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George David Birkhoff

Born: 21-Mar-1884
Birthplace: Overisel, MI
Died: 12-Nov-1944
Location of death: Cambridge, MA
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Mathematician

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Modern theory of dynamical systems

Mathematician George David Birkhoff proved ergodic and geometrical theorems; published important papers on celestial mechanics, differential equations, number theory, point-set theory, quantum mechanics, and relativity, and established the basics of modern dynamical systems. Later in his career he wrote Aesthetic Measure, which sought to explain the fine arts through mathematical equations, and argued for a four-dimensional theory of gravitation. He was criticized by Albert Einstein as "one of the world's great anti-Semites", and worked to exclude Jews from immigrating to America and from employment at Harvard.

Father: David Birkhoff (physician)
Mother: Jane Gertrude Droppers Birkhoff
Wife: Margaret Elizabeth Grafius Birkhoff (m. 2-Sep-1908)
Daughter: Barbara Birkhoff Paine (photographer, b. circa 1909, d. 1995)
Son: Garrett Birkhoff (mathematician, b. 1911, d. 1996)
Son: Rodney Birkhoff

    University: Illinois Institute of Technology (attended)
    University: University of Chicago (attended, 1902-03)
    University: BA Mathematics, Harvard University (1905)
    University: MA Mathematics, Harvard University (1906)
    University: PhD Mathematics, University of Chicago (1907)
    Teacher: Mathematics, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1907-09)
    Teacher: Mathematics, Princeton University (1909-11)
    Professor: Mathematics, Princeton University (1911-12)
    Teacher: Mathematics, Harvard University (1912-19)
    Professor: Mathematics, Harvard University (1919-44)
    Administrator: Dean of Arts & Sciences, Harvard University (1935-39)

    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Mathematical Society (Vice President, 1919; President, 1925-26)
    American Philosophical Society
    National Academy of Sciences 1918
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences
    French Legion of Honor 1936
    Transactions of the American Mathematical Society Editor (1921-24)
    Dutch Ancestry

Author of books:
Relativity and Modern Physics (1923)
Dynamical Systems (1927)
Aesthetic Measure (1933)
Electricity as a Fluid (1938)
Basic Geometry (1941)


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