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Kunihiko Kodaira

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16 March 1915

Tokyo, Japan

26 July 1997

Kofu, Japan

Kunihiko Kodaira graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1938 with a degree in mathematics. Not content with one degree, he graduated from the physics department at the University of Tokyo in 1941.

At this time Kodaira was interested in topology , Hilbert spaces , Haar measure, Lie groups and almost periodic functions. Of course, World War II was at this time having a severe affect on Japan, in particular it effectively isolated Japanese scientists from contacts with other scientists around the world. Despite this Kodaira was able to obtain papers to read of mathematical developments and he was most influenced by reading the works of Weyl , Stone , von Neumann , Hodge , Weil and Zariski .

From 1944 until 1949, Kodaira was an associate professor at the University of Tokyo but by this time his work was well known to mathematicians world-wide and he received an invitation from Weyl to come to Princeton.

Kodaira accepted Weyl 's invitation and, from 1949 until 1961, he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Following this he spent a year at Harvard, then in 1962 he was appointed to the chair of mathematics at Johns Hopkins University.

In 1965 Kodaira left Johns Hopkins to take up the chair of mathematics at Stanford University. However, after two years at Stanford, he returned to Japan and held the chair of mathematics at the University of Tokyo from 1967.

Kodaira's work covers many topics. These include applications of Hilbert space methods to differential equations which was an important topic in his early work and was largely the result of influence by Weyl . This time through the influence of Hodge , he worked on harmonic integrals and later he applied this work to problem in algebraic geometry .

Another important area of Kodaira's work was to apply sheaves to algebraic geometry. In around 1960 he became involved in the classification of compact, complex analytic spaces. One of the themes running through much of his work is the Riemann -Roch theorem and this plays an important role in much of his research.

Kodaira received many honours for his outstanding research. Perhaps the most noteworthy was the award of a Fields Medal in 1954. He was made an honorary member of many learned societies throughout the world, including the London Mathematical Society in 1979.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland