Go to content Go to the menu Go to the search

René Frédéric Thom

Quick access, personalized services


Advanced search

UPMC Facts and Figures

  • 31,000 students of which 20 percent are international
  • 3,000 doctoral candidates
  • 9,600 in staff, of which 3,750 are professor-researchers
  • 100 research laboratories
  • 8 main teaching hospitals
  • 8,500 publications per year (approx. 11% of the publication in France)
  • Ranked the top university in France and 6th in Europe by both Shanghai and Taiwan.
  • 4th in the world for mathematics
  • Member of three of the five the European innovation networks, in: Climate, ICT, and Health


Communications Department

+ 33 (0)1 44 27 90 54

Secretariat of the President

+ 33 (0)1 44 27 33 49

René Frédéric Thom, Fields medal winner 1958

René Frédéric Thom made his reputation as a topologist, moving on to aspects of what would be called singularity theory; he became world-famous among the wider academic community and the educated general public for his work as founder of catastrophe theory.

René Frédéric Thom attended the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and then received his PhD in 1951 from the Paris Faculty of Science (the predecessor to UPMC). His thesis, titled Espaces fibrés en sphères et carrés de Steenrod (Sphere bundles and Steenrod squares), was written under the direction of Henri Cartan. The foundations of cobordism theory, for which he received the Fields Medal at Edinburgh in 1958, were already present in his thesis.

After a fellowship in the United States, he taught at the Universities of Grenoble (1953–1954) and Strasbourg (1954–1963), where he was appointed Professor in 1957. In 1964, he moved to the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, in Bures-sur-Yvette. He was awarded the Grand Prix Scientifique from the city of Paris in 1974, and became a member of the Academie des Sciences of Paris in 1976