Person: Szekeres, George
George Szekeres was a Hungarian-born mathematician who worked for most of his life in Australia on geometry and combinatorics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Szekeres did not give up his interest in mathematics, however, for he continued to meet with the enthusiastic mathematical problem solvers.
- Szekeres and Erdős wrote a paper in 1935 generalising this result; it became one of the cornerstones of combinatorial geometry.
- After graduating with a degree in chemical engineering in 1933, Szekeres worked for six years as an analytical chemist in Budapest but conditions there became more and more difficult due to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis.
- For a while Szekeres was employed as a clerk in an American air force base, and he remained in China until 1948.
- Szekeres was an outstanding mathematician, but had no formal qualifications in the subject.
- It was, nevertheless, an inspired move by the University of Adelaide to offer Szekeres a lectureship in mathematics in 1948.
- Szekeres established himself as an outstanding mathematician during fifteen years spent in Adelaide.
- In 1964 Szekeres was appointed as professor of mathematics in the University of New South Wales.
- Another prominent topic in George's career is general relativity; George is perhaps best known for his role in developing the mathematical theory underlying the study of black holes.
- Let us be a little more specific and give a few examples of papers Szekeres published.
- In 1958 Szekeres published the group theory paper On a problem of D R Hughes written jointly with E G Straus, then two years later he published On the singularities of a Riemannian manifold in which he discussed the problem of determining when an apparent singularity in a Riemann manifold is real, and when it may be eliminated by an extension of the space.
- We should say a few words about the interests of Szekeres outside mathematics.
- Szekeres received many honours for his achievements.
- In 1970 Szekeres had published his two-dimensional Farey dissection algorithm, then produed a continuous version of it in 1984.
- Another unusual quality was George's interest in computational and "experimental" mathematics, which he maintained until his last paper on Abel's equation.
- When Szekeres moved to the University of New South Wales in 1964 he bought a home in Turramurra, which is about 15 km north of Sydney city centre.
- They lived there until 2004 when failing health forced George and Esther Szekeres to move from their rather remote home.
- Szekeres too moved to the Nursing Home seven weeks before his death and the two died there within an hour of each other.
Born 29 May 1911, Budapest, Hungary. Died 28 August 2005, Adelaide, 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