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David Hilbert

Birthdate: (81)
Birthplace: Königsberg, Province of Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia
Death: Died in Göttingen, Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany
Immediate Family:

Son of Otto Hilbert and Maria Therese Hilbert
Husband of Käthe Hilbert
Father of Franz Hilbert

Occupation: mathematician
Managed by: (No Name)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About David Hilbert

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

"...David Hilbert ( 23 January 1862 – 14 February 1943) was a German mathematician. He is recognized as one of the most influential and universal mathematicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hilbert discovered and developed a broad range of fundamental ideas in many areas, including invariant theory and the axiomatization of geometry. He also formulated the theory of Hilbert spaces, one of the foundations of functional analysis.

Hilbert adopted and warmly defended Georg Cantor's set theory and transfinite numbers. A famous example of his leadership in mathematics is his 1900 presentation of a collection of problems that set the course for much of the mathematical research of the 20th century.

Hilbert and his students contributed significantly to establishing rigor and developed important tools used in modern mathematical physics. Hilbert is known as one of the founders of proof theory and mathematical logic, as well as for being among the first to distinguish between mathematics and metamathematics..."

"...Hilbert, the first of two children of Otto and Maria Therese (Erdtmann) Hilbert, was born in the Province of Prussia - either in Königsberg (according to Hilbert's own statement) or in Wehlau (known since 1946 as Znamensk) near Königsberg where his father worked at the time of his birth.[5] In the fall of 1872, he entered the Friedrichskolleg Gymnasium (Collegium fridericianum, the same school that Immanuel Kant had attended 140 years before), but after an unhappy period he transferred to (fall 1879) and graduated from (spring 1880) the more science-oriented Wilhelm Gymnasium.[6] Upon graduation he enrolled (autumn 1880) at the University of Königsberg, the "Albertina". In the spring of 1882, Hermann Minkowski (two years younger than Hilbert and also a native of Königsberg but so talented he had graduated early from his gymnasium and gone to Berlin for three semesters),[7] returned to Königsberg and entered the university. "Hilbert knew his luck when he saw it. In spite of his father's disapproval, he soon became friends with the shy, gifted Minkowski."[8] In 1884, Adolf Hurwitz arrived from Göttingen as an Extraordinarius, i.e. an associate professor. An intense and fruitful scientific exchange among the three began, and Minkowski and Hilbert especially would exercise a reciprocal influence over each other at various times in their scientific careers. Hilbert obtained his doctorate in 1885, with a dissertation, written under Ferdinand von Lindemann, titled Über invariante Eigenschaften spezieller binärer Formen, insbesondere der Kugelfunktionen ("On the invariant properties of special binary forms, in particular the spherical harmonic functions").

Hilbert remained at the University of Königsberg as a Privatdozent (senior lecturer) from 1886 to 1895. In 1892, Hilbert married Käthe Jerosch (1864–1945), "the daughter of a Konigsberg merchant, an outspoken young lady with an independence of mind that matched his own".[9] While at Königsberg they had their one child, Franz Hilbert (1893–1969). In 1895, as a result of intervention on his behalf by Felix Klein, he obtained the position of Professor of Mathematics at the University of Göttingen, at that time the best research center for mathematics in the world. He remained there for the rest of his life.

His son Franz suffered throughout his life from an undiagnosed mental illness: his inferior intellect was a terrible disappointment to his father and this misfortune was a matter of distress to the mathematicians and students at Göttingen.[10] Minkowski — Hilbert's "best and truest friend"[11] — died prematurely of a ruptured appendix in 1909..."

"...Hilbert lived to see the Nazis purge many of the prominent faculty members at University of Göttingen in 1933. Those forced out included Hermann Weyl (who had taken Hilbert's chair when he retired in 1930), Emmy Noether and Edmund Landau. One who had to leave Germany, Paul Bernays, had collaborated with Hilbert in mathematical logic, and co-authored with him the important book Grundlagen der Mathematik (which eventually appeared in two volumes, in 1934 and 1939). This was a sequel to the Hilbert-Ackermann book Principles of Mathematical Logic from 1928.

About a year later, Hilbert attended a banquet and was seated next to the new Minister of Education, Bernhard Rust. Rust asked, "How is mathematics in Göttingen now that it has been freed of the Jewish influence?" Hilbert replied, "Mathematics in Göttingen? There is really none any more."

By the time Hilbert died in 1943, the Nazis had nearly completely restaffed the university, inasmuch as many of the former faculty had either been Jewish or married to Jews. Hilbert's funeral was attended by fewer than a dozen people, only two of whom were fellow academics, among them Arnold Sommerfeld, a theoretical physicist and also a native of Königsberg. News of his death only became known to the wider world six months after he had died.

Hilbert was baptized and raised in the Reformed Protestant Church.[17] He later on left the Church and became an agnostic.[18] He also argued that mathematical truth was independent of the existence of God or other a priori assumptions..."


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David Hilbert's Timeline

January 23, 1862
Königsberg, Province of Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia
Age 30
February 14, 1943
Age 81
Göttingen, Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany