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Toward a scientific and personal biography of Tullio Levi-Civita (1873–1941). (English) Zbl 1078.01018
Tullio Levi-Civita (1873–1941), one of the leading Italian mathematicians of the first half of the 20th century, has left a vast archive including about 5000 letters, which is kept in the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome. The authors have been working on his correspondence since some time and in this paper they present the course of Levi-Civita’s life illustrated by excerpt from the letters. Until the end of the first world war he was a student and then a professor of the University of Padua and his scientific interests covered the three-body problem, hydrodynamics, tensor calculus, and general relativity, to all of which he made serious contributions. Following repeated requests from Castelnuovo, in 1918 Levi-Civita moved to Rome where he became an influential member of an internationally recognized mathematical group. However, the tide of Fascism of the country carried him away. He was steadily loosing his positions and finally was expelled from the university. His removal from the editorial board of Zentralblatt caused an international reaction and helped to found Mathematical Reviews. In spite of his personal sufferings, he tried to help colleagues and students who also suffered political and racial persecution. The paper offers a well documented insight into the life of an eminent mathematician who battled against totalitarian regime.

MSC:
01A60 History of mathematics in the 20th century
01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies
Biographic References:
Levi-Civita, Tullio
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