History of Mathematics in Bonn

Mathematics is taught in Bonn since the beginning of the 19th century.

Felix Hausdorff
Felix Hausdorff
Rudolph Lipschitz
Julius Plücker
Felix Klein
Felix Klein
Julius Plücker
Rudolph Lipschitz

The Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University Bonn was founded by the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1818. From the very beginning there were two chairs for mathematics whereby the second also included physics and astronomy.

Julius Plücker was the first professor for mathematics in Bonn and at times he held both chairs simultaneously. From 1856 on he focused on the physics orientated chair.

In 1866, at the age of 17, Felix Klein, the future great Göttingen mathematician, became Plücker’s assistant.

Rudolph Lipschitz, who was Plücker’s successor on the mathematics chair, was Felix Klein’s local examiner, after Plücker had died in 1868.

Plücker, Lipschitz and Klein worked together in Bonn from 1866 to 1868.

Plücker’s successors were Otto Toeplitz and Felix Hausdorff, both outstanding and internationally highly esteemed mathematicians and both Jewish. Toeplitz was appointed professor in 1928, Hausdorff in 1921 already. Both were forced to retire in 1935. Hausdorff, his wife and her sister committed suicide in 1942 shortly before their deportation to a concentration camp.

You can find out more about the history of mathematics in Bonn and the university in general during a pleasant stay at the university museum.