1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lie, Marius Sophus

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4171831911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 16 — Lie, Marius Sophus

LIE, MARIUS SOPHUS (1842–1899), Norwegian mathematician, was born at Nordfjordeif, near Bergen, on the 17th of December 1842, and was educated at the university of Christiania, where he took his doctor’s degree in 1868 and became extraordinary professor of mathematics (a chair created specially for him) four years later. In 1886 he was chosen to succeed Felix Klein in the chair of geometry at Leipzig, but as his fame grew a special post was arranged for him in Christiania. But his health was broken down by too assiduous study, and he died at Christiania on the 18th of February 1899, six months after his return. Lie’s work exercised a great influence on the progress of mathematical science during the later decades of the 19th century. His primary aim has been declared to be the advancement and elaboration of the theory of differential equations, and it was with this end in view that he developed his theory of transformation groups, set forth in his Theorie der Transformationsgruppen (3 vols., Leipzig, 1888–1893), a work of wide range and great originality, by which probably his name is best known. A special application of his theory of continuous groups was to the general problem of non-Euclidean geometry. The latter part of the book above mentioned was devoted to a study of the foundations of geometry, considered from the standpoint of B. Riemann and H. von Helmholtz; and he intended to publish a systematic exposition of his geometrical investigations, in conjunction with Dr G. Scheffers, but only one volume made its appearance (Geometrie der Berührungstransformationen, Leipzig, 1896). Lie was a foreign member of the Royal Society, as well as an honorary member of the Cambridge Philosophical Society and the London Mathematical Society, and his geometrical inquiries gained him the much-coveted honour of the Lobatchewsky prize.

An analysis of Lie’s works is given in the Bibliotheca Mathematica (Leipzig, 1900).