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Max Noether : biography

24 September 1844 - 13 December 1921

Max Noether, occasionally spelled Max Nöther, (24 September 1844 – 13 December 1921) was a German mathematician who worked on algebraic geometry and the theory of algebraic functions. He has been called "one of the finest mathematicians of the nineteenth century".Lederman, p. 69.



Max Noether was born in Mannheim in 1844, to a Jewish family of wealthy wholesale hardware dealers. His grandfather, Elias Samuel, had started the business in Bruchsal in 1797. In 1809 the Grand Duchy of Baden established a "Tolerance Edict", which assigned a hereditary surname to the male head of every Jewish family which did not already possess one. Thus the Samuels became the Noether family, and as part of this Christianization of names, their son Hertz (Max's father) became Hermann. Max was the third of five children Hermann had with his wife Amalia Würzburger.Dick, pp. 4–7.

At the age of fourteen Max contracted polio and was afflicted by its effects for the rest of his life. Through self-study, he learned advanced mathematics and entered the University of Heidelberg in 1865. He served on the faculty there for several years, then moved to the University of Erlangen in 1888. While at Erlangen, Noether helped to found the field of algebraic geometry.Lederman, pp. 69–71.

In 1880 he married Ida Amalia Kaufmann, the daughter of another wealthy Jewish merchant family. Two years later they had their first child, named Amalia ("Emmy") after her mother. Emmy Noether went on to become a central figure in abstract algebra. In 1883 they had a son named Alfred, who later studied chemistry before dying in 1918. Their third child, Fritz, was born in 1884. Like Emmy, Fritz Noether also found prominence as a mathematician. Little is known about their fourth child, Gustav Robert, born in 1889. He suffered from continual illness and died in 1928.Dick, pp. 9–45.

Max Noether served as an Ordinarius (full professor) at Erlangen for many years, and died there on 13 December 1921.

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