George David Birkhoff

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Birkhoff, George David


Born Mar. 21, 1884, in Overisel, Michigan; died Nov. 12,1944, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. American mathematician. Member of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington.

Birkhoff was an assistant, then a professor at Harvard University (from 1912). He contributed works in statistical mechanics (ergodic theorems), theoretical mechanics (he established stability criteria of motion and the existence of periodic motion), and also a general theory of differential and difference equations, and a theory of dynamic systems. In his studies in mechanics he applied extensively the methods of topology and set theory.


Collected Mathematical Papers, vols. 1–3. New York, 1950. (The third volume contains a bibliography of Birkhoff s works.)
In Russian translation:
Dinamicheskie sistemy. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
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In the twentieth century, George David Birkhoff (1884-1944) built on the foundation they had laid to animate what we would recognize as a "modern" research department with a faculty that covered many of the key areas of contemporaneous research, that was encouraged to contribute meaningfully to and publish in those areas, that actively trained a strong cadre of graduate students, and that participated in the activities of the national organization for mathematicians, the American Mathematical Society.