Rudolf Lipschitz

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Rudolf Lipschitz
Rudolf Lipschitz
Born(1832-05-14)14 May 1832
Died7 October 1903(1903-10-07) (aged 71)
Alma materUniversity of Königsberg
Known forLipschitz continuity
Lipschitz integral condition
Lipschitz quaternion
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Bonn
Doctoral advisorGustav Dirichlet
Martin Ohm
Doctoral studentsFelix Klein

Rudolf Otto Sigismund Lipschitz (14 May 1832 – 7 October 1903) was a German mathematician who made contributions to mathematical analysis (where he gave his name to the Lipschitz continuity condition) and differential geometry, as well as number theory, algebras with involution and classical mechanics.


Rudolf Lipschitz was born on 14 May 1832 in Königsberg. He was the son of a landowner and was raised at his father's estate at Bönkein which was near Königsberg.[1] He entered the University of Königsberg when he was 15, but later moved to the University of Berlin where he studied with Gustav Dirichlet. Despite having his studies delayed by illness, in 1853 Lipschitz graduated with a PhD in Berlin.[2]

After receiving his PhD, Lipschitz started teaching at local Gymnasiums. In 1857 he married Ida Pascha, the daughter of one of the landowners with an estate near to his father's.[1] In 1857 he earned his habilitation at the University of Bonn and remained there as a privatdozent. In 1862 Lipschitz became an extraordinary professor at the University of Breslau where he spent the following two years. In 1864 Lipschitz moved back to Bonn as a full professor. He was the first Jewish full professor at Bonn University. He was appointed Bonn's first chair of Mathematics in 1869.[3] He remained there for the rest of his career. Here he examined the dissertation of Felix Klein. Lipschitz died on 7 October 1903 in Bonn.[4]

Rediscovery of Clifford algebra[edit]

Lipschitz discovered Clifford algebras in 1880,[5][6] two years after William K. Clifford (1845–1879) and independently of him, and he was the first to use them in the study of orthogonal transformations. Up to 1950, people mentioned "Clifford–Lipschitz numbers" when they referred to this discovery of Lipschitz.[citation needed] Yet Lipschitz's name suddenly disappeared from the publications involving Clifford algebras; for instance Claude Chevalley (1909–1984)[7] gave the name "Clifford group" to an object that is never mentioned in Clifford's works, but stems from Lipschitz's. Pertti Lounesto (1945–2002) contributed greatly to recalling the importance of Lipschitz's role.[8][9]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Lehrbuch der Analysis (two volumes, Bonn 1877, 1880);
  • Wissenschaft und Staat (Bonn, 1874);
  • Untersuchungen über die Summen von Quadraten (Bonn, 1886);
  • Bedeutung der theoretischen Mechanik (Berlin, 1876).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rudolf Lipschitz - Biography".
  2. ^ McElroy, Tucker (2009). A to Z of Mathematicians. Infobase Publishing. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-438-10921-3.
  3. ^ Purkert, Walter (2012). Bonn. In: Bergmann, B., Epple, M., Ungar, R. (eds) Transcending Tradition. Springer. pp. 88–113. ISBN 978-3-642-22464-5.
  4. ^ Chang, Sooyoung (2011). Academic Genealogy of Mathematicians. World Scientific. p. 27. ISBN 978-9-814-28229-1.
  5. ^ R. Lipschitz (1880). "Principes d'un calcul algébrique qui contient comme espèces particulières le calcul des quantités imaginaires et des quaternions". C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris. 91: 619–621, 660–664.
  6. ^ R. Lipschitz (signed) (1959). "Correspondence". Ann. of Math. 69 (1): 247–251. doi:10.2307/1970102. JSTOR 1970102.
  7. ^ Chevalley, Claude (1997). The Algebraic Theory of Spinors and Clifford Algebras (Collected Works Vol. 2 ed.). Springer-Verlag. pp. 48, 113. ISBN 978-3-540-57063-9.
  8. ^ Lounesto, Pertti (1997). Clifford Algebras and Spinors. Cambridge University Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-521-59916-0.
  9. ^ Jacques Helmstetter, Artibano Micali: Quadratic Mappings and Clifford Algebras, Birkhäuser, 2008, ISBN 978-3-7643-8605-4 Introduction, p. ix ff.

External links[edit]

Media related to Rudolf Lipschitz at Wikimedia Commons