Person: Mahler, Kurt
Kurt Mahler was a German mathematician who made important contributions to the theory of transcendental numbers.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Hermann Mahler had become an apprentice bookbinder, working his way up to become the owner of a small printing and bookbinding firm.
- Kurt contracted tuberculosis at the age of five years and, as a result, had severe problems with his right knee.
- Junker, who had a doctorate in invariant theory written with Elwin Christoffel as his advisor, was impressed by Mahler's articles and sent them to Felix Klein who, in turn, passed them to his assistant Carl Siegel.
- Siegel suggested that Mahler should attend University.
- However, before entering university, Mahler had to gain the necessary entrance qualifications.
- By the time that Mahler had passed his Abitur, Carl Siegel had moved to the University of Frankfurt and he arranged for him to study there.
- In 1925 Siegel left Frankfurt for a period of overseas visits, and Mahler moved to Göttingen where he attended lectures by Emmy Noether, Richard Courant, Edmund Landau, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, David Hilbert and Alexander Ostrowski, and acted as an unpaid assistant to Norbert Wiener.
- In 1933 Mahler was appointed to his first post at the University of Königsberg but, before he could take up the post, Hitler came to power.
- Mahler realised at once that, as he was Jewish, he had to leave Germany.
- However, back in Groningen, Mahler was involved in a bicycle accident and his knee troubles returned.
- However, during 1940 he was interned as "an enemy alien" for three months and spent some time in the same camp on the Isle of Man as Kurt Hirsch.
- Paul Cohn arrived in Manchester as an assistant lecturer in 1952 and he, like Mahler, lived in Donner House.
- At his request seminars at Manchester were held at 2 p.m. If a speaker was still on his feet at 3.01, Mahler (who always sat in the front row) would open and shut his little attaché-case repeatedly with a loud click.
- This was a purely research appointment but Mahler agreed to give an undergraduate number theory course.
- Mahler published around 200 papers.
- Mahler regretted that, apart from his own work, little interest had been shown by 20th century mathematicians in the study of arithmetical properties of decimal expansions.
- He proved important results about polar convex bodies, compound convex bodies and the very useful Mahler Compactness Theorem.
- For example Lectures on diophantine approximations : g-adic numbers and Roth's theorem (1961) was prepared from notes by R P Bambah of lectures given by Mahler at the University of Notre Dame in autumn 1957 and was described as an "extremely valuable contribution".
- Mahler's Lectures on transcendental numbers (1976) was based on lectures given twenty years earlier.
- Mahler received many awards.
Born 26 July 1903, Krefeld, Prussian Rhineland. Died 25 February 1988, Canberra, Australia.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Analysis, Origin Germany
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive