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Emil Artin – Creator of Modern Abstract Algebra

Emil Artin (Artinian, March 3, 1898, Vienna – December 20, 1962, Hamburg) was an outstanding Austrian mathematician of Armenian descent. Emil Artin was the creator of modern abstract algebra along with Emmy Noether.

Emil Artin was born on March 3, 1898, in Vienna into the Armenian family of an art dealer and grew up in Reichenberg (now Liberec, the Czech Republic).

The parents of the future mathematician were art dealer Emil Artin and former operetta singer Emma Artin (nee Laura). Emil Artin inherited his surname from his Armenian grandfather, a rug trader who had moved to Vienna in the 19th century.

According to Michael, son of Artin, the last name “Artin” comes from the Armenian last name “Artinian”, which, according to him, was “shortened” in Germany and the US.

Artin enrolled at the University of Vienna in 1916 and the University of Leipzig in 1919. After graduation, he worked in several German universities, most of all, in Hamburg. In addition, he was engaged in scientific activities at university centers in Germany and the US.

In 1929, Emil Artin married his student, Natascha Jasny, whose family had moved to Austria after the revolution in Russia. She was half Jewish, and after the coming of the Nazis to power and the adoption of anti-Jewish laws, Artin was fired from Hamburg University in 1937.

He had to emigrate to the United States where he would work at the University of Indiana (1938-1946) and Princeton University (1946-1958). After leaving Princeton University, Artin returned to Hamburg.

Artin authored numerous scientific works in many areas of mathematics. He largely contributed to the axiomatic definition of L-functions, projective geometry, and the theory of braid groups (also known as Artin braid groups).

Of particular interest to Artin was algebra. Together with Emmy Noether, Emil Artin created modern abstract algebra. His works made up a significant part of the famous “Moderne Algebra” (later republished as “Algebra”) by Dutch mathematician Bartel Leendert van der Waerden.

Especially significant was Artin’s contribution to class field theory. In addition, he together with mathematician Otto Schreier characterized formally real fields. Emil Artin also resolved the 17th problem of Hilbert.

No less important are Artin’s works in algebraic number theory, mainly in class field theory, where he excellently applied the Galois theory. Emil Artin also formulated the Artin reciprocity law.

During the years of his teaching activity, Emil Artin has advised over thirty doctoral students, including Serge Lang, Hans Zassenhaus, and John Tate. Artin’s son Michael Artin is also a famous mathematician.

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