Rademacher, Hans, 1892-1969

Alternative names
Birth 1892-04-03
Death 1969-02-07

Biographical notes:

Hans Rademacher was a mathematician. He taught at the University of Breslau, 1925-1934, until he was dismissed by the Nazis. He was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, 1934-1969.

From the description of Papers, [ca. 1942-1963], [n.d.]. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122440201

The mathematician Hans Rademacher was born in Wandsbek, near Hamburg, Germany, on April 3, 1892. At the University of Göttingen, he studied with Constantin Carathéodory and E. G. H. Landau, and developed an early interest in the theory of real functions, completing a dissertation in 1916 on single-valued mappings and mensurability.

After two years as a Privatdozent in Berlin, Rademacher moved to the University of Hamburg in 1922 as Ausserordentlicher Professor in mathematics, and although he enjoyed the intellectual environment there, he left three years later for Breslau, where he had been offered an ordinary professorship. By the time of his arrival there, his interests had begun to shift increasingly to number theory. After working on applications of Brun's sieve method and algebraic number fields, in 1928 he began work in the areas for which he became most widely known, modular forms and analytic number theory.

A pacifist and member of the International League for the Rights of Men and the Breslau chapter of the Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft, Rademacher earned the unwanted attention of the Nazi Party, and in 1934 he was removed from his position. Residing briefly in a small town on the Baltic, he accepted the offer of a visiting Rockefeller Fellowship and moved to the United States in 1934 to work at the University of Pennsylvania, his second wife Olga Frey and their new son following one year later. Although he was offered only an assistant professorship at Penn, Rademacher remained at the university until his retirement in 1962. His 1936 proof of the asymptotic formula for the growth of the partition function might have been his most widely known work, addressing questions raised by mathematicians from Leibniz to Euler, but he contributed to algebraic number fields and Dedekind sums. His book The Enjoyment of Mathematics (Princeton, 1957) demonstrated that he was equally adept at presenting mathematical concepts to a popular audience.

Even after his retirement, Rademacher continued to remain active in mathematics, lecturing at New York University for two years and serving on the faculty at Rockefeller University for five more. He died in Haverford, Pa., on February 7, 1969. His collected papers were edited by his friend Emil Grosswald and published by MIT Press in 1974.

From the guide to the Hans Rademacher Collection, 1942-1963, (American Philosophical Society)


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  • Mathematics
  • Functions, modular
  • Dedekind sums
  • Functions, Orthogonal
  • Number theory


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