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Theodor Reye

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20 June 1838

Ritzebüttel (near Cuxhaven), Germany

2 July 1919

Würzburg, Germany

Theodor Reye attended school in Hamburg. He then studied mechanical engineering and mathematical physics at Hannover, Zurich and Göttingen. He received a doctorate from Göttingen in 1861 for a thesis on gas dynamics. Reye presented his habilitation thesis to the University of Zurich and then became a lecturer there in 1863. He lectured there on mathematical physics until 1870.

From 1870 to 1872 Reye worked at Aachen, then he was appointed to a chair of geometry at Strasbourg. After he retired in 1909 he remained at Strasbourg until the start of World War I when he moved to Würzburg.

Reye's early interest in mathematical physics and meteorology turned to an interest in geometry even while he held the lectureship in mathematical physics at Zurich. The reason for his change of area was that he was led towards geometry by his work in mechanics. This led him to graphical statics and von Staudt 's work on geometry. He published a two volume work on synthetics geometry Geometrie der Lage in 1866 and 1868.

His work in geometry included a study of conics , quadrics and projective geometry . A configuration of 12 points, 12 planes and 16 lines which he published in 1878 is named after him. W Burau writes in :

Reye treated in detail the theory of conics and quadrics and of their linear systems... He was one of the leading geometers of his time, and he published a great deal on synthetic geometry.

It is not unreasonable to ask why Reye's work is not better known today. Part of the reason must be that some of Reye's work was later interpreted in the geometry set up by Corrado Segre , in particular it was interpreted in the setting of Segre manifolds . Reye's work on linear manifolds of projective plane pencils and of bundles on spheres went into the Segre manifold setting.

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