Kurt Hensel

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Kurt Hensel (born December 29, 1861 in Königsberg , † June 1, 1941 in Marburg ) was a German mathematician . He introduced the concept of p-adic numbers to number theory . The Hensel lemma and Hensel rings are named after him.

Hensel around 1925


Kurt Hensel was the fourth child of the East Prussian landowner Sebastian Hensel and his wife Julie nee. by Adelson (1836-1901). The paternal grandparents were the composer Fanny Hensel née Mendelssohn and the painter Wilhelm Hensel from Berlin. Sebastian Hensel grew up after his mother's death with the mathematician Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet , who was married to Fanny Hensel's sister. Hensel was related to the Mendelssohn family through his grandmother , he was the great-nephew of Rebecka , Paul and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and the great-great-grandson of Moses Mendelssohn . Hensel first spent his childhood on his parents' estate near Königsberg. When he was nine years old, the family moved to Berlin, where his father had accepted a position as director of a construction company after the property had been sold.

After successfully completing school at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium in Berlin , he studied alternately at the universities in Bonn and Berlin for the first three semesters , but then stayed in Berlin for the rest of his studies. There he was a student of Rudolf Lipschitz , Karl Weierstraß , Karl Wilhelm Borchardt , Gustav Robert Kirchhoff , Hermann von Helmholtz and above all Leopold Kronecker , who promoted him and from whom he received his doctorate in 1884 on arithmetic studies of discriminants and their non-essential factors . After completing his doctorate, he first went to the military as a one-year volunteer in order to complete his habilitation at Kronecker in 1886. He was then a private lecturer in Berlin, where he was appointed associate professor and finally appointed to a chair at the University of Marburg in 1901 . Despite several appointments to other universities, he stayed in Marburg until his death.

In 1887 Hensel married Gertrud Hahn , a daughter of the industrialist Albert Hahn and aunt of the reform pedagogue Kurt Hahn , whereby he became related by marriage to Ernst Julius Remak . The marriage resulted in four daughters: Ruth (* 1888), Lili (* 1889), Marie (* 1890) and Charlotte (* 1896), as well as a son, the lawyer Albert Hensel . Charlotte later married the author Werner Bergengruen .

Kurt Hensel retired in 1930 . After participating in the university for some time, he spent the last years of his life withdrawn and died on June 1, 1941 of a heart attack . A year later, his daughter-in-law sold more than a hundred books from his mathematical library to the Imperial University of Strasbourg .

In 1908 Hensel was elected a member of the Leopoldina , in 1931 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo . In 1917 he was President of the German Mathematicians Association .


Hensel is known for his introduction of p-adic numbers into number theory, for which his student Helmut Hasse created a central position in number theory with his local-global principle . In his work On a New Justification of the Theory of Algebraic Numbers in the Annual Report of the German Mathematicians Association of 1899 - after two more specific papers in 1897 - he presented the concept of p-adic numbers for the first time in a more general form. Hensel was also a pioneer in the theory of function bodies, about which he wrote a book with Georg Landsberg .

From 1884 to 1937, Hensel published 78 articles in various specialist journals, mainly on topics in the area of ​​number theory.

In addition, in the years 1895 to 1903 and 1929/1930 he published the collected works and lectures of his teacher Kronecker. In addition, from 1903 to 1936 he was the editor of the then most renowned mathematical journal, the Journal for Pure and Applied Mathematics .



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. see Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg (HStAMR), Best. 915 No. 5760, p. 485 ( digitized version ).