Person: Schwartz, Marie-Hélène
Marie-Hélène Schwartz was the daughter of Paul Lévy and the wife of Laurent Schwartz. She lived through very difficult times but went on to have an outstanding career at the University of Lille. She worked on functions of a complex variable, Ahlfors theory, the Poincaré-Hopf theorem, and finally characteristic classes of singular varieties.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Marie-Hélène was educated in Paris and spent her final years of schooling at the lycée Janson de Sailly.
- Marie-Hélène enjoyed mathematics and slowly got to know another pupil who was in the year below her at the lycée, namely Laurent Schwartz.
- The relationship between Marie-Hélène and Laurent Schwartz slowly grew.
- Marie-Hélène performed well in the entrance examinations for the Grandes Écoles and, in 1934 she began her studies of mathematics at the École Normale Supérieure on rue d'Ulm, the only woman in her class.
- In the summer of 1935 Marie-Hélène went with her parents on a holiday in the Dolomites.
- This, however, was not to happen since in October 1935, with Marie-Hélène continuing her studies of mathematics at the École Normale Supérieure, she developed pulmonary tuberculosis.
- At first Marie-Hélène did not realise she was seriously ill and tried to carry on with her life but suddenly she developed a very high fever.
- At the Mont-Blanc sanatorium Marie-Hélène was treated by Jacques Arnaud (1904-1944), one of the pioneers of functional respiratory exploration in France.
- Arnaud did not hide the seriousness of Marie-Hélène's condition, telling her that she would be at the sanatorium for a very long time, not months but years.
- Marie-Hélène asked for nothing better, and the sanatorium authorities considered this an asset for her recovery.
- Almost immediately after their marriage, Marie-Hélène went to Laon, the capital of the Aisne department of Hauts-de-France, northern France.
- After graduating from the École Normale Supérieure, Laurent Schwartz had undertaken compulsory military service.
- For their safety, Marie-Hélène and Laurent were evacuated to Aire-sur-l'Adour before German troops arrived in Biscarrosse.
- There they met Henri Cartan and Marie-Hélène took the opportunity to ask him for his advice about how she could try to restart her academic studies.
- At Clermont-Ferrand, Marie-Hélène began research and published her first paper Exemple d'une fonction méromorphe ayant des valeurs déficientes non asymptotiques Ⓣ(Example of a meromorphic function with deficient non-asymptotic values) in 1941.
- Believing that the situation in Vichy France was relatively stable, Marie-Hélène was pregnant by July 1942 but their position took a sudden turn for the worse with the German invasion of Vichy France on 11 November.
- Both Marie-Hélène and Laurent were now in extreme danger, not only being Jewish but also being active Trotskyists with contacts to others in the organisation.
- Soon they had to adopt false identities, Laurent becoming Laurent-Marie Sélimartin and Marie-Hélène adopting the name Marie-Hélène Lengé.
- Marie-Hélène received them in her dressing gown.
- Marie-Hélène had the guts, with a twinge of heart, to invite them to come upstairs.
- Marie-Hélène was summoned to the police station where the commissioner asked her a question about Gérard Bloch, telling her that he had just been arrested in Lyon.
- Marie-Hélène published her thesis in two papers, the first two chapters of her thesis were published as Formules apparentées à la formule de Gauss-Bonnet pour certaines applications d'une variété à n dimensions dans une autre Ⓣ(Formulas related to the Gauss-Bonnet formula for certain applications of one n-dimensional manifold in another) (1954), while the third chapter was published as Formules apparentées à celles de Nevanlinna-Ahlfors pour certaines applications d'une variété à n dimensions dans une autre Ⓣ(Nevanlinna-Ahlfors-related formulas for certain applications of one n-dimensional manifold in another) (1954).
- After her thesis was accepted, Marie-Hélène taught as an assistant at the University of Paris, and was then appointed to the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne.
- in addition to teaching first-year courses in large lecture halls to young students who did not always appreciate her pedagogy, Mme Schwartz taught advanced courses and had a small group of very successful doctoral students.
- This quote refers to book length lecture notes by Marie-Hélène which include: Fonctions analytiques et théorie des faisceaux.
- The present work of Marie-Hélène Schwartz deals with the generalization of this idea to the case of singular complex analytical sets.
- The definition of Chern's classes given by Marie-Hélène Schwartz is very useful both from a conceptual point of view and from a practical point of view.
- This presentation is not intended to write all of Marie-Hélène Schwartz's work but to show how her results follow this route.
- It is remarkable that Marie-Hélène, who was not given much chance of surviving when in her early 20s, should live to her 100th year.
- Another two-day meeting was held in Paris to honour her 80th birthday in October 1993 at which Marie-Hélène delivered the main lecture.
Born 27 October 1913, Paris, France. Died 5 January 2013, Paris, France.
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive