Oskar Perron

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Oskar Perron, 1930 in Jena
Oskar Perron, 1948 in Munich

Oskar Perron (born May 7, 1880 in Frankenthal (Palatinate) , † February 22, 1975 in Munich ) was a German mathematician . Oskar Perron's ancestors were persecuted in France because of their beliefs (Huguenots). They came to Germany via Switzerland and settled near Darmstadt. From there the platforms came to the city of Frankenthal (Palatinate).


Perron's father Heinrich, born on May 30, 1850 in Frankenthal, was a merchant and banker in Frankenthal. On May 30, 1876, he married Augusta Rosina Leinenweber, whose father was a tannery owner in Pirmasens. In 1886 the son Oskar started school, in autumn 1889 he switched to the Latin school, which at that time consisted of 5 classes, which was expanded into a six-class Progymnasium in 1893. Then he went to the grammar school in Worms for 2½ years, where he passed his Abitur in 1898. In the same year he began studying mathematics and physics at the University of Munich . He also studied a few semesters in Berlin, Tübingen and Göttingen.

On July 28, 1906, he married Hermine Perron, who was related to him over several corners. The daughters Hertha, Erika and Hedwig emerged from this marriage. In 1902 he did his doctorate under Ferdinand von Lindemann in Munich and in the same year passed the second section of the teaching examination for mathematics and physics. His doctoral thesis dealt with the problem of the movement of a rigid body under certain conditions.

In 1906, after stays in Göttingen (with David Hilbert ) and Tübingen, he became a private lecturer in mathematics at the University of Munich. From 1910 to 1914 he taught as an associate professor in Tübingen, after which he received a full professorship in Heidelberg. In 1913 he published the book The Doctrine of Continued Fractions . From 1915 to 1918 he did his military service, first with the Landsturm, and later as a lieutenant in a surveying department. In 1922 he took over a chair for mathematics at the University of Munich as the successor to his teacher Alfred Pringsheim and, with his colleagues Constantin Carathéodory and Heinrich Tietze, became known as the “Munich triumvirate of mathematics”. During the Third Reich, Perron stood out for its decidedly anti-Nazi stance. During the disputes between 1938 and 1944 about a successor for Constantin Carathéodory, he pushed through the appointment of Eberhard Hopf , who was not affiliated with the Nazi regime and who was qualified for this . In addition, Perron tried, often in vain, to prevent party-ideologically motivated habilitations and teaching assignments. In 1951 he retired, but he remained scientifically active and held lectures until 1960.

With great success he devoted himself to numerous questions of "classical" mathematics, while he did not appreciate "modern", more abstract mathematics. Diophantine approximations occupied him for decades. His solutions entered the literature as Perron's transfer sentences . Generalized, multidimensional continued fractions ( Jacobi-Perron's continued fraction algorithm ) also occupied him from his habilitation until his last publication. Asymptotic and infinite series were covered, as were difference equations, ordinary and partial differential equations. With his Perron integral and Perron's method in the treatment of the Dirichlet problem , he gained international attention and recognition in specialist circles. In addition, he dealt with celestial mechanical problems, with matrix theory ( Perron-Frobenius' theorem ), and after his retirement also with non-Euclidean geometry.

As a textbook author - for example on irrational numbers and algebra - he demonstrated extraordinary skills. He was also popular and valued by students as a university lecturer.

He was a member of the Leopoldina (1919), the Heidelberg (1917) and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (1924), as well as the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen (1928). In 1934 he was also chairman of the German Mathematicians Association .

Oskar Perron was buried in the Haidhauser Friedhof near the old parish church of St. Johann Baptist in Munich (Section 4, Row 6, No. 41).


  • 1928 Appointment to the secret government council
  • 1956 Honorary doctorate from the University of Tübingen
  • 1960 Honorary doctorate from the University of Mainz
  • 1959 Bavarian Order of Merit


  • About the rotation of a rigid body around its center of gravity when external forces act , Diss. Munich 1902
  • Basics for a theory of the Jacobian continued fraction algorithm , habilitation thesis Leipzig 1906
  • The theory of continued fractions , 2 vol., 1913, 3rd edition, Teubner Verlag 1954 (vol. 1 elementary chain fractions, vol. 2 analytical and function-theoretical continued fractions)
  • Irrational numbers , 1921, 4th edition, de Gruyter, Berlin 1960
  • Algebra I, II , Göschen Collection 1927, 3rd edition 1951
  • Non-Euclidean elementary geometry of the plane , Teubner, Stuttgart 1962

A selection of some of his works that are available online:


  • Edmund Hlawka : Perron's work in the field of Diophantine approximations. Annual report of DMV 80, 1978, pp. 1–12
  • Josef Heinhold : Oskar Perron , annual report of DMV 90, 1988, pp. 184–199 (in DML Bielefeld: [1] )
  • Freddy Litten: Oskar Perron - An example of moral courage in the Third Reich , messages from DMV issue 3, 1994, pp. 11-12; expanded in: Frankenthal once and now , 1995, pp. 26–28 (on the homepage of Litten: [2] )
  • Leon Bernstein: The modified algorithm of Jacobi-Perron. Memoirs of the AMS 67, Providence, 1966
  • Leon Bernstein: The Jacobi-Perron algorithm - its theory and application. Lecture Notes Math. 207, Springer-Verlag, 1971
  • Freddy Litten:  Platform, Oskar. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 20, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-428-00201-6 , p. 196 f. ( Digitized version ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. F. Litten: Oskar Perron - An example of civil courage in the Third Reich, in: Frankenthal once and now, H. 1/2, 1995, pp. 26–28 (P)
  2. ^ Gabriele Dörflinger: Mathematics in the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences . 2014, pp. 57–59