Artin did his undergraduate studies at Princeton University, receiving an Bachelor of Arts in 1955. He then moved to Harvard University, where he received a Doctor of Philosophy in 1960 under the supervision of Oscar Zariski, defending a thesis about Enriques surfaces.
Artin"s parents had left Germany in 1937, because Michael Artin"s maternal grandfather was Jewish. In the early 1960s Artin spent time at the IHÉSouth in France, contributing to the SGA4 volumes of the Séminaire de géométrie algébrique, on topos theory and étale cohomology. His work on the problem of characterising the representable functors in the category of schemes has led to the Artin approximation theorem, in local algebra.
This work also gave rise to the ideas of an algebraic space and algebraic stack, and has proved very influential in moduli theory.
Additionally, he has made contributions to the deformation theory of algebraic varieties. He began to turn his interest from algebraic geometry to noncommutative algebra (noncommutative ring theory), especially geometric aspects, after a talk by Shimshon Amitsur and an encounter in Chicago with Claudio Procesi and Lance West. Small, "which prompted first foray into ring theory".
In 2005, he was awarded the Harvard Centennial Meda
American Mathematical Society. National Academy of Sciences. American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
American Association for the Advancement of Science.