Wolf Prize Laureate in Mathematics 2000
Affiliation at the time of the award:
Harvard University, USA
“for his deep discoveries in topology and differential geometry and their applications to Lie groups, differential operators and mathematical physics”.
Professor Raoul Bott has been one of the leading figures in differential geometry, particularly in its links with topology and Lie groups. Through his publications, his students, and his personal qualities, he has significantly influenced the mathematics of our times.
His first major contribution was the application of Morse theory to the topology of Lie groups and homogeneous spaces, culminating in the famous “periodicity theorems” for the stable homotopy of the classical groups. This result provided the foundation for the development of K-theory, to which he also contributed greatly, in particular through his joint work with Atiyah on the index theory of differential operators and its applications to equivariant topology. He obtained seminal results in the theory of foliations. His later work, on Yang-Mills theory, moduli spaces of vector bundles, and elliptic genera, has been marked by a combination of the same geometric insight, coupled with new points of view coming from mathematical physics.