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Eduard Study was the son of a teacher. He studied mathematics and sciences at the universities of Jena, Strasbourg, Leipzig and Munich from 1880. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Munich in 1884.
In 1885 Study was appointed as a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Leipzig where he was greatly influenced by Gordan, but in general he was largely self taught in mathematics and this was to show in his very individual approach.
After three years at Leipzig, Study moved to the University of Marburg. In 1893 he visited the United States where he taught at several universities but he was mainly based at Johns Hopkins University. On his return to Germany in 1894 he was appointed extraordinary professor of mathematics at Göttingen.
Again Study was to move after three years, this time to a full professorship at Greifswald. In 1904 he made his final move when he accepted the chair at the University of Bonn which had been left vacant on the death of Lipschitz in October 1903. Study held the chair at Bonn until he retired in 1927.
Study became a leader in the geometry of complex numbers. He reformulated, independently of Severi, the fundamental principles of enumerative geometry due to Schubert. He also worked on invariant theory helping to develop a symbolic notation. In 1923 he published important work on real and complex algebras of low dimension publishing these results. Study's contribution is summarised by W Burau in [1] as follows:
... Study demonstrated what he considered to be a thorough treatment of a problem. ... With Corrado Segre, Study was one of the leading pioneers in the geometry of complex numbers. ... Adept in the methods of invariant theory ... Study, employing the identities of the theory, sought to demonstrate that geometric theorems are independent of coordinates. ... Study was the first to investigate systematically all algebras possessing up to four generators over R and C.
Other areas which Study worked on were straight lines in elliptic space, with his student at Bonn J L Coolidge, and he simplified the method of differential operators. In 1903 he published Geometrie der Dynamen which considered euclidean kinematics and the mechanics of rigid bodies. In [1] the impact of Geometrie der Dynamen is described :
Unfortunately, because of its awkward style and surfeit of new concepts, this work has never found the public it merits.
Study remained in Bonn after his retirement and died of cancer three years later.
One final fact about Study is of interest. He had always been interested in biology from his student days and one of the ways that he continued this interest through his life was by having an impressive collection of butterflies.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
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