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Niels Nielsen

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2 Dec 1865

Orslev, Denmark

16 Sept 1931

Copenhagen, Denmark

Niels Nielsen's father was a farmer and the family were quite poor. Nielsen entered the University of Copenhagen in 1885 and graduated from there in 1891. In fact he had begun to teach in secondary schools in 1887 while still working for his degree at the University of Copenhagen and he continued teaching while working for his doctorate which was awarded in 1895.

He gave preparatory courses for the Polytechnic Institute beginning in 1900 and from 1903 until 1906 he was on the University Inspectorate for Secondary Schools.

Nielsen became a university teacher in 1905 and he succeeded Petersen as professor at Copenhagen in 1909. He wrote on special functions , particularly the gamma function , building on theory introduced by Jensen . His works were textbooks containing little original mathematics but they were well written texts with much skill in organising the material.

In 1917 he suffered a breakdown from which he never fully recovered. He turned to number theory and studied Bernoulli numbers and Fermat 's equation writing good textbooks on these topics.

He also wrote two books on the history of Danish mathematics and two books on the history of French mathematics.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland