Professor Hidehiko Yamabe

Professor Hidehiko Yamabe (1924--1960) came to Minnesota from IAS as an assistant professor in 1956. During his four years here he worked on a number of diverse topics in geometry and analysis: he initiated the problem of whether, given a riemannian metric on a smooth compact manifold of dimension > 2, there exists a conformally equivalent metric of constant scalar curvature; he made contributions to Hilbert's 5th problem and various diffusion problems. Yamabe died in 1960, at age 37, of a massive stroke, said to have been brought on by war injuries as a civilian. This tragedy happened soon after he was appointed a full professor at Northwestern University. Yamabe's widow and two young daughters were left virtually penniless as Yamabe no longer had a pension from Minnesota and hadn't yet gained one from Northwestern. Faculty of both Northwestern and Minnesota raised a small amount of money to help the family, who then moved back to Japan.

The Yamabe Memorial Lecture was initiated jointly with Northwestern about 1962. It consisted of one lecture by a prominent mathematician each year, to alternate between Northwestern (odd numbered years) and Minnesota (even years). It was soon supported by a small subsidy from Yamabe's widow (this initial donation was later augmented in Minnesota by significant faculty contributions resulting in the present endowment called the Yamabe Fund). The distinguished speakers brought in year after year established the Lectures as an important event in the mathematical calendar, especially in the Midwest.

Past speakers include Neil Trudinger, Eugenio Calabi, Rick Schoen, Shizuo Kakutani, Craig Evans, Walter Rudin, Robert Hardt, Katsumi Nomizu, Fred Gehring, Richard Hamilton, Peter Sarnak, Jeff Cheeger, Shing-Tung Yau, Terence Tao, Igor Rodnianski, Luis Caffarelli, Tai-Ping Liu, Sergiu Klainerman and Simon Brendle.

More details are available in the 2008 department newsletter, Wikipedia, and MathSciNet.

Hidehiko and Etsuko Yamabe
Hidehiko and Etsuko Yamabe
Hidehiko Yamabe, seated at a table with other mathematicians.
Hidehiko Yamabe on mid-right

The Yamabe Memorial Symposium is an enhancement of the Yamabe Lecture tradition. Mathematicians gather every two years at the University of Minnesota for a long weekend to hear geometry talks, discuss the latest research and interact with younger mathematicians. One goal is to advance areas of mathematics related to the interests of Hidehiko Yamabe, which touched in a substantial and ground-breaking way on several quite different areas of mathematics, all of which may be roughly described as having significant geometric aspects.

2008 Yamabe Symposium attendees
2008 Yamabe Symposium Group Photo
2010 Yamabe Symposium attendees on the steps of Vincent Hall.
2010 Yamabe Symposium Group Photo