Jun 17, 2019 | Updated: 11:38 AM EDT

Deceased Math Genius Grothendieck Left His Works, But It Will Take Years To Understand Them

May 14, 2017 07:14 PM EDT

Legendary mathematician Alexander Grothendieck left thousands of his works after his death in 2014.
(Photo : Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The Montpellier University in southern France published a staggering 18,000 pages of mathematical "scribbling" of one of their most outstanding alumnus, Alexander Grothendieck. The math genius died at the ripe age of 86 in 2014, leaving with him tens of thousands of mathematical works. There is a catch - most of Grothendieck's works are not east to decipher even by modern mathematicians.

Grothendieck was a legend as a math genius in Montpellier. In a display of his raw talent, Grothendieck was given by two professors with 14 questions which should have taken at least a year to solve. He was supposed to pick just one question. However, Grothendieck came back a few months later with solutions to all of 14 questions. The details about this achievement were narrated at the European Digital Mathematics Library.

According to Jean-Michel Marin of the Grothendieck Institute, the genius revolutionized the entire area of algebraic geometry. Good that Grothendieck left records of most of his works but it is certainly going to take years before mathematicians can truly understand them. Marin also stressed that there is currently just a few hundred people who claim to have understood the scribbling.

Meanwhile, Phys.org reported that the published works are just a fraction of Grothendieck's 28,000 pages which he gave to his student, John Malgoire. Malgoire himself is still working as a professor at Montpellier. Mathematicians also expect that the remainder will also get published after Grothendieck's family already ceded the rights for online publication. However, his family is keeping the ownership of the physical documents.

In 1966, Grothendieck won the prestigious Fields medal which is considered to be the equivalent of the Nobel prize for mathematics. However, Grothendieck refused to accept his award which was supposed to be given in Moscow. This is due to his pacifist principle that goes in contrast to the Soviet military expansion and the Vietnam war back then.

Grothendieck is a known eccentric, albeit his genius. He lived solitarily since 1991, distanced from his family until his death in 2014 at the French Pyrenees.

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