The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Maths pioneer Jean Bourgain dies aged 64

20:05 31/12/2018

Pioneering mathematician Jean Bourgain has died of cancer at the age of 64. Born in Ostend, Bourgain became a world authority in his discipline.

He was a professor at the Free University of Brussels (VUB), where he had earlier gained his PhD, and taught at the University of Illinois and the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies near Paris. Since 1994, he was one of the eight permanent members of the renowned School of Mathematics at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study.

Bourgain made his mark on numerous areas of maths, including the geometry of Banach spaces, group theory, analytical number theory and non-linear partial differential equations. He received several international awards, such as the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics in 2016, and the Fields Medal in 1994. In 2015, he was awarded the title of Baron. He died in hospital near Mechelen, leaving a wife and son.

Fellow academic and Ostend native Dirk Huylebrouck told Het Laatste Nieuws: “What Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin meant for Belgium in tennis, or what Eddy Merckx was for cycling, that’s what Jean Bourgain meant for mathematics.”

Photo: Jean Bourgain and his wife at a royal reception after he was given the title of Baron
© Bruno Fahy/Belga

Written by Flanders Today