Ernst Zermelo: An Approach to His Life and Work by Heinz-Dieter Ebbinghaus

By Heinz-Dieter Ebbinghaus

Ernst Zermelo (1871-1953) is best-known for the assertion of the axiom of selection and his axiomatization of set conception. in spite of the fact that, he additionally labored in utilized arithmetic and mathematical physics. His dissertation, for instance, promoted the calculus of diversifications, and he created the pivotal process within the concept of score systems.This biography makes an attempt to make clear all points of Zermelo's lifestyles and achievements. own and medical features are saved separate so far as coherence permits, for you to permit the reader to stick with the only or the opposite of those threads. the outline of his character owes a lot to conversations along with his overdue spouse Gertrud. The presentation of his paintings explores motivations, goals, reputation, and impact. chosen proofs and data gleaned from unpublished notes and letters upload to the analysis.All evidence awarded are documented via acceptable assets. The biography comprises greater than forty pictures and facsimiles, so much of them supplied by way of Gertrud Zermelo and released right here for the 1st time.

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Hilbert states that the thesis represents a careful and thorough investigation and has led to new and remarkable results; it attests not only knowledge and abilities, but also the author’s scientific inclination and his ideal pursuit. [ . . ]10 Dr. Zermelo is well-known to me through personal contacts; while staying here, he has always shown the most vivid scientific interest. In particular, he has demonstrated by talks and scientific remarks in the Mathematical Society11 that he is well-suited for an academic profession.

In later reports on Zermelo’s achievements in connection with university positions, his Habilitation thesis did not play a major role, whereas his Ph. D. thesis was highly praised. Perhaps the overall reason for this modest reception may be seen in the fact that for the time being the field of fluid dynamics was shaped by Ludwig Prandtl in another direc2 August 1898: On a report of Wilhelm Wien on the movement of the ether, ¨ probably Wien’s talk “Uber die Fragen, welche die translatorische Bewegung des Licht¨ athers betreffen” (“On Questions which Concern the Translatorial Movement ¨ of the Ether”) at the 70th Versammlung Deutscher Naturforscher und Arzte at D¨ usseldorf in the same year; 10 January 1899: On a paper of Leo Koenigsberger (1837–1921) concerning Weber’s law; furthermore, he had put forward there the problem of distributing points on a sphere in such a way that the product of their mutual distances is minimal.

12 Notification of the Dean of the Philosophical Faculty to the Royal Curator, No. 68, 15 March 1899; UAG, Files of the Kgl. Kuratorium, 4/Vc 229. Moreover, letter from the Dean Voigt to Zermelo of 6 March 1899; MLF. 13 With page numbers 61–117; UAF, C 129/225. 14 In later years, when Zermelo made plans for an edition of his collected works, he counted the last two chapters among his papers. 15 Vol. 01. 19 Zermelo’s Habilitation thesis may be considered one of the early essential papers in the field.

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