Biography of Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Phillip Cantor

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  • Topic: Georg Cantor, Set theory, Real number
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History of Mathematics Portfolio
Standard 1
Discrete Mathematics
Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Phillip Cantor (1845 – 1918)
…the transfinite species are just as much at the disposal of the intentions of the Creator and His absolute boundless will as the finite numbers. Georg Cantor

Georg Cantor was born on March 3, 1845 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Georg lived in the city until age eleven, when his father became sick and the family moved to Germany to get away from the bitter winters in Russia. Throughout his youth, Georg played the violin and showed great talent, a talent he inherited from his musical parents. Georg graduated in 1860 from Realschule in Darmstadt. He was given praise for his outstanding skills in mathematics, especially trigonometry. He continued his studies at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, where he stayed until his father’s death in 1863. At this time, he was given a considerable inheritance, and decided to transfer his studies to the University of Berlin. While at the University, Georg attended lectures by prominent mathematicians such as Leopold Kronecker, Karl Weierstrass, and Ernst Kummer. In the summer of 1966, Georg attended the University of Gottingen, which was and still is an important mathematical research center. He received his Ph.D. in 1867 for his thesis on number theory, De aequationibus secundi gradus indeterminatis. After receiving his Ph. D., Georg began working at an all-girls’ school in Berlin. He quickly left this position to take up another one at the University of Halle, where he remained for the rest of his career.

In 1874, after Georg’s career began, he met and married Vally Guttmann. Between 1874 and 1886, Georg and Vally had six children. Thanks to his father’s inheritance he was able to care and provide for such a large family while making a modest salary in academia.

The decade of 1874 to 1884 proved to be Georg’s finest mathematical time. It was during...
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