Person: Fekete, Michael
Michael Fekete was a Hungarian mathematician and set theorist who worked on the transfinite diameter of a set.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- His parents, Alexander and Emma Fekete, owned a bookshop in Zenta and they also edited a local newspaper.
- After graduating from the Gymnasium, Fekete entered the University of Budapest to study mathematics.
- Just a little note at this point; in Hungarian 'Fekete' means 'black' and 'Fejér' means 'white' so the student and his advisor were 'black and white'! Fekete was awarded a doctorate by the University of Budapest in 1909 but already he had a number of papers related to his doctoral thesis in print: A general treatment of linear congruence systems (Hungarian) (1908), Über die additive Darstellung einiger zahlentheoretischer Funktionen Ⓣ(On the additive representation of some number theoretical functions) (1908), and On the additive representation of some number theoretical functions (Hungarian) (1909).
- After the award of his doctorate, Fekete went to Göttingen to undertake postdoctoral studies in 1909-10 at the Georg-August University of Göttingen.
- After his year in Germany, Fekete returned to Budapest where he taught in secondary schools for eighteen years.
- Michael and Dora Fekete had two sons but, sadly, Dora died in 1922.
- During these years in which he was a school teacher, Fekete also taught at the university as a docent.
- Fekete had taught von Neumann while he was still at school as he had been employed as a private tutor.
- By this time Fekete had already published about 20 papers, but this was von Neumann's first paper published only one year after he completed his studies at the Gymnasium.
- This paper looked at the transfinite diameter of a set, a concept which Fekete worked on throughout the rest of his career.
- Fekete emigrated in 1928 when he became a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- It was a new university, founded on Mount Scopus three years before Fekete took up the lectureship there.
- Fekete retired in 1955 and in the year of his retirement he attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Amsterdam.
- Retirement did not mean that Fekete gave up research but continued working on ideas that had fascinated him throughout his career.
- Fekete advised several doctoral students who went on the become world-leading mathematicians, perhaps the most famous being Aryeh Dvoretzky and Menahem Max Schiffer.
Born 19 July 1886, Zenta, Bácska, Austria-Hungary (now Senta, Serbia). Died 13 May 1957, Jerusalem, Israel.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive