Richard von Mises

Richard von Mises

Infobox Scientist
name = Richard von Mises
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caption = Richard von Mises
birth_date = 19 April 1883
birth_place = Lemberg
death_date = 14 July 1953
death_place = Boston
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field = solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, aeronautics, statistics and probability theory
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Richard Edler von Mises (Lemberg (now Lviv) 19 April 1883 - Boston, 14 July 1953) was a scientist who worked on solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, aeronautics, statistics and probability theory. He described his work in his own words shortly before his death as being on

:"... practical analysis, integral and differential equations, mechanics, hydrodynamics and aerodynamics, constructive geometry, probability calculus, statistics and philosophy." Fact|date=February 2007

Although best known for his mathematical work, he also contributed to the philosophy of science as a neo-positivist, following the line of Ernst Mach. Historians of the Vienna Circle of logical empiricism recognize a "first phase" from 1907 through 1914 with Philipp Frank, Hans Hahn, Otto Neurath and Richard von Mises. Fact|date=February 2007 His elder brother, Ludwig von Mises, held an opposite point of view with respect to positivism and epistemology. [ [ Machlup, Fritz "Ludwig von Mises: A scholar who would not compromise". Published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2004.] ]

During his time in Istanbul, von Mises maintained close contact with Philipp Frank [Citation
id = PMID:17746140
publication-date=1954 Jun 11
title=The Work of Richard von Mises: 1883-1953.
doi = 10.1126/science.119.3102.823
] , a logicial positivist and Professor of Physics in Prague until 1938. His literary interests included the Austrian novelist Robert Musil and the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, on whom he became a recognized expert. Fact|date=February 2007


thumb|150px|The_von_Misescoat of arms] Richard von Mises' father was Arthur Edler von Mises, a doctor of technical sciences who worked as an expert for the Austrian State Railways and Adele von Landau. Richard was born in Lemberg, then part of the Austria-Hungary (now Lviv, Ukraine), 18 months after his brother, the Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises. Richard and Ludwig also had a younger brother, who died as an infant. Richard attended the Akademisches Gymnasium in Vienna, from which he graduated with honors in Latin and mathematics in Autumn 1901. After graduating in mathematics, physics and engineering from the Vienna University of Technology, he was appointed as Georg Hamel's assistant in Brünn (now Brno). In 1905, still a student, he published an article on "Zur konstruktiven Infinitesimalgeometrie der ebenen Kurven," in the prestigious "Zeitschrift für Mathematik und Physik".

In 1908 Mises was awarded a doctorate from Vienna (his dissertation was on "the determination of flywheel masses in crank drives") and he received his habilitation from Brünn (now Brno) (on "Theory of the Waterwheels") to lecture on engineering. In 1909, at 26, he was appointed professor of applied mathematics in Straßburg, then part of the German Empire (now Strasbourg, Alsace, France) and received Prussian citizenship. While applying for teaching positions at the Brno University of Technology, this was interrupted by World War I.

A pilot who had lectured on the design of aircraft and given in Straßburg the first university course on powered flight in 1913, he then joined the Austro-Hungarian army and flew as a test pilot and an instructor. In 1915, he supervised the construction of a 600-horsepower (450 kW) aircraft — the "Mises-Flugzeug" (Mises aircraft) for the Austrian army. It was completed in 1916, but never saw action.

After the war Mises held the new chair of hydrodynamics and aerodynamics at the Dresden Technische Hochschule. In 1919 he was appointed director (with full professorship) of the new Institute of Applied Mathematics created at the behest of Erhard Schmidt at the University of Berlin. In 1921 he founded the journal [ "Zeitschrift für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik"] and became its editor.

With the rise of the National Socialist (Nazi) party to power in 1933, von Mises, who was a Roman Catholic but had Jewish ancestry, felt his position threatened despite his World War I military service. He moved to Turkey, where he held the newly created chair of Pure and Applied Mathematics at the University of Istanbul. In 1939 he accepted a position in the United States, where he was appointed 1944 Gordon-McKay Professor of Aerodynamics and Applied Mathematics at Harvard University. He married Hilda Geiringer in 1943, who had been his assistant at the Institute and followed him to Turkey and then to the U.S. after losing her position in December 1933.

In 1950 Mises declined an offer of honorary membership from the Communist-dominated East German Academy of Science.


In aerodynamics, Richard von Mises made notable advances in boundary-layer-flow theory and airfoil design. He developed the "Distortion energy theory" of stress, which is one of the most important concepts used by engineers in material strength calculations. On probability, he posed the well-known birthday problem [] .

