Russian version

Gregory Mikhailovich Fikhtengol'ts

Born: June 5, 1888 in Odessa,
Died: June 26, 1959 in Leningrad

     The activities of Gregory Fikhtengol'ts (Fichtenholz) in Leningrad University continued for more than forty years. Almost all Leningrad mathematicians were to some extent his pupils. Among those who attended his lectures were S.L.Sobolev, L.V.Kantorovich, P.Ya.Polubarinova-Kochina, V.A.Ambartsumian, S.A.Khristianovich, D.K.Faddeev, I.P.Natanson, B.A.Venkov, S.M.Lozinsky, B.Z.Vulikh, N.P.Erugin, M.K.Gavurin, A.G.Pinsker, N.A.Lebedev, and many other outstanding Soviet mathematicians. The Chair of Mathematical Analysis founded by Fikhtengol'ts still includes a number of his pupils. Fikhtengol'ts headed it till his forced retirement in 1953.

The title page of the handritten lithographed lectures by Fikhtengol'ts (1918)

      Fikhtengol'ts founded the Leningrad school of the theory of functions of real variables. The history of this school goes back to his Master thesis on the theory of integral (1918). A series of papers on the metrical theory of functions made him one of the leading mathematicians working in this area. Fr. Riesz, G. Vitali, Ch. La Vallee Poussin were among his foreign correspondents during that years.

    A joint work of Fikhtengol'ts and L.V.Kantorovich initiated in 1934 the research of the Leningrad school on the functional analysis. At that time Fikhtengol'ts published several papers which were notable by an unusual (for that time) setting of the problem. Namely, he studied functionals which were continuous with respect to the essentially nonmetric convergence. Further development of the functional analysis confirmed the importance of such research.In the late 30s

      The seminar on functional analysis headed by Fikhtengol'ts and L.V.Kantorovich worked at the University for many years and played the role of  the center of Leningrad research in functional analysis.
A lecture in 1958Fikhtengol'ts liked all forms of pedagogical activities and tried to devote the most part of his forces to teaching. He was one of the organizers of the Pedagogical Institute. He worked much with schoolchildren, gave them lectures. In the 1930s he headed the work on school syllabuses. It was Fikhtengol'ts who initiated, in 1934, the first mathematical olympiad in the USSR. Fikhtengol'ts is most famous for his course of analysis that he gave at the University for more than thirty years. The books based on this course are well known all over the world. The three-volume treatise A Course of Differential and Integral Calculus  is an excellent encyclopedia of the mathematical analysis. But however good are these books, they do not give a complete idea of their author's pedagogical skill. It will not be an exaggeration to say that each of his lectures, for students, schoolchildren or teachers, was a pedagogical masterpiece. By the end of his lecture, even the blackboard looked like a piece of art.

    Brilliant lectures of Fikhtengol'ts concealed a lot of work. After forty years of teaching he still spent many hours on preparing his lectures, on thinking over each word. He had the same attitude to examinations. Fikhtengol'ts was an excellent examiner, both severe and friendly. He listened intently to a student, without missing a word, however incoherent and confused was the answer. Extraordinary conscientiousness, efficiency and a sense of responsibility complemented  his talent and were his most characteristic features.