Person: Kasner, Edward
Edward Kasner was an American mathematician who worked on differential geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Having completed his first degree, Kasner went to Columbia University for his graduate studies.
- Cole, who had studied for several years with Felix Klein in Leipzig, was able to use this experience in advising Kasner who was awarded his Ph.D. in 1899 for his thesis The Invariant Theory of the Inversion Group: Geometry upon a Quadric Surface.
- Although he had been awarded a doctorate without making the usual visit to Germany, Kasner did not totally break with tradition for he spent the year 1899-1900 in Göttingen attending courses by Felix Klein and David Hilbert.
- Kasner gave the lecture Present Problems of Geometry and was delighted to have Henri Poincaré, another of the speakers at the Congress, in the audience.
- Jesse Douglas, Kasner's most famous student, undertook research at Columbia between 1916 and 1920.
- A rough subdivision of Kasner's scientific career might be made into four periods according to his dominant interest at the time: Differential-Geometric Aspects of Dynamics (1905-1920), Geometric Aspects of the Einstein Theory of Relativity (1920-1927), Polygenic Functions (1927-1940), Horn Angles (1940-1955).
- would meet Kasner at the Fort Lee ferry and take the ride to the Jersey shore, then the trolley car to the top of the Palisades.
- On the way to the woods we might stop to buy some cookies; these were to consume with the tea which Kasner brewed in a pot, dug up from its hiding place under a log, where it had been left at the end of the previous excursion.
- It was amusing that Kasner could direct us unerringly to this cache in spite of the absence of any markers that we could notice.
- Water was obtained by Kasner from a nearby stream, and heated over a fire built from dead branches and leaves which we had gathered.
- As the sun faded and darkness began to fall, Kasner would arise at the psychological moment signalled by a halt in the conversation, and carefully extinguish the fire with some water kept in reserve - we then knew it was time to start for home.
- Kasner is best remembered today for the term 'googol' and for his remarkable book Mathematics and the Imagination (1940) co-authored with James R Newman.
- We should note Kasner's talents as a teacher at all levels.
- Kasner received many honours.
- If today this position is patently a leading one, then some significant portion of the credit must be assigned to the work and influence of Edward Kasner.
Born 2 April 1878, New York City, New York, USA. Died 7 January 1955, New York City, New York, USA.
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