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The Princeton Companion to Mathematics by Imre Leader, June Barrow-Green, Timothy Gowers

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VI.63 David Hilbert

b. Königsberg, Germany, 1862; d. Göttingen, Germany, 1943Invariant theory; number theory; geometry;International Congress of Mathematicians; axiomatics

HERMANN WEYL [VI.80] described his teacher Hilbert’s style: “It is as if you were on a swift walk through a sunny open landscape; you look freely around, demarcation lines and connecting roads are pointed out to you, before you must brace yourself to climb the hill; then the path goes straight up. . . .” Several themes balance in Hilbert’s career as a mathematician. He wanted clarity, rigor, simplicity, and depth. Though he loved mathematics for its beauty, a beauty that transcends human failures, Hilbert saw mathematics as a social collaboration. A turning point came when ...

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