Egbert van Kampen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Egbert Rudolf van Kampen
KampenEgbertRudolfVan Moscow1935.tif
Egbert van Kampen at a Topological congress in Moscow 1935
Born(1908-05-28)May 28, 1908
Berchem, Belgium
DiedFebruary 11, 1942(1942-02-11) (aged 33)
Baltimore, United States
Cause of deathCancer
Alma materLeiden University
Known forSeifert–van Kampen theorem
Scientific career
ThesisDie kombinatorische Topologie und die Dualitätssätze (1929)
Doctoral advisorWillem van der Woude

Egbert Rudolf van Kampen (28 May 1908, Berchem, Belgium – 11 February 1942, Baltimore, Maryland) was a Dutch mathematician. He made important contributions to topology, especially to the study of fundamental groups.


Van Kampen received his Ph.D. degree from Leiden University in 1929. His dissertation, entitled Die kombinatorische Topologie und die Dualitaetssaetze, was written under the direction of Willem van der Woude.

In 1931 van Kampen left Europe and travelled to the United States to take up the position which he had been offered at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. There he met Oscar Zariski who had taught at Johns Hopkins University as a Johnston Scholar from 1927 until 1929 when he had joined the Faculty. Zariski had been working on the fundamental group of the complement of an algebraic curve, and he had found generators and relations for the fundamental group but was unable to show that he had found sufficient relations to give a presentation for the group. Van Kampen solved the problem, showing that Zariski's relations were sufficient, and the result is now known as the Zariski–van Kampen theorem. This led van Kampen to formulate and prove what is nowadays known as the Seifert–van Kampen theorem.

By 1941, his health had deteriorated; he died of cancer the following year.

External links[edit]

  • O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Egbert van Kampen", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.