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Von Neumann in the United States

Part of the Science Networks. Historical Studies book series (SNHS, volume 38)

Abstract

In September 1928, von Neumann attended the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Bologna as a member of the German delegation. One of the most celebrated lecturers at the Bologna Congress was Oswald Veblen, a distinguished member of the United States mathematical community.73 The meeting with Veblen radically changed the course of von Neumann’s life, taking him definitively away from his native land towards new professional and personal horizons. Veblen, who was professor of mathematics at Princeton University, had distinguished himself for his contributions to the axiomatization of projective geometry. In addition to his scientific activity, throughout his life he engaged in an intense organizing and institutional activity in his country, which deeply influenced not only the development of American mathematics but also the professional career of many mathematicians. His efforts were aimed at making mathematical research in the United States independent and competitive at the international level by adequately boosting university teaching of the subject. This goal had been pursued in many other countries — including Hungary, as illustrated in Chapter 1 — in the wake of successful educational reforms introduced in nineteenth century Germany. The German reforms had led to establishment of a high quality network of secondary schools and an organization of engineering education that was the envy of the whole world. They had also attributed a leading role to the university, redefined in a modern sense as the place where new frontiers of knowledge were expanded thanks to free research and the training of young researchers.

Keywords

American Mathematical Society National Security Atomic Bomb Atomic Energy Commission Ballistic Missile 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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