Œuvres mathématiques, Volume 1 by René Thom published by the French Mathematical Society - IHES
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Œuvres mathématiques, Volume 1 by René Thom published by the French Mathematical Society

The French Mathematical Society, Société Mathématique de France, just published the first volume of René Thom’s complete mathematical works, titled Œuvres mathématiques complètes, as part of the series Documents mathématiques. This volume contains the articles that were published before 1960.

René Thom writes his thesis under the supervision of Henri Cartan, who at the beginning of the 1950s is surrounded by a small group of brilliant mathematicians that gather around him. When Cartan moves to Strasbourg, René Thom follows him as a young CNRS researcher. In Strasbourg he also meets Charles Ehresmann. It is on contact with these two mentors that René Thom develops his interest for algebraic and differential topology which leads him to be awarded the Fields Medal in 1958 for having “invented and developed the cobordism theory in algebraic topology”.

The articles that René Thom writes during this period are collected in this volume gathering his mathematical work until 1960. His published articles appear here together with previously unpublished texts and comments that help contextualize them.

Later on, René Thom’s interest moved to the study of singularities – in this volume you’ll find his foundational articles – which during the 1960s will give birth to the theory of catastrophes.René Thom is recruited at IHES by Léon Motchane and he arrives at the Institute in 1963 (after Jean Dieudonné and Alexander Grothendieck). He will keep on working at IHES until the end of his career.

The idea of publishing René Thom’s complete mathematical works came in 2011 from André Haefliger. IHES provided several preprints and contributed to the preparation of the René Thom’s complete bibliography, which are included in this volume.

For more information, visit the French Mathematical Society’s webpage.