Hermann Minkowski

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Minkowski, Hermann

(hĕr`män mĭnkôf`skē), 1864–1909, Russian mathematician. He was educated in Germany and was professor at the Univ. of Königsberg (1894–96), the Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1896–1902), and the Univ. of Göttingen (1902–9). He is well known for use of geometric methods in the theory of numbers and for having evolved a four-dimensional geometry of space and time that influenced the formulation of the general theory of relativity. He also contributed to the theory of quadratic forms.

Minkowski, Hermann


Born June 22, 1864, in Aleksoty, Minsk Province; died Jan. 12, 1909, in Gottingen. German mathematician and physicist. Professor at the universities in Bonn (from 1893), Konigsberg (from 1894), Zurich (from 1896), and Gottingen (from 1902).

Minkowski developed the geometrical theory of numbers, which used geometrical methods to solve difficult problems in number theory. The same theory was also developed simultaneously but independently by G. F. Voronoi. The studies of the two mathematicians complement each other. From the geometrical theory of numbers, Minkowski proceeded to the theory of polyhedrons and the geometry of convex bodies, where he obtained important general results. He also conducted research in mathematical physics, hydrodynamics, the theory of capillarity, and the theory of relativity. In 1907–08 he gave a geometrical interpretation of the kinematics of the special theory of relativity, introducing what is now called Minkowski space.


Geometric der Zahlen, fascs. 1–2. Leipzig, 1896–1910.
Gesammelte Abhandlungen, vols. 1–2. Edited by D. Hilbert. Leipzig-Bonn, 1911.


Delone, B. N. “German Minkovskii.” Uspekhi matematicheskikh nauk, 1936, issue 2.
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