|Died||27 July 1999 (aged 86)|
|Alma mater||Leningrad State University|
Aleksandr Danilovich Aleksandrov (Russian: Алекса́ндр Дани́лович Алекса́ндров, alternative transliterations: Alexandr or Alexander (first name), and Alexandrov (last name)) (4 August 1912 – 27 July 1999) was a Soviet/Russian mathematician, physicist, philosopher and mountaineer.
Aleksandr Aleksandrov was born in 1912 in Volyn village, Ryazan Oblast. He graduated from the Department of Physics of Leningrad State University. His advisors there were Vladimir Fock, a physicist, and Boris Delaunay, a mathematician. In 1933 Aleksandrov worked at the State Optical Institute (GOI) and at the same time gave lectures at the Department of Mathematics and Mechanics of the University. He completed his Ph.D. in 1935 at the University and later in 1937 — a D.Sc. dissertation. He became a professor at the University, while also working at LOMI, the Leningrad Department of the Steklov Mathematical Institute (now PDMI, Petersburg Department of the Mathematical Institute). In 1951 he became a member of the Communist Party. Appointed the rector of the university in 1952, Aleksandrov remained in this position until 1964. In 1946 he became a corresponding member, and in 1964 a full member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Since 1975 he was also a member of the Accademia dei Quaranta.
From 1964 to 1986 Aleksandrov lived in Novosibirsk, heading the Laboratory of Geometry of the Institute of Mathematics of the Siberian Division of the USSR Academy of Sciences, teaching at Novosibirsk State University. In 1986 he returned to Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) to head the geometry laboratory at LOMI.
Partial list of the awards, medals, and prizes of Aleksandrov:
One of the many orders that he was awarded was given to him in 1990 for his efforts in preserving genetics from the attacks of the pseudoscience of Lysenkoism that had official state support in the times of Stalin and Khrushchev.
Aleksandrov wrote a multitude of books, scientific papers, textbooks for various levels (schools to universities), including Convex Polyhedra, originally published in Russian in 1950 and translated into English in 2005. He also wrote non-mathematical papers, memoirs about famous scientists, and philosophical essays dealing with the moral values of science.
A full bibliography is available in . Selected works are available in English:
Both in St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk Aleksandrov participated in joint research also with some of his students' students. Several of them became his co-authors: V. Berestovskii, A. Verner, N. Netsvetaev, I. Nikolaev, and V. Ryzhik.
His last Ph.D. student was Grigori Perelman who proved Thurston's geometrization conjecture in 2002/2003 which contains the Poincaré conjecture as a special case.
Aleksandrov became attracted to alpinism under the influence of his advisor Boris Delaunay. In the summer of 1937, after defending his D.Sc.,
During his rectorship, Aleksandrov also advanced the mountaineering sport activities in the university, actively participating in the climbs.
The fiftieth birthday was celebrated by Aleksandrov in the mountains with his friends. On that day he made a solo first climb of an
During later years Aleksandrov didn't undertake climbs due to health problems, yet he never ceased dreaming of climbs. Finally, in 1982, the year of his seventieth birthday, he, together with K. Tolstov, performs in Tian Shan his last climb, of the Panfilov Peak…