Oswald Veblen


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Oswald Veblen was born on 24 June 1880 in Decorah, Iowa, and he died on 10 August 1960 in Brooklyn, Maine. He entered the University of Iowa in 1894, receiving his BA in 1898. After earning a BA from Harvard University in 1901, he received his PhD in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1903, working on geometry under the direction of E. H. Moore, and studying philosophy with John Dewey. His “Hilbert's Foundations of Geometry” (1902), a review of the English translation of David Hilbert's Grundlagen der Geometrie, helped introduce Hilbert's work to those American mathematicians who had not themselves gone abroad to pursue advanced study, and introduced as well the themes of the consistency, completeness, and independence of sets of postulate for various mathematical theories that became the hallmark and central focus of the American postulate theorists. In this work, Veblen set the context of Hilbert's work and explained his axiomatic method as applied to geometry, noting (1902, p. 307) that his axioms “are in the main independent, but his system of elements is far from irreducible.” He points out (pp. 307–8) that Hilbert himself did not fully investigate the independence of his axioms, and that E. H. Moore had already shown that all but one of Hilbert's axioms are independent.


From The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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