George Polya Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1317 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Education - Mathematics

George Polya

The Hungarian mathematician, George Polya, is hailed by many as not only one of the greatest mathematicians, but also a great teacher of his time. It is interesting that his early school career did not mark a very high interest in the field, however. Later, when faced with choice, his mother encouraged him to take a career in law like his late father. When examining his biography, the reader becomes aware of Polya's extraordinary ability to face and overcome difficulty in order to attain his dreams. This trait, as will be seen, was something his father also possessed.

Polya's parents, Anna and Jakab, were both Jewish. Jakab's original surname was in fact Pollak, but he changed this for the sake of his professional goals. After his law firm failed, hw worked for an international insurance company. However, Jakab's dream was to obtain a research post at a university and pursue his true interests, economics and statistics. It appears therefore that George inherited not only his father's tenacity, but also his interest in numbers. In 1882 Jakab Polya was finally appointed as Privatdozent at the University of Budapest.

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George's parents converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1886, a year before his birth, and he was subsequently baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. George grew up in a home with four other children, three of whom were older than himself and one younger. Jeno, who was the eldest, loved mathematics, but pursued medicine, distinguishing himself in this field as prominently as George did in mathematics. Laslo, the youngest, was considered the brightest of the children, but was killed in World War I before having the opportunity to distinguish himself.

During his schooling at the Daniel Berzsenyi Gymnasium, George studied languages, biology, mathematics, geography, and other required subjects for young children. His favorites were biology and literature, where he received "outstanding grades."

Term Paper on George Polya Assignment

As mentioned above, Polya was not greatly interested in mathematics during his early school career. Many critics ascribe this to the quality of teaching he received in this field. Indeed, he described two of the three mathematics teachers at the Gymnasium as "despicable." His grades were also not particularly high, although he did well in arithmetic.

By the time when Polya enrolled at the University of Budapest in 1905, his brother Jeno was a surgeon, and could support his study efforts financially. Although at first pursuing study in law as his mother wished, George found this extremely boring and gave up after only one semester. After this, he changed his direction to languages and literature for two years, gaining a certificate for his trouble. After this, Polya was interested in pursuing philosophy, but was advised to take physics and mathematics prior to pursuing the complicated subject.

This finally put him on the path that would become a distinguished career.

Polya studied at the University of Vienna during 1910-11, and attended mathematics lectures by Writinger and Mertens. During this time, he also continued pursuing his interest in physics by attending lectures in this subject as well. Returning to Budapest during 1912, he received a doctorate as a reward for his essentially unsupervised study of a problem in geometric probability. During the next two years in Gttingen, Polya spent a large amount of time in the company of the leading mathematicians of the time, including Klein, Caratheodory, Hilbert, Runge and others.

After a rather unfortunate incident involving the son of a powerful man, Polya left for Zurich in the year during which World War I started. At this time, he held strong pacifist views and fortunately was declared medically unfit for the army as a result of a soccer injury during his years as a student. While the war did not affect him or his career very greatly in the beginning, life became more difficult as time wore on. In addition to the general economic and social hardship, the Hungarian army became increasingly desperate for soldiers, and Polya… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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