On this day in 1950, Greek mathematician Constantin Carathéodory dies — Greek City Times
Constantin Carathéodory (Κωνσταντίνος Καραθεοδωρή) was a Greek mathematician who made important contributions to the calculus of variations, the theory of measure of sets of points, and the theory of functions of a real variable.
He was born on September 13, 1873 in Berlin to Greek parents and grew up in Brussels.
His father Stephanos, a lawyer, was Ottoman ambassador to Belgium, Saint Petersburg and Berlin. His mother, Despina, née Petrokokkinos, was from the island of Chios.
In 1885, Carathéodory attended a high school in Brussels where he began to take an interest in mathematics. In 1886, he was a pupil at the Athénée Royal d’Ixelles and studied there until obtaining his diploma in 1891. During his stay there, he was named “Belgium’s best student in mathematics”, two occasions.
Later, he trained as a military engineer. In 1897, when war broke out between the Ottoman Empire and Greece, he was offered a job in the British colonial service. This work took him to Egypt where he worked on the construction of the Assiut Dam until April 1900.
During times when construction work had to stop due to flooding, Carathéodory studied mathematics from some textbooks he had with him, such as Jordan’s Cours d’Analyse and Salmon’s text on the analytical geometry of conic sections.
He also visited the pyramid of Cheops and made measurements which he wrote up and published in 1901.
After hearing excellent reports of mathematical research in Göttingen, Germany, Carathéodory decided to study there in 1902. He was indeed impressed with Göttingen, describing it as the “seat of an international congress of mathematicians in session permed”.
He worked on the calculus of variations and was greatly influenced by mathematicians David Hilbert and Felix Klein.
Carathéodory made significant contributions to the calculus of variations, the theory of measure of sets of points, and the theory of functions of a real variable. He added important results to the relationship between first-order partial differential equations and the calculus of variations.
He also made contributions to thermodynamics, the special theory of relativity, mechanics and geometric optics.
The mathematician also wrote numerous works including: Lectures on Real Functions (1918), Conformal representation (1932), Calculus of Variations and Partial Differential Equations (1935), Geometric Optics (1937), Real functions Vol. 1: Numbers, Point sets, Functions (1939) and Funktionentheorie, a work in 2 volumes (1950).
Constantin Carathéodory died on February 2, 1950, at the age of 77.
In 2002, in recognition of his achievements, the University of Munich named one of the largest lecture halls in the institute of mathematics, the Constantin-Carathéodory Lecture Hall.
On March 21, 2009, the “Karatheodoris” museum (Καραθεοδωρής) opened its doors to the public, in Komotini. The museum houses original manuscripts by the mathematician of around 10,000 pages, including correspondence between Carathéodory and the German mathematician Arthur Rosenthal for the algebraization of measurement, as well as handwritten letters and photographs.