One of the most prominent mathematicians of the twentieth century, Abraham Robinson discovered and developed nonstandard analysis, a rigorous theory of infinitesimals that he used to unite mathematical logic with the larger body of historic and modern mathematics. In this first biography of Robinson, Joseph Dauben reveals the mathematician’s personal life to have been a dramatic one: developing his talents in spite of war and ethnic repression, Robinson personally confronted some of the worst political troubles of our times. With the skill and expertise familiar to readers of Dauben’s earlier works, the book combines an explanation of Robinson’s revolutionary achievements in pure and applied mathematics with a description of his odyssey from Hitler’s Germany to the United States via conflict-ridden Palestine and wartime Europe.
Robinson was born in Prussia in 1918. As a boy, he fled with his mother and brother Saul to Palestine. A decade later he narrowly escaped from Paris as the Germans invaded France. Having spent the rest of World War II in England, at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough, he began his teaching career at the Royal College of Aeronautics. Subsequently he moved to universities in Canada, Israel, and finally the United States. A joint appointment in mathematics and philosophy at UCLA led to a position at Yale University, where Robinson served as Sterling Professor of Mathematics until his untimely death at the age of fifty-five.
Originally published in 1995.
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Awards and Recognition
- Joseph Warren Dauben, Winner of the 2012 Albert Leon Whiteman Memorial Prize, American Mathematical Society