Goro Shimura, professor emeritus of mathematics, died May 3, 2019
I am one of Professor Shimura’s 28 PhD students (from 1996) and I fondly remember the time under his guidance and his advice during my graduate years. He always demanded preciseness and rigour which are traits that I highly value even after leaving academia so many years ago. He never cut corners (or ‘waved his hand over details’ which I always could tell annoyed him very much when he saw it in others. The level of detail in his classes would challenge the most caffeinated but critical to the understanding of the subject (& my class notes served as excellent references many years afterwards). Professor Shimura was also capable of seeing humour in the mundane but also capable of expressing passion about other topics (see his and his wife’s writings about Japanese porcelain) and poignantly recalling his time with Yukata Taniyama. He was a true giant of modern mathematics and I am grateful to have known him.
It is quite sad to hear about the passing of Professor Shimura, but his legacy will continue forever through his achievements.
A little relationship between Professor Shimura and me is as follows: Haruko Iwasaki, who is one of my classmates in elementary school and was a professor of Japanese language at Princeton University in her thirties, was once invited to Professor Shimura’s home because of their common native country. After moving to the University of California, Haruko got a copy of Professor Shimura’s autobiographical book, “The Map of My Life” (Springer, 2008), from a person who came from an overseas country. This happened because the latter heard that the former had been an acquaintance with Professor Shimura at Princeton University. After that, Haruko became Professor Emerita, came back to Japan, and gave me the book, saying “You’re the only scientific person I know in Japan.” I enjoyed the book very much and wrote a review of it (https://ideaisaac.blogspot.com/2011/10/mathematicians-unique-autobiography.html) with the bottom line, “Most books I read in the afternoons this summer and early autumn made me sleepy, but Shimura’s autobiography was a complete exception.”
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