Person: Zervos, Panagiotis
Panagiotis Zervos was a Greek mathematician who worked in the theory of systems of differential equations.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Maria Zervos became one of the first Greek women to graduate from the Department of Mathematics at Athens University.
- Spiridon Zervos, together with the rich merchant Margaritis, founded a wax works producing candles.
- Panagiotis attended the Economou School (1884-1889) and then at the Gymnasium of Corfu (1889-1893).
- The mathematics teacher was unhappy when Panagiotis produced solutions to problems that were different from the 'official solutions'.
- This did not please Panagiotis who had become passionate about mathematics and wanted, above all else, to be able to study the subject at university.
- In his first year of study, Zervos won a competition for students who needed financial support and received a cash prize.
- Remoundos began his studies at the University of Athens in 1895, one year after Zervos.
- There was, however, one further mathematician teaching at the University of Athens at this time who was important to Zervos and that was his professor, Cyparissos Stephanos.
- Zervos graduated from the University of Athens in 1899 with a degree which qualified him as a school teacher.
- His examining committee included Cyparissos Stephanos and Ioannis Hazzidakis, and they contacted the Ministry of Education recommending that Zervos should begin immediately working as a secondary school teacher.
- At this time, in addition to his teaching duties, Zervos was undertaking research attempting to determine the exact number of positive roots of algebraic equations with real factors.
- The second of these papers contained results which were in Zervos's Ph.D. thesis entitled On the series and the theorem of Descartes (Greek) for which he was awarded his doctorate by the University of Athens in 1901.
- Stephanos had encouraged Zervos to enter the state competition for a scholarship for further studies which took place in 1901.
- Once in Paris, Zervos attended the lectures of Paul Painlevé and Jacques Hadamard for four semesters at the Collège de France.
- At the beginning of 2005 Hadamard suggested to Zervos that he look at the Monge Problem.
- Zervos began looking to see what had been already done and discovered that the problem had been investigated by Joseph Serret in 1848, by Gaston Darboux in 1873 and 1887, by Georg Frobenius in 1877, by Friedrich Engel in 1889, by Sophus Lie in 1898, by Édouard Goursat in 1898, by Heinrich Weber in 1900, by Élie Cartan in 1901, and by Hadamard himself in 1901.
- With such a collection of leading mathematicians having studied the problem before him, Zervos thought Hadamard must be joking to ask him to examine it.
- After two months of unsuccessful attempts to prove the general case of the Monge Problem, Zervos found a counterexample showing it was not true in general.
- Zervos continued to undertake research on this problem for the rest of his life.
- Zervos's results were presented to the International Congress of Mathematicians in Cambridge, England, in August 1912 as the lecture Sur les équations aux derivées partielles du premier ordre à trois variables indépendantes Ⓣ(On first order partial differential equations with three independent variables).
- Zervos was able to generalise Hilbert's results and published these in Sur l'intégration de certains systèmes indéterminés d'équations Ⓣ(On the integration of some undetermined systems of equations) which appeared in Crelle's Journal.
- Ioannis Hazzidakis retired from the chair of Differential and Integral Calculus in 1914 and Zervos was invited to accept a professorship in the Department of Higher Algebra at the University of Athens.
- But to everyone's surprise, Zervos, who was struggling to make ends meet, refused a professorship at the university and chose to remain a high school teacher.
- The professorship remained vacant, however, and Zervos was unanimously elected on 30 November 1917.
- Zervos visited Stephanos shortly before his death and he asked Zervos to take over the publication of his unpublished works.
- On 26 January 1918 Zervos gave his inaugural professorial address at the University of Athens entitled 'Relations of mathematics to other sciences and to philosophy'.
- The Greek Mathematical Society was created in 1918, and Nikolaos Hatzidakis became the first president with Zervos as vice-president.
- The Society began publication of the Bulletin of the Greek Mathematical Society in 1919 and Zervos published two papers in French in the first volume, namely Sur l'équivalence des systèmes d'équations différentielles Ⓣ(On the equivalence of systems of differential equations) and Sur quelques remarques relatives aux théories de l'intégration des systèmes en involution du second ordre Ⓣ(Some remarks on the theories of system integration in second-order involution).
- One place on the board was for a Greek representative and Zervos held this place.
- One of the first acts of Constantine was cancel all appointments made by Alexander so Zervos was dismissed.
- They had one son, Spyros P Zervos (born 17 March 1930, died 23 January 2015), who also became an outstanding mathematician.
- The 1st Inter-Balkan Mathematical Conference was held in Athens in September 1934 organised by Zervos and Hatzidakis.
- Zervos was Chairman of the Organising Committee, while Hatzidakis was Chairman of the Executive Committee.
- The Honorary President was Constantin Carathéodory and the honorary vice-presidents were Gheorghe Titeica, Richard von Mises and Panagiotis Zervos.
- The conference proceedings were published and it contained two papers by Zervos, both written in French, namely Sur quelques équations différentielles indéterminées Ⓣ(On some indeterminate differential equations) and Sur l'intégration des systèmes différentiels indéterminés Ⓣ(On the integration of indeterminate differential systems).
- The success of the conference led to the publication in 1936 of the research journal Revue Mathematique de l'Union Interbalcanique with Zervos as its editor-in-chief.
- Zervos published an obituary of Gheorghe Titeica in the second volume of the Revue in 1939.
- We have seen from the title of Zervos's inaugural lecture that he was interested in philosophy.
- Zervos became its first president.
- Zervos died in Athens at the age of seventy-four.
Born 1878, Zervata, Kefalonia, Greece. Died 2 January 1952, Athens, Greece.
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive