**Kuratowski** was a Polish mathematician who worked in the area of topology and set theory.
He is best known for his theorem giving a necessary and sufficient condition for a graph to be planar.

- To understand what Kuratowski's school years were like it is necessary to look a little at the history of Poland around the time he was born.
- Russia controlled much of the rest of the country and in the years prior to Kuratowski's birth there had been strong moves by Russia to make "Vistula Land", as it was called, be dominated by Russian culture.
- When Kuratowski was nine years old the policy of Russian schooling was softened, but although Polish language schools were allowed, a student could not proceed from such a secondary school to university without taking the Russian examinations as an external candidate.
- Kuratowski, however, when he left secondary school decided that he wanted to become an engineer.
- It rightly appeared to Kuratowski as an outstanding place to study engineering.
- After Kuratowski made the decision to study in Glasgow, he matriculated there as a student in October 1913.
- At the end of his first year Kuratowski was awarded the Class Prize in Mathematics.
- Although his education was disrupted, one benefit to mathematics was that Kuratowski could no longer study engineering and mathematics would gain enormously.
- Kuratowski was one of the first students to study mathematics when the university reopened.
- There were two others on the staff at the University of Warsaw who were also to have a major influence on Kuratowski.
- The first paper which Kuratowski wrote was On the definitions in mathematics, written in 1917, which was a consequence of discussions which he had while attending Łukasiewicz's seminar.
- After graduating in 1919, Kuratowski undertook his doctoral studies working under Janiszewski and Mazurkiewicz.
- In 1921 Kuratowski was awarded his doctorate, but sadly one of his supervisors Janiszewski had died in 1920.
- Janiszewski had been the leader in a move to set up the new journal Fundamenta Mathematicae and the first volume, which appeared in 1920, contained a joint paper Sur les continus indécomposable Ⓣ(On the indecomposable continuum) by Janiszewski and Kuratowski.
- Kuratowski was appointed as a professor at the Technical University of Lwów in 1927.
- Kuratowski (and Steinhaus) sometimes joined their colleagues in the Scottish Café but he had left Lwów before the mathematicians began writing down the problems in the Scottish Book.
- At Lwów, however, Kuratowski worked with Banach and they answered some fundamental problems on measure theory.
- Kuratowski retained his links with Warsaw while in Lwów, returning each summer to his house outside the capital.
- It was now that Kuratowski began to devote his energies to the cause of Polish mathematics rather than to give all his efforts to his research.
- Kuratowski became secretary to the mathematics committee and his report was made in 1937.
- Kuratowski risked his life to teach in this illegal educational establishment through the war.
- It was Kuratowski who now took on the role of leader in this rebuilding process and, through the Polish Mathematical Society of which he was president for eight years immediately following the war, he set about arguing for the implementation of the recommendations of his 1937 report.
- Kuratowski was appointed the Director of the Mathematical Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1949.
- Despite being 53 years of age when appointed, Kuratowski held this position of director for 19 years.
- Kuratowski also played a major role in the publishing of mathematics in general and Polish mathematics in particular.
- As an ambassador for Polish mathematics, Kuratowski did a remarkable job with many foreign visits and lecture tours.
- All this was during the Stalinist era when travel was restricted, and after travel became easier Kuratowski did indeed take full advantage with many visits to western Europe, Britain, USA, and Canada.
- Kuratowski's main work was in the area of topology and set theory.
- Other major contributions by Kuratowski were to compactness and metric spaces.
- Kuratowski was honoured with prizes and election to academies.

Born 2 February 1896, Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland). Died 18 June 1980, Warsaw, Poland.

View full biography at MacTutor

Origin Poland, Topology

**O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F**: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive