Marcel Grossmann

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Marcel Grossmann
Marcel Grossmann.png
Born (1878-04-09)April 9, 1878
Died September 7, 1936(1936-09-07) (aged 58)
Fields Mathematics
Alma mater University of Zurich
Doctoral advisor Wilhelm Fiedler
Notable students Karl Merz

Marcel Grossmann (Hungarian: Grossmann Marcell, April 9, 1878 – September 7, 1936) was a mathematician and a friend and classmate of Albert Einstein. Grossmann was a member of an old Swiss family from Zurich. His father managed a textile factory. He became a Professor of Mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, today the ETH Zurich, specializing in descriptive geometry.


In 1900 Grossmann graduated from Zurich Polytechnikum and became an assistant to the geometer Wilhelm Fiedler. He continued to do research on non-Euclidean geometry and taught in high schools for the next seven years. In 1902, he earned his doctorate from the University of Zurich with the thesis On the Metrical Properties of Collinear Structures. In 1907, he was appointed full professor of descriptive geometry at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. It was Grossmann who emphasized the importance of a non-Euclidean geometry called Riemannian geometry (also elliptic geometry) to Einstein, which was a necessary step in the development of Einstein's general theory of relativity. Abraham Pais's book[1] on Einstein suggests that Grossman mentored Einstein in tensor theory as well. Grossmann introduced Einstein to the absolute differential calculus, started by Christoffel[2] and fully developed by Ricci-Curbastro and Levi-Civita.[3] Grossmann facilitated Einstein's unique synthesis of mathematical and theoretical physics in what is still today considered the most elegant and powerful theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity. The collaboration of Einstein and Grossmann led to a ground-breaking paper: "Outline of a Generalized Theory of Relativity and of a Theory of Gravitation", which was published in 1913 and was one of the two fundamental papers which established Einstein's theory of gravity.[4]

As a professor of geometry, Grossmann organized summer courses for high school teachers. In 1910, he became one of the founders of the Swiss Mathematical Society.

Grossmann died of multiple sclerosis in 1936. The community of relativists celebrates Grossmann's contributions to physics by organizing Marcel Grossman meetings every three years.


  1. ^ Pais, Abraham (1982). Subtle is the lord: the science and life of Albert Einstein. 
  2. ^ Christoffel, E.B. (1869), "Ueber die Transformation der homogenen Differentialausdrücke zweiten Grades", Jour. für die reine und angewandte Mathematik, B. 70: 46–70 
  3. ^ Ricci, Gregorio; Levi-Civita, Tullio (March 1900), "Méthodes de calcul différentiel absolu et leurs applications", Mathematische Annalen (Springer) 54 (1–2): 125–201, doi:10.1007/BF01454201 
  4. ^ Einstein, A.; Grossmann, M. (1913). Entwurf einer verallgemeinerten Relativitätstheorie und einer Theorie der Gravitation. pp. 225–261. 


  • Pais, Abraham (1982). Subtle is the lord: the science and life of Albert Einstein. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-853907-X. 
  • Einstein, A.; Grossmann, M. (1913). "Entwurf einer verallgemeinerten Relativitätstheorie und einer Theorie der Gravitation" [Outline of a Generalized Theory of Relativity and of a Theory of Gravitation]. Zeitschrift für Mathematik und Physik 62: 225–261.  English translate
  • Einstein, A.; Grossmann, M. (1914). "Kovarianzeigenschaften der Feldgleichungen der auf die verallgemeinerte Relativitätstheorie gegründeten Gravitationstheorie" [Covariance Properties of the Field Equations of the Theory of Gravitation Based on the Generalized Theory of Relativity]. Zeitschrift für Mathematik und Physik 63: 215–225. Bibcode:1914ZMP....63..215E. 

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