Lecture on mathematician C. Carathéodory

Seminar by Prof. em. Dr. rer.nat. Dr. h.c. mult. Roland Bulirsch

Constantin Carathéodory, Life and Work

16 June 2014 at 15:00, Room IHCP 58/009, Bldg. 58

Prof. Dr. R. Bulirsch presents a homage of the life and the work of the remarkable mathematician Constantin Carathéodory. The seminar is being organised on the occasion of the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the European Union and will be transmitted to JRC- IET Petten via video link.


Carathéodory was an exraordinary mathematician from the first half of the 20th Century and probably the one Greek mathematician who has had the greatest influence worldwide. In 1916, Carathéodory received a letter from Berlin: Dear Colleague! . . . I find your derivation wonderful, now I understand everything. . . . . physicists do not normally know anything about this subject . . . . Best regards your Albert Einstein.
Carathéodory had accomplished phenomenal feats in mathematics. He worked on the calculus of variations, real-valued functions, function theory, measure theory, and the algebraization of the integral. He accomplished breakthroughs which were sensations in the mathematical sciences. The new field concept which Carathéodory introduced into variational calculus had profound consequences. In 1930, Carathéodory derived from it an inequality which 20 years later, under the different name of the Bellman equation or inequality, would become a sensation in the mathematical world.

About the Speaker

Professor Roland Bulirsch is professor emeritus for higher mathematics and numerical analysis of the Munich University of Technology (Technische Universität München, TUM). He obtained his PhD in mathematics from the same university and worked as a postdoc researcher at the same university and as a visiting associate and later full professor at the university of California San Diego (UCSD) La Jolla, USA. In 1972 he became full professor of higher and numerical mathematics at the University of Cologne and later at the TUM where he also served as dean of the faculty of mathematics.
He has been member of numerous scientific committees and academies. He received several honorary medals for his contribution to numerical analysis and the application of mathematical methods to technology from several universities and academies in Europe. The tribute to his contributions includes four honorary doctorates (Dr. h. c.) from the University of Hamburg, Germany, the Technical University of Liberec, Czech Republic, the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and the Academy of Sciences, Hanoi, Vietnam.
His lectures at the university were legendary for their clarity and their emphasis on the applicability of the mathematical methodology to technology without impairing their formal mathematical precision.
Prof. Bulirsch, has given many lectures in Germany and around the world for the life and work of the great mathematician Constantin Carathéodory.

Constantin Carathéodory (1873 - 1950)

The tradition of excellence in science was continued in modern times by Greek scientists with major contributions. The Greek mathematician Constantin Carathéodory who made his academic carrier in Germany in a period where Germany was the world epicentre in natural sciences and mathematics is considered one of the greatest mathematicians of the last century and certainly the greatest Greek mathematician since ancient Greece. Prof. Bulirsch is going to present us the life and work of this exceptional personality who worked with the giants of mathematics of his time such as F. Frobenious, H. Schwarz, H. Minkowski, F. Klein, D. Hilbert, E. Zermelo and contributed to the work of physicists such as M. Planck and A. Einstein.


For more information contact: nikolaos.stilianakis@jrc.ec.europa.eu