Emmy Noether

Honored by:The Mathematics Department
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Emmy Noether (1882-1935) is known for her work in abstract algebra and algebraic geometry. She studied the invariants of biquadratic forms rings with finite bases and the theory of ideals. Rings and modules that satisfy the ascending chain condition are now called "Noetherian" in her honor. The great David Hilbert tried to have Emmy Noether become a Privatdozent at the University of Gottingen around 1915. The Philosophical Faculty, however, objected to having a woman as Privatdozent. They argued "Having become a Privatdozent she can then become a professor and a member of the University Senate. Is it permitted that a woman enter the Senate?" "What will our soldiers think when they return to the University and find that they are expected to learn at the feet of a woman?"* Hilbert argued back: "Meine Herren, I do not see that the sex of the candidate is an argument against her admission as a Privatdozent. After all the Senate is not a bath-house." Hilbert did not obtain the required approval. Instead, lectures were announced under his name but were actually presented by Emmy Noether. In 1919, Noether was finally admitted as an academic lecturer. In 1933, the Nazis forbade her to take part in academic activities. She came to the U.S. as a professor of mathematics at Bryn Mawr College and a visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton New Jersey.

*Constance Reid Hilbert. Springer-Verlag NY 1970. p. 143.


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