Sir Michael Atiyah OM HonFREng FRS
Sir Michael Atiyah was a mathematician who made outstanding contributions to geometry and topology and was President of the Royal Society from 1990 until 1995. He was best known for his co-development of topological K-theory and the Atiyah–Singer index theorem. As well as advancing pure mathematics, Sir Michael’s work has been fruitfully applied and extended to both pillars of theoretical physics — quantum theory and general relativity.
His research involved deep insights relating to mathematical concepts known as vector bundles. The well-known Möbius strip and the Klein bottle can both be mathematically described in terms of vector bundles.
Sir Michael received very many awards, including the 1966 Fields Medal, the 1968 Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the 1988 Copley Medal of the Royal Society, and the 2004 Abel Prize of the Norwegian Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was knighted in 1983, appointed to the Order of Merit in 1992 and was made a Grand Officer of the Légion d’honneur in 2011.
Sir Michael Atiyah OM HonFREng FRS died on 11 January 2019.
Honorary Professor, University of Edinburgh, School of Mathematics, University of Edinburgh
Fellow, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
Interest and expertise
- Other interests, Science policy
Algebraic geometry, Topology, Differential geometry, Particle physics, analysis