Online from: 1972
Subject Area: Electrical & Electronic Engineering
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Article citation: , (2012) "Elegy to Yves Cherruault", Kybernetes, Vol. 41 Iss: 1/2, pp. -
It was spring of 1995 when I met Yves Cherruault the first time. I was in Paris accompanying my friend Pedro Grimalt, as he was looking forward to meet some mathematicians researching in the topic of bio-medical mathematic models. The reason behind Grimalt’s move was that, as the head of the team for mathematical training of biology undergrads at the University of Alicante, he wanted to start a new research line in that field. I believe it was Tomás Ceva – a physicist of Spanish origin, who was a researcher of the CNR in Paris – who suggested that the right person to contact regarding bio-medical research was Yves Cherruault, the head of the prestigious Medimat lab of the Pierre et Marie Curie University (Paris VI).
Back those days, the Medimat lab was located on the top floor of the Surélevation building, which was part of the Medicine Department of Paris VI, also known as “Les Cordeliers” due to its origins as a convent of monks that elaborated strings (Figure 1). In fact, both the chapel and the refectory have been preserved and are mainly used for modern art exhibitions. Back then, Yves was organizing the “Journées Medimat”, consisting mainly of keynotes from renowned researchers in the field of bio-medical applied mathematics followed sessions having every researcher at Medimat presenting their research line and latest findings. These “Journées” were held on the “Salle Soubeiran”, a place named after the famous scientist that discovered the chloroform. That was the place I first met Yves, and the next year he invited me to give a speech during the next edition of the “Journées Medimat”. We also agreed on my staying there for a full month so we could start working together in the development of a method called Alienor that he himself and Guillez have been invented earlier in order to optimize multi-variable functions by a reduction to a single variable.
That way, I spent the November of 1996 with Yves at his lab. He had such an inner force that enabled him to advise more than five PhD students plus his full dedication to several courses, publishing on journal, book authoring, and traveling. I was impressed. The output of the lab was simply amazing, mostly thanks to Yves acting as a director. His academic work at that moment had an international impact through many collaborations with countries such as Spain, Portugal, Congo, Greece, USA, Turkey, India, Iran, Russia, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Burkina-Fasso, Brazil, etc. I still wonder how he was able to manage such a daunting set of tasks as successfully as he did.
I should highlight in this elegy a social aspect of extreme importance for the scientific development of many francophone countries from Africa thanks to the personal action of Yves Cherruault. At his lab, many students from the Maghreb and Central Africa were trained. Yves personally helped each one of them, facilitating grants for them, and even advising PhD students. Today many of those countries have strong reasons to thank Cherruault, they are highly in debt with him and should honor his memory.
The work done during my first month at his lab was published on the Computers Math. Applic. under the title “Characterization and generation of a-dense curves”, and for the first time it was introduced in the mathematical literature the concept of the alpha-dense curve that enabled so many productive results. Thanks to that new concept, Yves was able to extend and conclude his Alienor method that optimized functions of bio-medical models he was interested in. In my case, I could focus on the problem from its natural mathematical perspective: the topology of metric spaces (Figure 2).
Later, the Medimat lab was relocated to the second floor of the same building but now on a different window, the one facing the “Rue de l’Ecole de Medécine”. There he was assigned with a small office for him and three meeting rooms, two of them very small that Yves labeled as “Arquimedes” and “Adomian” rooms, respectively. At that moment we really started connecting with each other, it was the moment our shared passions on mathematics and art surfaced, sealing a true friendship between us. Apart from his big passion for mathematics, he was passionate in arts (painting and sculpture). He loved meeting the artistic world with which he shared many big affinities and a lot of friends. He particularly encouraged young artists for whom recognition is often a very long road!
Together, with my most delightful memories of my childhood with my Parents, there are the memories of all those Saturdays I spend together by the Cherruault family in Paris. In that short period of time from noon till 7 pm on a Saturday, I enjoyed reflecting myself into the life of two delicate persons, friendly, and deeply in love with each other.
To you, Yves, real humanist, I give my most profound appreciation for introducing me into the mathematical research. I will always carry your memory and will always love you. Thanks for your true friendship.