John W. Hessler

Mathematician, GIS Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD

John W. Hessler

Mathematician, GIS Scientist, and Professor in Baltimore, MD

Read my new COVID article

When not climbing in the Alps or mountain biking through some jungle, I am a lecturer in Mathematics & Computer Science in the Odyssey Program of the Krieger School of the Arts & Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, and a Specialist in Computational Geography & Geographic Information Science at the Library of Congress.

Over the past few years I have lectured or taught classes on Quantum Computing, Quantum Field Theory, Evolutionary Game Theory, the Mathematical Foundations of Deep & Machine Learning, the Millennium Problems, and most recently, on the Science of Pandemics. Interested in the intersection of neuroscience and computation, I have also taught classes in the mapping of the human brain and evolutionary computation.

I am the founder of the BIOCOMP Lab (BCL), where our philosophy is to apply advanced mathematics and computation to challenging problems in policy and governance that are important in the world today. We combine evolutionary computation, along with geospatial data and advanced bioinformatics, to study complex spatial analysis problems, like Congressional redistricting, political polling, and mapping pandemics.

Our current project centers on mapping the variation in the genome and distribution of Rhinolophus bats—thought to be the hosts of SARS-CoV-2—using deep learning, bioacoustic recordings, and wavelet analysis.

At the BCL, we often find ourselves pondering the mathematical intricacies of evolutionary game theory, wondering about information entropy, and marveling at the philosophical complexity of genetic algorithms.

The lab's theoretical research is focused on the application of the renormalization group, derived from quantum field theory, to study the structure and function of deep neural networks.

The author of more than one hundred articles and books, including the New York Times bestseller, 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, CITYLAB, the BBC, CBS News and most recently on NPR’s All Things Considered, Bloomberg News and MAPLAB.

An avid mountaineer, I am also a frequent contributor to Alpinist Magazine, where I write about glaciology, the history of mountaineering, & climate change.

I find being close to the gentle hum of supercomputers, the philosophical complexity of QFT, and the everyday language of James Joyce’s Ulysses, strangely comforting.

  • Work
    • Johns Hopkins University / LoC