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Armand Borel (21 May 1923 –11 August 2003) was a Swiss mathematician, born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and was a permanent professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, United States from 1957 to 1993. He worked in algebraic topology, in the theory of Lie groups, and was one of the creators of the contemporary theory of linear algebraic groups.

He studied at the ETH Zürich. He came under the influence of the topologist Heinz Hopf, and the Lie group theorist Eduard Stiefel. He was in Paris from 1949: he applied the Leray spectral sequence to the topology of Lie groups and their classifying spaces, under the influence of Jean Leray and Henri Cartan.

He collaborated with Jacques Tits in fundamental work on algebraic groups, and with Harish-Chandra on their arithmetic subgroups. In an algebraic group G a Borel subgroup H is one such that the homogeneous space G/H is a projective variety, and as small as possible. For example if G is GLn then we can take H to be the subgroup of upper triangular matrices. In this case it turns out that H is a maximal solvable subgroup, and that the parabolic subgroups P between H and G have a combinatorial structure (in this case the homogenous spaces G/P are the various flag manifolds). Both those aspects generalize, and play a central role in the theory.

The Borel−Moore homology theory applies to general locally compact spaces, and is closely related to sheaf theory.

He published a number of books, including a work on the history of Lie groups. In 1992 he was awarded the Balzan Prize "For his fundamental contributions to the theory of Lie groups, algebraic groups and arithmetic groups, and for his indefatigable action in favour of high quality in mathematical research and the propagation of new ideas" (motivation of the Balzan General Prize Committee).

He died in Princeton. He used to answer the question of whether he was related to Émile Borel alternately by saying he was a nephew, and no relation.

Famous quotations

"I feel that what mathematics needs least are pundits who issue prescriptions or guidelines for presumably less enlightened mortals." (Oeuvres IV, p. 452)

See also

* Borel–Bott–Weil theorem
* Borel conjecture


My joint work with Armand Borel from 1952-1954 - Frederich Hirzebruch

External links

* "Armand Borel" - obituary on Institute for Advanced Study website
* "Armand Borel (1923-2003)" - obituary in Notices of the AMS.
* O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Armand Borel", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews, http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Borel_Armand.html .
* Armand Borel at the Mathematics Genealogy Project

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