Baum receives honorary degree from the University of Colorado

June 03, 2011

Paul Frank Baum, Evan Pugh professor of mathematics at Penn State, has received the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters, honoris causa, from the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Baum has been given this award "in recognition of his powerful, elegant and lasting contributions to the field of mathematics."

Baum is a mathematician of international repute who has mentored eight doctoral students, many of whom have enjoyed notable careers as academics or in business. Scholars agree that 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 College of France, the Baum-Connes conjecture -- an idea that has opened a critical new avenue of research for future mathematicians to explore for years to come. 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 multiple mathematical fields has helped advance research in disparate studies such as algebraic geometry, topology, and functional analysis. For example, 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 groundbreaking 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 professorship positions at many national and international academic institutions including the Institut des Hautes √Čtudes 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 located in Princeton, N.J.

Baum has enjoyed a unique relationship with the University of Colorado, since some faculty researchers there have been investigating topics that his work has pioneered. In 1996, a number of eminent mathematicians gathered in Boulder to honor Baum's 60th birthday in a celebration sponsored by the National Science Foundation. In 2005, Baum delivered the 41st annual DeLong Lecture Series -- an event featuring the most prominent mathematicians in the world.

Before joining the Penn State Department of Mathematics in 1987, Baum was a faculty member at both Brown University and Princeton University. He earned doctoral and a master's degrees in mathematics at Princeton University in 1963 and 1961, respectively. He earned a bachelor's degree at Harvard College in 1958.

  • Paul Frank Baum, Evan Pugh professor of mathematics at Penn State.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015