Bertram Kostant

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Bertram Kostant
Bertram Kostant.jpeg
Bertram Kostant at a workshop on “Enveloping Algebras and Geometric Representation Theory” in Oberwolfach, 2009
Born 1928 (age 87–88)
Nationality American
Fields Mathematics
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of California, Berkeley
Alma mater University of Chicago
Doctoral advisor Irving Segal
Doctoral students Arlie Petters
James Lepowsky
Stephen Rallis
James Harris Simons
Moss Sweedler
David Vogan
Birgit Speh
Known for Kostant partition function
Kostant–Parthasarathy–Ranga Rao–Varadarajan determinants
Notable awards Wigner Medal (2016)

Bertram Kostant (born 1928) is an American mathematician.

Early life and education[edit]

Kostant grew up in New York City, where he graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1945.[1] He went on to obtain an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Purdue University in 1950. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1954, under the direction of Irving Segal, where he wrote a dissertation on representations of Lie groups.

Career in mathematics[edit]

After time at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, and the University of California, Berkeley, he joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he remained until his retirement in 1993. Kostant's work has involved representation theory, Lie groups, Lie algebras, homogeneous spaces, differential geometry and mathematical physics, particularly symplectic geometry. He has given several lectures on the Lie group E8.[2] He has been one of the principal developers of the theory of geometric quantization. His introduction of the theory of prequantization has led to the theory of quantum Toda lattices. The Kostant partition function is named after him.

His students include James Harris Simons, James Lepowsky, Moss Sweedler, David Vogan, and Birgit Speh. At present he has more than 100 mathematical descendants.

Awards and honors[edit]

Kostant's many honors include election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1978. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Professor Kostant's Homepage". MIT Math Department. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  2. ^ Bertram Kostant (2008-02-12). "On Some Mathematics in Garrett Lisi's 'E8 Theory of Everything'". UC Riverside mathematics colloquium. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  3. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-01-27.