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KURT OTTO FRIEDRICHS
September 28, 1901–January 1, 1983
BY CATHLEEN SYNGE MORAWETZ
THIS MEMORIAL OF Kurt Otto Friedrichs is given in two parts. The first is about his life and its relation to his mathematics. The second part is about his work, which spanned a very great variety of innovative topics where the innovator was Friedrichs.
PART I: LIFE
Kurt Otto Friedrichs was born in Kiel, Germany, on September 28, 1901, but moved before his school days to Düsseldorf. He came from a comfortable background, his father being a well-known lawyer. Between the views of his father, logical and, on large things, wise, and the thoughtful and warm affection of his mother, Friedrichs grew up in an intellectual atmosphere conducive to the study of mathematics and philosophy. Despite being plagued with asthma, he completed the classical training at the local gymnasium and went on to his university studies in Düsseldorf. Following the common German pattern of those times, he spent several years at different universities. Most strikingly for a while he studied the philosophies of Husserl and Heidegger in Freiburg. He retained a lifelong interest in the subject of philosophy but eventually decided his real bent was in math-