Erhard Schmidt

Erhard Schmidt bigraphy, stories - German mathematician

Erhard Schmidt : biography

January 13, 1876 – December 6, 1959

Erhard Schmidt (13 January 1876 – 6 December 1959) was a Baltic German mathematician whose work significantly influenced the direction of mathematics in the twentieth century.

Schmidt was born in Tartu (), in the Governorate of Livonia (now Estonia). His advisor was David Hilbert and he was awarded his doctorate from Georg-August University of Göttingen in 1905. His doctoral dissertation was entitled Entwickelung willkürlicher Funktionen nach Systemen vorgeschriebener and was a work on integral equations. Together with David Hilbert he made important contributions to functional analysis.

During World War II Schmidt held positions of authority at the University of Berlin and had to carry out various Nazi resolutions against the Jews—a job that he apparently did not do well, since he was criticized at one point for not understanding the "Jewish question." At the celebration of Schmidt’s 75th birthday in 1951 a prominent Jewish mathematician, Hans Freudenthal, who had survived the Nazi years, spoke of the difficulties that Schmidt faced during that period without criticism.

After the war, in 1948, Schmidt founded and became the first editor-in-chief of the journal Mathematische Nachrichten.