Séminaire d'Histoire des Mathématiques de l'IHP

Emmy Noether (1882-1935): Mathematician Extraordinaire

by David Rowe

Amphithéâtre Perrin (Maison Poincaré)

Amphithéâtre Perrin

Maison Poincaré

11, rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris

This talk will complement themes from the play “Diving into Math with Emmy Noether,” which will be performed on October 10 at the Sorbonne.


In the first part, I’ll describe some of Noether’s interactions with other notable figures from the world of mathematics, four of whom appear in the play (van der Waerden, Hasse, Taussky, and Alexandrov). Then we take a brief glance backward to her formative years in Erlangen, where her father, Max Noether, spent his career alongside Paul Gordan. Emmy was already 33 when she arrived in Göttingen in 1915, just in time to hear Einstein’s lectures on general relativity. After finally being allowed to join the faculty in 1919, Noether became the head of a distinctive group working on modern algebra and its connections with abstract number theory. That ended abruptly in 1933 when the Nazis came to power, after which she and several other mathematicians of Jewish descent lost their positions in Göttingen. During the last 18 months of her life, Emmy Noether taught at Bryn Mawr College, where her ashes remain today. The talk ends with a brief epilogue devoted to the fate of her brother, Fritz Noether, and his family.