IMS Medallion Lecturer who was due to give his lecture at the Seminar on Stochastic Processes in March 2021 (meeting now rescheduled to 2022).
Dmitry (Dima) Ioffe was born in Moscow in April 1963. In 1976 his family applied for a permission to leave the USSR for Israel but was refused. As a “refusenik” Dima had no chance to be accepted to the Moscow State University (or any other prestigious institute of higher education), although he finished one of the best Moscow schools with mathematical orientation. So, he enrolled in the Moscow Mining Institute and got an equivalent of M.Sc. in System Engineering in 1985. He was eventually allowed to leave the USSR (with his wife and a two-year-old daughter) in 1987. Shortly after coming to Israel he joined the graduate program in the Department of Mathematics at the Technion, and in 1991 received his PhD. He spent the following years in UC Davis (1991–92), Courant Institute at NYU (1992–93), Northwestern University (1993–95) and the Weierstrass Institute of Applied Mathematics and Stochastics in Berlin (1995–97). In 1997 he returned to the Technion where he became a full professor in 2007.
Dima made fundamental contributions to some areas of the probability theory and statistical mechanics, including random interface models, interacting particle systems, polymers in random environment, random perturbations of dynamical systems, metastability and homogenization. His results gained prominence already after his early works on large deviations in the Ising Model. He got numerous awards for his research, including the Humboldt Research Award in 2011, the Prix de l’Institut Henri Poincaré in 2004–5 and The Kurt Mahler Prize Fund in Mathematics in 2000. In 2014 he obtained the Alexander Goldberg chair in Management Sciences.
Dima’s scientific life was very active. He held visiting positions and worked with many collaborators in Germany, USA, Canada, Japan, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy. His connection with the Institute for Applied Mathematics at the Hausdorff Center in Bonn should be specifically mentioned. Along with many publications in leading journals, he gave more than 80 invited talks, taught 10 mini-courses and co-organized more than 10 conferences and workshops.
Dima was fully committed to science and the scientific community. He advised many graduate students and post-docs, quite a few of whom now hold faculty positions in leading universities worldwide. He served in the Minerva fellowship committee as well as in the editorial boards of leading probability journals and held key roles in the department and the Technion.
The scope of Dima’s interest outside science was also remarkably wide. He had a deep knowledge of literature and history (especially of Israel and the Middle East: “It makes you feel four-dimensional”). He was a real connoisseur of good wine and always enjoyed a good company. He was very athletic and remained in excellent physical shape up to (and even for some time after) the beginning of his illness. He will be remembered as a good father of two daughters, a proud and dedicated grandfather, and a friendly and lively person with a remarkable sense of humor.
Dima passed away in October 2020 in Haifa at the age of 57, after a long battle with a grave illness. He was engaged in research and teaching and kept his spirits high until the very last moment. The department of Industrial Engineering and the Technion have lost one of their most kind-hearted, conscientious, brilliant, and original members. He will be missed dearly.
Published on the website of the Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Management, Technion Israel Institute of Technology