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  • 10/6/2004

Lars Valerian Ahlfors

(April 18, 1907 - October 11, 1996)‎

Lars Valerian Ahlfors was a Finnish mathematician, remembered for his work‎in the field of Riemann surfaces [?] and his text on complex analysis.‎

He was born in Helsinki, the son of a Professor of Engineering. He studied at‎Helsinki University [?] from 1924, graduating in 1928 having studied under‎Ernst Lindelöf and Rolf Nevanlinna.

He assisted Nevanlinna in 1929 with his work on Denjoy's conjecture on the‎number of asymptotic values of an entire function. Ahlfors was appointed‎lecturer in mathematics at the University of Turku. He completed his doctorate‎in 1930.

In 1935 he went to Harvard University and in 1936 he was one of the first to‎be awarded the Fields Medal. He returned to Finland in 1938 to take up a post‎at theUniversity of Helsinki, but the outbreak of war led to problems although‎Ahlfors was unfit for military service. He was offered a post at the Federal‎Polytechnic Institute atZurichUniversity in 1944 and finally managed to‎travelled there in March 1945. He did not enjoy his time in Switzerland and‎jumped at a chance to leave, returning to work at Harvard where he remained‎until he retired in 1977, he was William Caspar Graustein Professor of‎Mathematics from 1964. He was awarded the Vihuri Prize in 1968 and the‎Wolf Prize in Mathematics in 1981.

His book Complex Analysis (1953) is still the standard text for most courses ‎on the topic. Ahlfors wrote several other significant books, including Riemann‎surfaces (1960) and conformal invariants (1973).‎

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