Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hermann Minkowski

Hermann Minkowski was born on June 22, 1864 in Aleksotas, Lithuania, then part of Poland and the Russian Empire. He was the third son of Lewin Minkowski, a Jewish merchant and his German wife Rachel. When Minkowski was 8 the family moved to Konigsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia) to escape persecution and where he attended gymnasium school and showed an ability for mathematics. Minkowski attended the University of Kongisberg starting in 1880. He went to the University of Berlin for a three terms and shared a the Grand Prix des Sciences Mathematiques from the Paris Academy of Sciences with English mathematician Henry J.S. Smith in 1881, when he was 18. Minkowski earned his doctorate in 1885.

After two years of obligatory military service in 1887 Minkowski was appointed privatdozent at the University of Bonn. In 1892 Minkowski became an asOsociate professor at Bonn. In 1894 Minkowski joined the faculty of Zurich Polytechnic, where one of his students was Albert Einstein. In 1902 Minkowski took a chair in mathematics which had been created especially for him at Gottingen University. Minkowski remained in Gottingen util his death.

Minkowski is most remembered for his work on geometry and space-time. In Euclidean geometry there are three dimensions, representing the three dimensions of space. Minkowski incorporated a fourth dimension representing time to the Euclidean system where time and space are interlinked together forming a whole four dimensional system. This four dimensional space is called Minkowski space-time and arises naturally when consequences of relativity are considered.

Minkowski died suddenly of appendicitis on January 12, 1909.


O'Connor, J.J. and Robertson, E.F.; "Hermann Minkowski"; MacTuror; Retrieved from:

Manhanti, Subodh; "Hermann Minkowski: Founder of Geometry of Numbers"; Dream 2047 Vol.14 (May 2012) p40-42

Hermann Mikowski Wikipedia Entry

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