Field of Science

The University Senate is not a Bath House

Mathematical Physics Seminar: Professor Hilbert, with the assistance of Dr E Noether, Mondays from 4-6, no tuition.

Winter 1916-17 catalog, University of Gottingen

Emmy Noether was one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century - indeed of any century. Born in 1882 in Erlangen, Germany, where her father was a professor of mathematics at the university, she is known for her work in ring theory and non-commutative algebras. Her work in the theory of invariants proved essential to Einstein in formulating his general theory of relativity. In the late 19th and early 20th century, women were not permitted to officially matriculate at German universities, though they could petition individual professors to attend their classes. Noether attended courses at Erlangen, then at Gottingen, receiving her Ph.D. from Gottingen in 1907. She returned to Erlangen to assist her father, but continued her own mathematical work (much of which was published in the papers of others). In 1915, Hilbert (yes, real analysis and quantum afficiandos, that Hilbert - of Hilbert space) persuaded her to return to Gottingen. Though Gottingen refused to appoint her officially to the faculty there until 1919, Noether taught courses by having them advertised under Hilbert's name. Hilbert argued strongly for Noether's addition to the faculty, famously proclaiming, "I do not see that the sex of the candidate is against her admission as a Privatdozent. After all, the university senate is not a bathhouse."

In 1933, she fled Nazi Germany, accepting a visiting position at Bryn Mawr College. She died at Bryn Mawr Hospital in 1935; her ashes are buried in the Cloisters at Bryn Mawr.

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