- Tullio Levi-Civita
name = Tullio Levi-Civita
caption = Tullio Levi-Civita
March 29, 1873
December 29, 1941
nationality = Italian
absolute differential calculus
Tullio Levi-Civita (
March 29, 1873— December 29, 1941) (pronounced /'levi ˈʧivita/) was an Italian mathematician, most famous for his work on absolute differential calculus( tensor calculus) and its applications to the theory of relativitybut who also made significant contributions in other areas. He was a pupil of Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro, the inventor of tensor calculus. His work included foundational papers in both pure and applied mathematics, celestial mechanics(notably on the three-body problem) and hydrodynamics.
Born into an Italian family in
Padua, Levi-Civita was the son of Giacomo Levi-Civita, a lawyer and former senator. He graduated in 1892 from the University of PaduaFaculty of Mathematics. In 1894 he earned a teaching diploma after which he was appointed to the Pavia Faculty of Science teacher's college. In 1898 he was appointed to the Padua Chair of Rational Mechanics where he met and, in 1914, married Libera Trevisani, one of his pupils. He remained in his position at Padua until 1918, when he was appointed to the Chair of Higher Analysis at the University of Rome; in another two years he was appointed to the Chair of Mechanics there.
In 1900 he and Ricci-Curbastro published "the theory of
tensors in Méthodes de calcul differential absolu et leurs applications" which Albert Einsteinused as a resource to master the tensor calculus, a critical tool in Einstein's development of the theory of general relativity. Levi-Civita's series of papers on the problem of a static gravitational field were also discussed in his 1915–1917 correspondence with Einstein. The correspondence was initiated by Levi-Civita, as he found mathematical errors in Einstein's use of tensor calculus to explain theory of relativity. Levi-Civita methodically kept all of Einstein's replies to him, and even though Einstein hadn't kept Levi-Civita's, the entire correspondence could be re-constructed from Levi-Civita's archive. It's evident from these letters that, after numerous letters, the two men had grown to respect each other. In one of the letters, regarding Levi-Civita's new work, Einstein wrote "I admire the elegance of your method of computation; it must be nice to ride through these fields upon the horse of true mathematics while the like of us have to make our way laboriously on foot". In 1933 Levi-Civita contributed to Paul Dirac's equations in quantum mechanicsas well. [C Cattani and M De Maria, Geniality and rigor: the Einstein - Levi-Civita correspondence (1915–1917), "Riv. Stor. Sci." (2) 4 (1) (1996), 1–22; as cited in MacTutor archive.]
His textbook on tensor calculus, "The Absolute Differential Calculus" (originally a set of lecture notes in Italian co-authored with Ricci-Curbastro), remains one of the standard texts more than a century after its first publication, with several translations available.
In 1938, when racial laws were passed by Italian Fascist government, Levi-Civita lost his professorship and membership in all scientific societies. He eventually died isolated from the rest of the scientific world in his apartment in Rome in 1941.
Among his Ph.D. students were
Octav Onicescuand Gheorghe Vrânceanu.
Later on, when asked what he liked best about Italy, Einstein said "spaghetti and Levi-Civita". [Citation|last = Jackson|first = Allyn|year = 1996|contribution = Celebrating the 100th Annual Meeting of the AMS|editor-last = Case|editor-first = Bettye Anne|title = A Century of Mathematical Meetings|place = Providence, RI|publisher =
American Mathematical Society|id = ISBN 0-8218-0465-0|pages = 10–18]
Other Studies and Honors
Analytic dynamics was another aspect of Levi-Civita's studies: many of his articles examine the
three body problem. He wrote articles on hydrodynamics and on systems of differential equations. He is credited with improvements to the Cauchy-Kowalevski theorem, on which he wrote a book in 1931. In 1933, he contributed to work on the Dirac equation.
Royal Societyawarded him the Sylvester Medalin 1922 and elected him as a fellow in 1930. He became an honorary member of the London Mathematical Society, of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, following his participation in their colloquium in 1930 at the University of St Andrews. He was also a member of the Accademia dei Linceiand the Accademia Pontificia.
Vito Volterra, being Jewish and an anti-fascist, he was expelled from the Academy in his country and died from sorrow.
* Tullio Levi-Civita and Ugo Amaldi "Lezioni di meccanica razionale (Bologna: N. Zanichelli, 1923)"
* Tullio Levi-Civita and Enrico Persico "Fondamenti di meccanica relativistica ( Bologna : N. Zanichelli, 1928)"
* Tullio Levi-Civita "Lezioni di calcolo differenziale assoluto"
* Tullio Levi-Civita "Caratteristiche e propagazione ondosa"
* Tullio Levi-Civita "Questioni di mecanica classica e relativista ( Bologna, N. Zanichelli, 1924)"
* Tullio Levi "Problème des N Corps en relativité générale (Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1950, Mémorial des sciences mathématiques ISSN: 0025-9187)"
* Tullio Levi-Civita and Ugo Amaldi "Nozioni di balistica esterna"
*Levi-Civita, T.: Nozione di parallelismo in una varieta qualunque, Rend. Circ. Mat. Palermo 42 (1917), 173-205.
* Amir D. Aczel, "God's Equation", MJF Books, New York, 1999.
* Angelo Loinger, "Einstein, Levi-Civita, and Bianchi relations", arXiv:physics/0702244v1 [physics.gen-ph]
* [http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Levi-Civita.html Scienceworld biography]
* [http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Biographies/MainBiographies/L/Levi-Civita/1.html Another short biography]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.