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Samuel Eilenberg

Samuel Eilenberg (1970)
Born September 30, 1913(1913-09-30)
Warsaw, Russian Empire
Died January 30, 1998 (aged 84)
Institutions Columbia University
Alma mater Warsaw University
Doctoral advisor Karol Borsuk
Known for Eilenberg-Steenrod axioms
Eilenberg swindle

Samuel Eilenberg (September 30, 1913—January 30, 1998) was a Polish and American mathematician of Jewish descent. He was born in Warsaw, Russian Empire (now in Poland) and died in New York City, USA, where he had spent much of his career as a professor at Columbia University.

He earned his Ph.D. from Warsaw University in 1936. His thesis advisor was Karol Borsuk. His main interest was algebraic topology. He worked on the axiomatic treatment of homology theory with Norman Steenrod (whose names the Eilenberg-Steenrod axioms bear), and on homological algebra with Saunders Mac Lane. In the process, Eilenberg and Mac Lane created the category theory.

Eilenberg took part in the Bourbaki group meetings, and, with Henri Cartan, wrote the 1956 book Homological Algebra, which became a classic.

Later in life he worked mainly in pure category theory, being one of the founders of the field. The Eilenberg swindle (or telescope) is a construction applying the telescoping cancellation idea to projective modules.

Eilenberg also wrote an important book on automata theory. The X-machine, a form of automaton, was introduced by Eilenberg in 1974.

Eilenberg was also a prominent collector of Asian art. His collection mainly consisted of small sculptures and other artifacts from India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Central Asia. In 1991-1992, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York staged an exhibition from more than 400 items that Eilenberg had donated to the museum, entitled The Lotus Transcendent: Indian and Southeast Asian Art From the Samuel Eilenberg Collection".[1]


Selected publications

  • Samuel Eilenberg, Automata, Languages and Machines. ISBN 0-12-234001-9.
  • Samuel Eilenberg & Tudor Ganea, On the Lusternik-Schnirelmann category of abstract groups, Annals of Mathematics, 2nd Ser., 65 (1957), no. 3, 517 – 518. MR0085510
  • Samuel Eilenberg & Saunders Mac Lane, "Relations between homology and homotopy groups of spaces", Annals of Mathematics 46 (1945), 480–509.
  • Samuel Eilenberg & Saunders Mac Lane, "Relations between homology and homotopy groups of spaces. II", Annals of Mathematics 51 (1950), 514–533.
  • Eilenberg, Samuel; Moore, John C. (1962), "Limits and spectral sequences", Topology 1 (1): 1–23, doi:10.1016/0040-9383(62)90093-9, ISSN 0040-9383  
  • Samuel Eilenberg & Norman E. Steenrod, Axiomatic approach to homology theory, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 31, (1945). 117--120.
  • Samuel Eilenberg & Norman E. Steenrod, Foundations of algebraic topology, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1952. xv+328 pp.


  1. ^ New York Times obituary, February 3, 1998.

See also

External links



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