Georg Cantor (1845-1918) - Father of infinity and ICM

Son of Danish parents, the mathematician Georg Cantor is one of the creators of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) alongside with Felix Klein. Born in Russia in 1845, he emigrated as a child with his family to Germany. Specialist in Number Theory, at the end of the 19th century he formulated a modern theory that opened doors to expand the borders of mathematics and to define the concept of infinity.

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His revolutionary theory created enormous clashes and animosities among his contemporaries. A very religious man, Cantor was frowned upon by the mathematical community and was boycotted. Working alone, he demonstrated that some sets of infinities are more infinite than others and called them ‘aleph zero’.

Criticized for his thesis, he had his mental health compromised. After a while, though and fortunately for Mathematics, his methods were assimilated and proved to be perfectly practical and useful.

He was then recognized and appointed Honorary Member of the London Mathematical Society and honored with the Royal Society of London Medal. David Hilbert (1862-1943), one of his few supporters, said: “No one is able to take us out of the paradise that Cantor created for us.” Disturbed by persecution, he died at the age of 72 at a psychiatric clinic in Germany.