Person: Corput, Johannes van der
Johannes van der Corput was a Dutch mathematician who worked in the field of analytic number theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Johannes was always known as Jan by his friends and colleagues.
- For example Johannes de Corput (1542-1611), also known as Johannes Corputius, was a Dutch engineer, cartographer and military leader.
- At the time that van der Corput studied there it was situated at the corner of the Coolsingel and the Laurensstraat.
- In the end the recommendation of his secondary-school teacher, R H van Dorsten, was decisive: Jan should study mathematics, pure mathematics.
- Van der Corput entered the University of Leiden where Jan Cornelis Kluyver (1860-1932) was the professor with research interests in analysis, differential geometry and number theory.
- Kluyver, who originally undertook research on geometry, had, after his appointment in 1892 as Professor of Mathematical Analysis at Leiden, changed his research efforts to analysis, and in a relatively short time brought analysis teaching to a level that had not previously been reached in the Netherlands.
- Despite the improvement in the level of analysis teaching that Kluyver was making at Leiden, van der Corput did, later in his life, sometimes make critical comments about the level of Kluyver's courses and research.
- Despite this, he must have found Kluyver's number theory interesting since, after graduating in 1914, he decided to undertake research at Leiden for a Ph.D. advised by Kluyver.
- Before van der Corput had started his research, on 28 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia.
- Van der Corput was called up for military service and served as a captain.
- His position in the middle of his education allowed him to leave the Army before the standard demobilisation at the end of the war, and he taught mathematics in secondary schools in Leeuwarden from 1917 to 1919 while, at the same time, he undertook research for his Ph.D. advised by Kluyver.
- De beteekenis van de methoden van Voronoi en Pfeiffer Ⓣ(On grid points in the flat plane.
- These papers led van der Corput to try to improve the remainder term and also to look at the number of lattice points inside other figures in the plane, in particular in the region between an orthogonal hyperbola and its asymptote (known as the Dirichlet problem).
- While working on his thesis, van der Corput had made contact with Edmund Landau who was greatly impressed with his work.
- The result of this summer research visit was the joint paper E Landau and J G van der Corput, Über Gitterpunkte in ebenen Bereichen Ⓣ(On grid points in the plane) (1920) and two single authored papers by van der Corput, namely Über Gitterpunkte in der Ebene Ⓣ(On grid points in the plane) (1920) and Zahlentheoretische Abschätzungen Ⓣ(Number theoretical estimates) (1921).
- In 1920 van der Corput was appointed as an assistant to Arnaud Denjoy at the University of Utrecht.
- Van der Corput was his assistant for the final two years of Denjoy's stay in Utrecht then, in 1922, van der Corput was appointed as professor at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.
- Van der Corput only spent one year at the University of Fribourg before accepting a professorship at the University of Groningen in 1923.
- For some years he continued to undertake research on number theory problems associated with his earlier work on lattice points in the plane, continuing to develop and refine his method of exponential sums.
- He undertook research on the asymptotic evaluation of general types of integrals publishing Zur Methode der stationären Phase.
- I: Simple integrals) (1934) and Zur Methode der stationären Phase.
- II: Wiederum einfache Integrale Ⓣ(On the stationary phase method.
- Van der Corput attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Strasbourg in September 1920, the International Congress of Mathematicians in Zurich in September 1932, and was a plenary lecturer at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Oslo in July 1936 delivering the lecture Diophantische Approximationen Ⓣ(Diophantine approximations) on 17 July.
- At the beginning of 1945 van der Corput and two persons hiding at his house were arrested, but thanks to the help of some unknown person, he was released after three anxious weeks.
- Van der Corput was a member of this group as was Gerardus J van der Leeuw, a professor of history and religion at Groningen.
- After the war ended in 1945, van der Leeuw was appointed as Minister of Education for The Netherlands.
- He appointed van der Corput to be the chair of the Committee for the Coordination and Reorganization of Higher Education in Mathematics in The Netherlands.
- Other members of the committee were David van Dantzig, Jan A Schouten, Jurjen Koksma (who had been a doctoral student of van der Corput), Hendrik Kramers and the astrophysicist Marcel G J Minnaert (1893-1970).
- This idea was strongly pushed by van der Corput and, when the City of Amsterdam showed that it was very positive in its support, they decided on that city.
- The Mathematical Centre opened on 11 February 1946 and van der Corput became its first director.
- Taking up his professorship at the University of Amsterdam, van der Corput delivered his inaugural lecture Het Mathematisch Centrum Ⓣ(The Mathematical Centre).
- Paul Erdős lectured here in 1948 on his "elementary" proof of the prime number theorem (which he had found jointly with A Selberg); Van der Corput prepared an early Centre publication of the famous proof.
- Van der Corput delivered the Rouse Ball Lecture at the University of Cambridge in 1948.
- In 1966 van der Corput returned to Europe where he lived part of the time in Amsterdam and part in Antwerp.
- Among the many honours which van der Corput received we mention his election to the Netherlands Academy of Sciences (1929) and to the Royal Belgium Academy of Science (1932).
- Let us also note that van der Corput was an editor of Acta Arithmetica from the time the journal was founded in 1936.
Born 4 September 1890, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Died 13 September 1975, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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