Mittag-Leffler  Magnus Gustav

(16.03.1846 - 07.07.1927)


Outstanding Swedish mathematician.

Born in the family of Ph.D. Juhan Olof Leffler and Klara Elementary School teacher in Stockholm. He was the youngest son, but Fritz, the future professor of northern languages, grew up in the family, and the third child was Anna Charlotte, later the famous Swedish writer.

The boy showed early mathematical ability. In Klara’s school, he did mathematics 3 classes higher than his own class, and then, in the gymnasium, he was generally freed from mathematics. He studied himself, he studied the works of Cauchy. Gustav continued his mathematical education at the University of Uppsala and graduated in 1872 with the academic title of Doctor of Philosophy. In 1873  he received a Byzantine scholarship to travel abroad for three years and to replenish his education. Once Mittag-Leffler said that the greatest influence on him was the work of two mathematical geniuses - Abel and Galois. Both lived a short life and left the greatest mathematical legacy. Abroad, Mittag-Leffler was most impressed by the lectures of Karl Weierstrass. The teacher and the student found each other. And in the future, Karl Weierstrass was attentive to his Swedish student, followed his mathematical work, congratulated his colleague on the basis of the journal Acta mathematica.

Mittag-Leffler went to work in Helsingfors (Helsinki). The competition for the post of professor of mathematics was attended by five people. Mittag-Leffler was recognized as the most educated mathematically and creatively minded.

At that time, the university was taught in Swedish, since Finland was part of Sweden. When she became part of Russia, the Finns awoke national feelings. The country was very strong nationalist sentiment. At the University of Magnus Mittag-Leffler, 11 votes were cast against 9, and in May 1877 he was appointed as a professor and began to lecture. At first, nationally-minded Finnish students could not forgive Gustav Mittag-Leffler for being a Swede.

The professor treated students with great sympathy, clearly gave lectures, the subject was stated precisely and strictly, like a real Weierstrass student. In Helsingfors, he met the beautiful and charming, cheerful Signe Julia Emilia, the daughter of General Julius Jacob Lindfors. They got married and lived a long life, although the relationship with their relatives Signe evolved difficult. About this scientist wrote to Sofia Kovalevskaya. The great mathematicians had a tender and faithful friendship.

After Helsingfors  Mittag-Leffler moved to Stockholm, where he worked first as a professor at the Higher School and then as its rector. He considered the main business of his life the foundation of the international mathematical journal "Acta mathematica", in which articles of outstanding mathematicians were published. He invited to collaborate in the magazine and Sofia Kovalevskaya. By the way, Gustav Mittag-Leffler carefully preserved all correspondence with Kovalevskaya, their letters are kept in the institute bearing his name.

He created a mathematical school in Stockholm, he had many students. Scientific, organizational and social activities were simply awesome. He was sick a lot, but did not stop working for a minute. His main work relates to the theory of analytic functions.

Magnus Gustav Mittag-Leffler lived a great life, he was a member of many academies of sciences. His mathematical creativity in the form of theory, generalizations and ideas contributed to the development of mathematics. In Sweden, there is a mathematical institute of spouses Mittag-Leffler. Its foundation dates back to 1880, when the mathematician purchased a villa in the suburbs of Stockholm, which was substantially modified, expanded and turned into a scientific center. In 1916, he sold part of the land due to financial losses in the construction of a hydropower station on the Ume River. On the day of the 70th anniversary of Mittag-Leffler, the spouses made a will according to which all their property, research center and villa transferred to the new organization - the Mathematical Institute of the Mittag-Leffler spouses.

In 1927  the villa was visited by French mathematician Henri Weil and stayed with Mittag-Leffler. He admired the library, the museum. Gustav seemed to Weil strong, but quite unexpectedly Magnus Gustav Mittag-Leffler died.

A large glacier descending to the head of the Ostfjord between Dixon Land, Olav V Land and the Ny-Friesland Peninsula. The coordinates are 78° 50'N   16° 30'E.


Return to the main page