Michel Kervaire (1927–2007)

  • Pierre de la Harpe

    Université de Genève, Switzerland
  • Shalom Eliahou

    Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale, Calais,France
  • Jean-Claude Hausmann

    Université de Genève, Switzerland
  • Claude Weber

    Université de Genève, Genève 4, Switzerland
Michel Kervaire (1927–2007) cover
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This obituary of Michel Kervaire provides some biographical data, and describes his activity in organising spring seminars in Les Plans-sur-Bex. Some of his mathematical results are briefly discussed: his discovery of a topological manifold without any smooth structure, his results with Milnor on spheres with several smooth structures, his subject-founding paper on high-dimensional knots, the Kervaire conjecture on group presentations, and his results from the period 1987–2007 in algebra, combinatorics and number theory. A short last section discusses dramatic recent progress on the Kervaire invariant problem by Hill, Hopkins and Ravenel in 2009.