Umberto Bottazzini to receive 2015 AMS Whiteman Prize

December 01, 2014

Umberto Bottazzini will be awarded the 2015 AMS Albert Leon Whiteman Memorial Prize at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January in San Antonio, Texas. Bottazzini is a professor of the history of mathematics at the University of Milan. He is honored for "his many works in the history of mathematics, notably on the rise of modern mathematics in Italy and on analysis in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

Bottazzini studied mathematics at the University of Milan, and after graduation in the 1970s his interests turned toward the history of mathematics. Over the ensuing 40 years, Bottazzini's work has greatly advanced understanding of the development of modern mathematics in Italy and beyond, particularly in the area of complex analysis. His book The Higher Calculus: A History of Real and Complex Analysis from Euler to Weierstrass (English translation, 1986) is "the first book on the history of analysis to treat the real and complex aspects together, in keeping with their progress through the 19th century," the prize citation says. "It combines insights into the mathematics with a vigorous sensitivity to context and intellectual history, it embraces issues of foundational importance as they arose in applied mathematics, and it succinctly captures the lives and interests of working mathematicians."

In 1994, Bottazzini published a collection of essays, Va' pensiero. Immagini della matematica nell'Italia dell'Ottocento (Fly, Thought: Images of Mathematics in 19th Century Italy). This book contributed to a much-enhanced recognition of the role of Italian mathematicians during the 19th century. Bottazzini's book Il flauto di Hilbert (Hilbert's Flute) (2003), presents a rich history of mathematical ideas from Newton and Leibniz to the work of the German mathematician David Hilbert (1862-1943) and beyond.

Bottazzini has written not only for specialists but for the general public as well. For more than twenty-five years his column on mathematical subjects has appeared regularly in the Sunday Supplement of the Italian newspaper Il sole-24ore. In 2006, he was awarded the Pitagora Prize from the Italian town of Crotone, for the popularization of mathematics. His other honors include election in the inaugural class of AMS Fellows in 2013.

The prize citation concludes: "The range and quality of [Bottazzini's] contributions is appreciated equally for their historical subtlety and mathematical insight, and make him a natural recipient of the Whiteman Prize."

Presented every three years, the Whiteman Prize honors notable exposition that centers on the history of mathematics and that reflects exceptional mathematical scholarship. The prize will be awarded at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 4:25 PM, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Find out more about AMS prizes and awards at

Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the nearly 30,000 member American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.

American Mathematical Society

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