Poincaré-Week in Göttingen, in Light of the Hilbert-Poincaré Correspondence of 1908–1909

In Maria Teresa Borgato, Erwin Neuenschwander & Irène Passeron (eds.), Mathematical Correspondences and Critical Editions. Springer Verlag. pp. 297-310 (2018)
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The two greatest mathematicians of the early twentieth century, David Hilbert and Henri Poincaré transformed the mathematics of their time. Their personal interaction was infrequent, until Hilbert invited Poincaré to deliver the first Wolfskehl Lectures in Göttingen in the spring of 1909. A correspondence ensued, which fixed the content and timing of the lecture series. A close reading of the exchange throws light on what Hilbert wanted Poincaré to talk about, and on what Poincaré wanted to present to Hilbert and his colleagues. To answer the latter question, reference is made to the published version of Poincaré’s six talks, with a focus on two of them, concerning the propagation of Hertzian waves, and the theory of relativity.

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Scott A. Walter
Nantes University

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