Gösta Mittag-Leffler and the Foundation and Administration of Acta Mathematica

Barrow-Green, June E. (2002). Gösta Mittag-Leffler and the Foundation and Administration of Acta Mathematica. In: Hunger Parshall, Karen and Rice, Adrian C. eds. Mathematics unbound: the evolution of an International Mathematical Research Community, 1800-1945. History of Mathematics (23). Providence, USA: American Mathematical Society/London Mathematical Society, pp. 138–164.

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The journal Acta Mathematica has continued to maintain a reputation as one of the leading international journals in mathematical analysis. It was founded in Stockholm in 1882 and much of the credit for its enduring success is due to its founder and first editor Gösta Mittag-Leffler. Mittag-Leffler, who was the first professor of mathematics at the newly founded Stockholm Högskola and the leading mathematician in Sweden, was not only well placed to promote an international journal, but, more significantly, he was committed to international networking. He worked tirelessly at promoting connections between mathematicians across Europe and beyond, and established friendships with many of the foremost mathematicians of the day, including Henri Poincaré, Georg Cantor and Sonya Kovalevskaya, all of whom contributed to early volumes of the journal.

In this paper I discuss Mittag-Leffler's role in the foundation and running of Acta. In particular I pay special attention to the contributions of Poincaré, Cantor and Kovalevskaya since their involvement with Acta emphasises the international nature of the enterprise and illustrates the symbiotic relationship that can exist between a journal and the mathematicians whose work it serves to promote. I also present an analysis of the contents of the first 20 volumes of Acta in order to provide a perspective on the first 15 years of Mittag-Leffler's administration.

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