Person: Janiszewski, Zygmunt
Janiszewski produced important results in topology and the foundations of mathematics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- After attending secondary school in Warsaw, Janiszewski decided to go abroad for a university education.
- The first thing to note is that when Janiszewski graduated from secondary school in 1907, Poland did not formally exist.
- Russia controlled much of the rest of the country and in the years prior to Janiszewski's birth there had been strong moves by Russia to make "Vistula Land", as it was called, be dominated by Russian culture.
- Janiszewski, however, decided to go to Zürich for his university education.
- After studying mathematics for a year at Zürich and spending a short time in Munich, Janiszewski went to Göttingen to continue his studies.
- Lebesgue supervised Janiszewski's doctoral studies in topology and in 1911 he submitted his thesis Sur les continus irréductibles entre deux points Ⓣ(On the irreducible continuous curves between two points).
- Janiszewski returned to Congress Poland (the Russian controlled region) and taught for a while in Warsaw; not at the University of Warsaw for this had been closed in 1869 as we noted above.
- On 16 August 1914, the Austrian government had allowed the organisation of the Polish legion which Janiszewski joined.
- When the men in the Polish legion were required to take an oath of loyalty to the Austrian government this became too much for loyal Poles like Janiszewski.
- He left the legion and hid under the false name of Zygmunt Wicherkiewicz in Boiska near Zwolen.
- The University of Warsaw had become Polish again in November 1915 and before Janiszewski left Ewin he already had links to the university.
- Kuratowski attended seminars given by Janiszewski in Warsaw before the end of the war.
- The meeting of that seminar, taken up to a large extent with sometimes quite vehement discussions between Janiszewski and Mazurkiewicz, were a real intellectual treat for the participants.
- At the end of the war it was Janiszewski who was the main force in the remarkable creation of one of the strongest schools of mathematics in the world.
- Janiszewski started out with the assumption that Polish mathematicians do not have to be satisfied with the role of followers and customers of foreign mathematical centres but can achieve an independent position for Polish mathematics.
- One of the best ways of achieving this goal, suggested Janiszewski, was for groups of mathematicians to concentrate on relatively narrow fields in which Polish mathematicians had common interests and - more importantly - had already made internationally important contributions.
- These were exactly the areas in which Janiszewski himself had already made internationally important contributions.
- In addition to set theory (which at that time included parts of what we call topology today) Janiszewski produced important results in the foundations of mathematics and other parts of topology.
- Janiszewski saw that mathematics was one scientific subject where Poland could rapidly reach a leading role, whereas other sciences required a much larger financial investment which Poland was not then in a position to give.
- Janiszewski played a major role in the setting up of the journal Fundamenta Mathematicae and Kuratowski recalls that it was Janiszewski who proposed the name of the journal in 1919.
- The first volume appeared in 1920 and, although the intention was for a truly international journal, Janiszewski had quite deliberately decided to make the first volume contain papers by Polish authors only.
- It was an immeasurable loss to mathematics when Janiszewski died during an influenza epidemic.
- Dickstein wrote a commemorative address after Janiszewski's death.
Born 12 June 1888, Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland). Died 3 January 1920, Lvov, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine).
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Poland, Topology
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive