Floris Takens (1940–2010)

By Hinke Osinga

Floris Takens

Floris Takens, born in Zaanstad, the Netherlands, earned his PhD in Differential Topology from the University of Amsterdam in 1969. He spent one year at the Institute des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHES) in Bures-sur-Yvette, France and visited the Instituto Matemática Pura et Applicada (IMPA) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1971–72, before becoming professor of mathematics at the University of Groningen from 1972 until his retirement in the year 1999. He was editor of the Springer Lecture Notes in Mathematics and member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In November 2005, he was made a Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion) by her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for his important contributions to the scientific life of the Netherlands and beyond.

Takens was one of the founding fathers of dynamical systems theory. For example, the Bogdanov-Takens bifurcation and the Takens Embedding Theorem bear his name. His time at IHES led to one of the most famous papers in the field: "On the nature of turbulence" [Communications in Mathematical Physics 20(3), 1971], which he wrote with David Ruelle. Takens himself felt that his most important contributions were the book Hyperbolicity and Sensitive Chaotic Dynamics and Homoclinic Bifurcations [Cambridge University Press, 1993] that he wrote with Jacob Palis (IMPA) and his paper "Detecting strange attractors in turbulence" [in D. A. Rand & L.-S. Young (Eds) Dynamical systems and turbulence, LNM 898 Springer-Verlag, 1981], which contains the embedding theorem for time series data.

An interview with Floris Takens appeared in the January 2006 issue of DSWeb Magazine


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