Thom, René Frédéric[tom]
Mathematician, born in Montbéliard, France. He studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, and became professor at Grenoble. Since 1964 he has been at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques. In 1958 he was awarded the Fields Medal (the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize). He is best known for his book Stabilité structurelle et morphogenèse (1972), which introduced the controversial "catastrophe theory', with applications to such widely differing situations as the development of the embryo, social interaction, and physical phenomena such as breaking waves.