“His works are fantastic,” Peter Sarnak, another Princeton mathematician, said in an interview. “His work encompasses laying the foundation to do things of this type in great generality.”
Alice Silverberg, a mathematician at the University of California, Irvine, who was a graduate student of Dr. Shimura’s, said that his work “permeates modern-day cryptography.” Researchers use Dr. Shimura’s ideas on elliptic curves to figure out how to devise encryption techniques that are harder to crack, and to decipher other people’s secret messages.
Goro Shimura was born on Feb. 23, 1930, in Hamamatsu, Japan, to Kurao and Yone Shimura. His father worked for a bank.
His childhood was shaped by World War II: The family’s home in Tokyo was destroyed in a bombing, although no one was hurt.
He attended the University of Tokyo, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1958.
In a tribute to Dr. Taniyama, who committed suicide in 1958, Dr. Shimura noted that in the aftermath of the war, he learned far more from his peers than from his professors. “I was influenced exclusively by the people of my generation, above all by Taniyama, and by none of those above the age of 30,” he wrote. “I think this applies in essence to him too. Indeed, his training ground was many seminars organized by the students themselves.”
Dr. Shimura taught at the University of Tokyo and Osaka University before becoming a visiting professor at Princeton in 1962. (He had earlier made visits to the Institute for Advanced Study, also in Princeton.)
“One thing was certain from my viewpoint,” Dr. Shimura wrote in a memoir, “The Map of My Life” (2008). “I had something to do in mathematics, and I viewed the United States as the best place for achieving my aim.”