Jacques Herbrand (1908-1931)

In July, 1931, Jacques Herbrand worked with Emmy Noether in Göttingen. Near the end of the month, he went mountain-climbing in the French alps with two friends. There, in the granite of La Bérarde, near Isére, he fell to his death. It is written in

Auguste Dick, Emmy Noether 1882-1935, Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, 1970 (in German); translated to English, Birkhäuser, Boston,1981

that "Emmy Noether was profoundly shaken by the fate of this extraordinarily promising young mathematician." Months after the event, she wrote, "Mir geht der Tod von Herbrand nicht aus dem Sinn. - I can't get Herbrand's death out of my mind."

Herbrand had finished his doctorate at École Normale Supérieure in Paris under Ernest Vessiot in 1929, having matriculated there at the exceptional age of 17 and having ranked first in the entering class. In October, 1929, Herbrand joined the army. In 1931, he was awarded a Rockefeller fellowship that enabled him to study in Germany, first with John von Neumann in Berlin, then during June with Emil Artin in Hamburg, and finally, in July, with Emmy Noether.

Although Herbrand his best remembered for work in logic and metamathematics, his interests included algebra in general and ring theory in particular, and it was in this connection that he was collaborating with Noether.

Friend of Jacques Herbrand, under the initiative of Claude Chevalley and André Weil, honored his memory with a series of articles in the journal, Actualités Scientifiques et Industrielles. Among these was a paper by Emmy Noether, possibly the last she wrote, although one other was published some 15 years after her death.

A collection of Herbrand's writings in logic have been translated into English:

Jacques Herbrand, Warren D. Goldfarb, editor, Logical Writings Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1971.

Emmy Noether's note regarding Herbrand's death
Emmy Noether, Mentors & Colleagues
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