Michael Atiyah

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Sir Michael Francis Atiyah, OM, FRS, FRSE (born 22 April 1929) is a British mathematician. He grew up in Sudan and Egypt but spent most of his academic life in the United Kingdom at Oxford and Cambridge, and in the United States at the Institute for Advanced Study. He has been president of the Royal Society (1990–1995), master of Trinity College, Cambridge (1990–1997), chancellor of the University of Leicester (1995–2005), and president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2005–2008). He is currently retired, and is an honorary professor at the University of Edinburgh.

Atiyah's mathematical collaborators include Raoul Bott, Friedrich Hirzebruch and Isadore Singer, and his students include Graeme Segal, Nigel Hitchin and Simon Donaldson. Together with Hirzebruch, he laid the foundations for topological K-theory, an important tool in algebraic topology, which, informally speaking, describes ways in which spaces can be twisted. His best known result, the Atiyah–Singer index theorem, was proved with Singer in 1963 and is widely used in counting the number of independent solutions to some differential equations. Some of his more recent work was inspired by theoretical physics, in particular instantons and monopoles, which are responsible for some subtle corrections in quantum field theory. He has been awarded the Fields Medal in 1966, the Copley Medal in 1988, and the Abel Prize in 2004.


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