Person: Neumann (3), Bernhard
Bernhard Neumann was a German-born British-Australian mathematician who was one of the leading figures in group theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Bernhard attended school in Berlin spending three years in primary school followed by nine years at the Herderschule.
- Neumann entered the University of Freiburg to study mathematics in 1928 and spent two semesters there before moving to the Friedrich-Wihelms University in Berlin.
- There he was influenced by an impressive collection of teachers including Schmidt, Robert Remak and Schur, together with his assistant Alfred Brauer, and near contemporaries of Neumann such as Hurt Hirsch, Richard Rado and Helmut Wielandt.
- It was Remak, more than any of the others, who influenced Neumann to turn towards group theory for at first he intended to become a topologist.
- In November 1931 Neumann submitted his doctoral dissertation which was examined by Schur and Schmidt.
- When Hitler came to power in 1933, only a couple of months after Bernhard and Hanna first met, life in Germany became very hard for those of Jewish origin.
- Neumann realised immediately the dangers of remaining in Germany and quickly left the country, going first to Amsterdam before being advised that Cambridge was the best place for a mathematician to go.
- Registering for a doctorate, Neumann was assigned Philip Hall as a supervisor.
- Hall gave him a research problem on rings of polynomials but Neumann did not make much progress on it.
- Even a mathematician as outstanding as Neumann was not guaranteed a lecturing post at that time and he spent two years unemployed.
- Turning down an offer to return to Cardiff on the grounds that they had not helped him when he was interned, Neumann searched for an academic appointment again, and this time was appointed as a lecturer at Hull in 1946.
- The Neumann's were fortunate in that Hanna Neumann, who by this time had obtained her doctorate, was soon able to join him on the staff as an assistant lecturer in Hull.
- In 1948 Neumann was appointed to the University of Manchester, after being approached by Max Newman, although he continued to live in Hull where Hanna still worked.
- In 1958 Hanna was appointed to a post in Manchester and the Neumanns then moved to a house in Manchester in which they lived for three years before Bernhard accepted an offer from the Australian National University of a professorship and the Head of the Mathematics Department at the Institute of Advanced Studies.
- Neumann is one of the leading figures in group theory who has influenced the direction of the subject in many different ways.
- Neumann himself made many contributions to this question over many years but the answer to the problem was not given until 1969 when Ol'sanskii proved that the problem had a negative answer.
- An indication of some of the topics which interested Neumann can be seen from looking at the material covered in Lectures on topics in the theory of infinite groups (1960).
- Among the many important concepts which Neumann introduced we should note in particular that of an HNN extension, which appears in the paper Embedding theorems for groups (1949) written jointly with Hanna Neumann and Graham Higman.
- The present note, written in gratitude, affection and esteem, in Bernhard Neumann's honour, comprises some simple variations on the themes of that paper.
- The history of mathematics first interested Neumann when he was at Manchester.
- But Bernhard Neumann's contribution to mathematics goes far beyond his leadership in research.
- Neumann served the Australian Mathematical Society as Vice-President on a number of occasions and was President during 1966-68.
- Neumann worked to set up the Bulletin of the Australian Mathematical Society and was editor for ten years after it was founded in 1969.
- Many honours have been given to Neumann for his outstanding contribution and continue to be awarded.
Born 15 October 1909, Berlin, Germany. Died 21 October 2002, Canberra, Australia.
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Tags relevant for this person:
Algebra, Group Theory, Origin Germany
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive