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Tullio Levi Civita

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Tullio Levi-Civita

ˈlɛːvi ˈtʃiːvita]; 29 March 1873 – 29 December 1941) was an Italian

mathematician, most famous for his work on absolute differential calculus

(tensor calculus) and its applications to the theory of relativity, but 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), analytic mechanics (the Levi-Civita separability

conditions in the Hamilton–Jacobi equation)[2] and hydrodynamics.[3][4]

Contents

Biography

Other studies and honors

Tullio Levi-Civita

Works

Articles

Born 29 March 1873

Books Padua, Italy

Notes (aged 68)

Rome, Italy

References

Biographical references Nationality Italian

General references

Alma mater University of Padua

Scientific references

Publications dedicated to his memory Known for Tensor calculus

External links Levi-Civita symbol

Levi-Civita

connection

Biography Levi-Civita field

Born into an Italian Jewish family in Padua, Levi-Civita was the son of Scientific career

Giacomo Levi-Civita, a lawyer and former senator. He graduated in 1892 from

Fields Mathematics

the University of Padua Faculty of Mathematics. In 1894 he earned a teaching

Institutions University of Rome

diploma after which he was appointed to the Faculty of Science teacher's

college in Pavia. In 1898 he was appointed to the Padua Chair of Rational Doctoral Gregorio Ricci-

Mechanics (left uncovered by death of Ernesto Padova) where he met and, in advisor Curbastro

1914, married Libera Trevisani, one of his pupils. He remained in his position Doctoral Evan Tom Davies

at Padua until 1918, when he was appointed to the Chair of Higher Analysis at students Albert Joseph

the University of Rome; in another two years he was appointed to the Chair of

McConnell

Mechanics there.

Octav Onicescu

Attilio Palatini

In 1900 he and Ricci-Curbastro published Antonio Signorini

the theory of tensors in Méthodes de calcul Libera Trevisani

différentiel absolu et leurs applications,[5]

Gheorghe

which Albert Einstein used as a resource to

Vrânceanu

master the tensor calculus, a critical tool in

the development of the theory of general

relativity. In 1917 he introduced the notion of parallel transport[6] in Riemannian

geometry, motivated by the will to simplify the computation of the curvature of a

Riemannian manifold.[7] 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

Tullio Levi-Civita Einstein's use of tensor calculus to explain the theory of relativity. Levi-Civita

methodically kept all of Einstein's replies to him; and even though Einstein had not

kept Levi-Civita's, the entire correspondence could be re-constructed from Levi-Civita's

archive. It is evident from this 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 mechanics as well.[8]

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 1936, receiving an invitation from Einstein, Levi-Civita traveled to Princeton, United States and lived there with him for

a year. But when the risk of war in Europe again rose, he returned to Italy. The 1938 race laws enacted by the Italian

Fascist government deprived Levi-Civita of his professorship and of his membership of all scientific societies. Isolated

from the scientific world, he died in his apartment in Rome in 1941.

Among his PhD students were Octav Onicescu, Attilio Palatini and Gheorghe Vrânceanu.

Later on, when asked what he liked best about Italy, Einstein said "spaghetti and Levi-Civita".[9]

Analytical 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. He

developed the Levi-Civita field, a system of numbers that includes infinitesimal quantities.

The Royal Society awarded him the Sylvester Medal in 1922 and elected him as a foreign member 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 Lincei and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Like Vito Volterra, being Jewish and anti-fascist, Levi-Civita was expelled from the Academy in his country as a

consequence of the Italian Racial Laws.

Works

All his mathematical works, except for the monographs, the treatises and the textbooks are published in the six volumes of

his "Collected works", in a revised typographical form, both amending typographical errors and author's oversights.

Articles

Ricci, Gregorio; Levi-Civita, Tullio (1900), "Méthodes de calcul différentiel absolu et leurs applications" (http://eudml.or

g/doc/157997) [Methods of the absolute differential calculus and their applications], Mathematische Annalen (in

French), 54 (1–2): 125–201, doi:10.1007/BF01454201 (https://doi.org/10.1007%2FBF01454201), JFM 31.0297.01 (ht

tps://zbmath.org/?format=complete&q=an:31.0297.01).

Levi-Civita, Tullio (1904), "Sulla integrazione della equazione di Hamilton-Jacobi per separazione di variabili" (http://g

dz.sub.uni-goettingen.de/dms/load/img/?PID=GDZPPN00225994X) [On the integration of the Hamilton-Jacobi

equation by separation of variables], Mathematische Annalen (in Italian), 59 (3): 383, doi:10.1007/bf01445149 (https://

doi.org/10.1007%2Fbf01445149), JFM 35.0362.02 (https://zbmath.org/?format=complete&q=an:35.0362.02).

