Friedrich Hirzebruch in 1980 (picture courtesy MFO)
|Born||Friedrich Ernst Peter Hirzebruch
17 October 1927
Hamm, Province of Westphalia, Weimar Germany
|Died||27 May 2012
|Institutions||University of Bonn
Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik
|Alma mater||University of Münster
Institute for Advanced Study
|Doctoral advisor||Heinrich Behnke
|Doctoral students||Egbert Brieskorn
Don Bernard Zagier
|Known for||Hirzebruch-Riemann-Roch theorem|
|Notable awards||Wolf Prize (1988)
Lobachevsky Medal (1989)
Friedrich Ernst Peter Hirzebruch (17 October 1927 – 27 May 2012) was a German mathematician, working in the fields of topology, complex manifolds and algebraic geometry, and a leading figure in his generation. He has been described as "the most important mathematician in the Germany of the postwar period."
He then had a position at Erlangen, followed by the years 1952–54 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. After one year at Princeton University 1955–56, he was made a professor at the University of Bonn, where he remained, becoming director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in 1981. More than 300 people gathered in celebration of his 80th birthday in Bonn in 2007.
The Hirzebruch–Riemann–Roch theorem (1954) for complex manifolds was a major advance and quickly became part of the mainstream developments around the classical Riemann–Roch theorem; it was also a precursor of the Atiyah–Singer index theorem. Hirzebruch's book Neue topologische Methoden in der algebraischen Geometrie (1956) was a basic text for the 'new methods' of sheaf theory, in complex algebraic geometry. He went on to write the foundational papers on topological K-theory with Michael Atiyah, and collaborate with Armand Borel on the theory of characteristic classes. In his later work he provided a detailed theory of Hilbert modular surfaces, working with Don Zagier.
Hirzebruch was a foreign member of numerous academies and societies, including the United States National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the French Academy of Sciences. In 1980–81 he delivered the first Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Israel.
In March 1945, Hirzebruch became a soldier, and in April, in the last weeks of Hitler's rule, he was taken prisoner by the British forces then invading Germany from the west. When a British soldier found that he was studying mathematics, he drove him home and released him, and told him to continue studying.
- Hirzebruch, Friedrich; Mayer, Karl Heinz (1968), O(n)-Mannigfaligkeiten, Exotische Sphären und Singularitäten, Lecture Notes in Mathematics 57, Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, doi:10.1007/BFb0074355, MR 0229251
- Hirzebruch, Friedrich; Zagier, Don (1974), The Atiyah-Singer theorem and elementary number theory, Houston, TX: Publish or Perish, MR 0650832
- Hirzebruch, Friedrich (1987), Gesammelte Abhandlungen. Band I, II, Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-540-18087-6, MR 931775
- Hirzebruch, Friedrich; Jung, Rainer; Berger, Thomas (1992), Manifolds and modular forms, Aspects of Mathematics, E20, Braunschweig: Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, ISBN 978-3-528-06414-3, MR 1189136
- Hirzebruch, Friedrich (1995) , Topological methods in algebraic geometry, Classics in Mathematics, Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-540-58663-0, MR 1335917
- "Friedrich Hirzebruch 1927-2012". 29 May 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- Friedrich Ernst Peter Hirzebruch, MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Retrieved on 29 May 2012.
- "With great sadness we mourn the death of our founder, Friedrich Hirzebruch, who passed away on Sunday, May 27". Max Planck Institute for Mathematics.
- Max Planck Institute Announcement, Max Planck Institute for Mathematics. Retrieved on 29 May 2012.
- Schecter, Bruce (June 10, 2012), "Friedrich Hirzebruch, Mathematician, Is Dead at 84", The New York Times
- L'Harmattan web site (in French), Order with gold and silver rays
- Friedrich Hirzebruch at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- MacTutor entry for Hirzebruch
- Segel, Joel (2011-12-01). "Friedrich Hirzebruch: Giant of German Mathematics". Simons Foundation.