V. G. Avakumović was born on March 12,1910 in Zemun where his father Dr. Grigorije (Giga) was a prominent lawyer and a politician. The family previously lived about two centuries in Sremski Karlovci as respectable land owners-vinyardists and merchants, participating in municipal affairs. Most probably related to the Avakumović nobility family in St. Andrews (Hungary).
After completing his primary and secondary education in Zemun followed by a brief study of arts in Rome, he enrolled in 1929 the Technische Hochschule in Berlin-Charlotenburg to study mechanical engineering (aeronautical one in particular). But in 1931 when climbing the north face of Triglav, a grave injury caused by a fall resulted in an amputation of his right leg. Following an advice of J. Karamata he in 1932 enrolled the Faculty of Philosophy of the Belgrade University to study mathematics. He was a rather unorthodox student neglecting classes, careless with exams. But in the third year of his study his first paper appeared in the Comptes rendues. Acad. Sci. Paris, where the notion of regularly bounded functions was introduced which is of a contemporary use. He graduated in 1938. but in the meantime published ten papers one of which contained the basic idea of his future Ph. D. thesis (he achieved that degree in 1939). In fact, he was a self-taught person apart from Karamata's advices and encouragement, making thus his rare mathematical talent evident.
His academic career began before the Second World War at the Faculty of Technical Sciences of the Belgrade University. After, he gradually reached the position of an associate professor in 1951. Previously in 1944 he married Anđelija Tokin and has had three children Katarina (1945) and twins Marija and Grigorije (1946). The Country was devastated during the war, the population suffering shortages of all kind and the situation was aggravated by the revolutionary changes which affected also the University including political pressure and even persecution of some students and professors. Yet, V. G. Avakumović exhibited a remarkable scientific activity by publishing papers and presenting his results at the seminars of the newly founded Institute of Mathematics of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He was also educating several young mathematicians to scientific maturity. Two of these made their Ph. D. thesis soon. He was a mentor to altogether eight his doctoral sons in his wording.
Three of these later became members of three different Academies of Sciences and Arts in former Yugoslavia, while other fives became distinguished professors at the various German and the U. S. universities. On the other hand, a non-conformist, ready to courageously spell out his (usually critical) opinions, he was labeled by the communist regime as anideological enemy and was not politically suitable for a full professorship at the Belgrade University and moved to a two year college in Novi Sad. Simultaneously he accepted a visiting position at the University of Sarajevo to reorganize and develop the Department of Mathematics. However, his results on spectral theory of Laplace operators (1952) were rather soon internationally recognized (even discussed at H. Weyl's and C. L. Siegel's seminar in Princeton) and several visiting positions at European Universities were offered. Gottingen in fall 1958 and 1959-60. There he decided (very reluctantly though) to leave the country despite being in 1958 elected a corresponding member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He was engaged first at the University in Giessen then in Aachen serving at the same time as a Head of the Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Kernforschungsanlage in Jullich. In 1966 he became a full professor at the Philipps University in Marburg a. d. Lahn where he retired in 1976.
His results on Tauberian theorems in the complex domain, on asymptotics of solutions of differential equations and in particular on spectral theory of elliptic operators are reproduced in several well known monographs. The famous Belgrade school of classical analysis originated by Mihajlo Petrović, thanks to the achievements of Jovan Karamata, Vojislav G. Avakumović and Miodrag Tomić reached its culmination.
He was an impressive personality devoted to his scientific goals, ready to sacrifice for these. Possessing a remarkable ability of a prolong concentration he worked in a rhyhtm beyond any order and apparent sense. Of very broad culture and interests including arts and literature. At his early age he wrote poems some of which were reproduced in a couple of anthologies even today. But also was a bold alpinist and even, in Berlin, a University boxing champion in bantamweight. In his old age the juvenile inclinations returned and he painted numerous aquarelles.
V .G. Avakumović died on August 19, 1990 in Marburg. His ashes, following his will, rest in the Cerat cemetery in Sremski Karlovci, the city of his ancestors.
His bibliography is found here.
Author: Marić, Vojislav