Levi-Civita, Tullio (1917), "Nozione di parallelismo in una varietà qualunque e conseguente specificazione geometrica

della curvatura riemanniana" [Notion of parallelism in any variety and consequent geometric specification of the

Riemannian curvature], Rendiconti del Circolo Matematico di Palermo (in Italian), 42: 173–205,

doi:10.1007/BF03014898 (https://doi.org/10.1007%2FBF03014898), JFM 46.1125.02 (https://zbmath.org/?format=co

mplete&q=an:46.1125.02).

Books

Tullio Levi-Civita and Ugo Amaldi Lezioni di meccanica razionale (Bologna: N. Zanichelli, 1923)

Tullio Levi-Civita Questioni di meccanica classica e relativistica (Bologna, N. Zanichelli, 1924)

Tullio Levi-Civita Lezioni di calcolo differenziale assoluto (Roma: Alberto Stock Editore 1925)

The Absolute Differential Calculus (London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son 1927) (edited by Enrico Persico, trans. by

Marjorie Long)[10]

Tullio Levi-Civita and Enrico Persico Fondamenti di meccanica relativistica (Bologna : N. Zanichelli, 1928)

Tullio Levi-Civita Caratteristiche dei sistemi differenziali e propagazione ondosa (Bologna, N. Zanichelli 1931)

Tullio Levi-Civita and Ugo Amaldi Nozioni di balistica esterna (Bologna: N. Zanichelli, 1935)

Tullio Levi Problème des N Corps en relativité générale (Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1950, Mémorial des sciences

mathématiques ISSN 0025-9187 (https://www.worldcat.org/search?fq=x0:jrnl&q=n2:0025-9187))

Levi-Civita, Tullio (1954), Opere Matematiche. Memorie e Note (http://mathematica.sns.it/media/volumi/433/LeviCivita

_1_.pdf) [Collected mathematical works. Memoirs and notes] (PDF) (in French and Italian), Volume primo

(1893−1900), Pubblicate a cura dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Roma: Zanichelli Editore, pp. XXX, 564.

Levi-Civita, Tullio (1956), Opere Matematiche. Memorie e Note (http://mathematica.sns.it/media/volumi/433/LeviCivita

_2.pdf) [Collected mathematical works. Memoirs and notes] (PDF) (in French and Italian), Volume secondo

(1901−1907), Pubblicate a cura dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Roma: Zanichelli Editore, pp. VI, 636.

Levi-Civita, Tullio (1957), Opere Matematiche. Memorie e Note (http://mathematica.sns.it/media/volumi/433/LeviCivita

_3.pdf) [Collected mathematical works. Memoirs and notes] (PDF) (in French and Italian), Volume terzo (1908−1916),

Pubblicate a cura dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Roma: Zanichelli Editore, pp. VI, 600.

Levi-Civita, Tullio (1960), Opere Matematiche. Memorie e Note (http://mathematica.sns.it/media/volumi/433/LeviCivita

_4.pdf) [Collected mathematical works. Memoirs and notes] (PDF) (in French and Italian), Volume quarto

(1917−1928), Pubblicate a cura dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Roma: Zanichelli Editore, pp. VI, 608.

Levi-Civita, Tullio (1970), Opere Matematiche. Memorie e Note (http://www.catalogo.zanichelli.it/Pages/Opera?siteLa

ng=IT&id_opera=0000000000070) [Collected mathematical works. Memoirs and notes] (in French and Italian),

Volume quinto (1929−1937), Pubblicate a cura dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Roma: Zanichelli Editore, pp. VI,

670.

Levi-Civita, Tullio (1970), Opere Matematiche. Memorie e Note (http://www.catalogo.zanichelli.it/Pages/Opera?siteLa

ng=IT&id_opera=0000000000224) [Collected mathematical works. Memoirs and notes] (in French and Italian),

Volume sesto (1938−1941), Pubblicate a cura dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Roma: Zanichelli Editore, pp. VI,

502.

Levi-Civita, Tullio (2007) [1895], Pamphlets, mathematics (https://books.google.com/books/about/Pamphlets_mathem

atics.html?id=UPhMAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y), University of Michigan, retrieved 14 January 2017. A collection of

some of his published papers (in their original typographical form), probably an unordered uncorrected collection of

offprints.

See also

Levi-Civita connection

Levi-Civita crater

Levi-Civita field

Levi-Civita parallelogramoid

Levi-Civita symbol

Notes

1. Tullio Levi-Civita (http://www.nndb.com/people/212/000031119/). Nndb.com. Retrieved on 2011-08-14.

2. (Levi-Civita 1904)

3. O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Tullio Levi-Civita" (http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/L

evi-Civita.html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.

4. Tullio Levi-Civita (https://www.genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/id.php?id=59054) at the Mathematics Genealogy

Project

5. (Ricci & Levi-Civita 1900).

6. (Levi-Civita 1917)

7. Iurato, Giuseppe (2016). "On the history of Levi-Civita's parallel transport". arXiv:1608.04986 (https://arxiv.org/abs/16

08.04986). Bibcode:2016arXiv160804986I (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2016arXiv160804986I).

8. 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.

9. Jackson, Allyn (1996). "Celebrating the 100th Annual Meeting of the AMS". In Case, Bettye Anne (ed.). A Century of

Mathematical Meetings. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society. pp. 10–18. ISBN 0-8218-0465-0.

10. Rainich, G. Y. (1928). "Levi-Civita on Tensor Calculus" (http://www.ams.org/journals/bull/1928-34-06/S0002-9904-192

8-04644-X/S0002-9904-1928-04644-X.pdf) (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 34: 775–777. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-

1928-04644-x (https://doi.org/10.1090%2Fs0002-9904-1928-04644-x).

References

Biographical references

"Professor T. Levi-Civita, Member of Vatican Academy," The Jewish Chronicle (UK), February 6, 1942.

General references

Segre, Beniamino (1975), "Parole introduttive al Convegno", in Segre, Beniamino; Cattaneo, Carlo; Bompiani, Enrico;

Colombo, Giuseppe; Finzi, Bruno; Graffi, Dario; Radicati di Brozolo, Luigi; Tricomi, Francesco Giacomo (eds.), Tullio

Levi-Civita. Convegno internazionale celebrativo del centenario della nascita (Roma, 17–19 dicembre 1973) [Tullio

Levi-Civita. International congress for the celebration of the centenary of his birth (Rome, 17–19 December 1973)],

Atti dei Convegni Lincei (in Italian), 8, Roma: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, pp. 171–177, ISSN 0391-805X (https://

www.worldcat.org/issn/0391-805X). The "Inaugural address" (English translation of the contribution title) of Beniamino

Segre, a commemoration describing briefly many aspects of the life and the work of Levi-Civita.

Scientific references

Aczel, Amir D. (1999), God's Equation, New York: MJF Books, p. 236, ISBN 1-56858-139-4.

Graffi, Dario (1975), "L'Elettromagnetismo in Levi-Civita", in Segre, Beniamino; Cattaneo, Carlo; Bompiani, Enrico;

Colombo, Giuseppe; Finzi, Bruno; Graffi, Dario; Radicati di Brozolo, Luigi; Tricomi, Francesco Giacomo (eds.), Tullio

Levi-Civita. Convegno internazionale celebrativo del centenario della nascita (Roma, 17–19 dicembre 1973) [Tullio

Levi-Civita. International congress for the celebration of the centenary of his birth (Rome, 17–19 December 1973)],

Atti dei Convegni Lincei (in Italian), 8, Roma: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, pp. 171–177, ISSN 0391-805X (https://

www.worldcat.org/issn/0391-805X). "Electromagnetism in the work of Levi-Civita" (English translation of the

contribution title) is a survey of some of the works of Levi-Civita on the theory of electromagnetism.

Loinger, Angelo (2007). "Einstein, Levi-Civita, and Bianchi relations". arXiv:physics/0702244 (https://arxiv.org/abs/phy

sics/0702244)..

Segre, Beniamino; Cattaneo, Carlo; Bompiani, Enrico; Colombo, Giuseppe; Finzi, Bruno; Graffi, Dario; Radicati di

Brozolo, Luigi; Tricomi, Francesco Giacomo, eds. (1975), Tullio Levi-Civita. Convegno internazionale celebrativo del

centenario della nascita (Roma, 17–19 dicembre 1973) [Tullio Levi-Civita. International congress for the celebration of

the centenary of his birth (Rome, 17–19 December 1973)], Atti dei Convegni Lincei (in English, French, Italian, and

Russian), 8, Roma: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, p. 316, ISSN 0391-805X (https://www.worldcat.org/issn/0391-80

5X).

External links

Tullio Levi-Civita (https://www.genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/id.php?id=59054) at the Mathematics Genealogy

Project

Scienceworld biography (http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Levi-Civita.html)

Another short biography (https://web.archive.org/web/20040311150743/http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Biograph

ies/MainBiographies/L/Levi-Civita/1.html)

An Italian short biography of Tullio Levi-Civita (http://mathematica.sns.it/autori/1049/) in Edizione Nazionale

Mathematica Italiana online.

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