Hermann Minkowski  



Born  June
22, 1864 Aleksotas, Russian Empire 
Died 
January 12, 1909 (aged 44) GÃ¶ttingen, Germany 
Nationality  German 
Fields  Mathematician 
Institutions  University of GÃ¶ttingen and ETH Zurich 
Alma mater  Albertina University of KÃ¶nigsberg 
Doctoral advisor  Ferdinand von Lindemann 
Doctoral students  Constantin CarathÃ©odory 
Hermann Minkowski (June 22, 1864 â€“ January 12, 1909) was a German mathematician of Polish Jewish descent, who created and developed the geometry of numbers and who used geometrical methods to solve difficult problems in number theory, mathematical physics, and the theory of relativity.
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Hermann Minkowski was born in Aleksotas, a suburb of Kaunas, Lithuania, which was then part of the Russian Empire, to a family of Lithuanian Jewish and Polish Jewish descent.^{[1]} He was educated in Germany at the Albertina University of KÃ¶nigsberg, where he achieved his doctorate in 1885 under direction of Ferdinand von Lindemann. While still a student at KÃ¶nigsberg, in 1883 he was awarded the Mathematics Prize of the French Academy of Sciences for his manuscript on the theory of quadratic forms. He also became a friend of another German mathematician, David Hilbert.
Minkowski taught at the universities of Bonn, GÃ¶ttingen, KÃ¶nigsberg and ZÃ¼rich. At the EidgenÃ¶ssische Polytechnikum, today the ETH Zurich, he was one of Einstein's teachers.
Minkowski explored the arithmetic of quadratic forms, especially concerning n variables, and his research into that topic led him to consider certain geometric properties in a space of n dimensions. In 1896, he presented his geometry of numbers, a geometrical method that solved problems in number theory.
In 1902, he joined the Mathematics Department of GÃ¶ttingen and became one of the close colleagues of David Hilbert, whom he first met in KÃ¶nigsberg. Constantin CarathÃ©odory was one of his students there.
Minkowski died suddenly of appendicitis in GÃ¶ttingen. His brother, Oskar Minkowski (1858â€“1931), was a wellknown physician and researcher.
By 1907 Minkowski realized that the special theory of relativity, introduced by Albert Einstein in 1905 and based on previous work of Lorentz and PoincarÃ©, could be best understood in a four dimensional space, since known as "Minkowski spacetime", in which the time and space are not separated entities but intermingled in a four dimensional spacetime, and in which the Lorentz geometry of special relativity can be nicely represented. The beginning part of his address delivered at the 80th Assembly of German Natural Scientists and Physicians (September 21, 1908) is now famous:
The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.
David Hilbert's obituary illustrates the deep friendship between the two mathematicians:
The asteroid 12493 Minkowski and Mmatrices are named in his honour.
Hermann Minkowski (June 22, 1864 â€“ January 12, 1909 in GÃ¶ttingen) was a German mathematician. He was one of Albert Einstein's teachers.
