Marcel Berger, Director of IHES from 1985 to 1994, passed away on Saturday, October 15, 2016.
Born on April 14, 1927, Marcel Berger earned a degree in mathematics (1951) at Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, and a degree in physics (1953) from the University of Paris where he also obtained his thesis in 1954. He joined the CNRS in 1951 and held positions in different universities in France, Strasbourg, Nice and Paris, and also abroad, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley. In 1985, he became Director of IHES, a post he held until 1994.
A wide spectrum Riemannian geometer, Marcel Berger is credited with the ¼-pinching sphere theorem, which became one of the starting points for global geometry. From his thesis prepared under André Lichnerowicz’s supervision, he has been interested in the holonomy groups of Riemannian metrics of which he gave the first list in 1955. Later, Jim Simons and many others took over his works since the topic of holonomy groups became of great interest in theoretical physics from the very end of the 80’s.
Marcel Berger was the author of two authoritative mathematics course books:
Differential Geometry, Manifolds, Curves and Surfaces, co-written with Bernard Gostiaux (PUF) and Geometry (Cassini editions)
He was President of the Mathematical Society of France (1979-1981), corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Paris and member of the American Mathematical Society. He received academic honors and was made Officer of the Legion of Honour.
A Mass will be celebrated in his memory on November 8 at Saint-Léon Church (1 place du Cardinal Amette, Paris 15e), chapelle de la Vierge, at 10.00 am.
Marwan Lahoud, on behalf of the Board, and Emmanuel Ullmo on behalf of IHES, send their heartfelt condolences and sympathy to Odile, his wife, and to his family and friends.