Ernst Zermelo

An Approach to His Life and Work

  • Heinz-Dieter Ebbinghaus

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Pages 1-26
  3. Pages 27-112
  4. Pages 113-138
  5. Pages 139-258
  6. Pages 259-262
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 307-356

About this book


Ernst Zermelo (1871-1953) is best-known for the statement of the axiom of choice and his axiomatization of set theory. However, he also worked in applied mathematics and mathematical physics. His dissertation, for example, promoted the calculus of variations, and he created the pivotal method in the theory of rating systems.

This biography attempts to shed light on all facets of Zermelo's life and achievements. Personal and scientific aspects are kept separate as far as coherence allows, in order to enable the reader to follow the one or the other of these threads. The description of his personality owes much to conversations with his late wife Gertrud. The presentation of his work explores motivations, aims, acceptance, and influence. Selected proofs and information gleaned from unpublished notes and letters add to the analysis.

All facts presented are documented by appropriate sources. The biography contains more than 40 photos and facsimiles, most of them provided by Gertrud Zermelo and published here for the first time.


Historical Aspects of Applied Mathematics Zermelo history of mathematical logic history of set theory mathematical physics proof set theory

Authors and affiliations

  • Heinz-Dieter Ebbinghaus
    • 1
  1. 1.Mathematisches Institut Abteilung für Mathematische LogikUniversität FreiburgFreiburgGermany

Bibliographic information