André Weil

André Weil bigraphy, stories - French mathematician

André Weil : biography

06 May 1906 – 06 August 1998

André Weil ( 6 May 1906 – 6 August 1998) was an influential French mathematician of the 20th century,Horgan, J. (1994) Profile: Andre Weil – The Last Universal Mathematician, Scientific American 270(6), 33-34. known for his foundational work in number theory and algebraic geometry. He was a founding member and the de facto early leader of the influential Bourbaki group. The philosopher Simone Weil was his sister.


He was born in Paris to Alsatian agnostic Jewish parents who fled the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. His only sibling was Simone Weil, a famous philosopher. Weil studied in Paris, Rome and Göttingen and received his doctorate in 1928. While in Germany, he befriended Carl Ludwig Siegel. He spent two academic years at Aligarh Muslim University from 1930. Hinduism and Sanskrit literature were his lifelong interests. After one year in Marseille, he taught six years in Strasbourg. He married Éveline in 1937.

Weil was in Finland when World War II broke out; he had been traveling in Scandinavia since April 1939. Éveline returned to France without him. Weil was mistakenly arrested in Finland at the outbreak of the Winter War suspected of spying; however, accounts of his life having been at danger have been shown to be exaggerated.Osmo Pekonen: L’affaire Weil à Helsinki en 1939, Gazette des mathématiciens 52 (avril 1992), pp. 13—20. With an afterword by André Weil. Weil returned to France via Sweden and the United Kingdom, and was detained at Le Havre in January 1940. He was charged with failure to report for duty, and was imprisoned in Le Havre and then Rouen. It was in the military prison in Bonne-Nouvelle, a district of Rouen, from February to May, that he did the work that made his reputation. He was tried on 3 May 1940. Sentenced to five years, he asked to be sent to a military unit instead, and joined a regiment in Cherbourg. After the fall of France, he met up with his family in Marseille, where he arrived by sea. He then went to Clermont-Ferrand, where he managed to join Éveline, who had been in German-occupied France.

In January 1941, Weil and his family sailed from Marseille to New York. He spent the war in the United States, where he was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and Guggenheim Foundation. For two years, he taught undergraduate mathematics at Lehigh University. He taught at the Universidade de São Paulo, 1945–47, where he worked with Oscar Zariski. He taught at the University of Chicago from 1947 to 1958, before spending the remainder of his career at the Institute for Advanced Study. In 1979, he shared the second Wolf Prize in Mathematics.


  • Arithmétique et géométrie sur les variétés algébriques (1935)
  • Sur les espaces à structure uniforme et sur la topologie générale (1937)
  • L’intégration dans les groupes topologiques et ses applications (1940)
  • Sur les courbes algébriques et les variétés qui s’en déduisent (1948)
  • Variétés abéliennes et courbes algébriques (1948)
  • Introduction à l’étude des variétés kählériennes (1958)
  • Discontinuous subgroups of classical groups (1958) Chicago lecture notes
  • Dirichlet Series and Automorphic Forms, Lezioni Fermiane (1971) Lecture Notes in Mathematics, vol. 189,
  • Essais historiques sur la théorie des nombres (1975)
  • Elliptic Functions According to Eisenstein and Kronecker (1976)
  • Number Theory for Beginners (1979) with Maxwell Rosenlicht
  • Adeles and Algebraic Groups (1982)
  • Number Theory: An Approach Through History From Hammurapi to Legendre (1984)

His Collected Papers:

  • Œuvres Scientifiques, Collected Works, three volumes (1979)

His autobiography:

  • French: Souvenirs d’Apprentissage (1991) ISBN 3-7643-2500-3. by J. E. Cremona.
  • English translation: The Apprenticeship of a Mathematician (1992), ISBN 0-8176-2650-6