Alexander Grothendieck, Mathematician
Permanent professor at IHES from 1958 to 1970
Alexander Grothendieck set the framework for modern algebraic geometry, which is now universally adopted. His work was further amplified by Pierre Deligne, originally his disciple, who was recruited to IHES at the age of 26 and is now established at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) in Princeton. Thanks to these new tools, it was possible to bring algebraic geometry and number theory together in a decisive way. He wrote the first four chapters of the famous “Éléments de Géométrie Algébrique” with Jean Dieudonné from 1960 to 1967.
Alexander Grothendieck marked the history of mathematics in a deep way. Hailed as one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, he considered himself a “cathedral builder”. His ambitious program of fusion between arithmetic, algebraic geometry, and topology continues to structure contemporary mathematics.
When Léon Motchane founded IHES in 1958, he asked Jean Dieudonné to become the first permanent professor. Dieudonné accepted with one condition: to also recruit Alexander Grothendieck. Then, IHES became the host of one of the most extraordinary seminars in mathematics the “Séminaire de géométrie algébrique de Grothendieck”.
Grothendieck’s requirement, originality, and generosity founded the spirit of the Institute. This level of excellence that he brought is now a major asset as well as a responsibility for the Institute.
Fields Medal (1966)