Friday, August 3, 2007

Paul's Seventies

I am just back from a very nice event around Paul Baum's seventies, which took place in Warsaw last Monday, thanks in particular to Piotr Hajac. I have known Paul since the summer of 1980 when we first met in Kingston. I really had, when I first met him, the impression of meeting l'"Homologie en personne". The more I got to know him through our very long collaboration, the better I enjoyed his clarity of mind and his relentless quest for simplicity and beauty. In many ways he succeeds in doing something very difficult, which Grothendieck advised in "Récoltes et Semailles", namely to keep "une innocence enfantine" in front of mathematics.

The dinner on monday night was comparable in intensity to the memorable one in Martin Walter's place, in Boulder, for Paul's sixties when the team Paul Baum---Raoul Bott forced Martin to search (again and again) his cellar for more bottles of wine to keep up with their drinking ability!.

Raoul Bott died in December 2005. Not long before, Paul went all the way to California to visit him and they talked together for an entire day. This type of faithfulness in friendship and understanding of what really matters, is an attitude towards life which Paul has and which I truly admire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am delighted at the positive reactions to our Warsaw meeting in honour of Paul:-) My collaboration experience with Paul cannot be compared with Alain's, but I fully agree with his opinion about the wonderful childlike quality of Paul's research attitude. Indeed, children are best scientists and know very well how to have fun, and working with Paul is both good and fun!

Paul was a pillar of our 2001 Banach Center school/conference. Since 2005, he is a key lecturer of Warsaw University Transfer of Knowledge programme in noncommutative geometry and quantum groups. Therefore, I am extremely happy that it was in Warsaw where we celebrated his 70th birthday.

You can find the full account of Paul's beautiful lectures (and all other lectures) at: In particular, you might enjoy testing yourself with exam questions that follow each lecture course;-) To find out more about the birthday conference, just follow a link to the meeting at my home page.