Person: Von Neumann, John
John Von Neumann built a solid framework for quantum mechanics. He also worked in game theory, studied what are now called von Neumann Algebras, and was one of the pioneers of computer science.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Max Neumann was eligible to apply for a hereditary title because of his contribution to the then successful Hungarian economy and in 1913 he paid a fee to acquire a title, but he did not change his name.
- His son, however, used the German form von Neumann where the "von" indicated the title.
- Young Johnny read the column over a few times, then handed the book back to the guest.
- In 1911 von Neumann entered the Lutheran Gymnasium.
- The school had a strong academic tradition which seemed to count for more than the religious affiliation both in the Neumann's eyes and in those of the school.
- His mathematics teacher quickly recognised von Neumann's genius and special tuition was put on for him.
- The school had another outstanding mathematician one year ahead of von Neumann, namely Eugene Wigner.
- Such situations are devoid of logic and the fact that the Neumann's were opposed to Kun's government did not save them from persecution.
- In 1921 von Neumann completed his education at the Lutheran Gymnasium.
- Perhaps von Kármán was the wrong person to ask to undertake such a task but in the end all agreed on the compromise subject of chemistry for von Neumann's university studies.
- Of course, even with a strict quota, von Neumann's record easily won him a place to study mathematics in 1921 but he did not attend lectures.
- Von Neumann studied chemistry at the University of Berlin until 1923 when he went to Zürich.
- Von Neumann received his diploma in chemical engineering from the Technische Hochschule in Zürich in 1926.
- Von Neumann received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Budapest, also in 1926, with a thesis on set theory.
- Von Neumann lectured at Berlin from 1926 to 1929 and at Hamburg from 1929 to 1930.
- Veblen invited von Neumann to Princeton to lecture on quantum theory in 1929.
- In 1930 von Neumann became a visiting lecturer at Princeton University, being appointed professor there in 1931.
- He became one of the original six mathematics professors (J W Alexander, A Einstein, M Morse, O Veblen, J von Neumann and H Weyl) in 1933 at the newly founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, a position he kept for the remainder of his life.
- During the first years that he was in the United States, von Neumann continued to return to Europe during the summers.
- In 1933 von Neumann became co-editor of the Annals of Mathematics and, two years later, he became co-editor of Compositio Mathematica.
- There von Neumann lived a rather unusual lifestyle for a top mathematician.
- While teaching in Germany, von Neumann had been a denizen of the Cabaret-era Berlin nightlife circuit.
- Self-adjoint algebras of bounded linear operators on a Hilbert space, closed in the weak operator topology, were introduced in 1929 by von Neumann in a paper in Mathematische Annalen .
- J Dixmier, in 1957, called them "von Neumann algebras" in his monograph Algebras of operators in Hilbert space (von Neumann algebras).
- In the second half of the 1930's and the early 1940s von Neumann, working with his collaborator F J Murray, laid the foundations for the study of von Neumann algebras in a fundamental series of papers.
- However von Neumann is known for the wide variety of different scientific studies.
- In game theory von Neumann proved the minimax theorem.
- In 1938 the American Mathematical Society awarded the Bôcher Prize to John von Neumann for his memoir Almost periodic functions and groups.
- Von Neumann was one of the pioneers of computer science making significant contributions to the development of logical design.
- Involving a mixture of pure and applied mathematics as well as other sciences, automata theory was an ideal field for von Neumann's wide-ranging intellect.
- Johnny von Neumann, who knew how to live so fully, did not know how to die.
- It would be almost impossible to give even an idea of the range of honours which were given to von Neumann.
- Von Neumann received two Presidential Awards, the Medal for Merit in 1947 and the Medal for Freedom in 1956.
Born 28 December 1903, Budapest, Hungary. Died 8 February 1957, Washington D.C., USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Analysis, Origin Hungary, Physics, Puzzles And Problems, Set Theory, Statistics
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive