Friedrich Hirzebruch, founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics, was included in the Oral History Project of the Simons Foundation. The aim of the project is to publish a series of extended video interviews with some of the giants of twentieth century mathematics and science. This collection is meant to provide scientists, historians and students the opportunity to see and hear these great men and women discuss their lives and their thinking both about their science and about our world.
The Simons Foundation about Friedrich Hirzebruch: "At Bonn University in 1955, members of the faculty were arguing about whether to offer a full professorship to a young mathematician named Hirzebruch. The mathematicians pointed to Hirzebruch's astounding extension of the Riemann—Roch theorem. His recent symposium at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Amsterdam had so impressed Francesco Severi, elder statesman of the Italian school of algebraic geometry, that Severi had declared himself already in paradise. Other faculty members grumbled: little precedent existed for offering a full professorship to a man barely over 30. Youth, another retorted, was a weakness guaranteed to wear off with time. Hirzebruch got the job, a decision that proved critical not only for algebraic geometry and algebraic topology but for Bonn and for the shattered edifice of German mathematics as well. [...]" (Text by Joel Segel)
About the Simons Foundation: The Simons Foundation is a private foundation based in New York City, incorporated in 1994 by Jim and Marilyn Simons. The Simons Foundation’s mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. It sponsors a range of programs that aim to promote a deeper understanding of our world.