Person: Whitney, Hassler
Hassler Whitney was an American mathematician who did important work in manifolds, embeddings, immersions, characteristic classes and geometric integration theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Whitney attended Yale University where he received his first degree in 1928, then continued to undertake mathematical research at Harvard University from where his doctorate was awarded in 1932.
- Whitney was a keen mountaineer all his life and he made a particularly famous climb while an undergraduate.
- Whitney subscribed to the "fast and light" school of mountaineering (and rock climbing).
- Hassler moved quickly with less protection than is considered usual today.
- On the Whitney Gilman ridge, he climbed without pitons (or anything else) for protection.
- Hassler Whitney, then at Harvard, joined the group at Columbia working on questions concerning fire control systems, that is, systems which control the aiming of weaponry, especially on aircraft and rockets.
- Harvard made Whitney a full professor in 1946 and he held this professorship until he accepted an offer from the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton of a professorship in 1952.
- Whitney's doctoral thesis was on graph theory, in particular making a major contribution to the four colour problem.
- Continuing work started by Veblen and Henry Whitehead, Whitney produced fundamental work in differential topology in 1935.
- The term Stiefel-Whitney characteristic classes is often used today.
- In 1939 he gave his famous duality and product theorems: the term Whitney duality is now used.
- This topic had been the subject of the lecture which Whitney gave to the International Congress of Mathematicians, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1950.
- In addition to research at the frontiers of mathematical research, Whitney was also interested in mathematics teachings in schools.
- Outside mathematical research and teaching mathematics Whitney contributed in many ways to his subject.
- Princeton was to remain Whitney's base from 1952 until he retired in 1977.
Born 23 March 1907, New York, USA. Died 10 May 1989, Mount Dents Blanches, Switzerland.
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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