Person: Lang (2), Serge
Serge Lang was a French-born mathematician who spent most of his life in the USA. He is best-known for his outstanding undergraduate text-books.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- It was there that Lang completed his high school education and then entered the California Institute of Technology.
- Lang graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1946 with a B.A. in physics.
- After returning to the United States, Lang went to Princeton University with the intention of studying for a doctorate in philosophy.
- Lang was an instructor at Princeton during 1951-53 when he was also a visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study.
- One joke goes: "Someone calls the Yale Mathematics Department, and asks for Serge Lang.
- Lang's mathematical research ranged over a wide range of topics such as algebraic geometry, Diophantine geometry (a term Lang invented), transcendental number theory, Diophantine approximation, analytic number theory and its connections to representation theory, modular curves and their applications in number theory, LLL-series, hyperbolic geometry, Arakelov theory, and differential geometry.
- Perhaps Lang's most used undergraduate text is A first course in calculus which he first published in 1964.
- Let us now look at Lang's long campaign against injustices and inaccuracies.
- Let us give two examples of causes that Lang fought.
- Lang did not believe the conclusion so he looked how Huntington justified this claim and saw that he used methodology which was simply not valid.
- Lang suspected that he was using false pseudo-mathematical argument to give arguments that he wanted to justify greater authority.
- a type of language which gives the illusion of science without any of its substance.
- Lang fought a vigorous campaign to prevent Huntington becoming a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1986 after he had been nominated.
- Lang was successful on this occasion and also on a second occasion when Huntington was again nominated.
- A detailed description of these events was published by Lang in Academia, Journalism, and Politics: A Case Study: The Huntington Case which occupies the first 222 pages of his 1998 book Challenges.
- The second case we look at as an example of Lang's campaigns is his attempt to discredit the results of The 1977 survey of the American professoriate published in 1979 by Everett C Ladd and Seymour M Lipsett.
- In 1981 Lang published The File: Case Study in Correction (1977-1979) which consists of copies of correspondence concerning the survey.
- Lang always liked the facts to speak for themselves so he made relatively little commentary on the documents.
- Lang received many honours for his achievements.
Born 19 May 1927, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, France. Died 12 September 2005, Berkeley, California, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive