Verena Huber-Dyson

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Verena Huber-Dyson
Verena Huber-Dyson (cropped).jpg
Verena Esther Huber

(1923-05-06)May 6, 1923
Naples, Italy
DiedMarch 12, 2016(2016-03-12) (aged 92)[1]
Other namesVerena Huber, Verena Haefeli
CitizenshipSwiss, United States, Canada
EducationUniversity of Zürich
Scientific career
FieldsLogic, algebra
ThesisEin Dualismus als Klassifikationsprinzip in der abstrakten Gruppentheorie (1947)
Doctoral advisorAndreas Speiser

Verena Esther Huber-Dyson (May 6, 1923 – March 12, 2016) was a Swiss-American mathematician, known for work in group theory and formal logic.[1][2] She has been described as a "brilliant mathematician",[2] and did research on the interface between algebra and logic, focusing on undecidability in group theory. At the time of her death, she was emeritus faculty in the philosophy department of the University of Calgary, Alberta.

Life and career[edit]

Family and early life[edit]

Huber-Dyson was born Verena Esther Huber in Naples, Italy, on May 6, 1923. Her parents, Karl (Charles) Huber (1893–1946) and Berthy Ryffel (1899–1945), were Swiss nationals[3] who raised Verena and her sister Adelheid ("Heidi", 1925–1987) in Athens, Greece, where the girls attended the German-speaking Deutsche Schule, or German School of Athens, until forced to return to Switzerland in 1940 by the war.

Charles Huber, who had managed the Middle Eastern operations of Bühler AG, a Swiss food-process engineering firm, began working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), monitoring the treatment of prisoners of war in internment camps. As the ICRC delegate to India and Ceylon, he was responsible for Italian prisoners held in British camps, but also visited German and Allied camps in Europe, and in 1945-46 served as an ICRC delegate to the United States, which he described to Verena as a place she "definitely ought to experience at length and in depth but just as definitely ought not to settle in."[1]

She studied mathematics, with minors in physics and philosophy, at the University of Zurich, where she obtained her Ph.D. in mathematics in 1947 with a thesis in finite group theory.[4][5][6] under the supervision of Andreas Speiser.


External image
Verena Huber-Dyson
image icon New Jersey, 1949,[7]

Verena married Hans-Georg Haefeli, a fellow mathematician, in 1942, and was divorced in 1948. Her first daughter, Katarina Haefeli (now Halm), was born in 1945.[3][8]

She subsequently married Freeman Dyson in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on August 11, 1950.[5] They had two children together, Esther Dyson (born July 14, 1951, in Zurich) and George Dyson (born 1953, Ithaca, New York),[2][5] and divorced in 1958.[8]


Huber-Dyson accepted a postdoctoral fellow appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1948,[9] where she worked on group theory and formal logic.[10][8] She also began teaching at Goucher College near Baltimore during this time.[10]

She moved to California with her daughter Katarina, began teaching at San Jose State University in 1959, and then joined Alfred Tarski's Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science at the University of California, Berkeley.[8][11]

Huber-Dyson taught at San Jose State University, the University of Zürich, Monash University, as well as at University of California, Berkeley, Adelphi University, University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, in mathematics and in philosophy departments. She accepted a position in the philosophy department of the University of Calgary in 1973, becoming emerita in 1988.[12]

Academic affiliations prior to June 1968[edit]

Academic affiliations after September 1968[edit]

  • Department of Mathematics, University of Illinois at Chicago (September 1968 – June 1971) tenure-track Assistant Professor
  • Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary (September 1971 –June 1972) nontenure-track
  • Department of Mathematics, University of Illinois at Chicago (September 1972 – June 1973) tenured Associate Professor
  • Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary (September 1973 – June 1975) tenure-track Assistant Professor
  • Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary (September 1977 – June 1981) tenured Associate Professor.
  • Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary (September 1981 – June 1988) Full Professor
  • Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary (September 1988 – March 2016) Emerita Professor

Activities while at Calgary[edit]

  • Taught graduate courses on foundations of mathematics and the philosophy and methodology of the sciences
  • Began work on the monograph, Gödel's theorems: a workbook on formalization[13]

Non-academic employment[edit]

Later life[edit]

External image
Verena Huber-Dyson
image icon Later life,[14]

After retiring from Calgary, Verena Huber-Dyson moved back to South Pender Island in British Columbia, where she lived for 14 years.[15][16] She died on March 12, 2016 in Bellingham, Washington, at the age of 92.[1][7]

Selected publications[edit]

"There is more to truth than can be caught by proof".


