Prof. Paul Vojta, Mathematics Deptartment



Professor Paul Vojta
Mathematics Department, University of California at Berkeley


I would first like to pass on a message from Berkeley’s current chairman, Arthur Ogus:

“Shoshichi Kobayashi’s research, teaching, and leadership made him one of the most respected, influential, and effective faculty in the history of our department. His colleagues and students regarded him not just with admiration but also with affection, both of which are reflected in the tremendous outpouring of support from mathematicians around the world for the Kobayashi Memorial Fund in support of foreign graduate students. Over 150 individuals have contributed so far, in amounts ranging from under $100 to $10,000. We already have enough to make a substantial difference in the life of our department and we are touched by and grateful for these generous contributions. The fund is an appropriate addition to Shoshichi’s enduring mathematical legacy, and the department is very thankful for this support.”

I’d also like to add a few of my own comments (partially based on Ogus’s comments at Kobayashi’s funeral). When I first came to Berkeley I was at MSRI (Mathematical Science Research Institute), and Serge Lang introduced me to Shoshichi Kobayashi shortly after I arrived. Of course I’d known of his work much earlier. After a year I became a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow in the Math. Department at Berkeley, and Shoshichi Kobayashi was my faculty mentor. I was working mostly on number theory, though, so I didn’t interact with him much.

At Berkeley, unfortunately, not many of the faculty show up for tea (and I’ve been guilty of this at times). However, Professor Kobayashi was one of the most frequent attendees, and his presence made the department a more welcoming place for me. Over the years at Berkeley, I’ve occasionally heard mention of the “space wars.” This was not a Hollywood movie, but rather a period when the University administration was trying to take away a large portion of the Mathematics Department’s office space. Professor Kobayashi was chair of the department at this time, and (although it was before I arrived), I’m aware that he very skillfully saw the department through those difficult times. According to Professor Ogus, “Each time our department received a memo from the administration, Sho would post it in public on the bulletin board, along with a polite but thoroughly devastating rebuttal. This made for enormously amusing reading for members of the department, but was not so amusing for the administration.”

We did lose some space during those difficult times, but Sho limited our losses to 10%.

Professor Kobayashi was a stellar colleague and mathematician, and a heroic chairman. He will be missed greatly.