The Austrian Mathematical Society

Founded in 1903

The Mathematical Society of Vienna (Mathematische Gesellschaft in Wien) was founded in 1903 by Ludwig Boltzmann, Gustav von Escherich and Emil Müller.

Gustav von Escherich (1849-1935) was born in Mantua, now in Italy but at that time part of the Austrian Empire, and after studying at the University of Vienna, went on to become Professor of Mathematics at the University of Graz. He was appointed to the University of Vienna in 1884 and in 1903-04 he was president of the University. Before his role in founding the Mathematical Society of Vienna, he had founded the journal Monatshefte für Mathematik und Physik in 1890 in collaboration with Emil Weyr.

Emil Müller (1861-1927) was born in Lanskron, now in the Czech Republic but at that time part of the Austrian Empire, and he studied at the University of Vienna. He habilitated at the University of Königsberg and worked there from 1898 to 1902. He was then appointed professor of descriptive geometry at the Vienna University of Technology.

Ludwig Boltzmann was appointed to the chair of theoretical physics at the University of Vienna in 1894 but left Vienna in 1900 because of a dispute with Ernst Mach. After Mach left Vienna, Boltzmann returned to the chair of theoretical physics at the University of Vienna in 1902. Boltzmann's role in the founding of the Mathematical Society of Vienna is unclear for, as we see below, he was not involved with the Society at its first meeting.

The first meeting of the new Society took place on 14 January 1904 and a report of the meeting appeared in [3]:-
Mathematical Society in Vienna. - On 14 January 1904, a mathematical society was formed with the aim of cultivating pure and applied mathematics through lectures, presentations, etc. The creation of a library and the publication of the lectures will initially be ignored. A meeting will take place at least once a month. The board consists of the following gentlemen: Gustav von Escherich, President; Emil Müller, 1st Vice-President; Wilhelm Wirtinger, 2nd Vice-President; Anton Lampa, Secretary; and Adolf Gerstel, Treasurer.
At the first few meetings of the new Society, the following lectures were given (see [3]):
22 January 1904. Wilhelm Wirtinger: Über eine bei der cardanischen Formel auftretende Verzweigung.

19. February 1904. Josip Plemelj: Über die Fredholmsche Funktionalgleichung und ihre Anwendung I.

4 March 1904. Emil Müller: Über Studys Dynamen.

22 April 1904. Gustav Herglotz: Über Hadamards Buch: Sur la propagation des ondes.
For a list of all the lectures from 1903 up to the end of the 1908 session, see THIS LINK.

On 27 October 1905 the General Assembly of the Society met. The meeting was given a report on the first year of the Society and new elections were carried out. Also at this meeting Hans Hahn gave the lecture Die neueren Untersuchungen über reelle Funktionen.

On 9 November 1906 the General Assembly of the Society met. The meeting was given a report on the previous year of the Society and new elections were carried out. Also at this meeting Gustav Jäger gave the lecture Ludwig Boltzmanns H-Theorem.

The Society had to close down during World War II, but in May 1946 it resumed operations. Rudolf Inzinger formally re-registered the Society on 10 August 1946. It held its first general assembly after the liberation of Austria on the 8 November 1946. The Society continued to operate under the same rules that had been in place in 1938 and at this first general meeting they elected the committee. This was: Rudolf Inzinger, Vienna University of Technology, President; Johann Radon, University of Vienna, 1st Vice-President; Franz Prowaznik, school council for city of Vienna, 2nd Vice-President; Ludwig Hofmann, Vienna University of Technology, Secretary; and Edmund Hlawka, University of Vienna, Treasurer.

The Society began publishing its newsletter, the International Mathematical News, in June 1947. From 19 to 22 May 1948, the first Austrian mathematicians' conference took place in Vienna. The Society now wished to see itself as a national Society and as such they decided that a change of name would go a long way to indicate their intentions. On 23 April 1948 the Board agreed to change the name to "Austrian Mathematical Society". In the autumn of 1948, at the General Assembly on 29 October, the Mathematical Society of Vienna formally changed its name to the Austrian Mathematical Society. At this same meeting Johann Radon took over the presidency from Rudolf Inzinger.

As we noted above, the Monatshefte für Mathematik und Physik had been founded in 1890 by Gustav Ritter von Escherich (1849-1935) and Emil Weyr. Due to World War II, it stopped publishing in 1941 with Volume 50. It resumed publication as the Monatshefte für Mathematik in December 1948 continuing the numbering, so the first volume under the new title was Volume 51. From this time the Austrian Mathematical Society was involved in the publication.

The aims of the Austrian Mathematical Society are stated as follows:-
The purpose of the Austrian Mathematical Society is the promotion of mathematical sciences and the support of mathematicians in Austria in their scientific and professional work.

The purpose of the Society is to be achieved through the following activities:

Organization of scientific and popular science lectures on mathematical topics and organization of mathematical conferences.

Publication of a journal called 'International Mathematical News'.

Stimulation, promotion and publication of scientific publications.

Interaction and cooperation with scientific societies worldwide.

Promotion of mathematical teaching and research at universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university research facilities, schools, in particular gymnasiums and Colleges for Higher Vocational Education, as well as at all other research and educational institutions.

Promotion of women in the field of mathematical sciences.

Award of prizes.
International Mathematical News
The "International Mathematical News" reports on important developments in mathematics, on events of mathematical life and on the work of the Austrian Mathematical Society. Furthermore, reviews of books and monographs on mathematical topics, essays on the history of mathematics and obituaries for members of the Austrian Mathematical Society are published.
The Austrian Mathematical Society awards three prizes: Förderungspreis; Studienpreis; Schülerinnen- and Schülerpreis.

The Förderungspreis has been awarded since 1956. The decision to award this prize was made at the board meeting on 18 November 1955 at the request of Hans Hornich. It is awarded to young mathematicians, namely those who have been undertaking research for between two and ten years following their Ph.D. A significant amount of their work must have been carried out in Austria. A list of winners of the award are given at THIS LINK.

The Studienpreis is awarded to young mathematicians who have submitted a PhD. thesis within two years of the announcement of the prize. They must have been students at an Austrian university.

The Schülerinnen- and Schülerpreis is made to a student who has produced outstanding papers or diploma theses that were written in Austrian schools during the current school year and that have a strong connection to mathematics or descriptive geometry. The assessment is carried out by a jury appointed by the Executive Board of the Austrian Mathematical Society.

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. Austrian Mathematical Society website.
  2. C Binder, 100 Jahren: Mathematik in Wien, Internationale Mathematische Nachrichten 193 (2003), 1-20.
  3. Mathematische Gesellschaft in Wien, Jahresberichte der Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung 13 (1904), 135.

Last Updated February 2018