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Leo Königsberger

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15 Oct 1837

Posen, Prussia (now Poznan, Poland)

15 Dec 1921

Heidelberg, Germany

Leo Königsberger came from a rich family, his father being a wealthy merchant. He was educated in Posen, Germany (now Poznan, Poland) and as a young man he became friendly with Lazarus Fuchs who was educated in the same town.

Königsberger, like his friend Fuchs , studied at the University of Berlin. In his first semester at the university, which was in the year 1857, he was taught by Weierstrass . In fact he attended Weierstrass 's lectures on the theory of elliptic functions (which was Weierstrass 's main research topic) and many years later published his account of these lectures. This was the first course that Weierstrass gave on elliptic functions and Königsberger's publication in 1917 was of considerable historical importance. Königsberger graduated from Berlin in 1860 and then spent the three years from 1861 to 1864 teaching mathematics and physics to the Berlin cadet corps.

In 1864 he obtained his first academic appointment as an extraordinary professor at the University of Greifswald. Five years later he was appointed to a chair of mathematics at Heidelberg then, in 1875 he moved to the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. After two years in Dresden Königsberger moved again, this time to the University of Vienna. He returned to Heidelberg in 1884, teaching there until he retired in 1914. So from an academic career spanning 50 years, despite the many moves, Königsberger spent 36 of these years at the University of Heidelberg.

As Burau writes in :

Königsberger was one of the most famous mathematicians of his time, member of many academies, and universally accepted. He contributed to many fields of mathematics, most notably to analysis and analytic mechanics.

His early work must have been influenced by Weierstrass 's lectures on elliptic functions, for this was the topic of much of his early research. He wrote an important text on elliptic functions in 1874 and another important textbook on hyperelliptic integrals four years later.

Much of Königsberger's work was on differential equations , influenced by Fuchs 's function theory (as we noted above he was a friend of Fuchs from his youth). His work on differential equations was influenced by Bunsen, Kirchhoff and Helmholtz , with whom he was close friends in Heidelberg, and he considered the differential equations of analytic mechanics.

Königsberger is also famed for his biography of Helmholtz (1902) and his biographical Festschrift for Jacobi (1904).

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