Henri Cartan

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Henri Cartan
Henri Cartan.jpg
Henri Cartan in 1968
Born (1904-07-08)July 8, 1904
Nancy, France
Died August 13, 2008(2008-08-13) (aged 104)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Alma mater École Normale Supérieure
Known for Cartan's theorems A and B
Awards Wolf Prize (1980)
Scientific career
Fields Mathematics
Institutions University of Paris
Doctoral advisor Paul Montel
Doctoral students Jean-Paul Benzécri
Jean-Paul Brasselet
Pierre Cartier
Jean Cerf
Jacques Deny
Adrien Douady
Pierre Dolbeault
Roger Godement
Max Karoubi
Jean-Louis Koszul
Jean-Pierre Serre
Banwari Lal Sharma
René Thom

Henri Paul Cartan (French: [kaʁtɑ̃]; 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.


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.[3]

Cartan also was a founding member of the Bourbaki group and one of its most active participants. His book with Samuel Eilenberg Homological Algebra [4] 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.[5]

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. He was an Invited Speaker at the ICM in 1932 in Zurich and a Plenary Speaker at the ICM in 1950 in Cambridge, Massachusetts[6] and in 1958 in Edinburgh.[7] 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.

Selected publications

  • Sur les systèmes de fonctions holomorphes à variétés linéaires lacunaires et leurs applications, thèse, 1928
  • Sur les groupes de transformations analytiques, 1935.
  • Sur les classes de fonctions définies par des inégalités portant sur leurs dérivées successives, 1940.
  • Espaces fibrés et homotopie, 1949-1950.
  • Cohomologie des groupes, suite spectrale, faisceaux, 1950-1951.
  • Algèbres d'Eilenberg - Mac Lane et homotopie, 1954-1955.
  • Fonctions automorphes, 1957-1958.
  • Quelques questions de topologie, 1958.
  • Homological Algebra (with S. Eilenberg), Princeton Univ Press, 1956 ISBN 978-0-69104991-5[8]
  • Séminaires de l'École normale supérieure (called "Séminaires Cartan"), Secr. Math. IHP, 1948-1964; New York, W.A.Benjamin ed., 1967.
  • Théorie élémentaire des fonctions analytiques, Paris, Hermann, 1961 (translated into English, German, Japanese, Spanish and Russian).
  • Calcul différentiel, Paris, Hermann, 1967 (translated into English, Spanish and Russian).
  • Formes différentielles, Paris, Hermann, 1967 (translated into English, Spanish and Russian).
    • Differential Forms, Dover 2006
  • Œuvres — Collected Works, 3 vols., ed. Reinhold Remmert & Jean-Pierre Serre, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, 1967.
  • Relations d'ordre en théorie des permutations des ensembles finis, Neuchâtel, 1973.
  • Théorie élémentaire des fonctions analytiques d'une ou plusieurs variables complexes, Paris, Hermann, 1975.
    • Elementary theory of analytic functions of one or several complex variables, Dover 1995
  • Cours de calcul différentiel, Paris, Hermann, 1977.
  • Correspondance entre Henri Cartan et André Weil, Paris, SMF, 2011.[9]


  1. ^ Serre, J. -P. (2009). "Henri Paul Cartan. 8 July 1904 -- 13 August 2008". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 55: 37–44. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2009.0005. 
  2. ^ a b "Décès du mathématicien Henri Cartan", Le Figaro, 2008-08-18 
  3. ^ Henri Cartan at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ See Cartan and Eilenberg 1956.
  5. ^ Notices of the AMS, Vol. 46(7), page 788
  6. ^ Cartan, Henri. "Problèmes globaux dans la théorie des fonctions analytiques de plusieurs variables complexes." In Proc. Int. Cong. Math, vol. 1, pp. 152–164. 1950.
  7. ^ Cartan, Henri. "Sur les fonctions de plusieurs variables complexes. Les espaces analytiques." In Proc. Intern. Congress Mathematicians Edinburgh, pp. 33–52. 1958.
  8. ^ Mac Lane, Saunders (1956). "Review: Homological algebra, by Henri Cartan and Samuel Eilenberg". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 62 (6): 615–624. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1956-10082-7. 
  9. ^ Fresán, Javier (June 2012). "Review: Correspondance entre Henri Cartan et André Weil ed. by Michèle Audin" (PDF). EMS Newsletter. pp. 58–60. 


External links

  • Henri Cartan on IMDb
  • Jackson, Allyn (July 1999), "Interview with Henri Cartan" (PDF), Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 46 (7): 782–8 
  • 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 (in French)
  • Biographical sketch and bibliography by the Société Mathématique de France on the occasion of Cartan's 100th birthday. (in French)
  • Cerf, Jean (April 2004), "Trois quarts de siècle avec Henri Cartan" (PDF), Gazette des Mathématiciens (in French) (100): 7–8, archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-09 
  • Samuel, Pierre (April 2004), "Souvenirs personnels sur H. Cartan" (PDF), Gazette des Mathématiciens (in French) (100): 13–15, archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-09 
  • "100th Birthday of Henri Cartan" (PDF), European Mathematical Society Newsletter (53): 20–21, September 2004  (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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