4-34. Carl Friedrich Geiser

Carl Friedrich Geiser (1843–1934) studied at the Zurich Polytechnikum for four semesters, before moving to Berlin, where he heard the lectures of Karl Weierstrass and Leopold Kronecker. His great-uncle was Jakob Steiner, whose Theorie der Kegelschnitte he edited for publication. Following graduation in 1863, Geiser returned to the Polytechnikum, this time to join the teaching staff, while pursuing doctoral research in Bern under Ludwig Schläfli’s guidance. After defending his thesis on synthetic geometry in 1866, Geiser filled the chair of higher mathematics and synthetic geometry at the Polytechnikum in 1873. Geiser directed the Polytechnikum from 1881 to 1887, and from 1891 to 1895, and was instrumental in attracting top mathematical talent to the school, including Adolf Hurwitz and Hermann Minkowski.11endnote: 1 Burckhardt (1972). Minkowski and David Hilbert were both former students of Hurwitz in Königsberg, and they were all good friends. But as Minkowski wrote to Hilbert from Zurich on 5 September, 1896, his recruitment at the Polytechnikum was “ganz allein das Werk Geisers” (Rüdenberg and Zassenhaus, 1973, 86).

Geiser’s correspondence with Poincaré concerns in part the latter activity, as Geiser sought the assistance of Paul Appell and Poincaré in recruiting a young mathematician from the École normale supérieure in November, 1885. Geiser also wrote to Poincaré in order to determine the date of the first International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), although his letter has not been located.22endnote: 2 See Poincaré to Laisant, ca. 1897. The first ICM took place in Zurich in August, 1897; Geiser served as president of the Congress, but Poincaré decided at the last minute not to attend, as his mother had just passed away.33endnote: 3 See Poincaré’s letter to Adolf Hurwitz, 4 August, 1897. On Geiser’s role in organizing the first ICM, see Eminger (2015).

Time-stamp: “ 4.05.2019 00:49”

Notes

  • 1 Burckhardt (1972). Minkowski and David Hilbert were both former students of Hurwitz in Königsberg, and they were all good friends. But as Minkowski wrote to Hilbert from Zurich on 5 September, 1896, his recruitment at the Polytechnikum was “ganz allein das Werk Geisers” (Rüdenberg and Zassenhaus, 1973, 86).
  • 2 See Poincaré to Laisant, ca. 1897.
  • 3 See Poincaré’s letter to Adolf Hurwitz, 4 August, 1897. On Geiser’s role in organizing the first ICM, see Eminger (2015).

References