Person: Kakutani, Shizuo
Shizuo Kakutani was a Japanese-born American mathematician who worked in probability theory, ergodic theory and complex analysis, and is best known for his fixed-point theorem.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Seiichi studied physics at Kyoto University and it was through him that Shizuo was first introduced to mathematics.
- Shizuo was fascinated and was enthusiastic to learn more mathematics.
- The first problem was that Kakujiro Kakutani had made the decision that one of his two sons would follow him into law and take over his practice in due course.
- After completing his middle school, Shizuo entered Konan High School in Kobe to prepare for his university studies.
- However, Shizuo was now not qualified to enter a mathematics course at either the University of Tokyo or Kyoto University since these had absolute rules regarding entry qualifications.
- There was one possible route for Shizuo which was to enter Tohoku University in Sendai.
- Kakutani applied but there were only fifteen places, and seventeen applicants.
- Of the seventeen, exactly fifteen had the science qualification from high school so it looked like an easy task to decide to admit those and to turn down Kakutani.
- However, after due consideration it was decided to admit all seventeen applicants and Kakutani had scrape through.
- At Tohoku University Kakutani was introduced to the theory of analytic functions.
- Indeed on the strength of this work Weyl invited Kakutani in 1940 to spend two years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
- Kakutani not only took great interest in the work of Weyl's group at Princeton but also the group of mathematicians working with von Neumann on measure theory and ergodic theory.
- Kakutani also made many visits during which he met mathematicians such as Garrett Birkhoff, G D Birkhoff, Stone, Wiener, and Hille.
- In December 1941 with Kakutani still studying at Princeton, war broke out between the United States and Japan with the entry of the U.S.A. into the Second World War.
- Of course this put Kakutani in a difficult position for he was now a guest in a country at war with his own.
- What, you may wonder, did Kakutani do.
- On his return to Japan Kakutani accepted the appointment as assistant professor at Osaka University.
- Kakutani, however, managed to continue to produce a stream of papers containing highly original ideas.
- In 1948 Kakutani was again invited to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
- Kakutani contributed to several areas of mathematics.
- Kakutani was to remain at Yale until he retired in 1982.
Born 28 August 1911, Osaka, Japan. Died 17 August 2004, New Haven, Connecticut, 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