Letter from J Dieudonné, C Ehresmann, L Schwartz

The French mathematicians Jean Dieudonné, Charles Ehresmann and Laurent Schwartz were giving lecture courses at the University of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro when a Chair of Mathematical Analysis was advertised. An argument had arisen over the application of Leopoldo Nachbin with José da Rocha Lagoa, Head of Mathematics, and his supporters trying to prevent Nachbin being a candidate. When near the end of their courses, the three French mathematicians tried to present a solution to the argument. We give a translation of their letter to the Rector of the University of Brazil.

Letter from J Dieudonné, C Ehresmann, L Schwartz.

Monsieur Recteur
University of Brazil
Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, 30 September 1952

Monsieur le Recteur

At the time when the courses that we have been invited to give at the Faculdade de Filosofia of the University of Brazil are about to end, we would like to express our very sincere thanks to you for having allowed us to carry out lectures that we hope have been profitable. We would like to thank all our colleagues for their eager and effective collaboration, and we were particularly satisfied with the regular attendance and sustained interest shown by the listeners of our courses, whose hard work and taste for scientific research makes us augur well for the future of the Brazilian mathematical school.

We are indeed convinced that mathematical research can and must develop in Brazil in the years to come, and acquire a very great importance in the scientific life of the country. In view of this development, we take the liberty of expressing the wish that the number of mathematics chairs currently existing at the Faculdade de Filosofia may be increased in the near future. Professor José Abdelhay fulfils with much conscience, much knowledge and pedagogical talent, his teaching of the chair of Mathematical Analysis, where we hope to see him soon accede to the title of 'professor with chair'. But to approach the work of modern analysis in a fruitful way, an increasingly long and more thorough preparation is necessary today, comprising a number of hours of teaching which far exceeds the possibilities of only one teacher. This is why we would consider very useful the creation of a second chair of Mathematical Analysis, which would provide these essential complements to a student wishing to undertake research in the new branches of mathematics. Brazil is fortunate to have today, in the person of Professor Leopoldo Nachbin, a young mathematician whose remarkable work has already attracted the attention of specialists throughout the world, and who, through his strong culture and dynamic personality would be particularly suitable for this training of the future Brazilian mathematical elite. By adding such a professor, the already very active nucleus of mathematicians of the Faculdade de Filosofia would further significantly strengthen the intensity of its efforts and the unity of action essential to their fruitful development.

Please accept, Monsieur le Recteur, the expression of our respectful feelings.

J Dieudonné, Professor at the Faculté des Sciences of Nancy.
C Ehresmann, Professor at the Faculté des Sciences of Strasbourg
L Schwartz, Professor at the Faculté des Sciences of Paris.

Copies to:

Admiral Álvaro Alberto
Artur Moses, President of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences
Professor Rocha Lagoa
Professor J Costa Ribeiro
Professor Candido da Silva Dias

Last Updated November 2022