Birkhoff, George David

Birkhoff, George David, 1884–1944, American mathematician, b. Overisel, Mich. father of Garrett Birkhoff. The son of a physician, he was educated at Harvard (B.A., 1905) and the Univ. of Chicago (Ph.D., 1907) After teaching shortly at Chicago and Princeton, he joined the faculty at Harvard (1912) where he taught until his death. Birkhoff, perhaps the first American mathematician of international repute, is known for his work on linear differential equations and difference equations. He was also deeply interested in and made contributions to the analysis of dynamical systems, celestial mechanics, the four-color map problem, and function spaces. In addition he wrote on the foundations of relativity and quantum mechanics and on art and music, e.g., Aesthetic Measure (1933).

See his Collected Mathematical Papers (3 vol., 1950).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Mathematics: Biographies

Browse By Subject