Georg Cantor – selected aspects of his biography. (Georg Cantor – ausgewählte Aspekte seiner Biographie.) (German) Zbl 0879.01018

This paper, originally the opening talk at the Cantor Colloquium in Halle in June 1995, presents in a more complete form a number of documents which have not been used, or at least quoted in full, by Georg Cantor’s previous biographers. These include two of Cantor’s school reports at the Gewerbeschule in Darmstadt and letters from Kronecker, Kummer and Cantor to H. A. Schwarz in April and June 1870 concerning the problems that obstructed the way to a rigorous treatment of analysis. Another newly revealed document, Cantor’s 1870 manuscript of lecture notes on differential calculus, sets out his approach to the foundations of the real number system. The author addresses the question: Why did Cantor delay publication of this theory until 1872? Finally, the relationship between Weierstrass and Cantor is depicted. Weierstrass was acquainted with Cantor’s work at least as early as 1873 when Cantor, who regarded Weierstrass’s opinions highly, informed Weierstrass about his work. Several possible routes are investigated for how Weierstrass propagated Cantor’s work, though he made very little mention of Cantor in his correspondence with P. Du Bois-Reymond, H. A. Schwarz, G. Mittag-Leffler and others that the author has looked at. The author’s search for the letters Cantor wrote Weierstrass was largely unsuccessful. Concluding remarks are made about the way in which others have evaluated Cantor as well as how he evaluated himself.


01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century
01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies

Biographic References:

Cantor, G.