David Eisenbud

Professor of Mathematics, UC Berkeley
  • Seminar on Commutative Algebra and Algebraic Geometry David in his office at MSRI


    I taught at Brandeis University for twenty-seven years, with sabbatical time spent in Paris, Bonn, and Berkeley, and became Director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley in 1997. At the same time I joined the faculty of UC Berkeley as Professor of Mathematics. Since the fall of 2007 I've been back to full-time teaching and research at Berkeley.

    I enjoyed my work at MSRI greatly for 10 years, and retired from it, to go back to full-time teaching and research, on August 1, 2007. I had the satisfaction of supporting a huge amount of mathematics and related activity at the Institute, and in helping it develop two things I thought it needed badly: a physical facility worthy of such a world-class institution, and (the beginning of) an endowment. From 2003 to 2005 I was also President of the American Mathematical Society, an organization I came to admire a great deal.

    Some Artifacts From My Years as Director (under construction)

    Interests and Current Activities

    I am currently Chair of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Algebra and Number Theory , which I helped found in 2006, and serve on the Boards of the Bulletin du Société Mathématique de France and Springer-Verlag's book series Algorithms and Computation in Mathematics.

    My first paper was about permutation groups, and my thesis and subsequent few papers on non-commutative ring theory (my thesis advisors were Saunders MacLane and, unofficially, the English ring-theorist J.C. Robson.) I turned to commutative algebra, and subsequently to singularity theory, knot theory, and algebraic geometry. My papers also include one on a statistical application of algebraic geometry and one on juggling. Recently I've worked mostly in commutative algebra, algebraic geometry and computational aspects of these fields.

    Ever since the early 70s I've used computers to produce examples in algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, and I've developed algorithms to extend the power of computation in this area. I recently joined Mike Stillman and Dan Grayson in the project to (further) develop the Macaulay2 system for symbolic computation.

    My interests outside mathematics include hiking, juggling, and, above all, music. Originally a flutist, I now spend most of my musical time singing art-songs (Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Debussy, ...) I broke down and bought a digital camera in November 2001, and you can find some of the results on my photo page. Some pictures of the New Hampshire fall colors from October 9-11, 2004.
    are more recent examples.

    From my CV

    Saunders Mac Lane: In Memoriam

    Saunders Mac Lane died on April 14, 2005. He was my thesis advisor---Irving Kaplansky was his first student, I was nearly his last; perhaps John Thompson is the most illustrious. His Autobiogrphy will soon appear, published by AK Peters. A few months ago I wrote a preface for this book which contains some of my favorite stories about him. He was a great figure, and very important for me personally. I and many others will miss him.

    Current Events Bulletin at the Winter AMS Meeting

    Since 2004 I've been organizing a session at each of the Winter AMS meetings on Current Events in Mathematics. The format is simple: four accessible 50-minute lectures on some of the most interesting pure and applied mathematics of the last few years, presented by people who are speaking on the work of others. The inspiration is of course the famous Bourbaki Seminar, but the aim is to be broader and represent a wider range of mathematics, particularly on the applied side. A booklet with writeups of the talks is available at the meeting and online. Almost all of them become articles in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society afterwards.

    Some Ongoing Work

    During my years as Director I was able to do quite a bit of mathematics, but time always had to be stolen for it. Having retired from that very busy job I have more time---though never enough, of course! Here are some of my current projects I am grateful to the National Scienced Foundation for partial support in my work on these projects!

    Commutative Algebra Book

    My book, "Commutative Algebra with a View Toward Algebraic Geometry", published in 1995 by Springer-Verlag, contained lots of typos and also some more serious errors, which many readers have been kind enough to point out to me. Fortunately I was able to insert corrections in the second (1996) printing ( TeX source, pdf), and more in the third (1999) printing (TeX source, pdf). Note that the page numbers changed a little between the first and second printings.

    I'm still gathering, so if you are aware of further corrections that should be inserted, or have any comments, please send them to me! The pages above are now rather out-of-date; a project I'll get to sooner or later.


    David Eisenbud
    Professor of Mathematics
    Dept of Mathematics,
    Berkeley, CA 94720

    email: <de@msri.org>


    UC Berkeley Mathematics

    Created: August 2, 1995. Last updated: January 23, 2008.