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I thought about asking this question a while ago, but decided against it. But now I see a question about Eichler's "modular forms" quote, so while I guess it's probably still, um, questionable, what the hey.

So when Serre won the Fields Medal in 1954, Hermann Weyl (I guess) presented the award and described Serre's work. The Wikipedia article on Serre describes it thus: "...Weyl praised Serre in seemingly extravagant terms, and also made the point that the award was for the first time awarded to an algebraist."

If you're still not sure what I'm talking about, this is the speech where Weyl says something like "Never before have I seen such a rapid or bright ascension of a star in the mathematical sky as yours," if you've heard that quote.

Anyway, I've been trying to find a full version of Weyl's remarks (just out of curiosity), but to no avail. I would guess it would probably be in the congress proceedings somewhere, but I don't really have a copy on me. Anyone know where else I could find it?

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Google Books snippet view shows you different little snippets of the speech. The beginning of the speechs has "by study and information we became convinced that Serre and Kodaira had not only made highly original and important..." If you do a search for the phrase "convinced that Serre" (with quotes) in Google Books, you'll find several books that have the speech: "International Mathematical Congresses: An Illustrated History", the ICM Proceedings, a French "Compte Rendu" of the Proceedings, and the "Gesammelte Abhandlungen" of Hermann Weyl. The search comes up empty elsewhere, which strongly suggests that you need to get one of these books from the library for the whole speech.

The Intelligencer has the last paragraph, which has been reprinted many times and is surely fair use:

Here ends my report. If I omitted essential parts or misrepresented others, I ask for your pardon, Dr. Serre and Dr. Kodaira; it is not easy for an older man to follow your striding paces. Dear Kodaira: Your work has more than one connection with what I tried to do in my younger years; but you reached heights of which I never dreamt. Since you came to Princeton in 1949 it has been one of the greatest joys of my life to watch your mathematical development. I have no such close personal relation to you, Dr. Serre, and your research; but let me say this: that never before have I witnessed such a brilliant ascension of a star in the mathematical sky as yours. The mathematical community is proud of the work you both have done. It shows that the old gnarled tree of mathematics is still full of sap and life. Carry on as you began!

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Is this sufficient?

http://www.springerlink.com/content/23260u245q251055/

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Well, it seems like I can only get Math. Intelligencer articles online from after 1993, so I can't actually tell! :) If it has more than about three sentences, though, then it's at least more than I've been able to find anywhere else... –  Harrison Brown Dec 18 '09 at 0:12
    
Well, six sentences are better than three! :) –  Jason Dyer Dec 18 '09 at 1:10
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You deserve more credit than MO gives you, since I used your link to learn what was in this key paragraph, even though I had found the beginning snippets earlier. –  Greg Kuperberg Dec 18 '09 at 1:51
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From Greg Kuperberg's answer: "If you do a search for the phrase "convinced that Serre" (with quotes) in Google Books, you'll find several books that have the speech: "International Mathematical Congresses: An Illustrated History", the ICM Proceedings, a French "Compte Rendu" of the Proceedings, and the "Gesammelte Abhandlungen" of Hermann Weyl."

I did this and I think that the "Gesammelte Abhandlungen" of Hermann Weyl is not snippet view but is page view so I think that some of the pages Weyl's speech can be viewed this way. I clicked on the item before it in the table of contents and went past it and there were some pages of the speech.

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Here are a few snippets from International Mathematical Congresses: An Illustrated History

... I hope the Congress as a whole will approve our choice. In justification of it let me say this: by study and information we became convinced that Serre and Kodaira had not only made highly original and important contributions to mathematics in recent years, but that these hold our great promise for future fruitful non-analytic (will say: non-foreseeable) continuation.

... I realize how difficult it is for a man of my age to keep abreast of the rapid development ... which that young generation forces upon our old science ... [The burden] rests more heavily on my than on my predecessors' shoulders; for while they reported on things within the circle of classical analysis, where every mathematician is at home, I must speak on achievements that have a less familiar conceptual basis ... Be prepared then to have to listen now to a short lecture on cohomology, linear differential forms, faisceaux or sheaves, Kählder manifolds and complex line bundles ...

... If I omitted essential parts of misrepresented others, I ask your pardon, Dr. Serre and Dr. Kodaira; it is not easy for an older man to follows your striding paces.

... The mathematical community is proud of the work you both have done. It shows that the old gnarled tree of mathematics is still full of sap and life. Carry on as you began!

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