Institute Professor Aryeh Dvoretzky

May 06, 1916 — May 09, 2008

Professor Aryeh Dvoretzky was the seventh President of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and was known as one of the scientists who helped shape mathematical research in Israel. Professor Israel Bar-Yosef, Vice President of the Institute for Resource Development, said in his memory: "With sorrow and respect we bid farewell to a distinguished scientist who was among the friends and creators of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Professor Dvoretzky began his rise at Hebrew University. He was one of the university's favorite sons and the first of its graduates and alumni to become a Full Professor. Therefore, it is surprising to see such a deep connection between himself and the Weizmann Institute of Science that spans decades. It is not a matter of course in our profession that a scientist from one university should take on such a central role in the life of another scientific institute. Professor Dvoretzky was extraordinary in this respect". "Aryeh spent years following the life and development of the Institute and contributed to it in many different ways: As a member of the Board of Governors of the Institute for over 30 years, as Co-Chair of the Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee and as the seventh President of the Institute from 1985-1988. The Institute conferred upon him an honorary doctorate in 1979 for his great scientific achievements and for his contribution to the development of science in Israel. During many years the Institute benefited from a variety of Professor Dvoretzky's attributes: Common sense and a sharp mind, modesty and honesty, the ability to analyze and implement and to understand reality and from his impressive vision." "An example of his contribution and vision was his decision as president to establish the Center for Submicron Research at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The purpose of this Center was to engage in nanophysics and nanotechnology, long before these terms were invented and became part of common language. His decision set in motion processes that drew a group of scientists to the Institute - myself included - who lived in the United States at that time. The Management of the Weizmann Institute, his friends in the Faculty of Mathematics and in the entire Institute will forever remember him as a distinguished scientist, as a scientific leader, and as a human being." Professor Dvoretzky's research, as well as the research of his students and his students' students' who continue his scientific legacy today, has influenced central fields of mathematics and paved the way for new subjects and a multitude of uses. His contribution to the understanding of probability gained many uses in statistics and in the laws of decision-making in the presence of uncertainty. The resulting theorem, named "Dvoretzky's theorem" after him, says that an arched body with a multi-dimensional breadth has sections that are almost circular; this led to a new field of research in the geometry of high dimensions that has uses in many other fields of research. As part of his work at the Hebrew University, Professor Dvoretzky served as the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (1955-1957) and as Vice President of the University (1959-1961). He also established the Institute for Advanced Studies and stood at its helm from 1975-1985. He also contributed a great deal in other capacities during his tenure as Chief Scientist to the Ministry of Defense (1968-1972), as Chairman of the Department of Natural Sciences in the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (1963-1972), as Vice President of the Academy (1968-1974) and as President of the Academy (1974-1980).