The Jewish Contribution to Math |
Jews in Mathematics It
is unlikely that anyone would be surprised to learn that a majority of
outstanding mathematicians are and were Jews. This
is true because Jews have contributed far more than can be expected in views of
the microscopic size of the Jewish community, which is much smaller than its
contribution to all branches of human knowledge. Mathematics
may be divided into arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and calculus. These
areas of mathematics present the student of this branch of human knowledge with
a beautiful and most enjoyable
opportunity to understand G’ds universe. Albert Einstein wrote: “I
investigate G’ds universe, for God does not play dice with the universe.”
Another attractive aspect of mathematics is that it is non-political and can be
enjoyed by anyone without respect to religion, gender, nationality, or age.
Therefore mathematics has been advanced by people of all nationalities. An
excellent example is the invention of calculus by Newton in England and Leibniz
in Germany. They lived at the same time in the 17^{th} century and
invented calculus independently. This is true because the culture base led to
these inventions and would have been found by others had Newton and Leibniz
never lived. Both depended on the work of numerous predecessors. In
sum, it may be said that despite the myriad superstitions of atheists involved
in the study of mathematics, learning arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and
calculus is a religious experience. The
history of mathematics begins with Near Eastern astrologers who studied the
heavens because they believed that the stars predicted human events. In the
course of seeking to enlist the stars in the affairs of men, these early
students discovered that the stars appeared again and again in constellations,
which returned year after year. That led to the discovery that it was possible
to study the appearances of the stars and planets and that much can be learned
about our environment from the use of mathematics. Many sciences and engineering
benefitted from methods developed by Jews like Boris Galerkin and Richard
Courant and John (von) Neumann. Linear programming was developed by Leonid
Kantorovich, and fifty-five percent
of all Lifetime Achievement Awards in Mathematics were attained by Jews. If
you would like to join in the fun, begin by reading one of the numerous History
of Mathematics books. The more recent such books are by Carl Boyer, David
Burton, John Stillwell, and Clifford Pickover. S
halom
u'vracha. Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The American Jewish Community in the 20th and 21st Century (2021). |