Aderemi Oluyomi Kuku


Born: 20 March 1941 in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria

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Aderemi Kuku is the son of Busari Adeoye Kuku, a photographer, and Abusatu Oriaran Baruwa, a trader. His background is given in [1]:-
Born in Ijebu-Ode to the famous Kuku family of Ijebu-Ode, Otunba (Professor) Aderemi Oluyomi Kuku is a descendant of Oba Ofiran. His father, Busari Adeoye Kuku's mother (Barikisu Kuku) was a great grand daughter of Oba Ofiran and he, Otunba (Professor) Kuku belongs to Adetuyo Ruling House of Owa of Okun-Owa.
Busari Adeoye Kuku believed in education for his children and they all went to school. Aderemi had two older brothers; the eldest became an expert in telecommunications, the second eldest became an electrical technician, while his younger brother became a professor of Electronics.

Aderemi Kuku's first school was Bishop Oluwole Memorial School, Agege, Lagos State. He then attended St James School Anglican primary school, Oke-Odan, Ogun State coming first in the first school leaving certificate. He then moved to the Eko Boys High School, Lagos, Nigeria which he attended from 1955 to 1959. In his final year of study, 1959, he was Head Boy of the High School. This school had been founded in 1913 and when it celebrated its centenary on 13 January 2013, Kuku was honoured with a special award for distinguished accomplishments during the centenary dinner held at the Banquet Hall of the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. After graduating from Eko Boys High School, he went to Abeokuta Grammar School where he obtained the Higher School Certificate in Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Physics.

At this stage Kuku had options. He was awarded a scholarship from the African Scholarship Program of American Universities. These were for highly qualified African secondary school students to go to the United States to study for a first degree. This program was administered by the United States Agency for International Development which also had a program to take Nigerian students to Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda, to study for a first degree. This was part of the University of East Africa which at this time was an independent external college of the University of London, England. Kuku was advised that a British degree was more highly valued in Nigeria than one from the United States, so he chose to study at Makerere University College (which became the independent Makerere University in 1970).

A University of London degree was highly valued, but it was difficult to achieve. This was because a student sat the same examination papers at the end of the three year course as did students studying in London, yet the teaching at Makerere was not of the quality of that in London. Kuku entered Makerere University College in 1962 and, in 1965, was awarded a B.Sc. with Special Honours in Mathematics. He only achieved the Special Honours degree by doing a lot of studying on his own, in addition to the material taught in the courses. After graduating, Kuku was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Ife in Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. This university was founded in 1961 and teaching began in October of the following year. We note that it was renamed Obafemi Awolowo University in 1987, the name by which it is known today. Despite having a university position, Kuku was certainly not going to end his qualifications at the B.Sc. level and he registered at the University of Ibadan to study for a Master's Degree. This University had been established in 1948 as a College of the University of London, being the first university to be established in Nigeria. It became an independent university in 1962 after the country gained its independence from Britain.

Kuku's M.Sc. was supervised at the University of Ibadan by Joshua Leslie who had studied at the University of Chicago then had undertaken research for a doctorate at the University of Paris. Leslie had just returned from a research visit to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in the United States. Although Leslie was not an expert in algebra, the area that interested Kuku, he had met Hyman Bass at Princeton and realised that there were important new developments in the subject taking place at Princeton. Kuku went to the library and began to study the papers that were being produced in this new area. This was somewhat of a challenge since he had a supervisor who was not in a position to be much help and, in addition, Kuku had to teach courses at the University of Ife. He submitted an M.Sc. thesis A survey of Algebraic K-theory which was examined by Hyman Bass as the external examiner. Kuku was awarded an M.Sc. by the University of Ibadan in 1968. In 1967 he had been promoted to Lecturer II at the University of Ife.

In 1968 Kuku left the University of Ife, and accepted the position of Lecturer II in Mathematics at the University of Ibadan. The position had become vacant since Joshua Leslie had left to take up a position at the North Western University in the United States. Kuku married Felicia Osifunke Kalesanwo on 28 December 1968; they have four children Dolapo Kuku, Solape Kuku, Yemisi Kuku and Kemi Kuku. The 1999 Ogun State Annual states that Felicia [2]:-

... born in Lagos on 6 March 1944, hails from the Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of Ogun State. She was the only female member of the State Executive Council under the leadership of Navy Captain Mohammed Lawal. She was Commissioner for Education. Dr (Mrs) Kuku was at various times President, Nigerian Association of University Women (Ibadan Branch), a member of Zonta International, Ibadan and member of National Council of Women Societies (Ibadan). She also belongs to several learned societies such as Nigerian Society for Plant Protection, Science Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology and she is a life member of University of Ibadan Alumni. A Christian of the Baptist denomination ...
After receiving an invitation from Hyman Bass to undertake research at Columbia University, New York City, and, after arranging leave from the University of Ibadan, Kuku spent the year 1970-71 at Columbia University. During this year Hyman Bass acted as a thesis advisor to Kuku who returned to the University of Ibadan and submitted his thesis On the Whitehead group of p-adic integral group-rings of finite p-groups. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1971 by the University of Ibadan.

Kuku's first three papers were (i) Some algebraic K-theoretic applications of the LF and NF functors (1973), (ii) Whitehead group of orders in p-adic semi-simple algebras (1973) and (iii) Some finiteness theorems in the K-theory of orders in p-adic algebras (1976). The authors of [7] write:-

His initial work contributed to the understanding of the LF and NF functors with applications to the computation of Picard group of Algebraic Geometry, see (i). Moreover, he also contributed to the understanding of Whitehead groups of group-rings of finite group over the ring of integers in algebraic number fields and p-adic fields as well as Whitehead groups of orders in algebras over such fields. He proved several finiteness results in this direction (see (ii) and (iii)).
Kuku was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Mathematics in 1976, to Reader in Mathematics in 1980 and, in 1982, to Professor of Mathematics at the University of Ibadan.

For Kuku's own description of his background and education, see his interview at THIS LINK.

In [5] there is information about Kuku's teaching. Here is a slightly modified version:-

Aderemi Kuku has over 40 years of teaching and research experience. He has taught courses on Calculus, Real and Complex Analysis, Algebra (Linear algebra and Abstract algebra), Topology, and Geometry, at undergraduate and beginning graduate levels. He has written a book 'Abstract Algebra' (1980), suitable for undergraduate and beginning graduate levels. He has also taught graduate courses on various topics including Homological algebra, Algebraic Topology, Algebraic Number theory, Representation Theory, Algebraic K-theory, Category theory, Algebraic Geometry, and Non-commutative Geometry. In the United States he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Columbia University, New York; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Cornell University Ithaca, New York; the University of Iowa, Iowa City; Howard University Washington, DC; Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. At Grambling State University, he has taught Pre-Calculus, Calculus III, Modern Algebra I, Modern Algebra II, Introduction to Topology, and Topics in Mathematics I.
In 1995 Kuku went to Italy when he was appointed as Professor of Mathematics at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste. He remained there until 2003. He was the William W S Claytor Endowed Professor of Mathematics, Grambling State University, Louisiana, USA and then Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, Nigeria.

We mentioned above Kuku's first book Abstract algebra (1980). He has also published (with E Thoma and J H Rawnsley) Group Representations and its Applications (1985) as well as Basic commutative algebra (1997), Topics in algebraic K-theory (1997), and Representation theory and higher algebraic K-theory (2007).

For full information on this 2007 book, see THIS LINK.

