Person: Thom (2), René
René Thom was a French mathematician who is known for his development of catastrophe theory, a mathematical treatment of continuous action producing a discontinuous result.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
 From 1931 Thom attended Primary School in Montbéliard, the town of his birth in which his parents were shopkeepers.
 It was at this primary school that Thom first showed his academic potential winning a scholarship.
 Thom attended the Lycée SaintLouis in Paris and applied to enter the École Normale Supérieure but failed to gain entrance in 1942.
 However, mathematically it was an exciting time for Thom who was to be strongly influenced by Henri Cartan and the Bourbaki approach to mathematics.
 In 1946 Thom graduated from the École Normale Supérieure and then moved to Strasbourg, taking a CNRS research post, so that he could continue to work with Henri Cartan.
 The work of the thesis was carried out in Strasbourg but Thom presented it to Paris.
 The foundations of the theory of cobordism, for which Thom later received a Fields Medal, already appear in his doctoral thesis.
 Thom returned to France and taught at Grenoble in 195354, then at Strasbourg from 1954 until 1963.
 It is as the inventor of catastrophe theory that Thom is best known but his earlier work had made him well known before he worked on catastrophe theory.
 His work on topology, in particular on characteristic classes, cobordism theory and the Thom transversality theorem led to his being awarded a Fields medal in 1958.
 These ideas have significantly enriched mathematics, and everything seems to indicate that the impact of Thom's ideas  whether they find their expression in the already known or in forthcoming works  is not exhausted by far.
 Thom's theory is an attempt to describe, in a way that is impossible using differential calculus, those situations in which gradually changing forces lead to socalled catastrophes, or abrupt changes.
 Presented by Thom in Structural Stability and Morphogenesis (1972), the theory has since been developed by many mathematicians.
 Thom was awarded the Grand Prix Scientifique de la Ville de Paris in 1974.
Born 2 September 1923, Montbéliard, Doubs, France. Died 25 October 2002, BuressurYvette, France.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Prize Fields Medal
Thank you to the contributors under CC BYSA 4.0!
 Github:

 nonGithub:
 @JJO'Connor
 @EFRobertson
References
Adapted from other CC BYSA 4.0 Sources:
 O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive