By Constance Reid
"...a tale of serious mathematicians and their achievements, of sensible successes and screw ups, and of human perfidy and generosity...this is among the nonetheless too infrequent events during which mathematicians are proven as frail, flesh-and-blood creatures...a very useful book." -CHOICE
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Additional resources for Courant
Although it was not the book which Friedrichs had originally proposed to me, he was willing to help; and one of the great pleasures of my life has been working with him. The book was a long time in the writing. I think that Courant would have appreciated the fact that now, five years later, when I have finished the story of his relationship with Gottingen, I find that, if I have not written his biography, I have written the story of his life. 5 ONE (C OURANT never volunteered much about his life before he carne to Gottingen.
Their presentation of the subject was as classical as the presentation in Breslau had been. Neither was of the stature of Hilbert, Minkowski, and Klein. The impetus which would make Gottingen one of the great physics centers of the world would come from the mathematicians rather 21 Courant than from the physicists. Courant ignored Riecke after the first semester and took relatively few courses from Voigt, whom he nevertheless admired very much as a person and as a musician. " He took only two courses with Klein during his five semesters in Gottingen; and although each semester he took a course from Minkowski, he can be said to have "majored" in Hilbert.
Karl Schwarzschild, the astronomer, made contributions to both theoretical and observational astronomy as well as to quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Ludwig Prandtl, 25 Courant the mechanical genius, developed the mathematical formulation of boundary-layer and airfoil theory. Zermelo, the logician, did his first mathematical work in the calculus of variations and made important contributions to kinetic gas theory. This general interaction of theory and practice was always to be for Courant the distinguishing characteristic of the Gottingen scientific tradition.