Alex F.T.W. Rosenberg



Alex at Berkeley, Tuesday, 16 January 1979
(photo by George Bergman, with his permission)

Alex died on Saturday, 27 Oct 2007, in Germany, where he'd lived since the late 1990s. Click here for a link to an obituary with information about a Cornell University mathematics library book fund in his honour.

Alex F.T.W. Rosenberg (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1951) spent a decade on the faculty at Northwestern, then a quarter century at Cornell, and finally 8 years at UC Santa Barbara, from which he retired in 1994. During those years he also did stints at the Institute for Advanced Study, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Dortmund Universität. He turned 80 on 5th December 2006. He lived in Schwerte, Germany, since the late 1990s, having been born in Berlin (where he also spent his early years). Further details on his life are available from the first above link.

Most of what follows was gleaned from the wonderful Mathematics Genealogy Project. The Mathematics Genealogy Project

Alex is 3rd of the 55 Ph.D. students that Irving Kaplansky (Ph.D., Harvard, 1941) had between 1950 and 1978. Kaplansky was the first doctoral student of Saunders MacLane (D.Phil, Gottingen, 1934), who had 36 Ph.D. students in total between 1941 and 1976, and two dissertation advisors himself. MacLane died in 2005.

One of MacLane's advisors was Hermann Weyl (MacLane was Weyl's only student), who in turn was a 1908 doctoral student of David Hilbert's (who had 69 students). Hilbert was one of 4 students of Lindemann, who in turn was one of the 52 students of Felix Klein, who had two advisors, Plucker (whose own advisor is unknown) and Lipschitz (Klein was his only student), who was a student of Dirchlet (whose other students were Eisenstein and Kronecker), who in turn was the only student of both Poisson and Fourier, who were themselves the only students of Lagrange, with whom they completed their dissertations in 1827. Lagrange's advisor was Euler. Euler did his dissertation with Johann Bernoulli (in 1726), who did his with Jacob Bernoulli (in 1694), who did his with Leibniz, who got his own doctorate under Erhand Weigel (in 1666). There the trail runs cold....though we know he did his dissertation in 1650! While Weigel may not be a household name today, he appears to have had 37386 mathematical descendants so far, so he has a lot to answer for:-)

Saunders MacLane's other advisor was Bernays, who in turn was a student of Edmund Landau in 1912, who in turn was a student of Frobenius (and, it appears, Lazarus Fuchs) in 1899. Frobenius in turn was a student of both Weierstrass (who didn't have a Ph.D. advisor but had 22 students) and Kummer (in 1870). (Fuchs too had been a student of Kummer, and also of Ohm...)

Kummer, who has 51 students, including Cantor, Christoffel, Runge, and Schur, obtained his degree in 1831 with Scherk, who was a student of Bessel, and also of Heinrich Brandes, in 1823. (Brandes himself had two advisors for his dissertation in 1800, one of whom had advised the other for his thesis in 1765!) Bessel was a student of Gauss (in 1810). Gauss's 38,500+ descendants include Dedekind and Riemann. See the Mathematics Genealogy Project for further information.

MacLane died in 2005, and Kaplansky in 2006.

Colm, Alex, Vicki Powers, Germany, summer 1989?

Probably taken circa 1997 in Santa Barbara.
Colm & Alex, Schwerte, Germany, early January, 2003.

Number of visitors since 16 Nov 2007:


(This is http://www5.spelman.edu/~colm/alex.html, click here to return to main page).