Person: Abhyankar, Shreeram Shankar
Shreeram Shankar Abhyankar was an Indian-born American mathematician who worked in algebraic geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Although Shreeram (known to his friends as Ram) was born in Ujjain, he only spent the first two years of his life there.
- Shreeram attended school in Gwalior and, after graduating, went to the Royal Institute of Science of Bombay University intending to major in physics.
- The only mathematician who was there that morning was Oscar Zariski, so Abhyankar had his first meeting with Zariski who immediately began asking Abhyankar what courses he would take.
- Abhyankar had already talked to Masani before leaving India and been advised by him on suitable courses but Zariski, quickly realising Abhyankar's potential, suggested the most advanced courses.
- Abhyankar was awarded a Master's Degree by Harvard in 1952 and continued to study there for his doctorate advised by Zariski.
- Zariski was very interested in the question of resolution of singularities of positive characteristic surfaces and mentioned this to Abhyankar as an important problem which was probably too difficult for a Ph.D. problem.
- Abhyankar became fascinated with this problem, and after a tremendous effort solved it as his Ph.D. thesis.
- Around the time that Abhyankar was a research student working in algebraic geometry, Alexander Grothendieck was taking a totally new approach to the topic.
- In 1963 Abhyankar was appointed to Perdue University as a full professor and he was named Marshall Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Perdue in 1967.
- Let us quote from several of the people who knew Abhyankar and his approach to mathematics.
- Not everyone appreciated Abhyankar's style, however, particularly his love of arguing with others.
- In particular he loved to get into deep arguments with other professors when he was at the University of Pune and this annoyed the vice-chancellor so much that he banned Abhyankar from the premises.
- Abhyankar was elected a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy (1987) and a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (1988).
- The American Mathematical Society introduced a new honour of 'Fellow of the American Mathematical Society' in 2012 and Abhyankar was among the initial list of those receiving this honour on 1 November 2012.
- Abhyankar suffered a heart attack in his home while sitting at his desk working on mathematics on the morning of Friday 2 November 2012.
Born 22 July 1930, Ujjain, India. Died 2 November 2012, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive