Nachbin completed high school in Recife and, stimulated by Professor Luiz Freire, moved to Rio where he graduated in Engineering in 1943 at Escola Nacional de Engenharia da Universidade do Brasil. In the Department of Mathematics of the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia da Universidade do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro he found a stimulating mathematical atmosphere. He had then the opportunity of joining an academic staff to which belonged the Italian mathematicians Gabriele Mammana (a former student of Mauro Picone) and Luigi Sobrero (a former student of Levi-Cevita). In 1948 he became a Freidozent at that same institution with the theses: "Combination of metrizable and pseudo-metrizable topologies", a quite updated research topic at that time. In the very same year of 1948 he went to the University of chicago with a fellowship from the American State Department. since then his career as a working mathematician was very productive in many areas of mathematical analysis. It is also worth noticing that Nachbin benefited, in a very fruitful way, from his acquaintance with the mathematicians André Weil, Jean Dieudonné, Marchall Stone and Laurent Schwartz, who visited Brazil.
He was one of the founders of the physics and mathematics institutes, Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Físicas (CBPF) and Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA), both in Rio de Janeiro. In 1967 together with Heitor Gurgulino de Sousa, he also was a founder of the Escola Latino-Americana de Matemática, a mathematical event that takes place every two years throughout Latin America.
Nachbin published a large number of research papers in mathematics, as well as textbooks and research monographs. His published works in English, French and Portuguese added up to more than a hundred. His research contributions focus mainly on the following areas: ordered systems, topology, topological vector spaces, approximation theory, harmonic analysis, and infinite-dimensional holomorphy. He received several awards, due to the high quality of his work in mathematics. In 1950 he was elected a member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. In 1962 he was an invited lecturer at the International Congress of Mathematics. In the same year he received the Moinho Santista Prize, a distinguished Brazilian prize for academic and intellectual achievements, being the first mathematician to receive this award. In 1982 he received the Bernardo Houssay Science Prize from the Organization of American States; again he was the first mathematician to whom this award was conferred. In 1983 he was elected a member of the newly-founded Latin American academy of Sciences.
He accepted a tenured position at Rochester University in 1964, keeping also his position in Rio de Janeiro. He also had visiting appointments at many institutions throughout the world such as: Institut Henri Poincaré, Brandeis University, University of Chicago, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
He was the editor of Notas de Matemática, which was published from 1948 to 1976 by IMPA in Rio de Janeiro, and thereafter by North-Holland Publ. Co. in Amsterdam. Together with his former Ph.D students, Nachbin organized several international meetings both in this country and abroad.
Besides his deep knowledge of his subject, Nachbin was an exceptional lecturer endowed with an extraordinary gift for transmitting knowledge with extreme clearness. Brazilian Mathematics will certainly miss him a great deal.
Candido Lima da Silva Dias
Chaim Samuel Hönig
Luis Adauto da Justa Medeiros