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Academy of Sciences Celebrates the “Big Five” of Hungarian Mathematicians

MTI-Hungary Today 2024.06.06.

The “Big Five” representatives of Hungarian mathematics were honored on Wednesday at the HUN-REN Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics during the Centenary of the Big Five event.

This event featured lectures by renowned international researchers highlighting the achievements and careers of the five outstanding Hungarian mathematicians born 100 years ago: János Aczél, Ákos Császár, László Fuchs, István Gaál, and János Horváth.

Prof. László Fuchs during his presentation. Photo: MTA

Among the attendees was László Fuchs, Professor Emeritus at Tulane University in the United States, who received the most prestigious academic honor for Hungarian scientists abroad. The award was presented by Tamás Freund, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, during a scientific session at the research institute.

In his speech, Mr. Freund emphasized that Professor Fuchs has been actively researching for more than three-quarters of a century.

His first papers were published in international journals in 1947, and his life’s work continues, with two articles published last year. His books have been seminal in his field. Mr. Fuchs, along with his peers born in 1924, earned the nickname “Big Five” from the legendary Professor Lipót Fejér.

László Fuchs (b. 1924). Photo: Wikipedia

The group includes János Aczél (1924-2020), a world-renowned researcher in functional equations; Ákos Császár (1924-2017), known for his work in topology; László Fuchs, an expert in algebra; István Gál (1924-2016), who excelled in number theory; and János Horváth (1924-2015), recognized for his contributions to functional analysis.

Tamás Freund noted:

Their devotion to mathematics has accompanied them throughout their lives, and their work has benefited international and Hungarian science.”

For the past 20 years, it has been a tradition at the institute to honor these five legendary mathematicians every ten years. This gathering marks the third such celebration. Ten years ago, on their 90th birthdays, all members of the quintet were invited to the ceremony.

László Fuchs expressed his gratitude to Tamás Freund and academician Károly Kocsis, Chairman of the Presidential Committee of Hungarian Scholarship Abroad. He paid tribute to his parents for inspiring his interest in mathematics and research, recalling that he became fascinated with mathematics at age 14. Despite the hardships of war, military service and captivity, including the dehumanizing nature of forced labor, his enthusiasm for science remained unbroken.

Zsolt Páles, Chairman of the Department of Mathematical Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, highlighted the significant role these mathematicians played in reviving Hungarian mathematics post-World War II and elevating it to an international level.

He noted that they remained close friends throughout their lives and continuously followed each other’s careers.

Photo: MTA

The influence of the “Big Five” is immeasurable. In Hungary, no mathematician today has not read László Fuchs’ textbook Introduction to Algebra as a first-year student. János Aczél’s books on functional equations and Ákos Császár’s works on topology have become foundational texts in their fields.

During the event, Imre Kacskovics, Dean of the Eötvös Lóránd University’s Faculty of Arts, presented László Fuchs with a platinum jubilee diploma.

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Via MTI; Featured Image: MTA

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