Friedrich Hirzebruch  

Friedrich Hirzebruch in 1980 (picture courtesy MFO)  
Born  Friedrich Ernst Peter Hirzebruch 17 October 1927 
Died  27 May 2012  (aged 84)
Residence  Germany 
Nationality  German 
Alma mater  
Known for  
Awards 

Scientific career  
Fields  Mathematics 
Institutions  
Doctoral advisor  
Doctoral students 
Friedrich Ernst Peter Hirzebruch ForMemRS^{[1]} (17 October 1927 – 27 May 2012) was a German mathematician, working in the fields of topology, complex manifolds and algebraic geometry, and a leading figure in his generation. He has been described as "the most important mathematician in Germany of the postwar period."^{[3]}^{[4]}^{[5]}^{[6]}^{[7]}^{[8]}^{[9]}^{[10]}^{[11]}
Education
Hirzebruch was born in Hamm, Westphalia in 1927.^{[12]} His father of the same name was a math teacher. Hirzebruch studied at the University of Münster from 1945–1950, with one year at ETH Zürich.
Career
Hirzebruch then held a position at Erlangen, followed by the years 1952–54 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. After one year at Princeton University 1955–56, he was made a professor at the University of Bonn, where he remained, becoming director of the MaxPlanckInstitut für Mathematik in 1981. More than 300 people gathered in celebration of his 80th birthday in Bonn in 2007.
The Hirzebruch–Riemann–Roch theorem (1954) for complex manifolds was a major advance and quickly became part of the mainstream developments around the classical Riemann–Roch theorem; it was also a precursor of the Atiyah–Singer index theorem. Hirzebruch's book Neue topologische Methoden in der algebraischen Geometrie (1956) was a basic text for the 'new methods' of sheaf theory, in complex algebraic geometry. He went on to write the foundational papers on topological Ktheory with Michael Atiyah, and collaborate with Armand Borel on the theory of characteristic classes. In his later work he provided a detailed theory of Hilbert modular surfaces, working with Don Zagier.
In March 1945, Hirzebruch became a soldier, and in April, in the last weeks of Hitler's rule, he was taken prisoner by the British forces then invading Germany from the west. When a British soldier found that he was studying mathematics, he drove him home and released him, and told him to continue studying.^{[13]}
Hirzebruch died at the age of 84 on 27 May 2012.^{[14]}^{[15]}^{[16]}
Honours and awards
Amongst many other honours, Hirzebruch was awarded a Wolf Prize in Mathematics in 1988 and a Lobachevsky Medal in 1989.^{[17]}
The government of Japan awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1996.^{[18]}
Hirzebruch won an Einstein Medal in 1999, and received the Cantor medal in 2004.
Hirzebruch was a foreign member of numerous academies and societies, including the United States National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society^{[1]} and the French Academy of Sciences. In 1980–81 he delivered the first Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Israel.
References
 ^ ^{a} ^{b} ^{c} Atiyah, Michael (2014). "Friedrich Ernst Peter Hirzebruch 17 October 1927 — 27 May 2012". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2014.0010.
 ^ Friedrich Hirzebruch at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
 ^ "Friedrich Hirzebruch 19272012". 29 May 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
 ^ Europa Publications (2003). The International Who's Who 2004. Routledge. ISBN 9781857432176. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
 ^ Hirzebruch, Friedrich; Mayer, Karl Heinz (1968), O(n)Mannigfaltigkeiten, Exotische Sphären und Singularitäten, Lecture Notes in Mathematics, 57, Berlin, New York: SpringerVerlag, doi:10.1007/BFb0074355, MR 0229251
 ^ Hirzebruch, Friedrich; Zagier, Don (1974), The AtiyahSinger theorem and elementary number theory, Houston, TX: Publish or Perish, MR 0650832
 ^ Hirzebruch, Friedrich (1987), Gesammelte Abhandlungen. Band I, II, Berlin, New York: SpringerVerlag, ISBN 9783540180876, MR 0931775
 ^ Hirzebruch, Friedrich; Jung, Rainer; Berger, Thomas (1992), Manifolds and modular forms, Aspects of Mathematics, E20, Braunschweig: Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, ISBN 9783528064143, MR 1189136
 ^ Hirzebruch, Friedrich (1995) [1956], Topological methods in algebraic geometry, Classics in Mathematics, Berlin, New York: SpringerVerlag, ISBN 9783540586630, MR 1335917
 ^ Segel, Joel (20111201). "Friedrich Hirzebruch: Giant of German Mathematics". Simons Foundation.^{[permanent dead link]}
 ^ Atiyah, Michael; Zagier, Don (2014), "Friedrich Hirzebruch (1927–2012)" (PDF), Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 61 (7): 706–727, doi:10.1090/noti1145
 ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Friedrich Hirzebruch", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
 ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20160304093533/http://pyrrho.wsc.ma.edu/math/faculty/fleron/quotes/viewquote.asp?letter=h
 ^ "With great sadness we mourn the death of our founder, Friedrich Hirzebruch, who passed away on Sunday, May 27". Max Planck Institute for Mathematics.
 ^ Max Planck Institute Announcement, Max Planck Institute for Mathematics. Retrieved on 29 May 2012.
 ^ "Friedrich Hirzebruch, Mathematician, Is Dead at 84"
 ^ Schecter, Bruce (June 10, 2012), "Friedrich Hirzebruch, Mathematician, Is Dead at 84", The New York Times
 ^ L'Harmattan web site (in French), Order with gold and silver rays