Lewy, Hans, 1904-

Alternative names
Birth 1904-10-20
Death 1988-08-21
German, Italian, English, Japanese, Chinese, French

Biographical notes:

Hans Lewy, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley was born in Breslau, Germany and came to Berkeley as a lecturer in 1935. He became a full professor in 1946. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Academia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome). Professor Lewy died after a brief illness on August 23, 1988.

From the description of Hans Lewy papers, 1906-1999. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 84945957

Biographical Note

Hans Lewy was born on October 20, 1904 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland). He received his Ph.D. in mathematics in 1926 from the University of Göttingen, where, along with Richard Courant, he pursued the study of elliptic and hyperbolic problems as Privatdozent (lecturer) until 1929. From 1929-1930 he studied in Rome under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation, and with the help of the distinguished French mathematician Jacques Hadamard he continued his fellowship in Paris from 1930-1931.

Lewy left Germany in 1933, soon after Adolph Hitler came to power. After two years as a lecturer at Brown University, he joined the UC Berkeley Department of Mathematics in 1935. Lewy was appointed associate professor at in 1939 and full professor in 1945. From February 1943 until July 1945 Lewy worked in mathematical research at the Ballistic Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and with the Office of Naval Research in New York.

In 1947 Lewy married artist and writer Helen Crosby. The Lewys' honeymoon trip around the world included three months in China, two of which Lewy spent in Chengtu, Szechuan teaching a course on water waves. When he refused to sign the UC Board of Regents' Loyalty Oath in 1950, Lewy was dismissed along with many other university employees. He spent 1952-1953 at Harvard and Stanford before he was reinstated at UC Berkeley, after the Loyalty Oath was ruled by the California Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.

In 1957 Lewy contributed to the theory of differential equations through his example of a linear equation without a solution. He later received the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for this work in 1979. Lewy's contributions to the work on differential equations were instrumental in the later development of high-speed computers. From 1959-1960 Lewy visited the emerging mathematical center at the University of Pisa where he helped to introduce the area of variational inequalities. The Accademia dei Lincei invited him to Rome in 1969-1970 and in 1972 he was elected by that society as a Foreign member. He retired in 1972 but continued his research, sharing the 1984/1985 Wolf Foundation Prize, and receiving an honorary doctorate from Bonn University in 1986. Hans Lewy died of leukemia in Berkeley on August 23, 1988.

From the guide to the Hans Lewy papers, 1906-1999, (The Bancroft Library.)


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