Mathematicians

Time line Photos Money Stamps Sketch Search

Ernst Witt

Birth date:

Birth place:

Date of death:

Place of death:

26 June 1911

Alsen (German Baltic island) (now Als, Denmark)

3 July 1991

Presentation Wikipedia
Ernst Witt was born on the island of Alsen. Alsen together with the rest of North Schleswig became part of Germany in 1864. The island and was returned to Denmark by plebiscite in 1920, nine years after Witt's birth there, and is now known as Als. The island is separated from the Sundeved peninsula of southern Jutland by a narrow piece of water called Als Sound.

Shortly after his birth Witt was taken to China where he was brought up. He returned to Europe when he was nine years old.

Witt studied at the universities of Freiburg and Göttingen. His doctorate was obtained from Göttingen where his doctoral studies were supervised by Emmy Noether . The topic proposed by Emmy Noether was on a topic assiciated to the Riemann -Roch theorem and this was indeed the topic on which his dissertation was written.

At Göttingen Witt joined Helmut Hasse 's seminar on congruence function fields and p-adic numbers. Oswald Teichmüller and Ludwig Schmid were also members of the seminar, and Schmid collaborated with Witt on ideas which would lead to the Witt vector calculus.

Emil Artin was not a Jew but his wife was a Jew so when the "New Official's Law" was passed by the Nazis in 1937 affecting those who were related to Jews by marriage he was forced from his post at the University of Hamburg. Artin left Germany for the United States. Witt was appointed to Artin 's post at Hamburg and he remained there until he retired in 1979.

Witt's work was mainly concerned with quadratic forms and various related fields such as algebraic function fields, Witt vectors, Lie rings and Mathieu groups. He is best known for his introduction of Witt vectors which appeared in his paper in 1936 in J. Reine Angew. Math. The original construction of Witt vectors is given in the articles and ( is a German translation of ).

The paper is written by I Kersten who was one of Witt's pupils at Hamburg.

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