Person: Rapcsák, András
András Rapcsák was a Hungarian mathematician who specialised in geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- András attended both primary and secondary schools in his home town of Hódmezövásárhely which is about 20 km north east of Szeged.
- This school had a long tradition having been founded in 1723 but it was only given the name Bethlen Gábor in 1930, during the time that Rapcsák studied there.
- At this school Rapcsák was in the same class as Márton Sain (1915-1997) who went on to become a well-known historian of mathematics and a gymnasium teacher.
- Although Rapcsák did not excel at school, in his final year at the Bethlen Gábor Calvinist Gymnasium he took part in a national mathematics competition.
- Learning about non-Euclidean geometry made Rapcsák think deeply about the nature of space and he gave a talk on this topic to the Literary Society of the Gymnasium.
- In the Art Society, Rapcsák also became friends with Gábor Tolnai (1910-1990), an art historian who had graduated from the University of Szeged in 1933.
- Rapcsák showed his talents for mathematics, winning prizes for two of his essays, but his undergraduate years were made exceptionally difficult due to a serious illness which was diagnosed when he was nineteen years old.
- In Rapcsák's case he suffered constant pain in his legs and the cancer was diagnosed.
- During these years Rapcsák was completing him university studies and he graduated in 1942, nine years after his first matriculation.
- After graduating, Rapcsák began a career as a school teacher.
- András's school education was in in Debrecen, he was an undergraduate in Budapest and took a higher degree in electrical engineering in Debrecen.
- After the short spell in Rozsnyó, Rapcsák taught in the Calvinist Reformed Gymnasium in Debrecen which prepared pupils for college, in the Unified Boys' Gymnasium in Debrecen, as well as in two Primary Schools in Debrecen.
- However, in addition to his school teaching, from 1945 Rapcsák also taught at the University of Debrecen and at the Teacher Training College.
- It was coming in contact with Varga that changed Rapcsák's career for Varga saw that he had great mathematical talents and persuaded him to undertake research for a doctorate.
- Now Varga's main interests were in differential geometry so it was natural that he should direct Rapcsák in that direction.
- Continuing with his teaching career, Rapcsák undertook research on differential geometry advised by Varga and submitted his thesis The theory of surfaces in Minkowski space (Hungarian) in 1947.
- Now Rapcsák had taught at the Pedagogical Institute in Debrecen and, when it was transferred to Eger he was made Head of the Department of Mathematics there in 1949.
- In 1951 Rapcsák returned to Debrecen when he was appointed as an associate professor at the University of Debrecen.
- In Hanno Rund's book The Differential Geometry of Finsler Spaces (1959) there are references to results by Rapcsák contained in the following of his papers: Kurven auf Hyperflächen im Finslerschen Raume Ⓣ(Curves on hypersurfaces in Finsler space) (1949); Invariante Taylorsche Reihe in einem Finslerschen Raum Ⓣ(Invariant Taylor series in a Finsler space) (1955); Eine neue Definition der Normalkoordinaten im Finslerschen Raum Ⓣ(A new definition of normal coordinates in Finsler space) (Hungarian) (1954); Eine neue Charakterisierung Finslerscher Raume skalarer und konstanter Krümmung, und projektiv-ebene Raume Ⓣ(A new characterization scalar and constant curvature Finsler spaces, and projective plane space) (1957).
- In this last mentioned paper, Rapcsák generalises well-known theorems on Riemannian spaces of constant curvature to Finsler spaces.
- Rapcsák had a great love for teaching his students and put much effort into preparing his lectures.
- In 1960 Rapcsák was awarded a D.Sc. and was made a full professor in the following year.
- Certainly the treatment was effective since Rapcsák lived to his late 70s, but eventually he died as a result of a recurrence of the cancer.
Born 12 December 1914, Hódmezövásárhely, Hungary. Died 16 October 1993, Debrecen, Hungary.
View full biography at MacTutor
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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