Hilbert and his Grundlagen der Geometrie
David Hilbert, who came to dominate German mathematics between 1890 and the 1920s, and who many would say was the leading mathematician in the world of his generation, was born in Königsberg on 23 January 1862.1 Königsberg was a small town in East Prussia, best known for being the home town of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, and Hilbert’s schooling there was unremarkable. He later said that “I did not particularly concern myself with mathematics at school because I knew that I would turn to it later”. He then went to the university in Königsberg in 1880. Although small, it had a strong tradition in mathematics and physics, beginning with Carl Jacobi and the physicist Franz Neumann, who pioneered the teaching of experimental physics. A steady stream of mathematicians and scientists came to or graduated from Königsberg: the physicist Gustav Kirchhoff, the geometer Otto Hesse and Heinrich Weber, who held the chair in mathematics at Königsberg from 1875 to 1883 and was succeeded by Ferdinand Lindemann, who had just become famous for his proof that π is transcendental.
KeywordsEuclidean Geometry Projective Geometry Axiom System German Mathematics Winter Semester
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