◀ ▲ ▶History / 19th-century / Person: Von Lindemann, Carl Louis Ferdinand
Person: Von Lindemann, Carl Louis Ferdinand
Ferdinand von Lindemann was the first to prove that $\pi$ is transcendental, i.e. $\pi$ is not the root of any algebraic equation with rational coefficients.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- As was the standard practice of students in Germany in the second half of the 19th century, Lindemann moved from one university to another.
- Later Lindemann was able to make use of the lecture notes he had taken attending Clebsch's geometry lectures when he edited and revised these note for publication in 1876.
- Lindemann also studied at Erlangen and at Munich.
- After the award of his doctorate Lindemann set off to visit important mathematical centres in England and France.
- Returning to Germany Lindemann worked for his habilitation.
- Lindemann became professor at the University of Königsberg in 1883.
- In 1893 Lindemann accepted a chair at the University of Munich where he was to remain for the rest of his career.
- Lindemann's main work was in geometry and analysis.
- In 1873, the year in which Lindemann was awarded his doctorate, Hermite published his proof that eee is transcendental.
- Shortly after this Lindemann visited Hermite in Paris and discussed the methods which he had used in his proof.
- Using methods similar to those of Hermite, Lindemann established in 1882 that π was also transcendental.
- This fame was instead heaped on Lindemann but many feel that he was a mathematician clearly inferior to Hermite who, by good luck, stumbled on a famous result.
- Although there is some truth in this, it is still true that many people make their own luck and in Lindemann's case one has to give him much credit for spotting the trick which Hermite had failed to see.
- Lindemann's proof that π is transcendental finally established that squaring the circle with ruler and compasses is insoluble.
- Physics was also an area of interest for Lindemann.
- Another research interest of Lindemann was the history of mathematics.
- Lindemann was elected to the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in 1894 as an associate member, becoming a full member in the following year.
- Hilbert was Lindemann's doctoral student in Königsberg.
Born 12 April 1852, Hannover, Hanover (now Germany). Died 6 March 1939, Munich, Germany.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Greek, Geometry, Origin Germany, Number Theory, Puzzles And Problems, Set Theory, Special Numbers And Numerals
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive