Vladimir Abramovich Rokhlin

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Vladimir Abramovich Rokhlin
Vladimir Rokhlin.jpeg
Vladimir Rokhlin in Leningrad, 1966.
Born(1919-08-23)August 23, 1919
DiedDecember 3, 1984(1984-12-03) (aged 65)
CitizenshipCitizen of the Soviet Union
EducationMoscow State University (1935-1941)
Known for
ChildrenVladimir Rokhlin, Jr.
Scientific career
InstitutionsLeningrad State University
Academic advisorsAbraham Plessner
Notable students

Vladimir Abramovich Rokhlin (Azerbaijani: Vladimir Abrа́moviç Rо́xlin; Russian: Влади́мир Абра́мович Ро́хлин) (23 August 1919 – 3 December 1984) was an Azerbaijani and Soviet mathematician, who made numerous contributions in algebraic topology, geometry, measure theory, probability theory, ergodic theory and entropy theory.[1]


Vladimir Abramovich Rokhlin was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, to a wealthy Azerbaijani Jews family.[2] His mother, Henrietta Emmanuilovna Levenson, had studied medicine in France (she died in Baku in 1923, believed to have been killed during civil unrest provoked by an epidemic). His maternal grandmother, Clara Levenson, had been one of the first female doctors in Russia. His maternal grandfather Emmanuil Levenson was a wealthy businessman (he was also the illegitimate father of Korney Chukovsky, who was thus Henrietta's half-brother). Vladimir Rokhlin's father Abram Veniaminovich Rokhlin was a well-known social democrat (he was imprisoned during Stalin's Great Purge, and executed in 1941).[3]

Vladimir Rokhlin entered Moscow State University in 1935. His advisor was Abraham Plessner. He volunteered for the army in 1941, leading to four years as a prisoner of a German war camp, and then two years in a Soviet checking camp after the end of the war on suspicion of being a German or/and Western spy. Due to intercession by Andrey Kolmogorov and Lev Pontryagin, he was released and then returned to mathematics.

Since 1959 he was at Leningrad State University, where he was a teacher.

He died in 1984 in Leningrad. His students include Viatcheslav Kharlamov, Yakov Eliashberg, Mikhail Gromov, Nikolai V. Ivanov, Anatoly Vershik and Oleg Viro.[4]


Rokhlin's contributions to topology include Rokhlin's theorem, a result of 1952 on the signature of 4-manifolds, which was subsequently generalised by Friedrich Hirzebruch. He also worked in the theory of characteristic classes, homotopy theory and cobordism theory.

In measure theory, Rokhlin introduced what are now called Rokhlin partitions. He introduced the notion of standard probability space, and characterised such spaces up to isomorphism mod 0. He also proved the famous Rokhlin lemma.


His son Vladimir Rokhlin, Jr. is a well-known mathematician and computer scientist at Yale University.

Rokhlin's uncle was Korney Chukovsky, a well-known Russian poet, most famous for his popular children's books.



  • Arnol'd, V.; et al. (1986), "Vladimir Abramovich Rokhlin (obituary)", Russ. Math. Surv., 41 (3): 189–195, doi:10.1070/RM1986v041n03ABEH003331, MR 0854242
  • V. G. Turaev, A. M. Vershik, eds. (2001), Topology, ergodic theory, real algebraic geometry: Rokhlin's Memorial, American Mathematical Society Translations: Series 2, 202, Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society, doi:10.1090/trans2/202, hdl:11693/48903, ISBN 9780821827406, MR 1819175CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  • Vershik, A.M. (1989), "Vladimir Abramovich Rokhlin—A biographical tribute (23.8.1919–3.12.1984)", Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems, Cambridge University Press, 9 (4): 629–641, doi:10.1017/S0143385700005265, MR 1036901

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