It is not only technical mathematical works that Kuku has published for he has contributed many papers on education, science and technology, often with emphasis on the particular problems in Africa or, more specifically, in Nigeria. We list the titles of these works, many of which are the written form of lectures he has given in various countries worldwide:

Mathematics as a service subject - The African Experience (1988);
Mobilisation and production of basic scientists for the development of Africa (1988);
Toward a more comprehensive Franco-African cooperation in mathematics (1988);
Mathematical Sciences and African Development (1988);
Networks in the context of new European relationships and North-South CO-development (1990);
Mathematical Sciences and the development of Nigeria (1991);
Capacity Building and Human Resources for accelerated development of Science and technology in Africa in Science in Africa (1993);
Mathematical Research and Education in Africa. Problems and Prospects (1993);
Mathematics as a universal language (1994);
Some perspectives on World Mathematics Year-WMY 2,000 (1994);
African mathematical Union (AMU) and the challenges of developing mathematical sciences in Africa (1994);
Mathematical Education in Africa in relation to other continents (1995);
Mathematics in AFRICA - an Appraisal (1996);
Science and Technology Literacy (SLT) and Numeracy: Meanings and Rationales (1997);
Mathematics and the Development of Africa - The way forward (2001);
Mathematical Sciences and other Sciences (2002);
The Role of Mathematical Sciences in the Scientific, Technological, Social and Economic Development of Nigeria (2004);
Mathematical Sciences and the development of Africa (2005);
African Solutions to African Problems through Science and Technology (2006);
The role of Mathematics in the Scientific, Technological Development and Innovation in Africa (2010);
Regional and International co-operation to strengthen basic sciences in Africa (2010);
Mathematics as a time-tested resource for scientific, technological, socio-economic and intellectual development (2013);
Higher Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology for Development (2018);
Towards radical improvement in the health an well-being of Nigerians (2018);
Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in the age of globalization (2019);
Science and Technology in the next one hundred years (2019).
Kuku has received many awards and honours for his outstanding contributions. These include:
Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (elected 1986; President 2014-2017);
Member of the European Academy of Arts Science and Humanities (from 1986);
Member of the African Mathematical Union (President, 1986-95; Honorary President for life from 1995);
Fellow, Mathematical Association of Nigeria (1987);
Presented with a Special Merit Award by Ogun State of Nigeria in 1987;
Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science (elected 1989);
Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (elected 1989);
Presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award from the USA National Association of Mathematicians in 1993;
Awarded the African Mathematical Union Medal in 2000;
Foreign Fellow, Mongolian Academy of Sciences (elected 2005);
Officer of the Order of the Niger, a Nigerian National Honour, awarded by the President of Nigeria, 2008;
Fellow of the African Science Institute (elected 2009);
Awarded the Nigerian National Order of Merit (the Highest Academic Honour in Nigeria awarded by the President of Nigeria) in 2009, it was presented by the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr Goodluck Jonathan at the presidential Villa in Abuja on 2 December 2010;
International Conference on Algebraic K-theory and It's Applications in honour of the 70th birthday of Professor Kuku held at Nanjing University China 17 March 2011-21 March 2011;
Foundation Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (elected 2012);
During the African Mathematical Union Pan-African Congress of Mathematicians held at Abuja, Nigeria, a Special Reception/Dinner was hosted by the National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, in honour of Kuku on Saturday, 6 July 2013 to mark his election an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society;
A special issue of the Journal of K-theory was published in honour of Kuku by the Cambridge University Press (2014);
Foundation Fellow of the Nigerian Mathematical Society (elected 2015);
and Life-time Achievement Award by the University of Ibadan on 16 November 2018 at the 70th Anniversary celebrations of the Founding of the University.
Let us end this biography with Kuku's other interests. These include ballroom dancing, chess, and table tennis.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson


List of References (12 books/articles)

Mathematicians born in the same country

Additional Material in MacTutor

  1. The Budding Scientist interviews Aderemi Kuku
  2. Representation Theory and Higher Algebraic K-Theory by Aderemi Kuku
  3. Entry in the list of African men PhDs

Other Web sites
  1. Mathematical Genealogy Project
  2. MathSciNet Author profile
  3. zbMATH entry

Main Index Biographies index

JOC/EFR May 2019
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School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland

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