Ilya Piatetski-Shapiro, 1929-2009

Ilya Piatetski-Shapiro (30 Mar 1929, Moscow -- 21 Feb 2009, Tel-Aviv) was an extraordinary mathematician and a courageous man. During a career that spanned 60 years he made major contributions to applied science as well as theoretical mathematics. In the last forty years his research focused on pure mathematics; in particular, analytic number theory, group representations and algebraic geometry. His main contribution and impact was in the area of automorphic forms and L-functions.

Despite suffering from Parkinson's for the last 30 years, he was able to continue to do mathematics at a highest level and did not complain. He will be greatly missed by his family.

See more at Ilya Piatetski-Shapiro Wikipedia entry.

This page was created and maintained by Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, Ilya's son.

Remembrances and Obituaries

  • Nir Lev wrote
    I was very sorry to receive the announcement that Prof. I. Piatetski-Shapiro has passed away. I would like to send my sincere condolences to his family.

    Only last month I received from Tel-Aviv University the Ph.D. degree for my thesis "Piatetski-Shapiro's phenomenon and related problems", which was prepared under the supervision of Prof. Alexander Olevskii. The thesis is a continuation of Prof. Piatetski-Shapiro's work in the field of trigonometric series and theory of uniqueness, and in particular a remarkable theorem which he proved in two papers published in 1952 and 1954.

    I was very impressed to read his papers in which his deep result was proved, and I feel very fotunate to have had the opportunity to further contribute to his remarkable work.

    Yehi Zichro Baruch.

  • Alex Tuzhilin (NYU), who was Gregory's classmate in Moscow, wrote
    I tried to remember the most vivid encounters with your Dad that I had over the years, and the following two stood out in my mind.

    The first one was when he was coaching several of us for the tough entrance exams into the 179 school after we decided to leave the 2nd school (the famous exodus of many students from the 2nd school as a protest when the Soviet authorities busted it for political reasons in early 1970's). The coaching sessions took place at your home in Moscow. Several of us would sit at the dinner table, and your Dad would coach us for the entrance exams. On one occasion, Iljusha Kan asked your Dad about the Main Theorem of Algebra, and he went through the formulation and the proof of the theorem in the most clear and elegant way on the spot, without any prior preparations and thinking. The proof was a non-trivial one (at least for us at that time), and it took him about half an hour to prove it. The ease, clarity and elegance of his mathematical arguments remained in my mind for the rest of my life. This incident clearly showed to me the distance between us, 15 year old kids, and him, and how far we needed to travel in our studies of mathematics to reach his level, if ever.

    The 2nd incident was more dramatic and even embarrassing for me. When we studied in the 2nd school, your Dad invited the best of us (about 30 - 40 students from several parallel classes) to the Moscow State University, where he personally taught us advanced mathematics. The material was very challenging (he really pushed us to the limit), and your Dad was not sure if we understood the concepts or not. Then he decided to select an "average" person in the group and would make sure that this average person would understand the material. And guess whom he selected! It was so embarrassing for me when he would come to me every 5 minutes and would ask if I understood what he had just said. The whole class would turn their heads in my direction and would stare at me with this questioning and mischievous look (hey, you, we can't believe that you could not get such simple things :-)...). My ego was so hurt at that time; but I have learned over the years that your Dad was right :-).