Person: Levin, Boris Yakovlevich
Boris Yakovlevich Levin was a Soviet mathematician who made contributions to function theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- This meant that Yakov was based for long periods in several different Black Sea ports and so, as Boris Yakovlevich was growing up, he lived in many different towns.
- After graduating from the high school in Yeysk, a port on the Sea of Azov, Levin was not able to continue to higher education and had to take a job.
- Levin worked as a welder on pipeline construction for a while, in particular on the pipeline to the refinery in Grozny, and this earned him the right to a university education.
- Although four years younger than Levin, Efimov had also had a variety of short-term jobs in construction before beginning his higher education studies.
- Both Levin and Efimov had the intention of taking a physics degree, but they felt that their knowledge of mathematics was insufficient to benefit from launching straight into physics courses so both decided to take mathematics courses in their first year.
- They were taught by Dmitry Dmitrievich Morduhai-Boltovskoi (1876-1952) who had been awarded his doctorate from St Petersburg State University in the year Levin was born.
- Morduhai-Boltovskoi had established a research school in Rostov and both Levin and Efimov were quickly drawn into high level mathematics which they found very exciting.
- Levin, despite his decision to take a degree in physics, soon realised that mathematics was the topic that was right for him.
- Morduhai-Boltovskoi had Levin undertaking research from his second year of study, proposing a problem to him about generalising the functional equation for the Euler G-function.
- Levin solved the problem and, a few years later, published his solution in the paper Generalization of a theorem of Hölder (Russian) (1934).
- Levin graduated in 1932 but continued to undertake research at Rostov University advised by Morduhai-Boltovskoi.
- However, they were reintroduced in 1934 so that Levin was able, at that time, to consider his research as being towards a thesis for a higher degree.
- Levin began friendships at this time with two young mathematicians who worked at different universities, friendships which were to prove important in later life.
- Naum Il'ich Akhiezer, who worked at Kharkov (now Kharkiv) University, was in the same position as Levin, having been unable gain a higher degree since they were abolished.
- Levin's other friend, Mark Grigorievich Krein, was working at Odessa University in the city where Levin had been born.
- With the reintroduction of the higher degree in 1934, Levin decided to submit his thesis for a Candidate's Degree (equivalent to a Ph.D. by today's standards).
- However, before submitting to the University of Rostov, Levin moved to Odessa in 1935 to take up a position at the University of Marine Engineering.
- He submitted his thesis 0n the growth of an entire function along a ray, and the distribution of its zeros with respect to their arguments to the University of Rostov in 1936 but, although the thesis was submitted for a Candidate's Degree, the university took the highly unusual step of awarding Levin the higher degree of Doctor of Science (equivalent to a D.Sc.).
- Levin returned to Odessa when the university reopened again but at this stage the functional analysis school at Odessa was closed down.
- Vladimir Petrovich Potapov, who had been one of the non-Jewish students in the functional analysis group and had become a Ph.D. student of Levin's in 1939, tried hard to influence the university authorities to reverse their decisions.
- These papers were all written in Russian and the last two also had Boris Korenblum as a joint author.
- Levin used to include his own, yet-unpublished results as well as new original proofs of known theorems.
- In 1956, the year he published the first edition of his famous book, Levin organised a scientific seminar which attracted many participants and trained a whole generation of first class mathematicians.
- In the 40's Levin gave an essentially new construction of Levitan's theory of almost periodic functions and together with M G Krein he studied Harald Bohr's almost periodic functions with bounded spectrum.
- In 1969, in addition to his role at the University, Levin took on the role of Head of the Department of the Theory of Functions at the Institute for Low Temperature Physics and Engineering of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
- However, life in Kharkov was not easy for Levin who found it increasingly hard to undertake his university duties.
- This statement is challenged by some members of the seminar, and in fact Levin continued to teach some courses at Kharkov and in later years Levin and Ostrovskii ran the seminar together.
- A brilliant mathematician, wonderful lecturer, a most interesting conversationalist, a witty and resourceful opponent, a great connoisseur and judge of literature, a man who would offer help at times of need, ever considerate and benevolent to those around him, Levin emitted some kind of special energy which helped to bring the best out of those in his company, and which attracted to him the most varied of people, sometimes people who had no connection at all with the exact sciences.
Born 22 December 1906, Odessa, Russia (now Ukraine). Died 24 August 1993, Kharkiv, Ukraine.
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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