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Emil Artin made a major contribution to the theory of noncommutative rings and later worked on rings with the minimum condition on right ideals, now called Artinian rings. He has the distinction of solving one of the 23 famous problems posed by Hilbert in 1900.
Artin served in the Austrian army during World War I, then he entered the University of Leipzig. After undergraduate studies, he continued to study for his doctorate, receiving a Ph.D from Leipzig in 1921. After receiving his doctorate he attended the University of Göttingen for one year (1922-23) before being appointed as a lecturer at the University of Hamburg.
Artin was not a Jew but his wife was a Jew so when the 'New Official's Law' (1937) affected those related to Jews by marriage he was forced to leave Germany.
In 1937 he emigrated to the USA and taught at various universities. He was at Notre Dame for the year 1937-38, spent eight years at Indiana from 1938 to 1946 and then was 12 years at Princeton from 1946 to 1958.
In 1958 Artin returned to Germany, being appointed again to the University of Hamburg which he had left in such unhappy circumstances over 20 years before.
Artin's first work was on quadratic number fields, working on the analytic and arithmetic theory. In 1927 he made a major contribution to the theory of noncommutative rings, called hypercomplex numbers at this time. In particular he worked in the theory of associative algebras.
In 1944 he did important work on rings with the minimum condition on right ideals, now called Artinian rings. He presented new insight into semi-simple algebras over the rationals.
Another important piece of work done by Artin during his first period in Hamburg was the theory of braids which he presented in 1925. He again showed his originality by introducing this new area of research which today is being studied by an increasing number of mathematicians working in both algebra and topology.
In 1955 he produced two important papers on finite simple groups, proving that the only coincidences in orders of the known (in 1955) finite simple groups were those given by Dickson in his Linear groups . This important piece of work is one of a number of results leading to the intense interest in finite simple groups which eventually led to their classification.
Among Artin's main books are Geometric algebra (1957) and Class field theory (1961). He was honoured by the award of the American Mathematical Society's Cole Prize in number theory.
Artin was an outstanding teacher of mathematics at undergraduate level as well as supervising many Ph.D. students who went on to make major contributions. He had many interests outside mathematics, however, having a love of chemistry, astronomy and biology. He also loved old music and was an accomplished musician playing the flute, harpsichord and clavichord.
References (8 books/articles)
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