Person: Ahlfors, Lars Valerian
Lars Ahlfors was a Finnish mathematician who made important contributions to Complex Analysis and was one of the first recipients of a Fields Medal.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- For the first three years of his life, Lars was looked after by two of his aunts on the Aland Islands.
- Civil war followed, food was scarce and Axel Ahlfors was taken prisoner by the Reds.
- However, with German support for the White army, the Reds were quickly defeated and Axel Ahlfors was released.
- Lars Ahlfors was educated at a private Swedish language high school, the Nya Svenska Samskolan.
- Ahlfors had little interest outside his school work during these years.
- Ahlfors suddenly became known internationally when he solved this conjecture.
- After Zürich, Ahlfors went to Paris with Nevanlinna for three months before returning to Finland.
- In the year 1930-32 Ahlfors made a number of visits to Paris, supported by a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, and to other European centres.
- In 1935, Constantin Carathéodory, whom Ahlfors had met in Munich during his travels, recommended him for a post at Harvard in the United States.
- Ahlfors agreed to a three year trial period.
- The main direction of Ahlfors's work was to return to the foundations of the subject, and view it from a more geometric (and differential geometric) point of view.
- In 1938 Ahlfors was offered a chair in mathematics at the University of Helsinki and, being rather homesick, he accepted this rather than remain permanently at Harvard.
- Ahlfors remained in Helsinki where the university was closed because there were too few male students.
- Two years after taking up the appointment at Harvard, Ahlfors was elected Chairman of the Mathematics Department.
- In the spring of 1947 Ahlfors gave a course on the method of the extremal metric, which was then in its infancy.
- Ahlfors did not conduct a regular seminar at any time during my stay.
- This was the text recommended to me by Edward Copson who taught me complex analysis and it is indeed a tribute to Ahlfors that Copson, who had himself written a superb book on complex analysis, should recommend Ahlfors' book rather than his own.
- Ahlfors received many honours for his outstanding contributions to mathematics.
- Ahlfors celebrated finiteness theorem for Kleinian groups, and his work on the limit set, revitalized an important area of research.
- Ahlfors' influence was pervasive and beneficial.
Born 18 April 1907, Helsingfors, Finland, Russian Empire (now Helsinki, Finland). Died 11 October 1996, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Prize Fields Medal, Origin Finland, Prize Wolf
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive