Philipp Ludwig von Seidel

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Philipp Ludwig von Seidel, approx. 1875–1880

Philipp Ludwig Ritter von Seidel (born October 24, 1821 in Zweibrücken , † August 13, 1896 in Munich ) was a German mathematician , optician and astronomer . In some sources he is only known as Ludwig Seidel .

life and work

Seidel studied at the University of Berlin , the Albertina in Königsberg and at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich . In 1846 he obtained his doctorate at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich with the dissertation De optima forma speculorum telescopicorum . Since 1847 private lecturer, he became associate professor in 1851 and full professor in 1855 at the University of Munich.

Around 1855 he created Seidel's theory of optical aberrations, named after him . In 1857 his widely acclaimed book appeared about it, which for a long time was the standard work in the field, partly because Josef Maximilian Petzval's planned overall presentation was lost before it went to press.

Close collaboration with Carl August von Steinheil , with whom he initially carried out primarily metrological, but then also physical and photometric investigations and, with his work from 1856, provided the theoretical basis for a simplified manufacturing process for optical glasses for the Steinheil company . Together with Steinheil, Seidel carried out the first photometric measurements on stars.

In 1874 he published his work on the iterative solution of linear systems of equations, a method known as the Gauß-Seidel method in numerical mathematics . From 1879 to 1882, Seidel was the successor to Johann von Lamont, managing director of the Bogenhausen observatory . Max Planck was among his students at the University of Munich .

He was the first to use the term uniform convergence (usually attributed to Karl Weierstrass ) in 1847 to "save" the false Cauchy sums theorem (Cauchy had falsely claimed in 1821 that limits of convergent sums of continuous functions were continuous) (as did George Gabriel at the same time Stokes ).


In 1851 he was elected an extraordinary member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , in 1861 he became a full member. In 1854 he was elected a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences . Since 1863 he was a corresponding member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences . In 1864 he was elected a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina .


  • About the best shape of mirrors in telescopes . Dissertation, 1846.
  • Investigations on the convergence and divergence of continued fractions . Habilitation thesis, 1847.
  • Note on a property of the series which represent discontinuous functions . In: Treatises of the Mathem.-Physikalische Class of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences . Volume 5, 1847, pp. 381-394. Reissued by Heinrich Liebmann in 1900 in the series Ostwalds Klassiker by Teubner with an essay by Dirichlet (1837).
  • with Carl August von Steinheil : Tables for the reduction of weighings, with a supplement. In: Scholarly Ads . ed. by the members of the k. Bavarian Academy of Sciences, 1848, Vol. 26, pp. 301–308.
  • Investigations into the mutual brightness of fixed stars of the first magnitude and into the extinction of light in the atmosphere. In addition to an appendix about the brightness of the sun compared to stars, and about the light-reflecting power of the planets . In: Memoranda of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. 1852, Vol. 28, pp. 539-660. ( Digitized version )
  • On the theory of the errors with which images seen through optical instruments are afflicted, and on the mathematical conditions for their removal. In: Treatises of the scientific-technical commission at the Königl. Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Munich. 1857, No. 1., pp. 227-267. ( OPACplus Bavarian State Library )
  • Investigations into the light intensity of the planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn . Franz, Munich 1859, urn : nbn: de: bvb: 12-bsb10049268-7
  • Results of photometric measurements on 208 of the most excellent fixed stars . In: Memoranda of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences 1863, Vol. 34, 3rd section, pp. 419–610. ( Digitized version )
  • with Eugen Leonhard: Brightness measurements on 208 fixed stars with the Steinheil photometer in the years 1852–1860. In: Memoranda of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . 1866, Vol. 37, 1st Division 1866, pp. 201-319. ( Digitized version )
  • A contribution to the determination of the limits of the accuracy currently achievable with the balance . In: Meeting reports of the k. Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Munich , meeting on July 6, 1867, vol. II, pp. 231–246.
  • About a representation of the circular arc, the logarithm and the elliptic integral of the first kind by infinite products. In: Journal for pure and applied mathematics . 1871, vol. 73 pp. 273-291. ( Digitized version )
  • About a peculiar form of functions of a complex variable and about transcendent equations which have no roots. In: Journal for pure and applied mathematics . 1871, Volume 73, pp. 297-304 ( digitized version )
  • A method of solving the equations to which the least squares method leads, as well as linear equations in general, by successive approximation . In: Treatises of the mathematical-physical class of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences. 1874, volume 11, III. Section, pp. 81-108. ( Digitized version )


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 223.
  2. Member entry of Philipp Ludwig Ritter von Seidel at the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina , accessed on November 18, 2015.