Person: De Lyra, Carlos Benjamin
Benjamin Carlos de Lyra was a Brazilian mathematician who worked in algebraic topology.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Carlos de Lyra Filho was well-known as the owner of the newspaper 'Diário de Pernambuco'.
- George de Lyra (1929-1999) became a well-known artist.
- Elizabeth and Paul Nortz, along with Carlos and George, then moved to the United States.
- Lyra attended Roman Catholic schools in New York.
- This school, named after the Scottish island of Iona, had been founded in 1916 by the Congregation of Christian Brothers.
- Lyra excelled at the school and graduated 'summa cum laude' in 1945.
- It was while he was at this high school that Lyra decided that the subject that he wanted to continue studying was mathematics.
- Both Courant and Lyra lived in the New York suburbs and they travelled into the city on the same train every day.
- in 1941, shortly before getting to know Lyra on the train journeys.
- In São Paulo in 1946 he began attending the Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras where he met André Weil and Jean Dieudonné.
- The recollection of these walks and of the talks with Weil always remained vivid in Lyra's mind.
- The deep impression left by these courses on him, plus his earlier and profound interest in point set topology, led Lyra to choose algebraic topology as his special field.
- During his final year as an undergraduate, Lyra proved some results relating the well ordering theorem, the axiom of choice and Zorn's lemma.
- After an outstanding undergraduate career, Lyra graduated in 1950.
- In 1951 he sailed to France to undertake research for his doctorate.
- He left Brazil having applied for a scholarship but still awaiting the decision on whether it would be granted.
- His confidence was rewarded, however, for he received a scholarship from the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisas.
- In Paris, Lyra attended Henri Cartan's seminar on fibre spaces.
- In the summer of 1953 he attended Witold Hurewicz's lectures on 'Homotopy' at the Collège de France.
- Leda Lacerda was from Rio de Janeiro where she had been working with Bernhard Gross, a German physicist who had arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1933.
- Around 1947 they had derived a new integral transform in rheology which they had published in the Journal of Applied Physics.
- After graduating from the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia in Rio de Janeiro, Leda Lacerda sailed to Europe to continue her studies at the European Institute of Physics.
- Carlos de Lyra and Leda Lacerda became partners and lived in the Hotel des Grands Hommes in Paris.
- After Leda became pregnant in August 1953 she returned to Brazil and, a short while later, Lyra followed her.
- Jorge studied in São Paulo and then went to Yale University where he was awarded a Ph.D. in physics.
- Sylvia was awarded a degree in Sociology.
- Tragically, Eduardo died in 1971 at the age of twelve in an accident on a beach.
- Back in São Paulo at the end of 1953, Lyra was appointed as an assistant professor of mathematics at the Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras.
- He was much influenced by Alexander Grothendieck who spent the years 1953-55 at the University of São Paulo.
- Lyra published Minimal complexes and maps (1954) in which he proved the existence of a minimal subcomplex of the cubical singular complex of a topological space.
- Lyra received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to fund a two-year visit to Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in the United States.
- Of course Steenrod was one of the main reasons that Lyra wanted to go to the Institute for Advanced Study since he had published the first systematic account of fibre bundles in his book The Topology of Fibre Bundles (1951).
- Despite having funds for a two-year visit to Princeton, Lyra returned to Brazil after spending only one year at the Institute for Advanced Study.
- A group of academics, in which Lyra played a central part, worked hard through the 1960s to establish an Institute of Mathematics and Statistics.
- Lyra worked at the new Institute of Mathematics and Statistics from 1970 to 1972, then was appointed there as a Senior Professor.
- In 1968 he was given the title of "livre-docente" at the Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras and, in 1974, he became Associate Professor of the Instituto de Matemática e Estatistica of the University of São Paulo.
- On his influence in the development of mathematics in Brazil: special emphasis must be given to the dedication of the candidate to all problems which arise in the development of mathematics in Brazil.
- This dedication has had remarkable results not only within the Institute of which he is a member but also in the whole of the University and of the country, through his activities in the Colóquios de Matemática, in the Sociedade Brasileira de Matemática, IMPA, etc.
- On his teaching activity: the Committee gives special emphasis to the dedication of the candidate to his work on advising graduate students, keeping up the interest on Algebraic Topology, a subject in which he is the most active lecturer in Brazil.
- This has never affected his activity as lecturer on the undergraduate level, as is made evident both by the variety of the courses he has taught as by his work on planning curricula and programme reforms.
- Taking all this into account, the Committee unanimously recommends Professor Carlos Benjamin de Lyra for Professor of the Department of Mathematics of this Institute.
- His role in supervising more than a dozen advanced students and a number of beginners was also remarkable.
- Lyra made special efforts to attract many others and we mention, in particular, Peter Hilton who visited São Paulo in 1968, 1969, 1972, 1973 and 1974.
- Lyra had little confidence that he would live out his three score and ten, and he would tell his friends that he expected to die soon.
- Lyra very much welcomed the referee's suggestions for improvement, and was able to embark on a revised version in the beginning of June, 1974.
- Peter Hilton was in Brazil at the time of Lyra's death and undertook to write the revised version in accordance with the referee's suggestions and Lyra's notes.
Born 23 November 1927, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. Died 21 July 1974, São Paulo, Brazil.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Brazil, Topology
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive