Person: Haack, Wolfgang Siegfried
Wolfgang Siegfried Haack was a German mathematician and aerodynamicist famous for finding a shape with minimum drag.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Hermann Haack had studied cartography and geography at the University of Göttingen and, after completing his thesis, had begun work at the 'Geographical-Cartographical Institute' in Gotha in 1897.
- Wolfgang attended the gymnasium in Gotha and then went to the Technische Hochschule in Hanover in 1921.
- After a year as a student studying mechanical engineering, Haack moved to the Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena where he studied mathematics.
- Haack spent the next two years at Hamburg University with Wilhelm Blaschke.
- mentioning Haack's many excellences as a teacher and reputed fine scholarship.
- in straitened economic circumstances for three years, Haack has nevertheless been a successful teacher and productive scholar.
- Haack has a clear-thinking critical mind, whose very frank judgment and unconditional maintenance of what he has once recognized as correct have caused him multiple difficulties.
- Having been approved, in 1935 Haack took up his new post in Berlin.
- Haack did not spend long in Berlin for in 1937 he was appointed to a lectureship in Mathematics and Geometry at the Technische Hochschule of Karlsruhe.
- Up to this time Haack had produced many excellent papers on geometry, in particular on differential geometry.
- As soon as war had broken out Haack phoned the head of research at Göring's aviation ministry offering his services.
- There was a pure mathematician (Haack) who made use of his special expertise (differential geometry) ...
- With undisguised pride Haack reported on the "success" of his theory of projectiles which allowed for a considerable extension of reach of German anti-aircraft artillery.
- Reader must think about this point, and form their own opinion, not just as it relates to Haack, but also to hundreds of mathematicians whose advances have been used for destructive purposes.
- Returning to Haack's career, we note that in 1944, the Technische Hochschule of Berlin tried to persuade him to accept a chair but his war work prevented a move at this time.
- After the war ended, Georg Hamel was appointed to a chair of Mathematics and Mechanics at the Technische Hochschule of Berlin but, in 1949, Haack succeeded to Hamel's chair.
- As well as his chair at the Technische Hochschule of Berlin, from 1950 Haack had an honorary position at the Free University of Berlin.
- In 1964 Haack was named professor of numerical mathematics in a new Department of Computational Mathematics which had been founded thanks largely to his efforts.
- During the years to come, Haack tried to have a computer installed at the TU Berlin and to this end contacted Konrad Zuse.
- The biggest handicap was finance, and Haack was turned down by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Council) as this body considered it perfectly satisfactory for Germany's Universities that Göttingen, Darmstadt and Munich were actively working in the area of electronic computers.
- Let us now look briefly at some of Haack's publications.
- His course was written up in collaboration with Wolfgang Wendland (one of Haack's doctoral students) in 1966 as Systeme linearer partieller Differentialgleichungen Ⓣ(Systems of linear partial differential equations).
- Finally, we note that Haack was honoured by being elected president of the German Mathematical Society (Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung) in 1961-62.
Born 24 April 1902, Gotha, Thuringia, Germany. Died 28 November 1994, Berlin, Germany.
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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