  • Haefeli-Huber, Verena Esther (1948). Ein Dualismus als Klassifikationsprinzip in der abstrakten Gruppentheorie [A dualism as a classification principle in abstract group theory] (PhD) (in German). Zurich University. OCLC 2277810.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Roggenkamp, Klaus W.; Huber-Dyson, Verena (1970). Lattices over Orders I. Lecture Notes in Mathematics (No 115). Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/BFb0068796. ISBN 978-3-540-04904-3.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1991). Gödel's theorems: a workbook on formalization. 122 in Teubner-Texte zur Mathematik. B.G. Teubner Verlagsgesellschaft. ISBN 978-3-8154-2023-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)


External image
Verena Huber-Dyson
image icon July 28, 2006[17]
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena; Kreisel, Georg (1961). "Analysis of Beth's Semantic Construction of Intuitionistic Logic". Stanford Research Report. 3.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1964). "On the Decision Problem for Theories of Finite Models". Israel Journal of Mathematics. 2 (1): 55–70. doi:10.1007/bf02759735.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1965). "Strong representability of Number-Theoretic Functions". Hughes Aircraft Report.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1969). "On the Decision Problem for Extensions of a Decidable Theory". Fundamenta Mathematicae. 64.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1974). "A Family of Groups with Nice Word Problems". Journal of the Australian Mathematical Society. 17.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1977). "Talking about Free Groups in Naturally Enriched Languages". Communications in Algebra. 5 (11).
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1979). "An Inductive Theory for Free Products of Groups". Algebra Universalis. 9.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1981). "A Reduction of the Open Sentence Problem for Finite Groups". Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society. 13 (4): 331–338. doi:10.1112/blms/13.4.331.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1982). "Symmetric Groups and the Open Sentence Problem". Patras Logic Symposium. North-Holland.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1982). "Finiteness Conditions and the Word Problem". Groups St. Andrews 1981. LMS Lecture Notes. 71.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena; Jones, James Parks; Shepherdson, John Cedric (1982). "Some Diophantine Forms of Gödel's Theorem". Archiv für Mathematische Logik. 22.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1982). "Decision Problems in Group Theory". Recent Trends in Mathematics, Reinhardsbrunn 1982. Teubner Texte zur Mathematik. 50.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1984). "HNN-constructing Finite Groups". Groups Korea 1983. Springer Lecture Notes in Mathematics. 1098.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1981). "Critical Notice on Gödel, Escher, Bach by D.R. Hofstadter". Canadian Journal of Philosophy. 11 (4).
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (1996). "Thoughts on the Occasion of Kreisel's 70th Birthday". In Odifreddi (ed.). Kreiseliana, about and around George Kreisel. AK Peters.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (June 1996). "Shrieks and Shadows Over the Notices" (PDF). Notices of the AMS. 43 (6): 653. Retrieved 2 November 2020.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (15 February 1998). "On The Nature Of Mathematical Concepts: Why And How Do Mathematicians Jump To Conclusions?". Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (27 July 2005). "Gödel And The Nature Of Mathematical Truth II". Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  • Huber-Dyson, Verena (13 May 2006). "Gödel in a Nutshell". Retrieved 2 November 2020.




  1. ^ a b c d "Obituary of Verena Huber-Dyson". Moles Farewell Tributes. 12 March 2016. Archived from the original on 2020-02-26. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  2. ^ a b c Dawidoff 2009.
  3. ^ a b Schewe 2013, p. 52.
  4. ^ Haefeli-Huber 1948.
  5. ^ a b c O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Freeman Dyson", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
  6. ^ Verena Huber-Dyson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  7. ^ a b c Brockman 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d Feferman & Feferman 2004, pp. 272-276.
  9. ^ "A Community of Scholars". Institute for Advanced Study. Archived from the original on 2013-01-07. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Schewe 2013, p. 72.
  11. ^ Huber-Dyson 2006.
  12. ^ Schewe 2013.
  13. ^ Huber-Dyson 1991.
  14. ^ Sherman 2009.
  15. ^ Huber-Dyson 1996a, p. 653.
  16. ^ Brooks 2002, p. 20.
  17. ^ Verena Huber-Dyson on Flickr