Some of you may know that I wrote my Master of Science thesis in the history of mathematics under the supervision of Prof. Tom Archibald of Simon Fraser University. My thesis was entitled “John Charles Fields: A Sketch of His Life and Mathematical Work“. Here is the abstract:
Every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians the prestigious Fields medals, the mathematical equivalent of a Nobel prize, are awarded. The following question is often asked: who was Fields and what did he do mathematically? This question will be addressed by sketching the life and mathematical work of John Charles Fields (1863 – 1932), the Canadian mathematician who helped establish the awards and after whom the medals are named.
I hope you find this work at the very least interesting. Historians studying the Berlin school of mathematics in the second half of the nineteenth century may find this work useful as well. Fields spent several years studying in Berlin after finishing his PhD at Johns Hopkins University. Fields took extensive notes from the classes he took during this period in Berlin. These notebooks can be viewed at the University of Toronto Archives. They are interesting historical documents that have yet to be fully exploited. Unfortunately, for the time being I will not be pursuing further work either on Fields or the Berlin school of mathematics. Please feel free to download my thesis. If you reference my thesis in your own work, please give me a heads up — I am interested in learning if people find the work useful or not.