Tiger of the Week: John Tate *50

i-b61472fd8a2668fa6e7a9dae192df4cb-tate.jpg

Distinguished mathematician John Tate *50, who has been selected to receive the 2010 Abel Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, has left a lasting mark on the theory of numbers. In fact, more than a dozen important mathematical concepts bear his name, including the Tate conjecture, the Tate module, Tate cohomology, the Tate duality theorem, Barsotti-Tate groups, the Tate motive, and Tate’s algorithm.

As University of Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy wrote, “[M]athematicians have coined a new concept: the Tate index, defined as the time it takes to give a talk on number theory before you mention the name Tate. In general this is a very small number.”

Tate’s revolutionary thinking began with his Ph.D. work at Princeton. His dissertation, or “Tate’s thesis,” continues to be a lecture topic in college-level courses.

Tate taught at Harvard University for 36 years and spent the last two decades as a professor at the University of Texas at Austin before retiring in 2009. He will receive the Abel Prize, which carries a cash award of 6 million kroner (about $1 million), from King Harald of Norway in Oslo May 25.

(Photo by Charlie Fondville)

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.