# Lánczos, Kornél

(Székesfehérvár, February 2nd, 1893 – Budapest, June 25th, 1974)

Lánczos studied mathematics and physics at the University of Science, in Budapest where he also attended the lectures of Lóránd Eötvös and, then, he became an assistant professor at the Technical University of Budapest.

At that time, he was interested primarily in how to interpret Maxwell's laws of magnetic fields from the new findings that appearing in the space-time geometry of the special relativity theory - e.g. the non-Euclidean structure of space and time. In his doctorate thesis, he demonstrated how to connect Maxwell's equations with the criteria of differentiability in the theory of functions of hypercomplex numbers introduced in the proper role - i.e. numbers composed of four instead of two components, the so-called quaternions.

Having obtained his doctorate, he emigrated and worked in Frankfurt and, then, in Berlin. He got into close contact with Einstein and the work connection that deepened between them to friendship in the course of time remained until the death of Einstein (1955). The *interconnection between Lánczos and the general relativity theory* is one of Lánczos' pronounced scientific characteristics. The fact that *Lánczos and quantum mechanics* were interconnected gives evidence of his sensitivity to important problems.

Lánczos, who later went to America, taught quantum-mechanics at Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana, USA) first (1931) and, then, he participated in the education of aircraft engineers and in research. In 1943 and 1944, he was employed by the American National Bureau of Standards and, between 1946 and 1949, he worked in Seattle as a researcher for Boeing. During that time, he systematised his experiences gained in the field of theory and practice relating to computing technology (prior to the appearance of computers). This resulted in his monograph entitled "Applied analysis" which, among others, describes the so-called *Lánczos-algorithm* (a faster method of summing infinite series and solving transcendent equations) and presents procedures to handle large-size matrices. His results proved to be of great importance even for modern computing technology.

During the last period of his life, he worked in Ireland at the Dublin Institute of Advances Studies.

He summarised his experiences in a number of world-famous books *(Applied Analysis; Theory and Application of Fourier Series; Theory of Linear Differential Operators; "Numbers everywhere"; Variation Principles of Mechanics (1949); Einstein and the Cosmic Universal Order (1965), The Development of the Geometric Space Concept; Einstein's Decade: 1905 to 1915.*

In his last years, he returned to Hungary, his home country, several times. He was received with high respect; the Roland Eötvös Physical Society adopted him as an honorary member. A certain number of his books and studies were also published in Hungarian.

**quaternions**

Quaternions are an extension to the complex numbers into the fourth dimension. They may be seen as four dimensional vectors (with one scalar and a vector in three space). With them such problems can be solved , where complex numbers fails. E.g. the factorisation of a^{2}+b^{2}+c^{2}+d^{2}. In physics it's applied for relativity, in computer science and robotics objects can be rotated faster than with matrices and it's better for interpolation of movements.

**Roland Eötvös Mathematical and Physical Society**

It was a society established on the initiative of Loránd Eötvös in 1891 to promote the study of mathematics and physics. The chairman of the Society was Loránd Eötvös and its first ordinary member was Ányos Jedlik, aged 91 that time. The Societys journal was Mathematikai és Physikai Lapok (Mathematical and Physical Papers). The Society organises a mathematical and physical competition in Budapest and Kolozsvár in autumn every year for students passing their final examinations at Hungarian public secondary schools in that very year.

In 1921, the Society took the name of Eötvös Loránd Mathematical and Physical Society.

After World War II, the Society divided: in 1947, the János Bolyai Mathematical Society was founded and, in 1949, the Roland Eötvös Physical Society came into existence.