Symposium to celebrate mathematical giant Ahlfors

Stanford News


CONTACT: David F. Salisbury, News Service (650) 725-1944

Symposium to celebrate mathematical giant Ahlfors

A three-day symposium, titled "An Ahlfors Celebration," will be held at Stanford on Sept. 19-21.

The event celebrates the life and contributions of one of the great mathematicians of the 20th century. Lars V. Ahlfors, who would have been 90 this year, died late last fall. He was born in Finland in 1907 and came to the United States, where he taught for many years at Harvard. He was one of the first winners of the Fields Medal, generally considered the "Nobel" of mathematics.

In addition to technical talks covering active areas of research where Ahlfors made major ­ and often seminal ­ contributions, the symposium includes a public lecture, titled "Lars Ahlfors: Geometer and Teacher," delivered by Steven Krantz of Washington University. In his talk scheduled at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19, Krantz will discuss Ahlfors' special gift for looking at problems geometrically and his love of people and teaching.

Ahlfors had a major, but indirect influence on Stanford. Three of his doctoral students came here in the 1950s: Paul Garabedian, Halsey Royden and Robert Osserman. Royden served as dean of humanities and sciences for 10 years and Osserman chaired the mathematics department for six years.

The symposium is sponsored by the mathematics department, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley and the American Institute of Mathematics, a recently founded organization devoted to mathematical research and scholarship.

All talks will be held in room 380-C of the Department of Mathematics, Building 380, except for the public lecture by Krantz, which will be held in Room 420-041 of the Psychology Building. Additional information is available on the web at; or by calling Willene Perez at 725-7938.