prof. Andrzej Trautman

contribution to gravitational waves

This website is dedicated to the achievements of prof. Andrzej Mariusz Trautman. Andrzej Mariusz Trautman is a Polish mathematical physicist who has made contributions to general relativity. His work was devoted to: 

  • gravitational waves and radiation
  • theory of gravitation with spin and torsion
  • gauge theories and their geometric,
  • bundle-theoretic aspects
  • pure spinors, spin and pin structures on Riemannian manifolds

For his contribution to the development of science received: 

  • State Prize of the I degree (1976)
  • Prize Foundation. A. Jurzykowski (1984)
  • Medal of Marian Smoluchowski (1986)

He received an honorary doctorate from the Silesian University in Opava in 2001. In 2016 he was decorated with the Commander's Cross of Polonia Restituta. 


Born in Warsaw on January 4th, 1933. His grand-father, Marius André, was a French diplomat writing poetry in the langue d'oc. His father Mieczyslaw was a painter. In 1945  he went to France and, in 1949, graduated from a Polish secondary school in Paris. Back in Warsaw, he studied at the Technical University (Politechnika Warszawska) and obtained in 1955 the Master's degree in radio engineering. After that, he joined, as a post-graduate student, Leopold Infeld's group at the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. In 1958, at the invitation of Felix Pirani, he went for three months to Hermann Bondi's group at King's College, London, where he gave a series of lectures on general relativity. After getting in 1959 the Ph. D. degree in physics, he went on a post-doctoral fellowship to Abdus Salam's group at Imperial College, London. In 1961, he spent seven months with Peter Bergmann at Syracuse University, where he collaborated with Ivor Robinson and interacted with Art Komar, Ted Newman, Roger Penrose and Engelbert Schucking. Roza Michalska, who later became his wife, was also there. From the academic year 1961-62 on, he have been associated with the Institute of Theoretical Physics of Warsaw University (he was director of the Institute in the years 1975-85). After Infeld's retirement in 1967 he was charged with his chair of Electrodynamics and Relativity. He was privileged to have visited several outstanding scientists and centres of research; of special significance for him were stays and contacts with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, André Lichnerowicz, and Chen Ning Yang. Since 1969 he have been a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, serving as its vice-president in 1978-80. He gave invited lectures at the GRG Conferences at Royaumont (1959), Jablonna (1962), London (1965), Tbilisi (1968) and Jena (1980) and was a member of the International Committee for Relativity and Gravitation from 1965 to 1980. Now he is chair of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Geometry and Physics. He have also been lucky to have had several excellent Ph. D. students such as M. Demianski, W. Kopczynski (we wrote together a booklet entitled Spacetime and Gravitation), M. Abramowicz (now at Goeteborg), J. P. Lasota (now at Meudon), J. Tafel, J. Lewandowski and P. Nurowski.

His early work was devoted to gravitational waves and radiation. In 1960 Ivor Robinson and Andrzej Trautman found a class of exact solutions of Einstein's equations with diverging, shear free geodetic rays; some of them represent a rather special kind of 'spherical' gravitational waves. Later, he worked on the Einstein-Cartan theory of gravitation with spin and torsion; he first learned about that theory in England from T. W. B. Kibble and D. W. Sciama. A visit to C. N. Yang at Stony Brook (1976-77) stimulated a period of his interest in gauge theories and their geometric, bundle-theoretic aspects. During the 1980s, he stayed many times at SISSA and ICTP in Trieste; contacts with Paolo Budinich there resulted in work on pure spinors; they wrote together The Spinorial Chessboard. With Ludwik Dabrowski (Trieste), Michel Cahen and Simone Gutt (Brussels) and Thomas Friedrich (Berlin) they studied spin and pin structures on Riemannian manifolds.