Quick Facts

Nationality: German

Died At Age: 53

Sun Sign: Aries

Born in: Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany

Famous as: Mathematician

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Born on March 23, 1882 in Bavaria Germany, Amalie Emmy Noether made several contributions in the field of Mathematics. She is best known for her study in chain conditions on ideals of rings. Her works on group theory, number theory, group representations, algebra and ring theory are greatly recognized worldwide. She received her Ph. D in Mathematics from the University of Erlangen. She worked at the University of Göttingen, Germany, for a significant part of her life. When the Nazis took control over the German Government she was forced to leave Germany. She then moved to U.S to work as a guest lecturer at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she served tenure till her death in 1935. Over 40 papers were published during her lifetime. Her charismatic style of teachings inspired many students to work on Mathematics. Noether had to struggle all her life to pursue a career in Mathematics. Read on to know more about this skilled mathematician.

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Amalie Emmy Noether was born on March 23, 1882 in Bavaria Germany. She was the daughter of Max Noether, a mathematics professor. She was not allowed to attend regular college preparatory schools and hence, she attended a ‘finishing school’. She specialized in French and English. Young Noether loved to cook and played the clavier as well.

Noether graduated from Höhere Töchter Schule in Erlangen. In 1900, she passed the examinations of the State of Bavaria that certified her to teach English and French at schools for women. Soon after becoming a language teacher, Noether decided to pursue Mathematics, which was then considered as a challenging path for a woman. She took Mathematics classes for two years from the University of Erlangen after obtaining permission from the German professors. After passing the matriculation exam in Nürnberg in 1903, Noether joined the University of Göttingen. She attended lectures of leading mathematicians like Minkowski, Hilbert, Blumenthal and Klien. She then joined the University of Erlangen for her Doctorate degree and in 1907 she was awarded a Ph. D in Mathematics.

From 1908 to 1915, she worked at the Mathematical Institute of Erlangen without pay, and piloted her researches there. Felix Klien and David Hilbert invited Noether to join the mathematics department at the University of Göttingen in 1915. Although she was criticized by many for working at the University, she lectured students for four years under Hilbert’s name. She was given the title ‘Privatdozent’, which permitted her to lecture in 1919, but she was still not paid. In 1922, Noether became an associate professor receiving a menial salary for her service.

Despite her brilliant works and knowledge, she was not given the status of a professor as she was a woman, a Jew and a social democrat. During the years 1928 to 1929, Noether became a guest lecturer at the University of Moscow. She taught at the University of Frankfurt in 1930. In 1932, she gave a lecture in Zurich at the International Mathematical Congress. She was a member of the Göttingen mathematics department till 1933. When Nazis took over, she was unable to continue her profession in Germany and so, in 1933, she moved to the U.S and taught at the Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania as a guest professor. She was paid a full salary here and was accepted as a proper faculty member. She also taught at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton.

Noether published several papers while she was working at the Mathematical Institute of Erlangen. She began her research on theoretical algebra and collaborated with Algebraist, Ernst Otto Fischer, for her works. She also teamed with Felix Klein and David Hilbert to work on Einstein’s general relativity theory.

Noether’s work was divided into 3 epochs. The first epoch was between 1907-1919, in which she devoted her time in the field of algebraic invariant theory, Galois Theory and Physics. Noether proved two theorems that were important for elementary particle physics and general relativity. One of her theorems known as ‘Noether’s Theorem’ is one of the most significant contributions in the development of modern physics.

In the second epoch from 1920-1926, she concentrated on the theory of mathematical rings. She developed the abstract and conceptual approach to algebra, which resulted in several principles unifying topology, logic, geometry, algebra and linear algebra. Her works were a breakthrough in abstract algebra. Her study based on chain conditions on the ideals of commutative rings were honored by many mathematicians all over the world. Her paper ‘Idealtheorie in Ringbereichen’ or ‘Theory of Ideals in Ring Domains’, published 1921, became the foundation for commutative ring theory. The ‘Noetherian rings’ and ‘Noetherian ideals’ formed part of her mathematical contributions. Her insights and ideas in topology had a great impact in the field of Mathematics.

The third epoch began from 1927-1935, where non-commutative algebras, representation theory, hyper-complex numbers and linear transformations became the primary focus of her study. Noether was awarded the Ackermann-Teubner Memorial Prize in Mathematics in 1932.

Noether never married as she was passionate only about Mathematics. She had many friends who were colleagues and fellow mathematicians. Her closest friend was Anna Pell Wheeler, a fellow colleague and Mathematician at Bryn Mawr College. Hermann Weyl was also a dear friend of hers at Bryn Mawr College. At a point in her life, Noether was diagnosed with an illness which she spoke of only to her closest friends.

Noether had undergone surgery to remove a uterine tumor, but she died of a post-operative infection in 1935. She was fondly loved and respected by her students. The University of Erlangen honored her after World War II ended. A co-ed gymnasium, dedicated to Mathematics was named after her in Erlangen. Noether’s ashes were buried near the Bryn Mawr’s Library. Her legacy in the field of mathematics will always be remembered.

EMMY NOETHER TIMELINE

1882:

Noether was born on 23 March.

1900:

She taught English and French and attended Mathematics classes from the University of Erlangen.

1903:

She joined the University of Göttingen.

1907:

She received her Doctorate degree in Mathematics from University of Erlangen.

1915:

She joined the Mathematics department at the University of Göttingen.

1921:

She published ‘Theory of Ideals in Ring Domains’.

1932:

She was awarded the Ackermann-Teubner Memorial Prize in Mathematics.

1933:

She became a guest professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, U.S.

1935:

Noether died on 14 April, from the complications that followed a uterine surgery.

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