This past Saturday, October 3, Raghavan Narasimhan passed away. Narasimhan was a beloved and highly respected member of the department of mathematics for over 40 years.
Narasimhan was an analyst’s analyst. Much of his work was in Several Complex Variables, but he had a deep interest in analytic number theory, as well. Besides his well known solution of the Levi problem for complex spaces (which was the topic of his 1962 ICM talk in Stockholm -- notable for being a year before he received his doctorate), other noteworthy achievements are his surprising proof in a 1960 paper that an open Riemann surface can be embedded in complex three-space as a closed analytic subvariety and his 1967 paper with Armand Borel showing that holomorphic maps to fixed-point-free quotients of bounded domains are determined by a base-point and the corresponding homomorphism on the fundamental group, which might well be the first paper which demonstrates the power of pluri-subharmonicity in attacking problems concerning monodromy.
His papers with K.Chandrasekharan on Approximate Functional Equations, subsequently found applications to automorphic forms. In the 1990s, Narasimhan and Charles Fefferman wrote a series of joint papers on the borderline of analysis and real algebraic geometry. Their results answered questions arising in the work of A. Parmeggiani on the symplectic geometry associated to the symbol of a pseudodifferential operator. The phenomena are subtle and surprising and the proof is formidable and related to a remarkable collection of geometric and analytic ideas.
Narasimhan was a friend to many in the math department. We appreciated his unique view of the world and his exquisite and uncompromising taste in mathematics. His love of mathematics never diminished even when he had stopped doing much research himself. He was fascinated by the work on twin primes and was immersing himself in the work of Maynard in recent months.
Given his achievements, it is not surprising that he received accolades from the profession. One noteworthy example is an honorary doctorate from the University of Geneva, the citation for which can be found here.
Narasimhan is survived by his wife Lynn, his spouse of more than 45 years, who is a mathematician at DePaul.