Alan Baker dies at age 78

British mathematician and Fields Medalist Alan Baker died on Sunday (4), at age 78. He suffered a stroke. One of the most eminent theorists of world numbers, he was emeritus professor of Pure Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Baker graduated with honors in Mathematics at University College London in 1961 and completed his postgraduate degree at Trinity College in 1965 under the guidance of mathematician Harold Davenport. Before even defending his doctoral dissertation (Some Aspects of Diophantine Approximation), his work gained prominence after the publication of eight articles on the subject. In the same year, he became a member of Trinity College.

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The mathematician was a researcher at Cambridge from 1964 to 1968, becoming director of Mathematics Studies (1968-1974), until becoming a professor of Pure Mathematics (1974-2006). He was professor emeritus of the institution ever since.

Baker received the Fields Medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1970, in Nice, France. He was awarded for his work in Number Theory, especially in the areas of transcendence and geometry of Diophantine. The work developed by the British mathematician is related to Hilbert’s seventh problem, which deals with Gelfond-Schneider’s theorem.

From his professional trajectory there are expressive passages as a researcher-visitor in renowned institutions, such as the universities of Princeton (1970), Stanford (1974), Hong Kong (1988), ETH Zurich (1989) and MSRI Berkeley (1993).

Elected member of the Royal Society of London (1973), Baker received several honors, such as the Adams Prize (1972), the Honorary Doctorate of the Louis Pasteur University Strasbourg (1998) and the Honorary Member of University College London (1979). He was also a foreign member of the Indian Academy of Science (1980) and of the National Academy of Sciences of India (1993), member of the European Academy (1998) and honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2001).

In addition to Mathematics, Baker enjoyed travel, photography, and theater. For the British mathematician and also Fields Medal Timothy Gowers, the results of his colleague’s findings can be considered “a landmark of 20th-century mathematics.”

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