Elwin Bruno Christoffel

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Elwin Bruno Christoffel (November 10, 1829 – March 15, 1900) was a German mathematician and physicist. He introduced fundamental concepts of differential geometry, opening the way for the development of tensor calculus, which would later provide the mathematical basis for general relativity.

Quotes about Elwin Bruno Christoffel[edit]

  • It is difficult to compare a differential geometer with a function theorist, or those working on ordinary and partial differential equations with numerical analysts. Christoffel not only contributed to all these fields, but his interests extended to orthogonal polynomials and continued fractions, and the applications of his work to the foundations of tensor analysis, to geodetical science, to the theory of shock waves, to the dispersion of light. Nevertheless, it is widely recognised, at least in the German speaking countries of Europe, that Riemann was the best mathematician of the 19th century, behind Gauss and ahead of Weierstrass. In our opinion Christoffel's teacher Dirichlet, belongs to the next most important group of mathematicians which includes (in chronological order of birth) Jacobi, Kummer, Kronecker, Dedekind, Cantor and Klein. Christoffel himself should be placed in a second group following these. This second group, which may partly overlap with the former, would include such illustrious names as Möbius, von Staudt, Plücker, Heine, Du Bois-Reymond, Carl Neumann, Lipschitz, Fuchs, Schwarz, Hurwitz and Minkowski.
    • P L Butzer and F Fehér, A general evaluation of Christoffel, in P L Butzer and F Fehér (eds.), E B Christoffel: The influence of his work on mathematics and the physical sciences (Basel- Boston- Stuttgart, 1981), 750.

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