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George Pólya


George Pólya born on December 13, 1887 in Budapest (Hungary), of Jewish family of Polish origin. He died on September 7, 1985 in Palo Alto, California (United States). He was an excellent student in high school, though the school he attended highly values ​​memory-based learning, a practice that Pólya considered dull and unhelpful.

He graduated in 1905 and was considered one of the top four students of his year, earning him a scholarship at the University of Budapest. So he started studying law, following in his father's footsteps. However, he did not like the course and went on to study languages ​​and literature. Later, he became interested in Latin, Physics, Philosophy and finally Mathematics, having in 1912 completed his doctorate.

In the fall of 1913 he went to Göttingen, where he met Hilbert. Later this year, he published one of his biggest results, solving the random walk problem. In 1913 he went to Paris to work on his postdoc. In 1914 he took up a position at the University of Zurich where he met Hurwitz. That same year, he was called by his country to war but refused to perform military service. Fear of being arrested for not answering the call caused him to return to Hungary only after the end of World War II.

In 1924, he worked with Hardy and Littlewood in Oxford and Cambridge. He published the classification of symmetry plans in seventeen groups, which would later inspire Escher. In 1925, along with Szegö, he published: "Aufgaben und lehrsätze aus der Analysis" and "Die grundlehren der mathematischen wissenschaftenIn 1940, for fear of a possible German invasion of Switzerland, he decided to go to the United States.

In 1945, he published one of his most famous books:How to Solve it". Followed"Isoperimetric Inequalities im Mathematical Physics" (1951); “Matemathics and Plausible Reasoning”(1954) and“Mathematical Discovery” (1962-64).

* Photo taken from MacTutor History of Mathematics archive (//www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk).