|Barry Charles Mazur|
Barry Mazur in 1992
December 19, 1937 |
New York City, New York
|Alma mater||Princeton University|
|Doctoral advisor||Ralph Fox
R. H. Bing
|Doctoral students||Nigel Boston
|Known for||diophantine geometry
generalized Schoenflies conjecture
Mazur's torsion theorem
|Notable awards||National Medal of Science (2011)
Cole Prize (1982)
Veblen Prize (1966)
Born in New York City, Mazur attended the Bronx High School of Science and MIT, although he did not graduate from the latter on account of failing a then-present ROTC requirement. Regardless, he was accepted for graduate school and received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1959, becoming a Junior Fellow at Harvard from 1961 to 1964. He is currently the Gerhard Gade University Professor and a Senior Fellow at Harvard.
His early work was in geometric topology. In a clever, elementary fashion, he proved the generalized Schoenflies conjecture (his complete proof required an additional result by Marston Morse), around the same time as Morton Brown. Both Brown and Mazur received the Veblen Prize for this achievement. He also discovered the Mazur manifold and the Mazur swindle.
Coming under the influence of Alexander Grothendieck's approach to algebraic geometry, he moved into areas of diophantine geometry. Mazur's torsion theorem, which gives a complete list of the possible torsion subgroups of elliptic curves over the rational numbers, is a deep and important result in the arithmetic of elliptic curves. Mazur's first proof of this theorem depended upon a complete analysis of the rational points on certain modular curves. This proof was carried in his seminal paper "Modular curves and the Eisenstein ideal". The ideas of this paper and Mazur's notion of Galois deformations, were among the key ingredients in Wiles's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. Mazur and Wiles had earlier worked together on the main conjecture of Iwasawa theory.
In an expository paper, Number Theory as Gadfly, Mazur describes number theory as a field which
produces, without effort, innumerable problems which have a sweet, innocent air about them, tempting flowers; and yet... number theory swarms with bugs, waiting to bite the tempted flower-lovers who, once bitten, are inspired to excesses of effort!
Awards and honors
Mazur has received the Veblen Prize in geometry, the Cole Prize in number theory, the Chauvenet Prize for exposition, and the Steele Prize for seminal contribution to research from the American Mathematical Society. In early 2013, he was presented with one of the 2011 National Medals of Science by President Barack Obama.
- Hoffman, Jascha (2012). "Q&A: The maths raconteur, Barry Mazur". Nature 483 (7390): 405. doi:10.1038/483405a.
- Barry Mazur at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Mazur, Barry (2004). Imagining numbers: (particularly the square root of minus fifteen). New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-100887-3.
- List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-02-04.
- Homepage of Barry Mazur
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Barry Mazur", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
- Video of Mazur talking about his work, from the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation