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Rolf Herman Nevanlinna

Data de nastere:

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Data mortii:

Locul mortii:

22 Oct 1895

Joensuu, Finland

28 May 1980

Helsinki, Finland

Rolf Nevanlinna's interests at school were firstly classics, secondly mathematics. However he read Lindelöf 's Introduction to Higher Analysis before going to university and became an enthusiastic analyst for the whole of his life. ( Lindelöf was a cousin of Nevanlinna's father.)

Rolf entered Helsinki University in 1913. There he was inspired by Lindelöf 's teaching. He avoided military service since he was too light and continued his studies throughout the war years. His thesis was presented in 1919, and he applied the care and attention to detail in this which was to typify all his work.

University posts were not available in Finland in 1919 so Nevanlinna became a school teacher. In 1920 he received an invitation from Edmund Landau to go to Göttingen but he did not accept immediately. He became a lecturer at Helsinki University in 1922 but he did not give up school teaching until he was appointed professor at Helsinki in 1926. He remained there for the rest of his life except for extensive travels he made to many countries.

His first visit was to belatedly accept Landau 's invitation to go to Göttingen which he did in 1924. In addition to Landau he met Hilbert , Courant and Emmy Noether in Göttingen. Later visits included one to Paris where he met Hadamard , Montel and he also visited Bloch in a mental hospital.

Nevanlinna was offered Weyl 's chair when he left Zurich but refused. He continued to work at Helsinki, becoming rector there in 1941.

His most important work was on harmonic measure (which he invented). He also developed the theory of value distribution named after him. The main results of Nevanlinna theory appeared in a 100 page paper in 1925. This paper was described by Weyl as

one of the few great mathematical events of our century.

A full version of the theory appeared in a monograph in 1929. Another great piece of work was his invention of harmonic measure in 1936.

The article lists nearly 200 papers written by Nevanlinna. His working habits may explain this very high output of work. These are described in as follows:

Rolf never needed much sleep. In the late 1930's he used to rise at 4, join his family at 10 till lunch time, then work again till 7, and spend the evening with his family.

Since 1982, an award, the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize, is presented at the International Congress of Mathematicians. The one prize per congress is for young mathematicians dealing with the mathematical aspects of information science.

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