Celebrating Mathematics: A Birthday to Remember
by Greta Petry
How does an esteemed mathematician celebrate
his 80th birthday?
If you are Boris Korenblum, professor of mathematics
at the University at Albany since 1977, you share
it by talking shop with colleagues from around
the world who hold a conference in Barcelona,
Spain, in your honor. A selfprofessed math junkie,
Korenblum has been interested in mathematics and
the natural sciences since the age of 5. He has
always liked to solve challenging problems. An
active professor and researcher, Korenblum is
teaching an upperlevel graduate course this semester.
Mathematicians from universities in Israel, Sweden,
Norway, Ireland, Canada, France, the United States,
and Spain gathered November 2022 at the Facultat
de Matematiques of the Universitat de Barcelona
in Korenblum’s honor. But they didn’t just sing
“Happy Birthday.”
On the agenda were Professor Kehe Zhu of UAlbany
talking about “The Bergman projection and related
integral operators,” and Alexandru Aleman of Lund
University, Sweden, speaking on “A Korenblum type
estimate for Moebius invariant spaces of analytic
functions.” They were among more than a dozen
experts in attendance on the topic of Bergman
spaces. The theory of Bergman spaces is an area
of complex analysis to which Korenblum has made
fundamental contributions in the second half of
the last century.
As Kristian Seip of Trondheim University, Norway,
noted in his opening remarks, “Boris played a
decisive role in the development of the theory
of Bergman spaces since around 1990, both through
his papers and as a mentor. I asked Haakan [Hedenmalm]
about Boris’s role as a mentor, and got the following
words from him: ‘I think Boris is one of the truly
passionate mathematicians. He really believes
that mathematics is important to the real world,
and is willing to discuss it at length at any
time, not just during working hours.’”
Conference organizers included Zhu, Seip, Hedenmalm,
and Bernard Pinchuk, all of them mathematicians
who have been influenced by Korenblum’s work.
In particular, Hedenmalm spent a postdoc year
(after receiving his Ph.D. from Uppsala University
in Sweden) here at UAlbany with Korenblum at the
suggestion of his Ph.D. adviser, Professor Domar
Khavinson.
UAlbany’s Zhu, who has worked with Korenblum
for more than 10 years, said, “Boris’s contributions
to complex analysis include his own deep research
results and his profound influence on a new generation
of analysts, including myself.”
In fact, as Seip pointed out, Korenblum’s influence
reaches beyond “our precious theory.” Quoting
from the introductory chapter “In the Beginning,”
by Steve Webb, from the 1988 book The
Physics of Medical Imaging, he said, “It
is perhaps less known that a CT (Computerized
Tomography or CAT scan) scanner was built in Russia
in 1958.
Korenblum et al (1958) [Tetel’baum, Tyutin] published
the mathematics of reconstruction from projections
together with experimental data and wrote: ‘At
the present time in Kiev Polytechnic Institute,
we are constructing the first experimental apparatus
for getting Xray images of thin sections by the
scheme described in this article.’ ” Seip went
on to say, “May I remind you about the fact that
G.N. Hounsfield received the 1979 Nobel Prize
for physiology and medicine for his construction
of a machine used to Xray computerized tomography
in a clinical environment.”
Korenblum earned a Ph.D. in 1947 from the Kiev
Institute of Mathematics, and an Sc.D. in 1955
from Moscow University. From 1976 to 1977, he
held a visiting position as a member of the School
of Mathematics at The Institute of Advanced Study,
Princeton, N.J. He joined the University at Albany
in 1977. As recently as 1995, he was principal
investigator for a grant from the National Science
Foundation to study “Spaces of Analytic Functions.”
In 1996, Korenblum gave the invited address at
the International Conference on Bergman Spaces
in Norway.
In 2003 he submitted a paper with Zhu to the
American Mathematical Society on “Complemented
invariant subspaces in Bergman spaces.” Maintaining
an interest in physics, in 2002 he published a
paper on “Classical Properties of LowDimensional
Conductors: Giant Capacitance and NonOhmic Potential
Drop,” with Emmanuel Rashba in the prestigious
Physics Review Letters. Korenblum’s main research
interests are classical harmonic analysis, also
called Fourier analysis, functional analysis,
Banach algebras, and complex analysis. Roughly,
these modern fields extend and generalize classical
calculus, invented by Newton and Leibnitz in the
17th century, as well as linear algebra.
In addition to his research, Korenblum has been
thesis adviser for a half dozen Ph.D. recipients.
