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Henri Cartan

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Title: Henri Cartan  
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Subject: Séminaire Nicolas Bourbaki (1950–59), Wolf Prize in Mathematics, Jean-Pierre Serre, Samuel Eilenberg, Timeline of category theory and related mathematics
Collection: 1904 Births, 2008 Deaths, 20Th-Century French Mathematicians, 20Th-Century Mathematicians, 21St-Century Mathematicians, Complex Analysts, École Normale Supérieure Alumni, Foreign Members of the Royal Society, Foreign Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, French Centenarians, French Mathematicians, Institute for Advanced Study Visiting Scholars, Lille University of Science and Technology Faculty, Lycée Hoche Alumni, Mathematical Analysts, Members of the French Academy of Sciences, Members of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, Nicolas Bourbaki, University of Strasbourg Faculty, Wolf Prize in Mathematics Laureates
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Henri Cartan

Henri Cartan
Born (1904-07-08)July 8, 1904
Nancy, France
Died August 13, 2008(2008-08-13) (aged 104)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Fields Mathematics
Institutions University of Paris
Alma mater École Normale Supérieure
Doctoral advisor Paul Montel
Doctoral students Jean-Paul Benzécri
Jean-Paul Brasselet
Pierre Cartier
Jacques Deny
Adrien Douady
Roger Godement
Max Karoubi
Jean-Louis Koszul
Jean-Pierre Serre
Banwari Lal Sharma
René Thom
Known for Cartan's theorems A and B
Notable awards Wolf Prize (1980)

Henri Paul Cartan (French: ; July 8, 1904 – August 13, 2008)[1] was a French mathematician with substantial contributions in algebraic topology. He was the son of the French mathematician Élie Cartan[2] and the brother of composer Jean Cartan.


  • Life 1
  • Honours and awards 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Cartan studied at the Lycée Hoche in Versailles, then at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, receiving his doctorate in mathematics. He taught at the University of Strasbourg from November 1931 until the outbreak of the Second World War, after which he held academic positions at a number of other French universities, spending the bulk of his working life in Paris.

Cartan is known for work in algebraic topology, in particular on cohomology operations, the method of "killing homotopy groups", and group cohomology. His seminar in Paris in the years after 1945 covered ground on several complex variables, sheaf theory, spectral sequences and homological algebra, in a way that deeply influenced Jean-Pierre Serre, Armand Borel, Alexander Grothendieck and Frank Adams, amongst others of the leading lights of the younger generation. The number of his official students was small, but includes Adrien Douady, Roger Godement, Max Karoubi, Jean-Louis Koszul, Jean-Pierre Serre and René Thom.

Cartan also was a founding member of the Bourbaki group and one of its most active participants. His book with Samuel Eilenberg Homological Algebra [3] was an important text, treating the subject with a moderate level of abstraction with the help of category theory.

Cartan used his influence to help obtain the release of some dissident mathematicians, including Leonid Plyushch and Jose Luis Massera. For his humanitarian efforts, he received the Pagels Award from the New York Academy of Sciences.[4]

The Cartan model in algebra is named after Cartan.

Cartan died on 13 August 2008 at the age of 104. His funeral took place the following Wednesday on 20 August in Die, Drome.[2]

Honours and awards

Cartan received numerous honours and awards including the Wolf Prize in 1980. From 1974 until his death he had been a member of the French Academy of Sciences. He was a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Royal Society of London, Russian Academy of Sciences, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, United States National Academy of Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences and other academies and societies.


  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b "Décès du mathématicien Henri Cartan",  
  3. ^ See Cartan and Eilenberg 1956.
  4. ^ Notices of the AMS, Vol. 46(7), page 788


  • .  
  • "Décès du mathématicien français Henri Cartan",  
  • Chang, Kenneth (2008-08-25), "Henri Cartan, French Mathematician, Is Dead at 104",  
  • Cartan, Henri; Eilenberg, Samuel (1956). Homological Algebra. Princeton Mathematical Series (PMS) 19. Princeton University Press.  
  • Rehmeyer, Julie (2008-08-29), "Founder of the Secret Society of Mathematicians",  

External links

  • Henri Cartan at the Internet Movie Database
  • Jackson, Allyn (July 1999), "Interview with Henri Cartan" (PDF),  
  • Illusie, Luc; Cartier, Pierre (ed.), Dossier. Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Sept. 2010, vol. 57, issue 8
  • Henri Cartan at l'Académie des Sciences (French)
  • Biographical sketch and bibliography by the Société Mathématique de France on the occasion of Cartan's 100th birthday. (French)
  • Cerf, Jean (April 2004), "Trois quarts de siècle avec Henri Cartan" (PDF), Gazette des Mathématiciens (in Français) (100): 7–8 
  • Samuel, Pierre (April 2004), "Souvenirs personnels sur H. Cartan" (PDF), Gazette des Mathématiciens (in Français) (100): 13–15 
  • "100th Birthday of Henri Cartan" (PDF), European Mathematical Society Newsletter (53), September 2004: 20–21  (translations of above two articles from the SMF Gazette)
  • Papers by Henri Cartan as member of the 'Association européenne des enseignants' (AEDE) and the 'Mouvement fédéraliste européen' (MFE) are at the Historical Archives of the EU in Florence
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