David Hilbert, b. Jan. 23, 1862, d. Feb. 14, 1943, was a German mathematician whose work in geometry had the greatest influence on the field since Euclid. After making a systematic study of the axioms of Euclidean geometry, Hilbert proposed a set of 21 such axioms and analyzed their significance.
Hilbert received his Ph.D. from the University of Konigsberg and served on its faculty from 1886 to 1895. He became (1895) professor of mathematics at the University of Gottingen, where he remained for the rest of his life. Between 1900 and 1914, many mathematicians from the United States who later played an important role in the development of mathematics went to Gottingen to study under him.
Hilbert contributed to several branches of mathematics, including algebraic number theory, functional analysis, mathematical physics, and the calculus of variations. He also enumerated 23 unsolved problems of mathematics that he considered worthy of further investigation. Since Hilbert's time, nearly all these problems have been solved.
Author: H. Howard Fisinger
Bibliography: Reid, Constance, Hilbert (1970).