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Beniamino Segre

Birth date:

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16 Feb 1903

Turin, Italy

22 Oct 1977

Frascati, Italy

Presentation Wikipedia
Beniamino Segre's teachers at Turin University included Peano , Fano , Fubini and Corrado Segre (a not too close relative). Beniamino graduated from Turin in 1923 having written a dissertation on geometry. He was appointed to a post in Turin where he remained until 1926. After studying in Paris with Cartan for a year, Beniamino became Severi 's assistant in Rome.

By 1931 when he was appointed to the chair at Bologna he already had 40 publications in algebraic geometry , differential geometry , topology and differential equations . However he was of Jewish background and the Fascist Italian Government forced him out and he went to England.

After being interned as an alien in 1940 he was appointed to a teaching post in Manchester with Mordell in 1942. In 1946 he returned to Bologna succeeding Severi in Rome in 1950. His output of research papers on geometry and related topics reached nearly 300 not counting a long list of other publications.

Segre's contributions to geometry are many but, particularly in the latter part of his life, he is remembered for his study of geometries over fields other than the complex numbers. He gave a series of lectures in London in 1950 which were published as Arithmetical questions on algebraic varieties in 1951. Many questions were asked in these lectures about how the results would change if the ground field were different.

By 1955 Segre was concentrating on geometries over a finite field and was producing results which we would now class as combinatorics rather than geometry. He collected many major results into a 100 page paper Le geometrie di Galois (1959) and a further 200 page paper in 1965 was devoted to the case where the order of the ground field is a perfect square.

In it is recounted how many of Segre's publications came from answering questions arising from lectures he attended. Some anecdotes are recounted in about Segre's participation in lectures of others:

... a lecture by Hodge in Oxford ... ended with Segre and another member of the audience occupying opposite ends of the blackboard and holding forth quite independently. ... a lecture by Severi in Harvard ... was constantly interrupted by Lefschetz in strong disagreement: the situation developed with Segre at the blackboard, firmly explaining what he thought was the resolution of the difference, while Severi and Lefschetz continued to shout each other down in French.

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