I was very sad to learn today from R. de la Bretèche and É. Fouvry that Hédi Daboussi passed away yesterday. Hédi played an important part in my life; he was the first actual analytic number theorist that I met, one day at IHP in 1987, at the beginning of my first bachelor-thesis style project. (This was before internet was widely available.) Fouvry and him advised me on this project, which was devoted to the large sieve, especially the proof of Selberg based on the Beurling functions. They also introduced me to Henryk Iwaniec, who was visiting Orsay at the time (in fact, the meeting at IHP was organized to coincide with a talk of Iwaniec).
Daboussi is probably best known outside the French analytic number theory community for two things: his elegant elementary proof of the Prime Number Theorem, found in 1983, which does not use Selberg’s identity, and which is explained in the nice book of Mendès-France and Tenenbaum, and the “Rencontres de théorie élémentaire et analytique des nombres”, which he organized for a long time as a weekly seminar in Paris, before they were transformed, after his retirement, into (roughly) monthly meetings, which are still known as the “Journées Daboussi”, and are organized by Régis de la Bretèche. The first of these were two days of a meeting in 2006 in honor of Hédi.
For me, the original Monday seminar organized by Daboussi was especially memorable, both because I gave my first “real” mathematics lecture there (I think that it was about my bachelor project), and also because on another occasion (either the same time or close to that), I first met Philippe Michel in Hédi’s seminar. It is very obvious to me that, without him, my life would have been very different, and I will always remember him because of that.