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Bernhard Riemann

German mathematician. Within his short life, he made great contributions to mathematics and physics. In his 1854 Lecture "On the Hypotheses which lie at the Foundations of Geometry", he developed differential geometry, drawing on Gauss's theory of curved surfaces (Riemann attended old Gauss's lectures in Goettingen). This shed much new light on the epistemological problems of geometry. For instance, the distinction between "intrinsic vs. extrinsic" features, invariance, or the notion of metric (as distinguished from coordinates) are expounded for laying new foundations of analytic geometry.

This was somehow too advanced for the physicists of his day, but 60 years later, Einstein utilized Riemann's geometry in order to construct his general relaivity theory. Riemann himself had the view of mathematics and physics which are closely intertwined with each other.


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Last modified Dec. 13, 2008. (c) Soshichi Uchii