Alexei Zamolodchikov 1952–2007

The theoretical physicist Alexei Zamolodchikov passed away on the night of the 18–19 October 2007.

Alexei was born on 18 September 1952 in Novo-Ivankovo, near Dubna. After finishing high school in 1969, he studied at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Engineering until 1976, and he then worked successively at the JINR, Cybernetics Counsel, and ITEP, Moscow. From 1990 he held a senior CNRS position in the University of Montpellier-2.

His extraordinary journey in theoretical physics was marked by several major discoveries that influenced the work of a whole generation of physicists active in the different domains of quantum field theory and mathematical physics. In particular, he was the first, together with his brother Alexander, to construct exact scattering matrices in two-dimensional quantum field theory. Moreover he demonstrated how these scattering matrices allowed the building up of a systematic approach to integrable models at finite temperature. He regularly contributed to the development of Liouville string theory – the key model for understanding the most fundamental aspects of string theory and two-dimensional quantum gravity.

Alexei judged his own work by unusually high standards and his published papers reflect only a tiny part of his work. The papers he wrote carried both powerful ideas and mathematical elegance. He left behind a mass of unfinished projects, most of them now lost forever.

All those who knew Alexei closely will remember not only his immense talent as a physicist and the depth of his thought, but also the warmth of his friendship, his radical non-conformism and complete absence of vanity – and finally his incomparable sense of humour, sometimes bitter and fatalistic, but never malicious.

His friends and colleagues.