Robinson, Abraham, 1918-1974

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1918-10-06
Death 1974-04-11
Americans
German, Hebrew, English

Biographical notes:

Abraham Robinson was born in Germany in 1918. He was studying at the Sorbonne in 1940 when he (a Jew) went to England to escape Hitler's encroachment in France. While in England Robinson joined the Free French Air Force, but was sent to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough so that his mathematical skills could be put to use for the war effort. After the war he earned an M.S. from Hebrew University (1946) and a Ph. D. at the University of London (1949). He taught different subjects at several prestigious universities, including aerodynamics at the College of Aerodynamics at Cranfield, mathematics at the University of Toronto, mathematics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, mathematics and philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles, and mathematics at Yale University. Robinson's interests included physics, pure mathematics, fluid mechanics, and relations between logic and mathematics. He contributed to the development of Model Theory and is known for inventing non-standard analysis. Robinson died from pancreatic cancer in 1974 at the age of 56.

From the description of Robinson, Abraham, papers, 1901, 1926-1976. (University of Texas Libraries). WorldCat record id: 52561511

Abraham Robinson was born in Waldenberg, Germany, in 1918. After studying mathematics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he began studies in France, but was forced to flee to England in June 1940. Robinson received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1949 while teaching at the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield. His later teaching included appointments at the University of Toronto (1951-1957), the Hebrew University (1957-1962), the University of California, Los Angeles (1962-1967), and Yale University (1967-1974). Robinson's interests were in aerodynamics, pure mathematics, and mathematical logic. Robinson died in New Haven, Connecticut on April 11, 1974.

From the description of Abraham Robinson papers, 1918-1988 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702182154

Abraham Robinson was born in Waldenberg, Germany, in 1918. After studying mathematics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he began studies in France, but was forced to flee to England in June 1940. Robinson received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1949 while teaching at the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield. His later teaching included appointments at the University of Toronto (1951-1957), the Hebrew University (1957-1962), the University of California, Los Angeles (1962-1967), and Yale University (1967-1974). Robinson's interests were in aerodynamics, pure mathematics, and mathematical logic. Robinson died in New Haven, Connecticut, on April 11, 1974.

Abraham Robinson was born on October 6, 1918, in Waldenburg, Germany. His father Abraham Robinsohn was a writer, philosopher, and ardent Zionist, who died just prior to his son's birth. The family moved to Breslau in 1925, and when Robinson was fourteen, he emigrated with his mother Hedwig Lotte Robinsohn and brother Saul to Palestine. He was a student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1936-1939, where he studied mathematics with Abraham Fraenkel.

In 1939 Robinson won a scholarship to the Sorbonne to continue his studies, but soon after his arrival in Paris the Nazis invaded France. Robinson escaped to England, where he volunteered for the Free French Air Force. In January, 1942, he joined the British forces and was appointed scientific officer in the Ministry of Aircraft Production. He was assigned to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough. Robinson's work was in the Structures and Mechanical Engineering Department and later in the Aerodynamics Department. It was during this time that he met his future wife, Renee Kopel. They were married on January 30, 1944.

In 1946 Robinson joined the staff of the newly established College of Aeronautics at Cranfield as a senior lecturer in charge of the teaching of mathematics. His work and publications to this date had qualified him to receive a M.Sc. degree from the Hebrew University. During the immediate post-war years, Robinson was also working on a thesis, "The Metamathematics of Algebraic Systems," under the supervision of P. Dienes of Birkbeck College. Robinson received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1949. From this time on Robinson's research was directed less towards aeronautics and more towards logic and mathematical foundations.

In 1950 Robinson became the deputy head of the department of aerodynamics at the College of Aeronautics, but he left there in 1951 to become an associate professor in the department of applied mathematics at the University of Toronto. In 1956 he was named professor and chairman of the department. His teaching involved a graduate course on wing theory as well as courses in fluid dynamics and partial differential equations. He also continued writing a book on wing theory with a former student J. A. Laurmann, which was published in 1956. His research in logic led to the publication of Theorie Metamematique des Ideaux (1955) and Complete Theories (1956). Robinson also produced papers on model theory and its applications to the theory of algebraically closed fields.

From 1957 until 1962, Robinson taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, occupying the chair in mathematics of his teacher Professor Fraenkel. In Israel, as he did for most of the rest of his life, Robinson devoted himself almost entirely to pure mathematics. His work from his years in Jerusalem and from 1960-1961, which Robinson spent as a visiting professor at Princeton University, were early explorations in nonstandard analysis, a field in which Robinson did pioneering work, and resulted in the publication (1963) of Introduction to Model Theory and the Metamathematics of Algebra.

From the Hebrew University Robinson went on to teach as a professor of mathematics and philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles (1962-1967) and then as professor and Sterling Professor of mathematics at Yale University (1967-1974). At UCLA Robinson served on the university's Committe on Education Policy and was its chairman during the academic year 1964-1965. He was also a member of the Academic Council which conferred with the president of the University of California system concerning issues involving all nine campuses in the system. Numbers and Ideals (1965), Non-Standard Analysis (1966), and Contributions to Non-Standard Analysis (1972) along with numerous articles were published during these years.

From 1968-1970 Robinson served as president of the Association for Symbolic Logic. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972 and received the Brouwer Medal of the Dutch Mathematical Society in 1973. His election to the National Academy of Sciences was awarded posthumously after his untimely death on April 11, 1974.

For a fuller biography of Abraham Robinson and analysis of Robinson's contributions to applied and pure mathematics, the reader is advised to consult the introductory pages in each of the three volumes of Selected Papers of Abraham Robinson, edited by H. J. Keisler, S. Körner, W. A. J. Luxemburg, and A. D. Young, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979). The volumes are included in box 1 of the Abraham Robinson Papers.

From the guide to the Abraham Robinson papers, 1918-1988, (Manuscripts and Archives)

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Subjects:

  • Nonstandard mathematical analysis
  • Algebra
  • Model theory
  • Logic, Symbolic and mathematical
  • Applied mathematics
  • Mathematics--Study and teaching
  • Philosophy of mathematics and science
  • Aerodynamics
  • Mathematical analysis, Nonstandard

Occupations:

  • Mathematicians

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