Photo of Hyman Bass

Hyman Bass

  • National Medal of Science
  • Mathematics And Computer Science

For his fundamental contributions to pure mathematics, especially in the creation of algebraic K-theory, his profound influence on mathematics education, and his service to the mathematics research and education communities.

Hyman Bass on the beauty of math

Hyman Bass took a world tour of leading institutions in the mid-60s, in a decade of mathematical evangelism.

At seven-years-old when World War II began, and as the seventh of his parents eight children, Bass learned from his older brother’s experience in the V12 officers training program, ”[He] came home on leave, speaking excitedly to me and my younger brother Isaac about the science courses he was taking. It was these conversations that first awakened my awareness of and interest in science.”

That spark led to a career in mathematics research, with an emphasis on algebraic K-theory, number theory, geometric methods and algebraic geometry.

In his book, I, Mathematician, Bass says he was not “born to be a mathematician,” rather inspired through mentorship and support. “I had as teachers some remarkable mathematicians who made the highest expression of mathematical thinking visible and available to be appreciated. This was like listening to fine music with all of its beauty, charm, and sometimes magical surprise.”

This experience motivated Bass to become an educational champion for mathematical curriculum and inequitable access in STEM education.

By Melissa Ayala