His ideas were not unanimously well received, although [ Aleksander Ostrowski] had said of him:

:"Only with the appointment of Richard von Mises to the University of Berlin did the first serious German school of applied mathematics with a broad sphere of influence come into existence. Von Mises was an incredibly dynamic person and at the same time amazingly versatile like [ Runge] . He was especially well versed in the realm of technology."

and also wrote:

:"Because of his dynamic personality his occasional major blunders were somehow tolerated. One has even forgiven him his theory of probability."

Yet Kolmogorov, whose rival axiomatisation was better received, was less severe:

:"The basis for the applicability of the results of the mathematical theory of probability to real 'random phenomena' must depend on some form of the frequency concept of probability, the unavoidable nature of which has been established by von Mises in a spirited manner."

In solid mechanics, Richard von Mises made an important contribution to the theory of plasticity by formulating what has become known as the Von Mises yield criterion. He is also often credited for the Principle of Maximum Plastic Dissipation.

The [ Gesellschaft für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik] (International Association of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics) has awarded a [ Richard von Mises-Preis] (Prize) since 1989.



:Biography in "Dictionary of Scientific Biography", New York, 1970-1990.

: [ Biography] in "Encyclopaedia Britannica".

Books by date of publication

*Richard von Mises, Philipp Frank, Heinrich Weber, Bernhard Riemann, "Die Differential- und Integralgleichungen der Mechanik und Physik", 1925, 1930.

*Richard von Mises, "Wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung und ihre Anwendungen in der Statistik und theoretischen Physik", 1931.

*Richard von Mises, "The critical external pressure of cylindrical tubes under uniform radial and axial load", (Translation of "Kritischer Außendruck zylindrischer Rohre", 1917), U.S. Experimental Model Basin, Navy Yard, 1933.

*Richard von Mises, P. Frank, H. Weber and B. Riemann, "Die Differential- und Integralgleichungen der Mechanik und Physik", 2nd expanded. ed., 2 vols. New York, Mary S.Rosenberg: 1943.

*Richard von Mises, W. Prager and G. Kuerti, "Theory of Flight", New York, McGraw-Hill, 1945.

*Richard Von Mises, "Rilke in English,: A tentative bibliography", The Cosmos press, 1947

*Richard von Mises, "Notes on mathematical theory of compressible fluid flow", Harvard University, Graduate School of Engineering, 1948.

*Richard von Mises, "On Bergman's integration method in two-dimensional compressible fluid flow", Harvard University, Graduate School of Engineering, 1949.

*Richard von Mises, "On the thickness of a steady shock wave", Harvard University, Dept. of Engineering, 1951

*Presented to Richard von Mises by Friends, Colleagues and Pupils, "Studies in Mathematics and Mechanics", New York, 1954.

*Richard von Mises, "Positivism: A Study in Human Understanding", G. Braziller, 1956. ISBN 0-486-21867-8 (Paperback, Dover, 1968 ISBN 0-486-21867-8).

*Richard von Mises, [ "Mathematical Theory of Compressible Fluid Flow"] . New York, Academic Press, 1958.

*Richard von Mises, "Theory of Flight", New York, Dover, 1959. ISBN 0-486-60541-8

*Richard von Mises, "Selected Papers of Richard von Mises", 2 volumes, AMS, Rhode Island, 1963, 1964.

*Richard von Mises, "Mathematical Theory of Probability and Statistics", New York, Academic Press, 1964.

*Richard von Mises, "Probability and Statistics, General", American Mathematical Society, 1964.

*Heinrich Sequenz ed. "150 Jahre Technische Hochschule in Wien. 1815–1965", Festschrift in 3 Volumes, Springer Verlag, Wien, New York, 1965, .

*Richard von Mises and K. O. Friedrichs, "Fluid Dynamics", New York: Springer-Verlag, 1971. ISBN 0-387-90028-4

*M. Pinl & L. Furtmüller, "Mathematicians under Hitler", In Year Book XVIII of the Leo Baeck Institute, London, 1973.

*Richard von Mises, Theodore Von Karman, "Advances in Applied Mechanics", Academic Press, 1975. ISBN 0-12-002015-7

*W. Roeder & H. A. Strauss, "International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933–1945", Saur, München, New York, London, Paris, 1980–1983.

