Felix Hausdorff

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Felix Hausdorff (November 8, 1868 – January 26, 1942) was a German mathematician who is considered to be one of the founders of modern topology and who contributed significantly to set theory, descriptive set theory, measure theory, function theory, and functional analysis.



Hausdorff studied at the University of Leipzig, obtaining his Ph.D. in 1891. He taught mathematics in Leipzig until 1910, when he became professor of mathematics at the University of Bonn. He was professor at the University of Greifswald from 1913 to 1921. He then returned to Bonn. When the Nazis came to power, Hausdorff, who was Jewish, felt that as a respected university professor he would be spared from persecution. However, his abstract mathematics was denounced as "Jewish", useless, and "un-German"[citation needed] and he lost his position in 1935. Though he could no longer publish in Germany, Hausdorff continued to be an active research mathematician, publishing in the Polish journal Fundamenta Mathematicae. After Kristallnacht in 1938 as persecution of Jews escalated, Hausdorff became more and more isolated. He wrote to George Polya requesting a research fellowship in the United States, but these efforts came to nothing.[1] Finally, in 1942 when he could no longer avoid being sent to a concentration camp, Hausdorff committed suicide together with his wife, Charlotte Goldschmidt Hausdorff, and sister-in-law, Edith Goldschmidt Pappenheim,[2] on the 26th of January. They are buried in Bonn, Germany.


Hausdorff was the first to state a generalization of Cantor's Continuum Hypothesis; his Aleph Hypothesis, which appears in his 1908 article Grundzüge einer Theorie der geordneten Mengen, and which is equivalent to what is now called the Generalized Continuum Hypothesis.

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