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Levi-Civita, Tullio

LEVI-CIVITA, TULLIO (1873–1942), Italian mathematician. Levi-Civita, who was born in Padua, was appointed to the chair of mechanics at the university there at the age of 25. In 1918 he left Padua to become professor of mechanics at the University of Rome. He opposed the rise of fascism in Italy. He was dismissed from his position after the implementation of the anti-Jewish laws of 1938. After this, his health deteriorated rapidly and he was unable to accept any of the offers of asylum which he received from several countries. Levi-Civita was an excellent teacher and his many scientific papers and books are distinguished by their lucidity. He developed, after an initial collaboration with Curbasto Gregorio Ricci, the absolute differential calculus, which was the essential mathematical tool required by Einstein for his development (in 1916) of the general theory of relativity. Levi-Civita's most important contribution in this field was the theory of "parallel displacement." He also produced significant papers on relativity, analytical dynamics, hydrodynamics, and systems of partial differential equations. Levi-Civita was a member of many Italian and foreign mathematical societies. In 1922 he was awarded the Sylvester Medal of the Royal Society.


Hodge, in: Royal Society of London, Obituary Notices of Fellows, 4 (1942–44), 151.