Kurt Hensel

German mathematician (1861–1941)

Kurt Hensel


Kurt Wilhelm Sebastian Hensel

(1861-12-29)29 December 1861

Königsberg, Prussia

Died 1 June 1941(1941-06-01) (aged 79)

Marburg, Germany

Nationality German
Alma mater University of Bonn

University of Berlin

Known for p-adic number, Hensel’s lemma
Parent(s) Sebastian Hensel

Julia von Adelson

Scientific career
Fields Mathematics
Doctoral advisor Leopold Kronecker
Doctoral students Jessie Forbes Cameron, Abraham Fraenkel, Helmut Hasse, Reinhold Strassmann

Kurt Wilhelm Sebastian Hensel (29 December 1861 – 1 June 1941) was a German mathematician born in Königsberg.

Hensel was born in Königsberg, Province of Prussia (today Kaliningrad, Russia), the son of Julia (née von Adelson) and landowner and entrepreneur Sebastian Hensel. He was the brother of philosopher Paul Hensel. Kurt and Paul’s paternal grandparents were painter Wilhelm Hensel and composer Fanny Mendelssohn. Fanny was the sister of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, daughter of Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and granddaughter of philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, and entrepreneur Daniel Itzig. Both of Hensel’s grandmothers and his mother were from Jewish families that had converted to Christianity.

Hensel studied mathematics in Berlin and Bonn, under the mathematicians Leopold Kronecker and Karl Weierstrass.

Later in his life Hensel was a professor at the University of Marburg until 1930. He was also an editor of the mathematical Crelle’s Journal. He edited the five-volume collected works of Leopold Kronecker.

Hensel is well known for his introduction of p-adic numbers. First described by him in 1897, they became increasingly important in number theory and other fields during the twentieth century.

  • Theorie der algebraischen Funktionen einer Variabeln und ihre Anwendung auf algebraische Kurven und Abelsche Integrale (zus. mit Georg Landsberg) Teubner, Leipzig 1902
  • Theorie der algebraischen Zahlen Teubner, Leipzig 1908
  • Zahlentheorie Göschen, Berlin 1913
  • Gedächtnisrede auf Ernst Eduard Kummer zu dessen 100. Geburtstag
  • Über eine neue Begründung der Theorie der algebraischen Zahlen, Jahresbericht DMV, Band 6, 1899