The Mathematical Circle of Palermo

Founded in 1884

The Mathematical Circle of Palermo (Circolo matematico di Palermo) was founded in 1884 and it is the oldest Italian Mathematical Society (except for the Academies). Both the society and its important publication the Rendiconti del Circolo matematico di Palermo were the creation of a single mathematician, Giovanni Guccia.

Guccia, being from a wealthy family, was able to provide all the necessary resources to have the Mathematical Circle rapidly become successful. Speziali writes in [3] that Guccia provided:-
... the meeting place, a library and all necessary funds. His generous offer was favourably received, and on 2 March 1884 the society's provisional statutes were signed by twenty-seven members. The goal was to stimulate the study of higher mathematics by means of original communications presented by the members of the society on the different branches of analysis and geometry, as well as on rational mechanics, mathematical physics, geodesy, and astronomy.
The publication for the new society was the Rendiconti del Circolo matematico di Palermo. Guccia himself had four articles appear in the first volume of this publication which appeared in four parts: July 1885, September 1886, December 1886, and September 1887. The completed volume was presented by Bertrand to the Académie des Sciences in Paris on 7 November 1887, stating that it was a publication of remarkably high quality. When the Mathematical Circle of Palermo passed a statute allowing foreign members in February 1888, it had rapidly reached its goal of becoming a top quality international society with a leading mathematical publication.

In [2] details of the Mathematical Circle of Palermo are given:-
In spite of its provincial situation, far from the big intellectual centres of Turin, Pisa and Rome, Guccia had the ambition to make it an international centre for mathematicians of all countries; due to his indefatigable activity and his connections with many foreign mathematicians, he succeeded in bringing the membership of the Circolo to almost one thousand, and in having in his board of editors the most prestigious French and German mathematicians. It is well known that between 1900 and 1910, the "Rendiconti" published some of the most important papers of that time. Unfortunately Guccia did not have the unanimous support of Italian mathematicians and after his death, coinciding with the outbreak of World War I, the Circolo never regained its previous eminence.

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References (show)

  1. B Bongiorno, G P Curbera, Giovanni Battista Guccia, Pioneer of International Cooperation in Mathematics (Springer, 2018)
  2. A Brigaglia, The Mathematical Circle of Palermo (Italian), Symposia mathematica XXVII, Cortona, 1983 (London, 1986), 265-283.
  3. P Speziali, Giovanni Battista Guccia, Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990).

Last Updated August 2004