University at Albany, State University of New York
Contact UAlbany Directories Calendars & Schedules Visitors Site Index Search
Admissions Academics Research IT Services Libraries Athletics


Campus News

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 self-professed 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 upper-level graduate course this semester.

Mathematicians from universities in Israel, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Canada, France, the United States, and Spain gathered November 20-22 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 post-doc 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 X-ray 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 X-ray 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 Low-Dimensional Conductors: Giant Capacitance and Non-Ohmic 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.