Sunday, November 16, 2014

Alexander Grothendieck RIP

An obituary in The Telegraph.
An earlier appreciation by Pierre Cartier
A longer article by Cartier 
P.S. (some reminiscences)Mathematically, I had very little interaction with Grothendieck or his work. I saw him a few times during conference in Bombay around 1968, I think. There were a few Fields Medal winners (past and future) around waiting on his every word. And I.B.S. Passi, then a lecturer in Kurukhetra was also at the conference. Passi was young and unknown at that time and came all the way to discuss with Grothendieck, though his research interests were very different. We were sniggering at the prospect. But Passi did meet Grothendieck in the park next to TIFR and talked at length to Grothendieck. What I vaguely remember is that Grothendieck after patiently listening to Passi expressed his lack of expertise in the topic and suggested other names like J.P. Serre with whom Passi could correspond. Another vague memory is that Grothendieck attended a formal dinner in Taj in bare feet. Another memory is of his student Pierre Deligne in 1974. I lived an an IHES apartment above his in Bur-sur-Yvette. Deligne used to leave his apartment unlocked. One reason given by others: there was young woman around with a child supposed to by Grothendieck. She seemed unstable and lost. Deligne apparently left the apartment unlocked so that she could use it when she wanted to feed her child. I do not know what happened to the lady or child. Apparently Grothendieck had five children by three different women.

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