Ernst Hellinger

By:Tulio Sasaya

Life & Death

Ernst Hellinger was born on September 30, 1883 in Striegau, Silesia, Germany. He died on March 28, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois, United States.

Academic career

Ernst Hellinger went to a school named Gymnasium. When he was studying at the Gymnasium, he became fascinated with mathematics, due to excellent mathematics teachers at the school.He then graduated in 1902 and entered the University of Heidelberg, but didn't complete his studies there. After Heidelberg, he studied at the University of Breslau, before completing his doctorate at the University of Göttingen in 1907 with a thesis entitled Die Orthogonalinvarianten quadratischer Formen von unendlich vielen Variablen. At Göttingen he worked with David Hilbert, one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century. Hellinger taught at the University of Göttingen, the University of Marburg, and the University of Frankfurt. Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, and while they were in power the Nazis removed several Jewish scientists and mathematicians from German universities. Hellinger's family was Jewish, and he was removed from the faculty of the University of Frankfurt in 1936.

Contributions to mathematics

A type of integral which he introduced in his dissertation became known as "the Hellinger integral", used for defining the Hellinger distance. In addition, the Hilbert-Hellinger theory of forms in infinitely many variables profoundly influenced mathematical analysis.