Oswald Veblen

American mathematician

Oswald Veblen (24 June 188010 August 1960) was an American mathematician, geometer and topologist, whose work found application in atomic physics and the theory of relativity. He proved the Jordan curve theorem in 1905.


  • In instituting the Willard Gibbs Lectures, the American Mathematical Society has recognized the dual character of mathematics. On the one hand, mathematics is one of the essential emanations of the human spirit,—a thing to be valued in and for itself, like art or poetry. Gibbs made notable contributions to this side of mathematics in his work on vector analysis and multiple algebras.
    On the other hand, mathematics is the handmaiden and the helper of the other sciences, both in their most abstract generalizations and in their most concrete applications in industry.
  • The importance of the theory of differential invariants in physical problems is due to the fact that when coordinates are used to describe physical phenomena (e.g. those studied in geometry) it is usually the case that the coordinates are no part of the phenomena themselves. They are generally put into the description by the observer. Therefore it is desirable to have the description in such terms that when stated in terms of one coordinate system, it can be read off easily in terms of other systems. Such statements will employ invariants of one sort or another.

Quotes about Oswald Veblen


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