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Alexander Grothendieck

AKA Alexander Raddatz

Born: 28-May-1928
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: 13-Nov-2014
Location of death: Ariège, France
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Mathematician, Activist

Nationality: France
Executive summary: Grothendieck topologies

French mathematician Alexander Grothendieck developed the branch of category theory now called Grothendieck topologies, and conducted research in algebraic geometry, including the introduction of étale cohomolgy and proof of the Weil conjectures. His work unified complex analysis, geometry, number theory, and topology, and spanned a breathtaking spectrum of mathematics, including the cohomological interpretation of L-functions, crystalline cohomology, derived categories, formalisms for local and global duality (the 'six operations'), functional analysis, geometric objects via representable functors, sheaf cohomology as derived functors, and the 'yoga of weights'.

In the early 1970s, Grothendieck began working less on mathematics and more on political causes including environmentalism and nuclear disarmament. He spent several years living in an isolated commune, then converted to Buddhism, then embraced a mystic form of Christianity, then followed extreme Catholic teachings that had him subsisting solely on the bread and wine of the Holy Communion. In the late 1980s he went on an extended fast that nearly killed him, ostensibly in an effort to force God to reveal Himself.

In 1985 he wrote his autobiography, Récoltes et Semailles (Reaping and Sowing), which focuses almost entirely on matters unrelated to his mathematics career. In 1988 he was named winner of one of the most prestigious honors in mathematics, the Crafoord Prize, with a cash honorarium of 1.5M French francs. He refused the award, citing reasons including his lack of need for the money, his general distaste for such honors, and his belief that acceptance would imply giving his "stamp of approval to a state of affairs in today's sciences that I see as being profoundly unhealthy". Since 1991 Grothendieck has lived in a Pyrenean village in near-total seclusion, but he is believed to still be alive.

Father: Alexander Shapiro (a.k.a. Alexander Tanaroff, killed at Auschvitz)
Mother: Hanka Grothendieck
Sister: Maidi Grothendieck (half-sister, from mother's first marriage)
Wife: Mireille Dufour (div., three children)
Wife: Justine Skalba (one child)

    High School: College Cévénol, Le Chambon, France
    University: PhD Mathematics, University of Montpellier (1948)
    Scholar: Mathematics, École Normale Supérieure (1948-49)
    Teacher: Mathematics, Nance University (1949-53)
    Teacher: Mathematics, University of São Paulo (1953-55)
    Teacher: Mathematics, University of Kansas (1955-56)
    Professor: Algebraic Geometry, Institute des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (1959-71)
    Professor: Mathematics, Collége de France (1971-73)
    Professor: Mathematics, Orsay University (1972-73)
    Professor: Mathematics, Université des Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc (1973-75)
    Professor: Mathematics, University of Montpellier (1984-88)
    Professor: Mathematics, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (1984-88)

    Fields Medal 1966
    Crafoord Prize 1988 (refused)
    Russian Ancestry Paternal
    Jewish Ancestry Paternal
    German Ancestry Maternal
    Ukrainian Ancestry Paternal

Author of books:
Schemas en Groupes (Patterns and Groups) (1970, with Michel Demazure)
Éléments de géométrie algébrique (Elements of Algebraic Geometry) (1971, with Jean Alexandre Dieudonné)
Récoltes et Semailles (Reaping and Sowing) (1985, memoir)

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