# Arthur Erdélyi

Arthur Erdélyi | |
---|---|

Born | 2 October 1908 Budapest |

Died | 12 December 1977 Edinburgh |

Citizenship | British |

Nationality | Hungarian |

Fields | Mathematics |

Institutions | University of Edinburgh, CalTech |

Known for | special functions, asymptotic analysis, fractional integration, partial differential equations |

**Arthur Erdélyi** FRS,^{[1]} FRSE (2 October 1908 – 12 December 1977) was a Hungarian-born British mathematician. Erdélyi was a leading expert on special functions, particularly orthogonal polynomials and hypergeometric functions.^{[2]}^{[3]}

## Contents

## Biography

Erdélyi was born in Budapest, Hungary to Ignác Diamant and Frieda Roth. He attended the primary and secondary schools there from 1914 to 1926. His interest in mathematics dates back to this time. Erdélyi was a Jew, so it was difficult for him to receive a university education in his native Hungary. He travelled to Brno, Czechoslovakia, to obtain a degree in electrical engineering. However, after his flair for mathematics was discovered (he won several prizes in a competition in his first year), he was persuaded to study the subject.

He soon after began to conduct theoretical research into mathematics, and his first paper was published in 1930. At the end of 1936, he had already published 18 papers, and 11 more appeared in 1937. However, due to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia and neighbouring countries, Erdélyi was forced to flee the country.

Erdélyi contacted Edmund Whittaker, a fellow expert in hypergeometric functions, asking for his assistance and soon after, Erdélyi travelled to Edinburgh, Scotland, after receiving £400 for a visa from Whittaker. He joined the University of Edinburgh, and after 2 years there, became a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics (after gaining a DSc in 1940 based on his already extensive published work).

In 1946, after Harry Bateman died, Whittaker was asked to recommend a mathematician who could start the task of publishing Bateman's manuscripts: the Bateman Manuscript Project. Erdélyi was chosen, and in 1947, after becoming a naturalised British citizen, travelled to Caltech, California as a Visiting Professor. He returned to Edinburgh in 1948, only to resign in 1949 to assume the position of Professor of Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology. This was a post he was to hold for the next 15 years, and he retained his citizenship of Britain while in the United States.

In 1964, he returned to Edinburgh as a Professor of Mathematics, a position he held until his death in 1977.

## Research

Erdélyi was primarily an expert in special functions, in particular, Lamé functions, hypergeometric functions and orthogonal polynomials. He also contributed to the field of asymptotic analysis, fractional integration and partial differential equations. He introduced the Erdélyi–Kober operators for fractional integration. He wrote two books of high standing - *Asymptotic Expansions (1955)* (reprinted by Dover) and *Operational Calculus and Generalised Functions (1962)*

## Awards

Erdélyi received several honours, including being elected to the Royal Society as a Fellow in 1975.^{[1]} He also became a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1945, and was also elected a member of the Academy of Sciences of Turin.

## References

- ↑
^{1.0}^{1.1}Jones, D. S. (1979). "Arthur Erdelyi. 2 October 1908-12 December 1977".*Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society*.**25**: 266. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1979.0009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> - ↑ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Arthur Erdélyi",
*MacTutor History of Mathematics archive*, University of St Andrews<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. - ↑ Arthur Erdélyi at the Mathematics Genealogy Project

- Use dmy dates from December 2010
- 1908 births
- 1977 deaths
- People from Budapest
- British Jews
- Hungarian Jews
- Jews who immigrated to the United Kingdom to escape Nazism
- Fellows of the Royal Society
- Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
- California Institute of Technology faculty
- Academics of the University of Edinburgh
- 20th-century mathematicians
- British people of Hungarian descent
- 20th-century British mathematicians
- Hungarian refugees
- Jewish refugees