John Tate, a longtime University of Texas professor and winner of the world’s top prize in mathematics, is dead at 94.
Tate, who taught at UT for 20 years and most recently was Regental Professor Emeritus, was considered a leading architect in the development of the theory of numbers. He was regarded as a giant in a field that covers a wide range of problems, including information storage and secure transmission in high-speed computing. His involvement led to several concepts bearing his name, including the Tate module, the Tate curve, the Tate conjecture and the Tate cycle.
In 2010, he won the Abel Prize for his work on the theory of numbers. At the time, the committee that awarded him the prize noted, “many of the major lines of research in algebraic number theory and arithmetic geometry are only possible because of the incisive contributions and illuminating insights of John Tate.”
“He has truly left a conspicuous imprint on modern mathematics,” the 2010 committee said.
He was also the recipient of the prestigious Wolf Prize and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
“John Tate was an absolutely brilliant and legendary leader in the field,” Thomas Chen, chair of the UT Department of Mathematics, said in a statement. “The impact of his research extends around the world. It has been transformative, even revolutionary, across many branches of mathematics.”
Tate once told the American-Statesman that, although there were many applications for his work in important areas, such as encryption and cryptography, what initially attracted him to mathematics was “the sheer beauty of it.”
Aside from his notable contributions to the field, Chen said Tate will be missed for his warmth and humility.
“Despite his monumental stature as a scholar, he was also someone whom students and junior colleagues found to be modest, friendly and approachable,” Chen said.
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