John W. Hessler

Mathematician, GIS Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD

John W. Hessler

Mathematician, GIS Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD

Read my Alpinist articles...

When not climbing in the Alps or racing in the saddle of a Cervelo, I am a Specialist in Computational Geography & Geographic Information Science at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC and a lecturer in Evolutionary & Quantum Computing in the Graduate School of Advanced Studies of the Krieger School of the Arts and Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University. I have also taught at the Institut de physique du globe de Paris and given seminars at Harvard, MIT and University College, London.

Over the past few years I have lectured or taught seminars in Quantum Computing, Evolutionary Computation, Evolutionary Game theory, Markov Chains, and GIS for Bioinformatics Research. Interested in the interface of computation and neuroscience, I have also taught classes in the mapping of the human brain and neural engineering.

Formerly of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, I am the founder of the New Geometries Laboratory (NGL), where we combine evolutionary computation & geospatial data, along with advances in bioinformatics, to study complex spatial analysis and optimization problems, like mapping pandemics. Our current project centers on mapping the distribution of Rhinolophus bats—thought to be the hosts of SARS-CoV-2.

At the NGL, we are interested in the theoretical foundations of evolutionary computing and the logical structure of genetic algorithms. We also find ourselves pondering the mathematical intricacies of evolutionary game theory, wondering about σ-algebras, and marveling at the explanatory power of quantum category theory.

Researching the applications of Clifford Algebras and the Mereotopological foundations of GIS, I am working on the forthcoming book, Spatial Algebras: a formalization of the topological & mereological foundations of Geographic Information Science.

The author of more than one hundred articles and books, including the New York Times selection, MAP: Exploring the World, my writing and work has been featured in many national media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Discover Magazine, WIRED, the Atlantic’s CITYLAB, the BBC, CBS News and most recently on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Missing the view from Building 20, I find being close to the gentle hum of supercomputers, the mind-bending complexities of octonions, and the subtle language of Joyce’s Ulysses, strangely comforting.

  • Work
    • Johns Hopkins University / LoC