Remembering Alexandre Grothendieck

On Tuesday, November 18th, 2014, the Thang Long University (TLU) organized a remembrance meeting to the memory of the French mathematician Alexandre Grothendieck who passed away at the hospital of Saint-Girons, France, on Thursday 13th Novembrer 2014, at the age of 86 years old.

Gathering in memory of A. Grothendieck
Representants of the Thang Long University, professors and students of Mathematics are gathering to remember together the past life of A. Grothendieck.


Teachers and students in mathematics of TLU gathered to listen Professor Ha Huy Khoai talk about the life of A. Grothendieck. Especially to be mentioned has been the visit that A. Grothendieck made to Hanoi in November 1967:

Professor Ha Huy Khoai talking about A. Grothendieck
Professor Ha Huy Khoai presents the life of Alexandre Grothendieck.


Actively engaged against the US War in Vietnam, Professor A. Grothendieck decided to go to North Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War in order to help teaching mathematics to young Vietnamese scientists. He went by himself to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam's embassy in Paris to ask for his visa and arrived in Hanoi in November 1967. There he taught all day long mathematics to staff members of the Department of Mathematics of the Hanoi's University for one month. Because of the US bombings, university and research centers had to be dispersed away to the neighboring countryside, far from the city's center. The air strikes eventually went closer and air raid alerts became so frequent that the classes had to be moved farther away from Hanoi, at the Dai Tu village in the nearby province of Thai Nguyen. Prof. Doan Quynh assisted A. Grothendieck in translating his lectures to the audience. When A. Grothendieck returned to France, he accepted Mrs Hoang Xuan Sinh (president of the TLU's Board of Trustees) as his student. She would send him questions by writing and A. Grothendieck would reply her by one very long letter. However the transmission of mail out and in Northern Vietnam was very slow because of the war and it was not rare that one letter would take about a year to reach its final destinator.


A. Grothendieck with staff of the Department of mathematics, University of Hanoi, in november 1967
A. Grothendieck in Vietnam, November 1967, with staff from the Department of Mathematics of the University of Hanoi. The first person on the left is professor Hoang Xuan Sinh (actual president of the Thang Long University's Board of Trustees) who became later a student of A. Grothendieck.


A. Grothendieck in Vietnam (Hanoi), November 1967
An other group photo of Alexandre Grothendieck in Hanoi (Vietnam), November 1967


A. Grothendieck teaching mathematics in Hanoi (Vietnam), November 1967
Alexandre Grothendieck while teaching mathematics to Hanoi University's staff in Hanoi, November 1967.


Mrs Hoang Xuan Sinh would remember two main impressions from her contacts with A. Grothendieck:

- A good teacher is one teacher who turns something difficult into something easy.

- We should always avoid anything that is ficticious, live in accordance to our own feelings and value simple people.


Useful links

- Article on the life of A. Grothendieck in Wikipedia

- Website dedicated to A. Grothendieck

Highlights video


Contact Info

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(84-4) 38 58 18 13

(84-4) 38 58 73 46 

(84-4) 35 63 67 75 

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