In Memoriam: Professor of Mathematics Vladas Sidoravicius, 1963-2019

May 29 2019


NYU Shanghai Professor of Mathematics and NYU Global Network Professor Vladas Sidoravicius passed away unexpectedly on May 23, just one week before he was to serve as a Chief Marshall in the university’s third commencement. He was 55. 

Prof. Sidoravicius, who came to NYU Shanghai in 2015, also served as the deputy director of the NYU-ECNU Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NYU Shanghai.

“The world has lost a brilliant mathematician, and we have lost a beloved colleague,” said Vice Chancellor Jeffrey S. Lehman. “Vladas was passionate about his teaching and his research, and he was passionate about doing all he could to bring the world’s foremost scholars to NYU Shanghai. His memory will forever shine brightly in the halls of our university.”

Prof. Sidoravicius was born in Vilnius, Lithuania in 1963 and completed his PhD in Mathematics from Moscow University in 1990. In the early 1990s, he established himself as a leading scholar in the field of probability theory during his work in postdoctoral positions at universities in France and the Netherlands. In 1999, he became a full professor at Instituto Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He served as a distinguished faculty member there for over 15 years and eventually became a naturalized Brazilian citizen.

A prolific researcher, Prof. Sidoravicius was the author of over 100 papers with many different co-authors. His most influential works included investigations of systems of particles and the spread of infections, including the celebrated paper “A Shape Theory for the Spread of an Infection,” co-authored with Cornell University Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Harry Kesten and published in 2008 in mathematics’ most prestigious journal, the Annals of Mathematics.

Colleagues fondly remember Prof. Sidoravicius for his passion for international collaboration. “Vladas loved to travel and was at his best collaborating with colleagues all over the planet,” said Gérard Ben Arous, Associate Provost for the Quantitative Disciplines at NYU Shanghai.

Prof. Sidoravicius gained a worldwide reputation not only as a brilliant scholar, but also as a skilled connector of people, constantly bringing together fellow mathematicians from around the globe in seminars, conferences, and social events. In 2014, Prof. Sidoravicius was an Invited Speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians, one of the highest recognitions possible for a scholar of mathematics.

Prof. Sidoravicius was also the first tenured faculty member in Mathematics to come to NYU Shanghai. Several of his colleagues credit him with attracting the diverse talents that have made NYU Shanghai’s Mathematics program into a powerhouse of probability research.

“Vladas’s ability to present contemporary probability theory as a fascinating subject won the hearts of students and young researchers year after year,” says NYU Shanghai Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics Leonardo Rolla. “He was a sweet, generous, and extremely charismatic character who could motivate the people around him and bring out the best in them.”

Prof. Sidoravicius was also a great fan of music and the arts, and he was known as an authority on the restaurant scene in almost every city he visited. "I recall once that Vladas described his ideal seat in any concert as a seat in the midst of the best orchestra," says Qian Anqi, Assistant Provost for Research. "I think this captured his attitude toward science as well. He wanted to be the best and be surrounded by the best."

"Vladas lit a fire under our math institute and our math program, which will benefit many generations to come," says Qian.

NYU Shanghai extends its deepest condolences to Prof. Sidoravicius’s friends and family, including his mother Galina and his wife Karina. The university will hold a memorial event for Prof. Sidoravicius in September.