Department of Land, Air and Water Resources - University of California, Davis
Phone: (530) 902-6030   Email:   Office: Veihmeyer 127


Dr. Carlos E. Puente was born in Cartagena, Colombia and finished his high school at Colegio Alfonso Jaramillo in Bogotá, Colombia in 1972. After completing undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Civil Engineering at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, he traveled to the United States in 1980 to pursue his graduate work.

He enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received Master's degrees in Civil Engineering and Operations Research in 1983, followed by his Doctorate in Hydrology in 1984. After remaining at MIT as a Postgraduate Researcher, Dr. Puente joined the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at the University of California, Davis, where he has been a Professor since 1986.

Dr. Puente is the author of over 70 refereed publications, including the books Treasures inside the Bell: Hidden Order in Chance and The Hypotenuse: An Illustrated Scientific Parable for Turbulent Times, also available in Spanish and Farsi, and The Fig Tree & The Bell: Chaos, Complexity, and Christianity.

His research efforts pertain to the development and application of fractal geometric ideas to hydrology and geophysics, the study of an unforeseen route to the Gaussian distribution via iterations of simple mappings, and the investigation of linkages between natural and man-made complexity.

Dr. Puente and his collaborators developed a new deterministic approach aimed at addressing the ever elusive problem of geophysical (hydrologic) complexity. Reminiscent of the Platonic notion of reality being a "shadow,” the ideas rely on studying the many interesting projection patterns obtained while using multifractal measures to illuminate fractal interpolating functions.

Dr. Puente’s group has established that such notions give rise to a host of “natural” patterns over one, two and three dimensions, that may be used to model a variety of complex geophysical sets, including rainfall time series, pollution spatial patterns, and both chaotic and "random" time series.

Experimenting with these same ideas, Dr. Puente discovered that arbitrary illumination of space-filling fractal interpolating functions always result in Gaussian distributions, over one or higher dimensions. This surprisingly universal result linking the famous bell with fractals provides, in addition, an unforeseen bridge between disorder and order, one that is counterintuitive for the notions relate turbulence with diffusion, and dissipation with conduction.

While attempting to prove the validity of the Gaussian result over two dimensions, Dr. Puente stumbled upon the stunning presence of a host of Treasures inside the bell. These are beautiful and exotic mathematical designs that decompose the circular Gaussian distribution into crystalline patterns of arbitrary symmetries, which surprisingly include the geometric structure of nature’s ice crystals and also biochemical rosettes, comprising even life’s own DNA.

Inspired by his work on the Gaussian distribution and other recent universal results pertaining to natural complexity, Dr. Puente has been studying the applicability of such laws to understand man-made complexity, hoping to establish from them useful lessons for inner and world peace.

In this regard, Dr. Puente has written a trilogy of papers with the common title “Lessons from complexity,” a collection of poems-songs, and the book The Fig Tree and the Bell. God’s Love via Modern Science, which he uses to teach a popular First Year seminar entitled Chaos, Complexity and Christianity.

Dr. Puente has shared numerous presentations in Hydrology, Complexity and Peace at several national and international forums. He has prepared for 2016, to join in the celebration of the Jubilee of Mercy, a series of special lectures under the title From Modern Science to God's Mercy. For his contributions he has been named Fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design.

Dr. Puente lives in Davis, California with his wife and two daughters, in a house whose back yard has two fig trees, one of which is adorned by a hanging bell that rings sweet reminders.