Person: Kappos, Demetrios
Demetrios Kappos was a Greek mathematician who worked in probability theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Kappos attended the secondary school in his home town of Lidoriki studying at the University of Athens for his university studies.
- In 1928, Kappos began to work as a mathematics teacher in Secondary Education, teaching at the Secondary School in Lidoriki where he had been educated, and later he taught in a high school in Thessaloniki.
- When Kappos arrived in Munich in 1934 his intention was to specialise in theoretical physics since he had performed exceptionally well in mechanics.
- Sommerfeld had been impressed with Kappos's performance in a vector analysis course and, seeing his excellent contributions to the seminar, he suggested that Kappos undertake research for his doctorate.
- Sommerfeld, who had an outstanding reputation as a thesis advisor, offered to supervise Kappos's thesis and suggested a topic for him to work on.
- Carathéodory was one of the leading mathematicians in the world and he introduced Kappos to the ways of mathematical research.
- During his stay in Munich, Kappos mostly worked on the Theory of Dynamics, Real Functions, and Calculus.
- Kappos studied under Carathéodory for five years (1934-1938) in Munich, although Carathéodory did spend some time in the United States in 1936-37.
- These years in Munich allowed Kappos to have close contact with Carathéodory but after he returned to Greece he was in frequent contact with the professor who, by this time, had retired from his professorship.
- Of course the years 1934 to 1938 that Kappos spent in Munich were years in which the Nazis were consolidating power and gearing up for war.
- Although this had an increasing effect on universities, with those of Jewish background being dismissed, Carathéodory kept his head down trying hard to avoid trouble and Kappos's education did not suffer although it must have been a very difficult period for the young man.
- It was a particularly difficult time for Kappos who had so many strong links with Germany.
- Kappos had been elected as an extraordinary professor at the University of Athens in 1952 and took up the appointment in the following year.
- In 1958 Kappos organised a research school, which was active up until 1975.
- The school produced many doctoral theses, and publications by students and collaborators of Kappos.
- Also in 1958 Kappos began work on a series of textbooks which would be published between 1960 and 1967.
- Due to the importance of Kappos's research on Probability Theory, the publishing company, Springer-Verlag, asked him to write a book on the topic.
- It was at that point that Professor Kappos effectively intervened with the leadership of the State Fellowship Foundation and persuaded them to allow George go to the United States instead.
- In the core mathematical subjects, Kappos was the lone modern mathematician at the University of Athens.
- Kappos spoke during the award of the honorary doctorate at the Mathematics and Physics School and his excellent speech, published in the Bulletin of the Greek Mathematical Society, is a valuable resource for giving an overview of mathematical developments in the first half of the 20th century.
- Kappos organised three international meetings in Athens in the three consecutive years, 1961, 1962, and 1963.
- Having been involved in the organising international mathematical meetings four years apart, the authors of this article are amazed at how Kappos, with very little support, could undertake this incredible amount of work.
- In 1970 Kappos retired from his chair in Athens having reached the age of 65.
- This was not the only new Greek university that Kappos had taught at since he taught at the University of Patras in session 1966-67.
- This university had been established in November 1964 and the the School of Mathematics and Physics was founded on 19 October 1966, so Kappos lectured there in the first year in which the School began operating.
- During his career, Kappos lectured at many universities in Europe and in the United States.
Born 27 September 1904, Lidoriki, Greece. Died 8 January 1985, Munich, 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