Wacław Franciszek Sierpiński (Polish: [ˈvat͡swaf
fraɲˈt̠͡ɕiʂɛk ɕɛrˈpʲiɲskʲi] ( listen)) (14
March 1882 – 21 October 1969) was a Polish mathematician. He was
known for outstanding contributions to set theory (research on the
axiom of choice and the continuum hypothesis), number theory, theory
of functions and topology. He published over 700 papers and 50 books.
Three well-known fractals are named after him (the Sierpinski
Sierpinski carpet and the Sierpinski curve), as are
Sierpinski numbers and the associated Sierpiński problem.
1 Educational background
2 Life of Sierpinski
3 Honors received
5 See also
7 External links
Methods and technology
Chief of Radio Intelligence
Chief of German Section
German Section cryptologists
Chief of Russian Section
Russian Section cryptologist
Sierpiński enrolled in the Department of
Mathematics and Physics at
the University of
Warsaw in 1899 and graduated four years later. In
1903, while still at the University of Warsaw, the Department of
Mathematics and Physics offered a prize for the best essay from a
student on Voronoy's contribution to number theory. Sierpiński was
awarded a gold medal for his essay, thus laying the foundation for his
first major mathematical contribution. Unwilling for his work to be
published in Russian, he withheld it until 1907, when it was published
in Samuel Dickstein's mathematical magazine 'Prace
Matematyczno-Fizyczne' (Polish: 'The Works of
After his graduation in 1904, Sierpiński worked as a school teacher
of mathematics and physics in Warsaw. However, when the school closed
because of a strike, Sierpiński decided to go to
Kraków to pursue a
doctorate. At the
Jagiellonian University in
Kraków he attended
lectures by Stanisław Zaremba on mathematics. He also studied
astronomy and philosophy. He received his doctorate and was appointed
University of Lwów
University of Lwów in 1908.
Life of Sierpinski
Sierpinski square, a fractal
In 1907 Sierpiński first became interested in set theory when he came
across a theorem which stated that points in the plane could be
specified with a single coordinate. He wrote to Tadeusz Banachiewicz
(then at Göttingen), asking how such a result was possible. He
received the one-word reply 'Cantor'. Sierpiński began to study set
theory and, in 1909, he gave the first ever lecture course devoted
entirely to the subject.
Sierpiński maintained an incredible output of research papers and
books. During the years 1908 to 1914, when he taught at the University
of Lwów, he published three books in addition to many research
papers. These books were The Theory of Irrational Numbers (1910),
Outline of Set Theory (1912), and The Theory of Numbers (1912).
Grave of Wacław Sierpiński
World War I
World War I began in 1914, Sierpiński and his family were in
Russia. To avoid the persecution that was common for Polish
foreigners, Sierpiński spent the rest of the war years in Moscow
working with Nikolai Luzin. Together they began the study of analytic
sets. In 1916, Sierpiński gave the first example of an absolutely
World War I
World War I ended in 1918, Sierpiński returned to Lwów. However
shortly after taking up his appointment again in
Lwów he was offered
a post at the University of Warsaw, which he accepted. In 1919 he was
promoted to a professor. He spent the rest of his life in Warsaw.
Polish–Soviet War (1919–1921), Sierpiński helped break
Soviet Russian ciphers for the Polish General Staff's cryptological
In 1920, Sierpiński, together with
Zygmunt Janiszewski and his former
student Stefan Mazurkiewicz, founded the influential mathematical
journal Fundamenta Mathematica. Sierpiński edited the journal, which
specialized in papers on set theory.
During this period, Sierpiński worked predominantly on set theory,
but also on point set topology and functions of a real variable. In
set theory he made contributions on the axiom of choice and on the
continuum hypothesis. He proved that Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory
together with the
Generalized continuum hypothesis
Generalized continuum hypothesis imply the Axiom of
choice. He also worked on what is now known as the Sierpinski curve.
Sierpiński continued to collaborate with Luzin on investigations of
analytic and projective sets. His work on functions of a real variable
includes results on functional series, differentiability of functions
and Baire's classification.
Sierpiński retired in 1960 as professor at the University of Warsaw,
but continued until 1967 to give a seminar on the Theory of Numbers at
the Polish Academy of Sciences. He also continued editorial work as
editor-in-chief of Acta Arithmetica, and as an editorial-board member
of Rendiconti del Circolo Matematico di Palermo, Composito Matematica,
and Zentralblatt für Mathematik.
Sierpiński is interred at the
Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.
St. Marks of Lima
St. Marks of Lima (1930), Amsterdam
(1931), Tarta (1931), Sofia (1939), Prague (1947), Wrocław (1947),
Lucknow (1949), and
For high involvement with the development of mathematics in Poland,
Sierpiński was honored with election to the Polish Academy of
Learning in 1921 and that same year was made dean of the faculty at
the University of Warsaw. In 1928, he became vice-chairman of the
Warsaw Scientific Society, and that same year was elected chairman of
the Polish Mathematical Society.
He was elected to the Geographic Society of Lima (1931), the Royal
Scientific Society of Liège (1934), the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
(1936), the National Academy of Lima (1939), the Royal Society of
Naples (1939), the
Accademia dei Lincei
Accademia dei Lincei of
the Germany Academy of Sciences (1950), the United States National
Academy of Sciences (1959), the Paris Academy (1960), the Royal Dutch
Academy (1961), the Academy of Science of Brussels (1961), the
London Mathematical Society
London Mathematical Society (1964), the
Romanian Academy (1965) and
the Papal Academy of Sciences (1967).
In 1949 Sierpiński was awarded Poland's Scientific Prize, first
Sierpiński authored 724 papers and 50 books (two of which,
Introduction to General
Topology (1934) and General
have been translated into English by Canadian mathematician Cecilia
W. Sierpiński (1964). Elementary theory of numbers. Monografie
Matematyczne. 42. ISBN 0-444-86662-0.
List of Poles
Seventeen or Bust
The Sierpiński moon crater
^ "W. Sierpinski (1882 - 1969)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and
Sciences. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Wacław Sierpiński",
MacTutor History of
Mathematics archive, University of St
Wacław Sierpiński at the
Mathematics Genealogy Project
K. Kuratowski. "
Wacław Sierpiński (1882-1969)" (PDF). Acta
Arithmetica. 21: 1–5.
A. Schinzel. "Wacław Sierpinski's papers on the theory of numbers"
(PDF). Acta Arithmetica. 21: 7–13.
Wacław Sierpiński in the theory of numbers" (PDF).
Acta Arithmetica. 21: 15–23.
Several of Sierpiński's books, Biblioteka Wirtualna Nauki.
Sierpiński: Fractals, Code Breaking, and a Crater on the Moon
ISNI: 0000 0000 8108 3928
BNF: cb12280524t (data)