Bernhard Riemann

Wenn ich nach einem tausendjährigen Schlaf aufwachen würde, wäre meine erste Frage: »Wurde die Riemann-Hypothese bewiesen?« [If I woke up after a thousand years of sleep my first question would be: »Has the Riemann Hypothesis been proven?«]
David Hilbert

There can hardly be anybody more suited to name a center for geometry and physics after than the German mathematician Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann. Within his short lifetime of 39 years he made seminal contributions to various fields in pure and applied mathematics and is regarded as one of the most exceptional scientists of the 19th century.

Born in 1826, Riemann was educated in Hannover, Lüneburg, Berlin and Göttingen. At the University of Göttingen he studied under – among others – Carl Friedrich Gauss, who chose the topic of Riemann's 1854 habilitation lecture "On the hypotheses which lie at the foundation of geometry". This treatise laid the ground for higher-dimensional non-Euclidean geometry as it was later used by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity and which remains the mathematical framework for our description of spacetime even in extensions such as string theory.

Already in 1851 Riemann made fundamental contributions to complex analysis in his dissertation, followed by equally important work in real analysis and on differential equations with applications to physics. A professor in Göttingen since 1857, he co-founded the field of analytic number theory with an article on the distribution of prime numbers. The latter contains the famous Riemann hypothesis, which is considered as one of the most important unresolved problems in mathematics.

Riemann died in 1866 of tuberculosis in Italy.