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Summary Article: Noether, Emmy (1882-1935)
From The Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography

Place: Germany

Subject: biography, maths and statistics

German mathematician who became one of the leading figures in modern abstract algebra.

Noether was born in Erlangen on 23 March 1882, the eldest child of the mathematician Max Noether, professor of mathematics at the University of Erlangen. After completing her secondary education, she came up against the rule then prevailing in Germany that barred women from becoming fully fledged students at a university. She was, however, allowed to attend lectures in languages and mathematics without student status for two years 1900-02; eventually she was accepted as a student and awarded a doctorate in 1907 for a thesis on algebraic invariants.

Once more the rules blocked her way, this time barring her from a post in the university faculty. She nevertheless persisted with her research independently and at the request of David Hilbert was invited to give lectures at Göttingen University 1915-16. There she worked with Hilbert and Felix Klein on problems arising from Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, and thanks to Hilbert's constant nagging the university eventually, in 1919, gave her the status of ‘unofficial associate professor’. In 1922 her position was made official, and she remained at Göttingen until the Nazi purge of Jewish university staff in 1933. The rest of her life was spent as professor of mathematics at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she died from a post-surgical infection on 14 April 1935.

Noether first made her mark as a mathematician with a paper on non-commutative fields which she published in collaboration with Schmeidler in 1920. For the next few years she worked on the establishment, and systematization, of a general theory of ideals. It was in this field that she produced her most important result, a generalization of Richard Dedekind's prime ideals and the introduction of the concept of primary ideals. Modern work in this field dates from her papers of the early 1920s. After 1927 she returned to the subject of non-commutative algebras (in which the order in which numbers are multiplied affects the result), her chief investigations being conducted into linear transformations of non-commutative algebras and their structure.

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