Ernst Zermelo
Ernst Zermelo  

Ernst Zermelo in Freiburg (1953)


Born  Berlin, German Empire 
27 July 1871
Died  21 May 1953 Freiburg im Breisgau, West Germany 
(aged 81)
Nationality  Germany 
Fields  Mathematics 
Institutions  University of Zürich 
Alma mater  University of Berlin 
Doctoral advisor  Lazarus Fuchs Hermann Schwarz 
Doctoral students  Waldemar Alexandrow Pessach Hebroni Stefan Straszewicz 
Known for  Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory 
Notable awards  Ackermann–Teubner Memorial Award (1916) 
Ernst Friedrich Ferdinand Zermelo (German: [ʦɛrˈmeːlo]; 27 July 1871 – 21 May 1953) was a German logician and mathematician, whose work has major implications for the foundations of mathematics.^{[citation needed]} He is known for his role in developing Zermelo–Fraenkel axiomatic set theory and his proof of the wellordering theorem.
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Life
Ernst Zermelo graduated from Berlin's Luisenstädtisches Gymnasium in 1889. He then studied mathematics, physics and philosophy at the universities of Berlin, Halle and Freiburg. He finished his doctorate in 1894 at the University of Berlin, awarded for a dissertation on the calculus of variations (Untersuchungen zur Variationsrechnung). Zermelo remained at the University of Berlin, where he was appointed assistant to Planck, under whose guidance he began to study hydrodynamics. In 1897, Zermelo went to Göttingen, at that time the leading centre for mathematical research in the world, where he completed his habilitation thesis in 1899.
In 1910, Zermelo left Göttingen upon being appointed to the chair of mathematics at Zurich University, which he resigned in 1916. He was appointed to an honorary chair at Freiburg im Breisgau in 1926, which he resigned in 1935 because he disapproved of Adolf Hitler's regime. At the end of World War II and at his request, Zermelo was reinstated to his honorary position in Freiburg.
Research in set theory
In 1900, in the Paris conference of the International Congress of Mathematicians, David Hilbert challenged the mathematical community with his famous Hilbert's problems, a list of 23 unsolved fundamental questions which mathematicians should attack during the coming century. The first of these, a problem of set theory, was the continuum hypothesis introduced by Cantor in 1878, and in the course of its statement Hilbert mentioned also the need to prove the wellordering theorem.
Zermelo began to work on the problems of set theory under Hilbert's influence and in 1902 published his first work concerning the addition of transfinite cardinals. By that time he had also discovered the socalled Russell paradox. In 1904, he succeeded in taking the first step suggested by Hilbert towards the continuum hypothesis when he proved the wellordering theorem (every set can be well ordered). This result brought fame to Zermelo, who was appointed Professor in Göttingen, in 1905. His proof of the wellordering theorem, based on the powerset axiom and the axiom of choice, was not accepted by all mathematicians, mostly because the axiom of choice was a paradigm of nonconstructive mathematics. In 1908, Zermelo succeeded in producing an improved proof making use of Dedekind's notion of the "chain" of a set, which became more widely accepted; this was mainly because that same year he also offered an axiomatization of set theory.
Zermelo began to axiomatize set theory in 1905; in 1908, he published his results despite his failure to prove the consistency of his axiomatic system. See the article on Zermelo set theory for an outline of this paper, together with the original axioms, with the original numbering.
In 1922, Adolf Fraenkel and Thoralf Skolem independently improved Zermelo's axiom system. The resulting 8 axiom system, now called ZermeloFraenkel axioms (ZF), is now the most commonly used system for axiomatic set theory.
Proposed in 1931, the Zermelo's navigation problem is a classic optimal control problem. The problem deals with a boat navigating on a body of water, originating from a point O to a destination point D. The boat is capable of a certain maximum speed, and we want to derive the best possible control to reach D in the least possible time.
Without considering external forces such as current and wind, the optimal control is to follow a straight line segment from O to D. With consideration of current and wind, the shortest path from O to D is in fact, not the optimal solution.
Bibliography
Primary literature in English translation:
 Jean van Heijenoort, 1967. From Frege to Gödel: A Source Book in Mathematical Logic, 1879–1931. Harvard Univ. Press.
 1904. "Proof that every set can be wellordered," 139−41.
 1908. "A new proof of the possibility of wellordering," 183–98.
 1908. "Investigations in the foundations of set theory I," 199–215.
 1913. "On an Application of Set Theory to the Theory of the Game of Chess" in Rasmusen E., ed., 2001. Readings in Games and Information, WileyBlackwell: 79–82.
 1930. "On boundary numbers and domains of sets: new investigations in the foundations of set theory" in Ewald, William B., ed., 1996. From Kant to Hilbert: A Source Book in the Foundations of Mathematics, 2 vols. Oxford University Press: 1219–33.
Other books:
 Zermelo's Axiom of Choice, Its Origins, Development, & Influence, Volume 8 of Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Springer Verlag, New York, 1982.
See also
 Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory
 Zermelo set theory
 Wellordering theorem
 Zermelo's theorem (game theory)
 14990 Zermelo, asteroid
References
 GrattanGuinness, Ivor (2000) The Search for Mathematical Roots 1870–1940. Princeton University Press.
 Kanamori, Akihiro (2004). "Zermelo and set theory". The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic. 10 (4): 487–553. MR 2136635. doi:10.2178/bsl/1102083759.
 Schwalbe, Ulrich; Walker, Paul (2001). Zermelo and the Early History of Game Theory (PDF). Games and Economic Behavior. 34. pp. 123–137. doi:10.1006/game.2000.0794.
 Ebbinghaus, HeinzDieter (2007) Ernst Zermelo: An Approach to His Life and Work. Springer. ISBN 3642080502
External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to [[commons:Category:{{#property:P373}}Ernst Zermelo]]. 
 Use dmy dates from June 2015
 Articles with unsourced statements from January 2011
 1871 births
 1953 deaths
 20thcentury philosophers
 German mathematicians
 German philosophers
 Mathematical logicians
 Writers from Berlin
 People from the Province of Brandenburg
 Set theorists
 People associated with the University of Zurich
 Humboldt University of Berlin alumni
 Martin Luther University of HalleWittenberg alumni
 University of Freiburg alumni
 University of Freiburg faculty
 University of Göttingen faculty
 German male writers