Person: Świerczkowski, Stanisław
Stanisław Świerczkowski was a Polish mathematician who worked in many areas including Diophantine approximation, geometry and the foundations of mathematics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Stanisław remained with her until, at the age of fifteen, he was able to take rented accommodation alone in Toruń and resume his schooling.
- Astronomy was not to be Świerczkowski's calling, however.
- Hugo Steinhaus was instrumental in developing mathematics at University of Wrocław and one of his questions led to Świerczkowski's best-known result, the three-distance (or three-gap) theorem.
- Steinhaus's question was also answered by Vera Sós but it appears likely that Świerczkowski deserves priority.
- Another Steinhaus question solved by Świerczkowski around the same time deserves mention: except for the tetrahedron, copies of a chosen Platonic solid may be placed face to face in three-space so as to form a closed, non-intersecting chain, the last copy meeting the first in a face.
- Steinhaus asked if such a chain could exist for the tetrahedron and Świerczkowski answered this elegantly in the negative by showing that the relevant 3 × 3 rotation matrices form a free group: identity products, corresponding to closed chains, are necessarily absent.
- Following his doctoral studies Świerczkowski was able to win a British Council scholarship to study in the United Kingdom, in part because his war-time 'German' schooling had included a thorough grounding in English.
- Jack Cole, who was at Queen's College at the time, also collaborated with Świerczkowski on group theory.
- At this time another Wrocław postgraduate, Andrzej Hulanicki, was also in the United Kingdom on a British Council scholarship, attached to Manchester University and Świerczkowski collaborated with him on the theory of algebras.
- In all, Świerczkowski's first visit to Scotland lasted three years, the academic year 1959/60 being spent at Glasgow University.
- Świerczkowski was able to resume lecturing at the University.
- Meanwhile Świerczkowski's work with Murray Macbeath at Dundee had led to an invitation from André Weil to spend the year 1965/66 at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton.
- Świerczkowski felt the same professional discomfort at the University of Washington.
- Świerczkowski could perhaps have been happy at ANU.
- Shoenfield." The 'later' came in 1986 when Świerczkowski found himself at a crossroads with no prospects, no money, and no home, his yacht apparently sold by Elisa during an absence.
- This was nevertheless a productive time for Świerczkowski.
- In 2011, Halina chose to remain in the United States while Świerczkowski returned to Australia where he could rely on an old-age pension and free health-care.
Born 16 July 1932, Toruń, Poland. Died 30 September 2015, New Town, Tasmania, Australia.
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