Person: Erdélyi, Arthur
Arthur Erdélyi was a Hungarian mathematician who became a lecturer at Edinburgh and after a period in the USA returned to Edinburgh as a Professor. He was an expert on Special Functions.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- By the end of 1936 Erdélyi had 18 papers in print, another 11 appearing in 1937.
- Erdélyi wrote no doctoral thesis, he merely matriculated at the University of Prague, and submitted his papers instead of a thesis.
- Many of Erdélyi's papers were on the hypergeometric function so it was natural for him to write to Whittaker for help.
- Whittaker found great difficulties in providing the help required: he had to obtain £400 to support Erdélyi before a visa could be obtained.
- However within a few days of writing the letter Erdélyi was in Edinburgh.
- Whittaker advised that Erdélyi was the person to undertake the project and in 1947 Erdélyi arrived in Caltech as Visiting Professor.
- At Caltech Erdélyi headed a team which produced 3 volumes of Higher Transcendental Functions and 2 volumes of Tables of Integral Transforms.
- Erdélyi was a leading expert on special functions, in particular hypergeometric functions, orthogonal polynomials and Lamé functions.
- In addition to the five volumes which arose from the Bateman project mentioned above, Erdélyi wrote two other texts of major importance Asymptotic expansions (1955) and Operational calculus and generalised functions (1962).
- It was rather a combination of his mathematical scholarship, his interest and enthusiasm for mathematics, his concern for younger workers, and his willingness to devote his time in aid of the mathematical community that won Erdélyi the admiration and respect of an entire generation of mathematicians.
- Erdélyi received many honours, the most prestigious being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1975.
Born 2 October 1908, Budapest, Hungary. Died 12 December 1977, Edinburgh, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
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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