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Barbu, Ion (1895 - 1961)

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Romanian mathematician

"There is somewhere in geometry, a bright place where poetry meets [. ..] As in geometry, I understand in poetry the symbolic representation of some possible forms of existence”.
So wrote the great poet Ion Barbu, pen name of Dan Barbilian, mathematician. Indeed, all those who have known mathematician Dan Barbilian were impressed by the depth of its mathematical reasoning, the power of his scientific intuition, the large area of its concerns, which included both projective geometry as well as modern algebra, axiomatisation of mathematics, and mechanics.
His lessons, held in the amphitheater "Spiru Haret" in Mathematic Faculty of University of Bucharest were, each time, remarkable creations in the truest meaning of the term: the Professor, with hair of a poet and deep, lively eyes, creates, to students, bright worlds of reasoning, and the audience, amazed, watched the fascinating world of pure mathematics. There were no less captivated and spelled, literature people, who enjoyed his unique personality. And today, many more are those who read and reread the poet Ion Barbu lyrics - one of the three "B" of the poetry between wars (Lucian Blaga, Ion Barbu, and George Bacovia). The history of human culture has only very few poets that also have been great scientists. It is here to mention an illustrious mathematician, medieval Persian poet, Omar Khayyam. Dan Barbilian may be considered in its lineage.
Born in 1895 in Cîmpulung-Muscel (the son of a judge), he begun here elementary school. As his parents, due to service, often had needed to change residence, the young student attended schools in different cities (noted by Gh Ţiţeica since high school, in a contest of "Mathematical Gazette"); the first World War marked a break in school, he participated in the war of 1916-1918.
He is attracted both by mathematics and poetry. He followed eventually mathematics and later took a doctorate in mathematics (1929), cultivating, simultaneously, a whole new poetry style. He imposed himself in belletristic, by publishing the volume “Second game”, the plaquette “After snails”, as a series of writings in prose, some on literary controversy, others with interesting considerations on mathematics. For some years he taught mathematics in secondary education in Giurgiu and Bucharest (1925-1929), but since 1926 begun his career in higher education in Bucharest, teaching geometry, algebra, number theory, group theory, axiomatic and taking lectures at universities in Austria and Germany. He also participated in numerous international scientific meetings. His mathematic legacy includes, first of all, creating a school of thought focused on what we might call our XX century mathematics, where the axiomatic occupies an important place. Scientist Barbilian introduced new concepts in science called, rightly, Barbilian spaces.
No doubt, the poet Ion Barbu remained in the history of Romanian literature, just as Dan Barbilian entered the history of world science. However he wrote: "I know myself much more as a practitioner of mathematics and too little as a poet, and only as much as poetry remembers geometry." Maybe it's a proof of literary modesty, because for the posterity, he is as big as a mathematician and as a poet.
variant spelling:
Barbu, Ion
Curriculum vitae  
* 1895 Campulung-Muscel born
1926 Bucuresti
† 1961 Bucuresti died
Rationalisation, ca. 1920-1950
Barbu Ion
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