More on Hilbert’s tenth problem

Mathematician Julia Robinson in 1975
Image via Wikipedia

One of the best things about WordPress.com is that it gives me, as a blog author, the opportunity to link in other relevant stories and so it was with my last post on diaphantine sets and the integers.

The top linked item there gives a lot more on David Hilbert‘s “tenth problem” – which was solved (negatively), in its original conception for the integers, in 1970 but which remains open in wider domain of the rational numbers.

One of the items is a short film on Julia Robinson – a truly remarkable woman who contributed so much this field. Despite once being president of the American Mathematical Society and a truly world leading mathematician, Robinson, as a woman, often struggled to find work in the field.

But getting to the top had always been a struggle for her – as The Honors Class: Hilbert’s Problems and Their Solvers relates her (adoptive) mother was keen for her to get a teachers’ diploma and forget maths, she lost a years schooling due to childhood illness and she also, as an adult, suffered from a serious heart complaint and at one time was given a very gloomy medical prognosis as a result of that same illness.

It’s also worth noting that Constance Reid, described in the film as Julia Robertson’s biographer (and indeed a distinguished biographer of mathematicians) was rather more than that: she was also Julia’s sister.