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Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn Mourns Death of Friedrich Hirzebruch

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Founding director of institute passed away at age 84

Bonn, May 30, 2012. The Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn mourns the death of Professor Dr. Friedrich Hirzebruch. As it became known on Tuesday, the eminent mathematician and citizen of Bonn passed away on Sunday, May 27 at the age of 84. Professor Hirzebuch is the founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics, which he headed from 1980 to 1995. His work largely influenced the development of modern mathematics. Through his personal efforts and achievements he contributed in an essential way to the reconstruction of mathematics research in Germany after World War II.

Friedrich Hirzebruch was born on October 17, 1927 in Hamm, Westphalia. From 1945 to 1950 he studied mathematics in Munster and Zurich. After two years in Princeton from 1952 to 1954 he was appointed as full Professor at the University of Bonn. His research interests were in the fields of topology and geometry.

For his manifold achievements Friedrich Hirzebruch received a number of awards and prizes. Among others, the Grand Merit Cross with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Wolf Prize for Mathematics, the Seki Takakazu Prize, the Lomonossov Gold Medal, the Albert Einstein Medal, and the Georg Cantor Medal of the Deutsche Mathematikervereinigung. He held honorary doctorates from over 14 universities. He was member of a number of Academies of Science and of the Order pour le mérite.

"With Friedrich Hirzebruch, mathematics has lost one of his truly great personalites. He was a wonderful human being and an eminent researcher whose contributions have shaped the entire field", said Peter Teichner, managing director of the Max Planck Institut for Mathematics in Bonn. "Our institute, which he founded, will always remain his institute, too." 

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