Background
Richard Courant was born on January 8, 1888 in Lublinitz, Poland. He was the son of Siegmund and Martha (Freund) Courant.
(For more than two thousand years a familiarity with mathe...)
For more than two thousand years a familiarity with mathematics has been regarded as an indispensable part of the intellectual equipment of every cultured person. Today, unfortunately, the traditional place of mathematics in education is in grave danger. The teaching and learning of mathematics has degenerated into the realm of rote memorization, the outcome of which leads to satisfactory formal ability but does not lead to real understanding or to greater intellectual independence. This new edition of Richard Courant's and Herbert Robbins's classic work seeks to address this problem. Its goal is to put the meaning back into mathematics. Written for beginners and scholars, for students and teachers, for philosophers and engineers, What is Mathematics?, Second Edition is a sparkling collection of mathematical gems that offers an entertaining and accessible portrait of the mathematical world. Covering everything from natural numbers and the number system to geometrical constructions and projective geometry, from topology and calculus to matters of principle and the Continuum Hypothesis, this fascinating survey allows readers to delve into mathematics as an organic whole rather than an empty drill in problem solving. With chapters largely independent of one another and sections that lead upward from basic to more advanced discussions, readers can easily pick and choose areas of particular interest without impairing their understanding of subsequent parts. Brought up to date with a new chapter by Ian Stewart, What is Mathematics?, Second Edition offers new insights into recent mathematical developments and describes proofs of the Four-Color Theorem and Fermat's Last Theorem, problems that were still open when Courant and Robbins wrote this masterpiece, but ones that have since been solved. Formal mathematics is like spelling and grammar--a matter of the correct application of local rules. Meaningful mathematics is like journalism--it tells an interesting story. But unlike some journalism, the story has to be true. The best mathematics is like literature--it brings a story to life before your eyes and involves you in it, intellectually and emotionally. What is Mathematics is like a fine piece of literature--it opens a window onto the world of mathematics for anyone interested to view.
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educator mathematician scientist
Richard Courant was born on January 8, 1888 in Lublinitz, Poland. He was the son of Siegmund and Martha (Freund) Courant.
Courant entered the University of Breslau for 2 years from 1905, then continued his studies at the University of Göttingen, graduating from it in 1910 with Doctor of Science degree.
Courant served in German Army in 1910 and became a non-commission officer. He was obliged to serve in World War I, but was wounded shortly after enlisting and therefore dismissed from the military.
Richard continued his research in Göttingen, which he had started when he was a student there. Then he engaged a two-year period at the University of Münster as professor of mathematics, worked there during 1919-1920. There he founded the Mathematical Institute, which he headed as director from 1928 until 1933.
Courant left Germany in 1933, earlier than many Jewish escapees did.
Richard was a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University during 1933-1934 and held the same position at New York University from 1934 to 1936. In 1936, after one year at Cambridge, Courant accepted a professorship at New York University in New York City.
That same year he became a professor and head of mathematics department. He served there for two decades.
Most of Courant’s work was in variational calculus and its applications to physics, computer science, and other fields.
(For more than two thousand years a familiarity with mathe...)
Quotations: "Empirical evidence can never establish mathematical existence--nor can the mathematician's demand for existence be dismissed by the physicist as useless rigor. Only a mathematical existence proof can ensure that the mathematical description of a physical phenomenon is meaningful."
Courant was a member of American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Physical Society, National Academy Sciences, New York Academy Sciences, Mathematics Association American, American Philosophical Society, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Academy Sciences Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, Royal Netherlands, Academy Sciences and Letters, Akademie der Wissenschaften (Goettingen), Royal Danish Academy Science and Letters and Sigma Xi. Club: Cosmos.
Quotes from others about the person
“Every physicist is in Dr. Courant’s debt for the vast insight he has given us into mathematical methods for comprehending nature and the physical world.” - Harry Schwartz, a Nobel laureate, A'etv York Times obituary
In 1912 Courant married to a woman he had tutored as an adolescent, Courant was divorced in 1916. In 1919 he married Nerina (Nina) Runge, and they had two sons and two daughters: Ernest David, Gertrude A. Elizabeth, Hans Wolfgang Julius and Marianne Leonore.