*Richard von Mises, "Probability, Statistics and Truth", 2nd rev. English ed., New York, Dover, 1981. ISBN 0-486-24214-5

*Richard von Mises, "Kleines Lehrbuch des Positivismus. Einführung in die empiristische Wissenschaftsauffassung", Suhrkamp, 1990. ISBN 3-518-28471-1

*Richard von Mises, Wolfgang Gröbner, Wolfgang Pauli, "Österreichische Mathematik und Physik", Die Zentralbibliothek, 1993. ISBN 3-900490-03-1

*Robert Winter, "Das Akademische Gymnasium in Wien. Vergangenheit und Gegenwart", Wien, Köln, Weimar 1996.

*R. Siegmund-Schultze, "Mathematiker auf der Flucht vor Hitler. Quellen und Studien zur Emigration einer Wissenschaft", Braunschweig und Wiesbaden, Vieweg, 1998.

Articles by alphabetical order of authors

*A Basch, "Richard von Mises zum 70. Geburtstag", "Osterreich. Ing.-Arch." 7, 1953, pp. 73-76.
*B. Bernhardt, "Skizzen zu Leben und Werk von Richard Mises", in "Österreichische Mathematik und Physik", Wien, Zentralbibliothek für Physik, 1993, pp. 51–62.
*H Bernhardt, "Zum Leben und Wirken des Mathematikers Richard von Mises", "NTM Schr. Geschichte Natur. Tech. Medizin" 16 (2), 1979, pp. 40-49.
*G Birkhoff, "Richard von Mises' years at Harvard", "Zeitschrift für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik" 63 (7), 1983, pp. 283-284.
*L Collatz, "Richard von Mises als numerischer Mathematiker", "Zeitschrift für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik" (7), 1983, pp. 278-280.
*H Cramér, "Richard von Mises' work in probability and statistics", "Ann. Math. Statistics" 24, 1953), pp. 657-662.
*D.v. Dalen, "The War of the Frogs and the Mice or the Crisis of the 'Mathematische Annalen'", "The Mathematical Intelligencer" 12 (1990), No.4, pp. 17-31.
*H Föllmer and K Küchler, "Richard von Mises", in "Mathematics in Berlin", Berlin, 1998, pp. 55-60.
*J Förste, "Zum 100. Geburtstag von Richard von Mises", "Zeitschrift für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik" 63 (7), 1983, p. 277.
*P Frank, "The work of Richard von Mises: 1883-1953", "Science" 119, 1954, pp. 823-824.
*Haussner, A, "Geschichte der Deutschen Technischen Hochschule in Brünn 1849–1924." In "Festschrift der Deutschen Technischen Hochschule in Brünn zur Feier ihres fünfundsiebzigjährigen Bestandes im Mai 1924", Verlag der Deutschen Technischen Hochschule, Brünn, 1924, pp. 5–92.
*G S S Ludford, "Mechanics in the applied- mathematical world of von Mises", "Zeitschrift für Angewandte Mathematik und Mechanik" 63 (7), 1983, pp. 281-282.
*R. v. Mises, "Zur konstruktiven Infinitesimalgeometrie der ebenen Kurven," "Zeitschrift für Mathematik und Physik", 52, 1905, pp. 44–85.
*R. v. Mises, "Zur Theorie der Regulatoren", "Elektrotechnik und Maschinenbau" 37, 1908, pp. 783–789.
*R. Sauer, "Nachruf: Richard von Mises", "Bayer. Akad. Wiss. Jbuch." 1953, pp.194-197.
*R. Sauer, "Richard von Mises 19. 4. 1883 - 14. 7. 1953" (in German), "Bayer. Akad. Wiss. Jbuch." 1953, pp. 194-197
*R. Siegmund-Schultze, Hilda Geiringer von Mises, Charlier Series, "Ideology, and the human side of the emancipation of applied mathematics at the University of Berlin during the 1920s", "Historia Mathematica" 20, 1993, 364-381.
*P. Sisma, "Georg Hamel and Richard von Mises in Brno", "Historia Mathematica", 29, 2002, pp. 176–192.
*A. Szafarz, "Richard von Mises: l'échec d'une axiomatique", "Dialectica" 38 (4), 1984, pp. 311-317.
*M. van Lambalgen, "Randomness and foundations of probability: von Mises' axiomatisation of random sequences", in "Statistics, probability and game theory", Hayward, CA, 1996, pp. 347-367.
*Weinhold, J., "Zur Geschichte der Deutschen Technischen Hochschule in Brünn, Rückblicke und Vergleiche", Südetendeutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften und Künste, "Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse", 1991,

External links

*MacTutor Biography|id=Mises
*For a more extensive discussion of Richard von Mises' exile in Turkey and his saga in coming to the US see "Turkey's Modernization: Refugees from Nazism and Ataturk's Vision" by Arnold Reisman. []
* [ Biography, in Czech]

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