Kürschák, József

(Buda, March 14th, 1864 – Budapest, March 26th, 1933)

Kürschák, József

An outstanding professor of mathematics at the Technical University of Budapest, Web link part of his comprehensive activity that has become classical today covered the field designated formerly as "modern algebra" and known today as "abstract algebra". He was also an excellent teacher; the best-known Hungarian competition in mathematics, the Kürschák competition keeps the memory of his name.

Following his grammar school studies, he gained admission to the Technical University, studying to be a mathematics-physics teacher.

In 1886, he moved to Rozsnyó (today Roznava, Slovakia) and acted as a substitute teacher. In 1888, he was moved to the State Technical College. In 1890, he obtained his university doctorate in mathematics, theoretical physics and experimental physics and, in 1891, he was appointed a demonstrator at the Technical University and, in the same year, he became an associate professor. This title entitled him to work at the university. Kürschák became an artist of teaching. His teaching objectives were not limited to the identification of outstanding talent; although he had a number of excellent students, among others John von Neumann and Edward Teller.

In 1892, he was qualified senior assistant professor; however, his permanent appointment to a university post was granted only in 1893, in the preliminary capacity of grammar school master. Within the scope of preparations for the millenary celebrations, Kürschák was involved in the Bolyai-research and, later, he became one of the editors of the new edition of Farkas Bolyai's "Tentamen" and contributed to a large extent to making the public acquainted with the work of János Bolyai.

In 1896, at the age of 32, he was appointed extraordinary professor and, in 1900, he became an extraordinary full professor and, in 1904, a full professor on the No. 3 Mathematics Department.

He presented his most important scientific result on the theory of evaluated bodies - also known as Kürschák's theory of evaluation - at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Web link in 1912 and, later, at the International Mathematics Congress. Kürschák met with success in the field of variation calculus and wrote a paper on the inverse operation of variation calculus, the result of which was the generalisation of the module concept. In the theory of numbers, he simplified Hilbert's proof of the Waring-guess. In a number of his papers, he dealt with the irreducibility of determinants and matrices. In the theory of construction, he demonstrated that a single compass of fixed span could substitute for a compass of variable span. He also achieved success in the field of the theory of differential equations.

Memberships: correspondent member (1896) and, later, full member (1914) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; honorary member of the Dutch Scientific Association (1907).