Joseph Ehrenfried Hofmann

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Hofmann (left) in Oberwolfach

Joseph Ehrenfried Hofmann (* 7 March 1900 in Munich, † 7 May 1973 in Günzburg ) was a German historian of mathematics, known for his research on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

Life and Work[edit]

After graduating from high school in 1919 at the Wilhelm Gymnasium in Munich, Hofmann studied in Munich (Ph.D., 1927, Walther von Dyck and George Faber ) and was briefly an assistant in Munich and Darmstadt, before he went into the teaching profession (in Gunzburg, Nördlingen). As a student he was drawn to the history of mathematics, after Faber him for publishing the works of Euler heranzog. A big influence was Henry Wieleitner, with whom he published several works on the history of calculus. As a school teacher, he continued his historical studies. In 1939 he habilitated in the history of mathematics at the University of Berlin. 1940 to 1945 he was entrusted with the Leibniz edition of the Berlin Academy of Sciences. 1947 until his retirement in 1963 he was again high school teacher in Gunzburg. He also had (in part-time) professor of the History of Mathematics at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen (honorary professorship in 1950) and the Technical University of Karlsruhe . He organized regular symposia on the history of mathematics at the Mathematical Research Institute in Oberwolfach, where he worked right after the war. Hofmann was considered an expert in the development of calculus by Leibniz, whose time in Paris he studied carefully and so significantly to the Enlightenment (or reassurance) of long in the history of mathematics echoing priority dispute between Leibniz and Isaac Newton contributed to the invention of calculus. He was co-editor of the works of Leibniz, and others of Nicholas of Cusa, Johann Bernoulli (and other reprint editions of her work in publishing and Georg Olms, Hildesheim, such as mathematics history of Abraham Gotthelf Kästner ). He also worked on number theory by Leonhard Euler and Pierre de Fermat . He discovered including some new works of Fermat (published 1943). He died after he drove off a car on the morning walk.


  • Selected Writings, 2 vols, (Editor Christoph Scriba ), Olms, Hildesheim 1990

with Oskar Becker : History of Mathematics, Bonn, Atheneum Publishing, 1951 (derived from Hofmann Part 2 and 3)

  • History of Mathematics, 3 volumes, de Gruyter, collection Goschen 1953-1957 (Part 1: From the beginnings to the emergence of Fermat and Descartes, 1953, Part 2: From Fermat and Descartes to the invention of calculus and to the development of new Methods, 2nd edition 1963, Part 3: From the debate over the calculus until the French Revolution, 1957, with detailed bibliography). His history of mathematics has also been translated into Spanish, French and English ( Classical Mathematics, New York, Philosophical Library, 1960, The History of Mathematics, New York, Philosophical Library 1957)
  • Leibniz in Paris 1672-1676 - his growth to mathematical maturity, Cambridge University Press, 1974
  • The evolution of Leibniz's Mathematics, Munich, and Leibniz-Verlag, 1949, English edition of Leibniz in Paris 1672-1676: His growth to mathematical maturity, 1974
  • Nicholas Mercator, his life and work, preferably as a mathematician, Academy of Sciences in Mainz, Abh Math-Natural Sciences. Class 3, Volume, p 43-103, 1950
  • Frans von Schooten the Younger, Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden, Boethius, Volume 2, 1962
  • On Jacob Bernoulli's contributions to infinitesimal mathematics, L'Enseignement Mathématique, Series 2, Volume 2, 1956
  • Michael Stifel. Life, work and relevance to the mathematics of his time, Sudhoffs Archives, Supplement 9, Steiner Verlag 1968
  • Four decades in the struggle for mathematics and historical contexts, in Bernhard Sticker, Friedrich Klemm (ed.) ways of the History of Science, Wiesbaden 1969


  • Folkerts . Joseph Ehrenfried Hofmann †. Sudhoffs archive. Journal of the History of Science, Volume 57, Issue 3, 1973, p. 227-230 (with portrait).
  • Obituary Historia Mathematica, Vol.2, 1975, p. 147.
  • List of his writings: Joseph Ehrenfried Hofmann's 70th Birthday, casting notices from the mathematical seminar, Issue 90, 1971, ISSN 0373-8221, pp. 51–73.
  • Siegfried Gottwald, Hans-Joachim Illgauds, Karl-Heinz Schlote (ed.): Encyclopedia of important mathematicians . Bibliographical Institute, Leipzig, 1990, ISBN 3-323-00319-5 .
  • Joseph W. Dauben, Christoph J. Scriba (Eds.): Writing the history of mathematics. Its historical development . Birkhauser, Basel and others 2002, ISBN 3-7643-6167-0, ( Science Networks 27).