Sophus Lie’s tomb

Lie's tomb Photography by Carlos Dorce

Lie’s tomb
Photography by Carlos Dorce

Before coming back to our hotel we have gone to Vår Frelsers gravlund to visit some famous tombs. The painter Edvard Munch is one of the Norwegian figures who are buried there but I’ve taken profit of this visitlooking for among all the old graves because… I’ve found Sophus Lie’s tomb in the area number 30 of the cemetery.

Sophus Lie () Source: Wikimedia Commons

Sophus Lie (1842-1899)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to Wikipedia:

His first mathematical work, Repräsentation der Imaginären der Plangeometrie, was published, in 1869, by the Academy of Sciences in Christiania and also by Crelle’s Journal. That same year he received a scholarship and traveled to Berlin, where he stayed from September to February 1870. There, he met Felix Klein and they became close friends. When he left Berlin, Lie traveled to Paris, where he was joined by Klein two months later. There, they met Camille Jordan and Gaston Darboux. But on 19 July 1870 the Franco-Prussian War began and Klein (who was Prussian) had to leave France very quickly. Lie decided then to visit Luigi Cremonain Milan but he was arrested at Fontainebleau under suspicion of being a German spy, an event which made him famous in Norway. He was released from prison after a month, thanks to the intervention of Darboux.

Lie obtained his PhD at the University of Christiania (present day Oslo) in 1871 with a thesis entitled On a class of geometric transformations. It would be described by Darboux as “one of the most handsome discoveries of modern Geometry”. The next year, the Norwegian Parliament established an extraordinary professorship for him. That same year, Lie visited Klein, who was then at Erlangen and working on the Erlangen program.

At the end of 1872, Sophus Lie proposed to Anna Birch, then eighteen years old, and they were married in 1874. The couple had three children: Marie (b. 1877), Dagny (b. 1880) and Herman (b. 1884).

In 1884, Friedrich Engel arrived at Christiania to help him, with the support of Klein and Adolph Mayer (who were both professors at Leipzig, by then). Engel would help Lie to write his most important treatise, Theorie der Transformationsgruppen, published in Leipzig in three volumes from 1888 to 1893. Decades later, Engel would also be one of the two editors of Lie’s collected works.

In 1886 Lie became professor at Leipzig, replacing Klein, who had moved to Göttingen. In November 1889 he suffered a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalized until June 1890. Lie resigned from his post in May 1898 and returned to Norway in September of that year.

He was made Honorary Member of the London Mathematical Society in 1878, Member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1892, Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London in 1895 and foreign associate of theNational Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 1895.

Sophus Lie died at the age of 56, due to pernicious anemia, a disease caused by impaired absorption of vitamin B12.

Lie is buried together with his wife Anna and his son Herman:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

We can read on the grave: Professor Sophus Lie, 17.12.1842-18.2.1899 Anna Lie fodt Birch 24.4.1854-12.6.1920 Herman Lie 22.4.1884-7.5.1960.

Location:  Vår Frelsers gravlund in Oslo (map)

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