Veniamin Fedorovich Kagan.
Veniamin Fedorovich Kagan ( )
(10 March 1869 – 8 May 1953) was a Russian mathematician and expert in geometry. He is the maternal grandfather of
mathematician
Yakov Sinai.
Biography
Kagan was
born in Shavli, Imperial Russia (now Šiauliai, Lithuania) in 1869, to a poor Jewish
family. In 1871 his family moved to Yekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk), where he grew up. Kagan entered the
Imperial Novorossiya University in
Odessa in 1887, but was expelled for revolutionary
activities in 1889. He was put on
probation and sent back to Yekaterinoslav. He
studied mathematics on his own and in 1892 passed the state exam at
Kiev University.
In 1894
Kagan moved to St
Petersburg where he
continued his studies with Andrey
Markov and Konstantin Posse. They tried to help him to
obtain an academic position, but Kagan's Jewish background was an
obstacle. Only in 1897 was he allowed to became a
dozent at the Imperial Novorossiya University,
where he continued to work until 1923. His students in the
theory of relativity class he taught in
1921-22 included Nikolaj Papaleksi,
Alexander Frumkin and
Igor Tamm.
Kagan worked at Moscow State
University where he held the Geometry Chair from 1923 till
1952. Aging and disillusioned with anti-Semitic practices, he resigned from the
university and died in Moscow soon
afterwards.
Mathematical work
He published over 100 mathematical papers in different parts of
geometry, particularly on
Lobachevsky geometry and on
Riemannian geometry. He received the
USSR State Prize in 1943. He
founded the science publisher
Mathesis in Odessa. He was a
director of the mathematics and natural sciences department of the
Great Soviet
Encyclopaedia. He wrote a definitive biography of
Nikolai Lobachevsky and edited
his collected works (5 volumes, 1946–1951).
Kagan's doctoral students include
Pyotr
Rashevsky,
Viktor Wagner and
Isaak Yaglom.
Trivia
- Mathematician Veniamin Fedorovich Kagan from Odessa is a minor
character in The Fourth Prose (1930) by Osip Mandelstam.
External links
- Biography – in the "Kstati" newspaper (in
Russian)