Person: Schmidt (2), Otto Yulyevich
Otto Schmidt was a Soviet scientist, mathematician, astronomer, geophysicist, statesman and explorer. His mathematical work was in group theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Although nobody else in the school was interested in studying Greek, the headmaster found a teacher to teach Schmidt in a class of one.
- At university, Schmidt continued to work long hours as he had during his school years, often spending the whole night studying.
- Grave had founded the Kiev school of algebra and, at the time Schmidt studied there, Kiev was the leading centre for algebra.
- Schmidt's progress was so marked that, while still an undergraduate, he published three excellent papers on group theory in 1912-13 including Über die Zerlegung endlicher Gruppen in direkte unzerlegbare Faktoren Ⓣ(On the decomposition of finite groups into direct irreducible factors) (1912) and Sur les produits directs Ⓣ(On direct products) (1913).
- They contain what today is called the Krull-Schmidt theorem (or sometimes the Remak-Krull-Schmidt theorem).
- This is around fourteen years before Krull's version of the theorem but Schmidt's version was published in January 1912, only months after Remak's version which is contained in his 1911 doctoral thesis.
- There are many original results in the book, particularly in the area of what Schmidt called special groups (special groups are groups GGG such that every proper subgroup HHH of GGG has a normaliser different from HHH).
- For this remarkable publication, Schmidt was awarded the Rakhmaninov Gold Medal.
- Schmidt had, like other members of the university, lived in Saratov during 1915-16 and it was only after the university returned to Kiev that he began his career as a university teacher.
- On 14 July Schmidt was appointed as a clerk in the Ministry of Food but remained on the staff of Kiev University.
- Schmidt was appointed as head of one of the divisions.
- However, in addition to these roles, Schmidt began to teach in secondary schools in 1920 and, in the same year, he was appointed as a lecturer at the Forestry Institute.
- In 1921 Schmidt was appointed as director of the State Publishing House and under his leadership publishing of scientific journals and research monographs restarted.
- This was a very large undertaking and, as well as enlisting numerous scientists and experts in the arts to write articles, Schmidt himself authored many articles over a period of many years.
- We have already noted that Schmidt used the term 'special group' and given a definition above.
- It is rather remarkable that we still have not reached the events of Schmidt's life for which he is best known today, namely his work as a scientist and explorer of the Russian and Siberian Arctic.
- Clearly the Soviet Union was keen to establish a permanent presence in their newly annexed land but there was a reason why Schmidt was a good choice as far as the Soviet leadership was concerned.
- In many ways it is remarkable that Schmidt, who opposed Stalin's approach, survived at all - most of Stalin's opponents were eliminated.
- Two years later Schmidt headed a second expedition to the same destination, again on the icebreaker Sedov, going beyond Franz Josef Land towards the Severnaya Zemlya.
- An island they discovered on this expedition was named Ostrov Shmidta, after their leader Schmidt.
- In command of an expedition, Schmidt sailed on the ice-breaker Sibiryakov (originally the Newfoundland sealing steamer Bellaventure) setting out from Murmansk in 1932 in an attempt to navigate the northeastern passage from west to east.
- The following year Schmidt commanded a second expedition on the ice-breaker Chelyuskin intending to make the voyage from west to east and then return along the same route.
- Schmidt became a national hero.
- In May 1937 Schmidt set off on another expedition, this time by aircraft from one of the Franz Josef Land islands.
- Other airplanes flew out further men and supplies after which Schmidt returned to Franz Josef Land and then to Moscow.
- However, later in 1937 the ice on which the research station North Pole 1 was set up drifted towards Greenland and, in February 1938, Schmidt mounted a successful rescue mission on an ice-breaker to bring back the scientists.
- Schmidt had been elected a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences on 1 February 1933 and a full member on 1 June 1935.
- Schmidt became director of the Institute on its foundation, a role he held for the following ten years.
- In 1944 Schmidt proposed his hypotheses of the origin of the solar system.
- We must not give the impression that Schmidt gave up group theory for nothing could be further from the truth.
- For example, A G Kurosh had been influenced to become a group theorist through reading Schmidt's papers and attending a group theory course he gave at Moscow State University in 1930.
- Examples of group theory papers that Schmidt wrote towards the end of his career include: Über die Frobenius-Gruppen Ⓣ(On the Frobenius groups) (1940), Groups with two classes of non-invariant subgroups (Russian) (1940), On infinite special groups (Russian) (1940), and Infinite soluble groups (Russian) (1945).
- By the time that Schmidt proposed his theory of the origin of the solar system his health had begun to seriously deteriorate.
- We have mentioned above many of the honours awarded to Schmidt.
- The first Soviet scientific icebreaker was launched in 1979 and named Otto Schmidt.
- In 1995 the Schmidt Medal was established for outstanding scientific work in research and development of the Arctic.
Born 30 September 1891, Mogilev, Russian Empire, now Belarus. Died 7 September 1956, Zvenigorod, near Moscow, Russia.
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Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Group Theory, Origin Belarus
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive