Person: Szmielew, Wanda Montlak
Wanda Szmielew was a Polish mathematical logician who first proved the decidability of the first-order theory of abelian groups.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Wanda was, therefore, Wanda Montlak when she was growing up and only became Wanda Szmielew after her marriage.
- Szmielew began undertaking research, advised by Tarski, while she was still studying for her first degree and the two became friends.
- Szmielew produced her first important result in 1938 concerning the axiom of choice for finite sets.
- Szmielew's studies at the University of Warsaw came to an abrupt end.
- The closing of most educational institutions in Poland by the Germans did not stop the Poles organising underground educational establishments and, despite the obvious danger of taking part in these illegal activities, Szmielew engaged in underground teaching.
- Szmielew was appointed to the new University of Lodz and she also taught at the Lodz Institute of Technology.
- Szmielew worked at the University of Warsaw for two years before moving to the United States to complete her doctorate advised by Tarski.
- Liberated, mysteriously beautiful, and independent, Szmielew set about doing what she wished with little concern for the reaction of others.
- Wanda had a grant with limited funds, she had limited time, and she did not have a car; so it made eminently good economic sense for her to be right there.
- He welcomed the change at first - at fifteen he was happy to have a secluded place to himself- but he was not happy when it became clear that the rapport between Alfred and Wanda went far beyond a shared interest in mathematical logic.
- But both Ina and Jan retained an everlasting resentment and dislike for Wanda Szmielew because of her insensitivity toward Maria as well as toward them.
- Szmielew's 250-page doctoral dissertation, Arithmetical properties of abelian groups, earned her a Ph.D. in 1950.
- After the award of her doctorate, Szmielew returned to the University of Warsaw where she was promoted to assistant professor.
- Szmielew and Borsuk published the book The foundations of geometry (Polish) in 1955.
- Tarski would form an attachment to her as she grew older, and he always asked about her in his letters to Wanda.
- It was at this time that he set the wheels in motion for Szmielew and Borsuk to attend the Axiomatic Method Symposium planned for 1957 ...
- Szmielew attended the Berkeley Symposium, held 26 December 1957 to 4 January 1958, and gave the lecture Some metamathematical problems concerning elementary hyperbolic geometry.
- The illness mentioned in this quote was cancer and Szmielew was already suffering badly from the disease when, in 1974, she decided to write a book giving her approach to the foundations of geometry which, by that time, had taken a rather different line to the views of Tarski.
- But by May 1976 it became clear that Wanda Szmielew had neither enough time nor strength to complete the work.
Born 5 April 1918, Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland). Died 27 August 1976, Warsaw, Poland.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Poland, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive