Person: Struik, Dirk Jan
Dirk Struik was a Dutch mathematician who is mainly known for his work in the history of mathematics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Dirk attended the Hogere Bugerschool in The Hague.
- Struik developed left wing views while at school, being influenced by one of the teachers.
- The Hogere Bugerschools allowed entry to the university system after passing additional examinations and this Struik did entering the University of Leiden in 1912.
- Struik commuted from Rotterdam to Leiden University by train, so he never became fully involved with student life.
- The range of courses studied by Struik included mathematics and physics.
- Struik was strongly influenced by Ehrenfest and attended the weekly seminar which he set up.
- Ehrenfest had recommended Struik and, after worrying about leaving a teaching post he enjoyed, he decided to accept Schouten's offer and joined him in Delft.
- Struik decided to change to the topic he was studying with Schouten, tensor analysis, for his doctoral thesis and he presented his dissertation on applications of tensor methods to Riemannian manifolds in 1922.
- Struik was appointed to a post at the University of Utrecht in 1923.
- However Struik was by this time known for left wing views and this made his academic future look uncertain.
- In September 1924, funded by a Rockefeller Fellowship, the Struiks spent nine months in Rome.
- There Dirk worked with Levi-Civita and Ruth worked with Enriques.
- It was while Struik was in Rome that he first became interested in the history of mathematics.
- Klein, a great mathematical hero of Struik's, died only days after Struik arrived in Göttingen to work with Courant.
- Courant approached Struik to prepare an edition of Klein's lectures on the history of 19th century mathematics for publication.
- Another important event at Göttingen for Struik was meeting Norbert Wiener there.
- While at Göttingen, Struik made full use of the excellent library there to study the Renaissance mathematicians Ries, Rudolff, Apianus, Stifel and Stevin.
- Struik was to work at MIT for the rest of his career.
- Some of the professors were involved in research for the military; others, including Struik, carried heavy teaching duties connected with the training of military personnel.
- Aside from this, Struik spent much of his time pursuing an entirely new research project: to study the origins of American science in their social and economic setting, a subject that had barely been touched on by historians before this time.
- Even more significantly, the dialectical-materialist approach Struik adopted towards this subject was unprecedented.
- Struik's Marxist views, however, were bound to lead to trouble in the McCarthy era and indeed this is exactly what happened.
- Struik was later indicted on charges and bail set at $1000 which was put up by friends who supported him.
- Since there was no real evidence against Struik the case was not brought, but on the other hand it was not dropped until 1955.
- During this period Struik concentrated on historical projects, having been prevented from teaching.
- By late 1955 Struik was reinstated in his teaching duties and held these until 1960 when, at the age of 65, he had to retire.
Born 30 September 1894, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Died 21 October 2000, Belmont, Massachusetts, 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