Márta Svéd

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Márta Svéd (1909/1910 – 30 September 2005) was a Hungarian mathematician who moved to Australia in the 1930s and became a teacher of mathematics at the University of Adelaide. She was 75 years old when she completed her PhD in 1985. She wrote the textbook Journey into Geometries (1991), and won the BH Neumann Award in 1994 for her contributions to mathematics learning in Australia.

Early life[edit]

Márta Svéd was in the same high school class in Budapest as Esther Klein.[1][2] She became interested in mathematics through Középiskolai Matematikai Lapok (KöMaL), a Hungarian magazine for high school mathematicians, and through its problem-solving column, where Paul Erdős was also a regular solver.[2][3]

She took third place in her year's offering of the Hungarian national high school mathematics competition, ahead of Pál Turán but behind her future husband, civil engineer George Svéd.[2] Due to the restrictions placed on Jews in Hungary in the late 1920s, only two students from their class could study science or mathematics at the university in Budapest; Márta took the mathematics position, and Klein studied physics instead.[1]

Later life[edit]

Svéd and her husband moved to Australia in 1939 and had one son and one daughter. She became the head of the mathematics department at Wilderness School, a private Adelaide high school for girls, and in the same year helped found Australia's first high school mathematics magazine.[2]

Her old friend Klein, meanwhile, had married mathematician George Szekeres and escaped Europe for Shanghai; after World War II, the Szekeres and Svéd families shared a small apartment in Adelaide.[1]

Svéd died on 30 September 2005, two days after the death of her friends, George and Esther Szekeres, who died within an hour of each other.[4][5] She was interred at Centennial Park Cemetery, Pasadena, Mitcham City, South Australia.[6]


She developed an algorithm for the process of recreating 3D nylon models of patient’s skulls from CT scans. These have been used for many years by surgeons at the world-leading Australian Craniofacial Unit in Adelaide to plan complex surgery on babies and children disfigured by craniofacial anomalies. https://ggstem.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/marta-sved/

In 1985, Svéd completed a PhD at the University of Adelaide, at age 75.[2][7] Her dissertation, On finite linear and Baer structures, concerned finite geometry, and was supervised by Rey Casse.[2][7] Her 1991 book, Journey into Geometries (MAA Spectrum), has been described by reviewer David A. Thomas as an "Alice-in-Wonderland-type journey into non-Euclidean geometry", written in a conversational style.[8]

Svéd's posthumously-published book Two Lives and a Bonus (Peacock Publications, 2006) documents her early life in Budapest.[4]

Awards and honours[edit]

Svéd won the BH Neumann Award of the Australian Mathematics Trust in 1994. The award citation credited her in particular for the flourishing of mathematics competitions in Australia and the success of Australia in international mathematics competitions.[2]

The University of Adelaide offers a scholarship for women mathematicians named in memory of Svéd.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Cowling, Michael (7 November 2005), "A world of teaching and numbers – times two", The Sydney Morning Herald (obituary of George and Esther Szekeres)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g BH Neumann Award citation, Australian Mathematics Trust, retrieved 6 April 2018
  3. ^ Schechter, Bruce (2000), My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdős, Simon and Schuster, p. 55, ISBN 9780684859804
  4. ^ a b George Sved (1910–1994) & Marta Sved (1911?– 2005) Papers 1937–1995, University of Adelaide Rare Books & Special Collections, retrieved 6 April 2018
  5. ^ Bulletin of the Institute of Combinatorics and Its Applications, Volumes 46–48, 2006, p. 4, We regret to announce the loss of our three senior ICA members in Australia. George and Esther Szekeres died within an hour of one another, and Marta Sved died two days later. All were in their mid-nineties.
  6. ^ "Marta Sved profile". findagrave.com. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b Márta Svéd at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  8. ^ Reviews of Journey into Geometries:
    • Thomas, David A. (November 1992), The Mathematics Teacher, 85 (8): 690, JSTOR 27967867CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Fenton, William E. (April 1993), The American Mathematical Monthly, 100 (4): 411–13, doi:10.2307/2324983, JSTOR 2324983CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Guggenheimer, H. W. (1993), Mathematical Reviews, MR 1140007CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  9. ^ Marta Sved Scholarship (PDF), University of Adelaide, retrieved 6 April 2018