Felix Klein

Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

On January 18, 1881, Austrian and Dutch theoretical physicist Paul Ehrenfest was born. Ehrenfest made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics, including the theory of phase transition and the Ehrenfest theorem. “Einstein, my upset stomach hates your theory — it almost hates you yourself ! How am I to provide for my students ? What am I to answer to the philosophers ?” –…
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August Ferdinand Möbius and the Beauty of Geometry

August Ferdinand Möbius and the Beauty of Geometry

On November 17, 1790, German mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Möbius was born. He is best known for his discovery of the Möbius strip, a non-orientable two-dimensional surface with only one side when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space. August Ferdinand Möbius – Family Background and Education August Möbius’ father Johann Heinrich Möbius was a dance teacher in Schulpforta, near Naumburg on the Saale River in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. He died…
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David Hilbert’s 23 Fundamental Problems

David Hilbert’s 23 Fundamental Problems

On August 8, 1900 David Hilbert, probably the greatest mathematician of his age,  gave a speech at the Paris conference of the International Congress of Mathematicians, at the Sorbonne, where he presented 10 mathematical Problems (out of a list of 23), all unsolved at the time, and several of them were very influential for 20th century mathematics. “Who of us would not be glad to lift the veil behind which the future…
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Every Set can be Well Ordered – Ernst Zermelo

Every Set can be Well Ordered – Ernst Zermelo

On July 27, 1871, German logician and mathematician Ernst Zermelo was born. Zermelo’s work had major implications for the foundations of mathematics. He is known for his role in developing Zermelo–Fraenkel axiomatic set theory and his proof of the well-ordering theorem. “…self-evidence … must not be confused with … provability.” – Ernst Zermelo The Son of a Grammar School Professor Zermelo was the son of a grammar school professor and attended the…
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Sophus Lie and the Theory of Continuous Symmetry

Sophus Lie and the Theory of Continuous Symmetry

On December 17, 1842, Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie was born. Lie largely created the theory of continuous symmetry and applied it to the study of geometry and differential equations. He made significant contributions to the theories of algebraic invariants, continuous groups of transformations and differential equations. Lie groups and Lie algebras are named after him. “In our century the conceptions substitution and substitution group, transformation and transformation group, operation and operation group,…
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Camille Jordan and the Cours d’Analyse.

Camille Jordan and the Cours d’Analyse.

On January 5, 1838, French mathematician Marie Ennemond Camille Jordan was born. Jordan is known both for his foundational work in group theory and for his influential Cours d’analyse. Camille Jordan – Early Years Camille Jordan was born in Lyon, France, to Esprit-Alexandre Jordan, an engineer who had been educated at the École Polytechnique, and, Joséphine Puvis de Chavannes. Jordan studied at the Lycée de Lyon and at the Collège d’Oullins. He…
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Felix Klein and the Klein-Bottle

Felix Klein and the Klein-Bottle

On April 25, 1849, German mathematician and mathematics educator Felix Klein was born. Klein is known for his work in group theory, complex analysis, non-Euclidean geometry, and on the connections between geometry and group theory. His 1872 Erlangen Program, classifying geometries by their underlying symmetry groups, was a hugely influential synthesis of much of the mathematics of the day. Klein also devised the Klein-bottle, a one-sided surface which, if traveled upon, could…
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Arnold Sommerfeld – Quantum Theory and Famous Students

Arnold Sommerfeld – Quantum Theory and Famous Students

  On December 5, 1868, German theoretical physicist Arnold Sommerfeld was born. Sommerfeld pioneered developments in atomic and quantum physics, and also educated and mentored a large number of students for the new era of theoretical physics. He served as PhD supervisor for more Nobel prize winners in physics than any other supervisor to date. He introduced the 2nd quantum number (azimuthal quantum number) and the 4th quantum number (spin quantum number).…
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