Famous Mathematician and the History of a Mathematical Concept.

TESST College of Technology

Felix Christian Klein

MM 103 College Math

September 6, 2012

A Famous Mathematician: Felix Christian Klein

Felix Christian Klein (25 April 1849 – 22 June 1925) was a German mathematician, known for his work in group theory, function theory, non-Euclidean geometry, and on the connections between geometry and group theory. His 1872 Erlangen Program, classifying geometries by their underlying symmetry groups, was a hugely influential synthesis of much of the mathematics of the day.

Klein was born in Dusseldorf, to Prussian parents; his father was a Prussian government official's secretary stationed in the Rhine Province. He attended the Gymnasium in Dusseldorf, then studied mathematics and physics at the University of Bonn, 1865–1866, intending to become a physicist. At that time, Julius Plucker held Bonn's chair of mathematics and experimental physics, but by the time Klein became his assistant, in 1866, Plucker's interest was geometry. Klein received his doctorate, supervised by Plucker, from the University of Bonn in 1868.

Plucker died in 1868, leaving his book on the foundations of line geometry incomplete. Klein was the obvious person to complete the second part of Plucker's Neue Geometrie des Raumes, and thus became acquainted with Alfred Clebsch, who had moved to Gottingen in 1868. Klein visited Clebsch the following year, along with visits to Berlin and Paris. In July 1870, at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, he was in Paris and had to leave the country. For a short time, he served as a medical orderly in the Prussian army before being appointed lecturer at Gottingen in early 1871.

Erlangen appointed Klein professor in 1872, when he was only 23. In this, he was strongly supported by Clebsch, who regarded him as likely to become the leading mathematician of his day. Klein did not build a school at Erlangen where there were few students, and so...