MacArthur Fellows Program

Israel M. Gelfand

Mathematician and Biologist | Class of 1994

Mathematician and Biologist
Piscataway Township, New Jersey
81 at time of award
October 5, 2009
Published July 1, 1994

About Israel's Work

Israel Gelfand is a mathematician and a biologist, whose innovative methodologies helped to redefine the field of functional analysis.

He has been a crucial figure in twentieth-century mathematics.  His achievements include development of a theory of commutative, normed rings and a theory of representations of non-compact groups.  In 1960, reflecting his interest in cell biology, he co-established the Institute of Biological Physics with other scientists at the U.S.S.R.’s Academy of Sciences.  Gelfand’s breadth of research includes the development of general principles of organization of control in complex, multicell systems, research in C*-algebras, integral geometry, inverse problems, nonlinear differential equations, modern theory of hypergeometric functions, and noncommutative algebra.  He has written more than five hundred papers on mathematics, applied mathematics, and biology.  In 1992, he founded the Gelfand Outreach Program, which fosters mathematical excellence in high school students.


Gelfand is the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Mathematics and a member at the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science at Rutgers University.  He was a professor at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1935-41) and at the Moscow State University (1941-90).  He taught at Harvard University (1989-90) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1990).

Gelfand received a Ph.D. (1935) and a D.Sc. (1940) from the Moscow State University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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