Mathematical physicist, born in Ulm, Germany. He was educated at Munich and Aarau, and went on to study at the Zürich Polytechnic. Taking Swiss nationality in 1901, he was appointed examiner at the Swiss Patent Office (1902--9), where he began to publish original papers on theoretical physics. He became world famous by his special (1905) and general (1916) theories of relativity. He was professor at the universities of Zürich (1909), and Prague (1911), at Zürich Polytechnic (1912), then became director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute in Berlin (1914--33). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. After Hitler's rise to power, he left Germany, lectured at Oxford and Cambridge, and worked from 1934 at the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, USA. In 1940 he became a US citizen and professor at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, and spent the remainder of his life attempting by means of his unified field theory (1950) to establish a merger between quantum theory and his general theory of relativity. After the war, he urged international control of atomic weapons.