Person: Palis Jr, Jacob
Jacob Palis was a Brazilian mathematician who was a leading expert in dynamical systems. He gained many international prizes for his outstanding research contributions and also served as president of the International Mathematical Union as well as several other academies and societies.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Jacob Palis Sr had a large store in Uberaba, a city in the Brazilian Highlands, which sold everything.
- After studying for one year at High School in Rio de Janeiro, Palis sat the entrance examination for the University of Brazil.
- Although Palis was studying for an engineering degree, the subjects that he loved were mathematics and physics.
- For example the mathematician Maurício Matos Peixoto was the professor of Rational Mechanics in the National School of Engineering and he strongly influenced Palis.
- When he was well into the engineering course, Palis began to attend talks at the Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) in Rio de Janeiro and also, but rather less often, he went to the Centre of Brazilian Physics Research (CBPF) in Rio de Janeiro.
- At this time Palis still intended to have a career in engineering but he planned, after gaining his engineering degree, to study mathematics and physics, then to return to engineering with the great advantage of having a very strong mathematical and physical base behind him.
- They suggested to Palis that he should go to the United States and study for a Ph.D. on dynamical systems with Smale.
- Palis took the advice and wrote to Smale who was at that time at Columbia University in New York.
- With strong recommendations from Peixoto and Lima, Smale rapidly accepted Palis and agreed to be his advisor.
- The next major task for Palis was to obtain a scholarship to support his doctoral studies.
- The National Council of Scientific and Technological Development which gave scholarships to outstanding Brazilians to study abroad ceased to operate after the coup and Palis feared this would put a stop to his plans.
- Palis applied and, after being examined by a committee, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship.
- The committee said that they would choose the best place in the United States for him to study but Palis told them that he would only accept if he could go to Columbia University and study under Smale.
- In June 1964 Smale wrote to Palis saying that he was accepting a position at the University of California at Berkeley.
- Since it was too late for Palis to apply to study at Berkeley he wrote to Smale asking what he should do.
- At Berkeley, Palis studied at first for a Master's Degree which he was awarded in 1966.
- Palis was awarded a Ph.D. for his thesis in 1968 and had two further papers published in that year: On Morse-Smale dynamical systems; and On the local structure of hyperbolic points in Banach spaces.
- After completing work of his thesis, Palis visited Brown University in late 1967.
- Palis also visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
- The fifteenth Summer Mathematical Institute of the American Mathematical Society, with the topic of global analysis was to be held at Berkeley from 1 July to 26 July and Palis was keen to attend.
- Back in Rio de Janeiro, Palis accepted posts at both the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and at the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics.
- In the summer of 1969 he spent some time at the Differential Equations Symposium at the University of Warwick and both Palis and Smale are in June 1969 Conference photograph.
- In 1970 Palis was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.
- In 1970, Elon Lima, Maurício Peixoto and Palis were organising the first International Symposium on Dynamical Systems, to be held at the University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil from 26 July to 14 August 1971.
- This became possible through a chance meeting of Palis and José Pelúcio Ferreira one day when Palis got off at a different bus stop from his usual one and took a longer walk home.
- Palis spoke with great enthusiasm to him about a new doctoral programme they were introducing at IMPA and said that it would be good for their students if they could organise an international conference.
- The new doctoral programme at IMPA began with great success with three of Palis's students completing their degree by 1973: Welington de Melo (Structural Stability on 2-Dimension Manifolds), Pedro Mendes (Estabilidade em Variedades Abertas Ⓣ(Stability in open varieties)) and Ricardo Mañé (Persistent Invariant Manifolds are Normally Hyperbolic).
- In 1972 Palis was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship which enabled him to spend 1973 at the University of California at Berkeley.
- Palis was awarded the Moinho Santista Prize in 1976; this is the most prestigious prize for science in Brazil.
- As he did in 1969, Palis went to Europe in the summer of 1980 and again spent a little time at both the University of Warwick in England and at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques in France.
- Palis taught the course "Introduction to Dynamical Systems: Geometric Theory" with problem sessions run by Rodrigo Bamon and Maria Josè Pacifico.
- In addition to the prizes we have mentions, Palis has also won The World Academy of Science Prize (1988), the National Prize for Science and Technology, Brazil (1990), the InterAmerican Prize for Science from the Organization of the American States (1995), the Prize Mexico for Science and Technology (2001), the Trieste Science Prize in Mathematics (2006), the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei International Prize (2008), and the Abdus Salam Medal (2015).
- There is another important contribution that Palis has made to mathematics, namely the leading roles he has played in both Brazilian and International Scientific Institutions.
- Jacob has been one of the primary organisers and supporters of such occasions.
Born 15 March 1940, Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
View full biography at MacTutor
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive