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René Frédéric Thom

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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



27/05/11