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Stefan Bergman

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5 May 1895

Czestochowa, Poland

6 June 1977

Palo Alto, California, USA

Stefan Bergman entered Berlin University in 1921. He was influenced by von Mises at this time and for the rest of his career. He worked on potential theory applied to electrical engineering. Bergman used the theory of integral equations as developed by Schmidt and Hilbert .

Forced from his post in Berlin in 1933 (Bergman was Jewish) he went to Russia until 1937, then to Paris where he wrote an important monograph on complex analysis.

In 1939 Bergman went to the USA with von Mises as his sponsor. His first post was at Brown University then, in 1945, he joined von Mises in Harvard. However his stay in Harvard was a short one and he then moved to Stanford where he spent the rest of his career. He was most interested in research and seldom taught, in fact this made it difficult for him to get a post since he made it known that he required a no-teaching post.

Bergman is best known for his kernel function which he invented in 1922 while at Berlin University, now known as the Bergman kernel. He is also known for applications of the kernel function to conformal mappings . In fact he spent most of his life developing properties and applications of his kernel function, as well as those of its associated metric.

In 1974 Charles Fefferman found a deep application of Bergman's ideas to biholomorphic mappings and a conference on several complex variables, held in 1975, had Bergman's work as its main theme. Bergman attended the conference, clearly enjoying the central role of his work.

Krantz, writing about Bergman said:

Bergman was an extraordinarily kind and gentle man. He went out of his way to help many young people begin their careers, and he made great efforts on behalf of Polish Jews during the Nazi terror. He is remembered fondly by all who knew him.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland