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Carl Ludwig Siegel (December 31, 1896 – April 4, 1981) was a mathematician specialising in number theory.


Siegel was born in Berlin, where he enrolled at the Humboldt University in Berlin in 1915 as a student in mathematics, astronomy, and physics. Amongst his teachers were Max Planck and Ferdinand Georg Frobenius, whose influence made the young Siegel abandon astronomy and turn towards number theory instead.

In 1917 he was drafted into the German Army. Since he refused military service, he was committed to a psychiatric institute. According to his own words, he withstood the experience only because of his support from Edmund Landau, whose father had a clinic in the neighborhood. After the end of World War I, he enrolled at the Georg-August University of Göttingen, studying under Edmund Landau, who was his doctoral thesis supervisor (Ph.D. in 1920). He stayed in Göttingen as a teaching and research assistant; many of his groundbreaking results were published during this period. In 1922, he was appointed professor at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität of Frankfurt am Main as the successor of Arthur Moritz Schönflies. Siegel, who was deeply opposed to Nazism, was a close friend of the docents Ernst Hellinger and Max Dehn and used his influence to help them. This attitude prevented Siegel's appointment as a successor to the chair of Constantin Carathéodory in Munich.[1] In Frankfurt he took part in a seminar with Dehn, Hellinger, Paul Epstein, and others in a seminar on the history of mathematics, which was conducted at the highest level. In the seminar they read only original sources. Siegel's reminiscences about the time before WWII are in an essay in his collected works.

In 1938, he returned to Göttingen before emigrating in 1940 via Norway to the United States, where he joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he had already spent a sabbatical in 1935. He returned to Göttingen only after World War II, when he accepted a post as professor in 1951, which he kept until his retirement in 1959.


Siegel's work on number theory and diophantine equations and celestial mechanics in particular won him numerous honours. In 1978, he was awarded the Wolf Prize in Mathematics, one of the most prestigious in the field.

Siegel's work spans analytic number theory; and his theorem on the finiteness of the integer points of curves, for genus > 1, is historically important as a major general result on diophantine equations, when the field was essentially undeveloped. He worked on L-functions, discovering the (presumed illusory) Siegel zero phenomenon. His work derived from the Hardy-Littlewood circle method on quadratic forms proved very influential on the later, adele group theories encompassing the use of theta-functions. The Siegel modular forms are recognised as part of the moduli theory of abelian varieties. In all this work the structural implications of analytic methods show through.

André Weil, without hesitation, named[2] Siegel as the greatest mathematician of the first half of the 20th century. In the early 1970s Weil gave a series of seminars on the history of number theory prior to the 20th century and he remarked that Siegel once told him that when the first person discovered the simplest case of Faulhaber's formula then, in Siegel's words, "Es gefiel dem lieben Gott." (It pleased the dear Lord.) Siegel was a profound student of the history of mathematics and put his studies to good use in such works as the Riemann-Siegel formula.


by Siegel:

* Gesammelte Werke, 3 Bände, Springer 1966
* with Jürgen Moser Lectures on Celestial mechanics, based upon the older work Vorlesungen über Himmelsmechanik, Springer
* On the history of the Frankfurt Mathematics Seminar, Mathematical Intelligencer Vol.1, 1978/9, No. 4
* Über einige Anwendungen diophantischer Approximationen, Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 1929 (sein Satz über Endlichkeit Lösungen ganzzahliger Gleichungen)
* Transzendente Zahlen, BI Hochschultaschenbuch 1967
* Vorlesungen über Funktionentheorie, 3 Bde. (auch in Bd.3 zu seinen Modulfunktionen, English translation "Topics in complex function theory“, 3 vols., Wiley)

about Siegel:

* Harold Davenport: Reminiscences on conversations with Carl Ludwig Siegel, Mathematical Intelligencer 1985, Nr.2
* Helmut Klingen, Helmut Rüssmann, Theodor Schneider: Carl Ludwig Siegel, Jahresbericht DMV, Bd.85, 1983(Zahlentheorie, Himmelsmechanik, Funktionentheorie)
* Serge Lang: Mordell's Review, Siegel's letter to Mordell, diophantine geometry and 20th century mathematics, Notices American Mathematical Society 1995, Heft 3, auch in Gazette des Mathematiciens 1995, [1]
* Jean Dieudonné: Article in Dictionary of Scientific Biography
* Eberhard Freitag: Siegelsche Modulfunktionen, Jahresbericht DMV, Bd.79, 1977, S.79-86
* Hel Braun: Eine Frau und die Mathematik 1933 - 1940, Springer 1990 (Reminiscence)
* Constance Reid: Hilbert, as well as Courant, Springer (The two biographies contain some information on Siegel.)
* Max Deuring: Carl Ludwig Siegel, 31. Dezember 1896 - 4. April 1981, Acta Arithmetica, Vol.45, 1985, pp.93-113, online and Publications list
* Goro Shimura: "1996 Steele Prizes" (with Shimura's reminiscences concerning C. L. Siegel), Notices of the AMS, Vol. 43, 1996, pp. 1343-7, pdf

See also

* Siegel's lemma
* Thue-Siegel-Roth theorem
* Brauer-Siegel theorem
* Siegel upper half-space
* Siegel-Weil formula
* Siegel modular form
* Smith–Minkowski–Siegel mass formula
* Riemann-Siegel theta function
* Riemann–Siegel formula


* O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Siegel, Carl", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews, .

1. ^ Freddy Litten: Die Carathéodory-Nachfolge in München (1938–1944)
2. ^ Krantz, Steven G. (2002). Mathematical Apocrypha. Mathematical Association of America. pp. 185–186. ISBN 0-88385-539-9.

External links

* Carl Ludwig Siegel at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
* Freddy Litten Die Carathéodory-Nachfolge in München 1938-1944
* 85. Band Heft 4 der DMV (mit 3 Arbeiten über Siegels Leben und Werk) (PDF-Datei; 6,77 MB)
* Siegel Approximation algebraischer Zahlen, Mathematische Zeitschrift, Bd.10, 1921, Dissertation
* Siegel „Additive Zahlentheorie in Zahlkörpern“, 1921, Jahresbericht DMV
* Webseite Uni Göttingen mit Biographie und Erläuterungen z. B. zur Klassenzahlformel


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