Agnes Scott College

Ruth Moufang

Ruth Moufang

January 10, 1905 - November 26, 1977


Moufang studied mathematics at the University of Frankfurt, passing the teacher's examination in 1929. She received her Ph.D. in 1931 on projective geometry, then spent a fellowship year in Rome. She returned to Germany to lecture at the University of Konigsberg, then at the University of Frankfurt. She went on to complete her habilitation thesis, which entitled her to teach at the university level in Germany, but because she was a woman, Hitler's minister of education would not allowed her to teach the mostly male student population. Moufang therefore became the first German woman with a doctorate to be employed as an industrial mathematician when she went to work for the Krupps Research Institute in the fall of 1937. In 1946 she was finally able to accept a teaching position at the University of Frankfurt where, in 1957, she became the first woman in Germany to be appointed as a full professor.

Moufang helped to create a new mathematical specialty in the algebraic analysis of projective planes that drew upon a mixture of geometry and algebra. Chandler and Magnus write that "Her most outstanding contribution to this field [foundations of geometry] is a result which adds a third important discovery to two others made previously by Hilbert." She studied what are known today as the Moufang plane and Moufang loops. Moufang also published several papers in theoretical physics. To read about one of Moufang's theorems on loops, see the Theorem of the Day by Robin Whitty at www.theoremoftheday.org

References

  1. Srinivasan, Bhama. "Ruth Moufang, 1905-1977," The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol 6, No. 2 (1984), 51-55.
  2. Mehrtens, H. "Mougang, Ruth," in Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Volumes XVII-XVIII, Supplement II. Edited by Frederic L. Holmes. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990, p659.
  3. Chandler, Bruce and Magnus, Wilhelm. The History of Combinatorial Group Theory: A Case Study in the History of Ideas, Springer-Verlag, 1982, pp123, 136-137.
  4. MathSciNet [subscription required]
  5. Author Profile at zbMath
  6. Mathematics Genealogy Project
  7. Biography at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive.