Baum receives honorary doctorate

February 07, 2013

Paul Frank Baum, Evan Pugh Professor of Mathematics at Penn State University, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the Australian National University. Baum received the degree during a December 2012 ceremony at which he gave an address about the value of perseverance. The Australian National University sponsored a concurrent three-day "Baum Fest" featuring lectures by mathematicians who are currently developing Baum's ideas.

Baum's work has had significant impact on K-Theory, a key field of mathematical study. Baum is known for formulating, jointly with Alain Connes of the Collège de France, the Baum-Connes conjecture -- an idea that has opened a critical new avenue of research for future mathematicians. The Baum-Connes conjecture is unusual in that it cuts across several different areas of mathematics, revealing connections between problems that had appeared to be unrelated, and serving as one of the starting points for a new area of mathematics -- noncommutative geometry. Baum's ability to connect mathematical fields has helped advance research in disparate studies such as algebraic geometry, topology, and functional analysis. The Baum-Bott residue formula, the Baum-Fulton-MacPherson (Riemann-Roch) theorem, and the Baum-Douglas geometric realization of analytic K-homology are regarded as ground-breaking achievements in their respective fields.

Throughout his career, Baum has given numerous invited talks, distinguished lectures, and plenary addresses at universities and symposia across the United States and abroad. He has held visiting positions at several national and international academic institutions, including the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques -- a French institute supporting research in mathematics and theoretical physics -- and the Institute for Advanced Study -- the academic home of Albert Einstein and one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry.  In 2011, he received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado in Boulder, "in recognition of his powerful, elegant, and lasting contributions to the field of mathematics."

Before joining the Penn State Department of Mathematics in 1987, Baum was a faculty member at Brown University and Princeton University. He received a doctorate in mathematics from Princeton in 1963, and an A B. degree, summa cum laude, from Harvard College in 1958.



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