel in 2008. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Wilfried Schmid's research interests include the representation theory of reductive Lie groups, Hodge theory, and certain aspects of analytic number theory. In his Ph.D. thesis, he outlined the first concrete realization of the discrete series representations of reductive Lie groups, which he later worked out in complete detail, constructing them as cohomology groups of line bundles on homogeneous spaces. These spaces are closely related to classifying spaces for Hodge structures. That led him to study the period mappings for families of complex projective manifolds, and to describe the singularities of these period mappings in complete detail. In joint work with Stephen Miller, he derived the analytic continuation and holomorphy of Langlands L-functions from properties of the distribution boundary values of the corresponding representations. Most recently, jointly with Kari Vilonen, he used techniques of Hodge theory to study irreducible unitary representations of reductive Lie groups.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 11: Mathematics