Person: Neugebauer, Otto
Otto Neugebauer was an Austrian mathematician who made important contributions to the history of ancient mathematics and astronomy.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- After he was released from the prison camp, Neugebauer moved around.
- It was to be Neugebauer's first and last paper on mathematics as such for his work at this point took a definite turn.
- Neugebauer was an expert in languages and he had studied Egyptian.
- Once he had begun to study the work, Neugebauer realised that the subject which he wanted to work in was the history of mathematics.
- They agreed to supervise such a project and Neugebauer received his doctorate for a dissertation on this topic in 1926.
- In 1927 Neugebauer was appointed to the staff at Göttingen and he began to lecture on the history of ancient mathematics.
- However, in 1927 Neugebauer decided that he wanted to research into Babylonian mathematics and, to enable him to do so, he learnt Akkadian which is the language in which the Babylonians wrote their tablets.
- Many tablets, the earliest dating from around 1700 BC, had survived and Neugebauer knew that they were held by various museums but at that time little work had been undertaken to study them and to evaluate the Babylonian contribution.
- Another project which Neugebauer became involved in was the building of a new Mathematical Institute at Göttingen.
- This was completed in 1929, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, and Courant and Neugebauer jointly directed the Institute until 1932.
- However, Neugebauer had before this started the first of two projects which would be among the most important contributions anyone has made to mathematics.
- In 1931 the first issue of Zentralblatt für Matematik appeared, edited by Neugebauer.
- I'm sure that Neugebauer is right, yet his very quote may aid us a little in our understanding of the situation.
- Fortunately Neugebauer had a good friend in Harald Bohr, and he invited Neugebauer to move to the University of Copenhagen in January 1934.
- Neugebauer took the editorial office of Zentralblatt für Matematik to Copenhagen with him and from 1934 until 1938 Zentralblatt continued to flourish from its headquarters there.
- Levi-Civita, who was on the editorial board, was dismissed and Neugebauer, together with almost the whole of the editorial board, resigned.
- Neugebauer destroyed all the records of the journal except for the cumulative index.
- Neugebauer was a highly respected historian of mathematics, and the world of mathematics could not afford to lose the reviewing journal that it had come to depend on in only a few years.
- Veblen arranged for Brown University to offer Neugebauer a chair and the American Mathematical Society saw the chance to support Neugebauer in founding a new reviewing journal.
- the index to the Zentralblatt came with Neugebauer, although the U.S. customs almost confiscated it as potentially subversive, and it survives to this day.
- In a remarkably short time Neugebauer had Mathematical Reviews up and running.
- Neugebauer continued as editor of Mathematical Reviews until 1945 when a full-time executive editor was appointed.
- Neugebauer policy regarding reviews was an interesting one.
- In 1947 Neugebauer was appointed Professor of the History of Mathematics at Brown University.
- Neugebauer received many awards, prizes, and honorary degrees.
- From the 1940s onwards, although still on the faculty at Brown University, Neugebauer spent considerable time at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
Born 26 May 1899, Innsbruck, Austria. Died 19 February 1990, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Babylonian, Ancient Greek, Astronomy, Origin Austria, Physics, 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