Università degli Studi di Pavia

Dipartimento di Matematica ''F. Casorati''

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History of the department

The University of Pavia has a long and distinguished mathematical tradition. On the other hand the history of the department and of the institutions that originated it is relatively brief. Until the final years of the XIX century no scientific institute devoted to mathematics existed within the University of Pavia, while for instance the chemistry and physics laboratories date back to the second half of the XVIII century.

An “Istituto matematico” (Mathematical institute) is mentioned for the fist time in the 1898-99 University yearbook. The institute was part of the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences, was directed by Ernesto Pascal and had Tito Cazzaniga as internal professor. In the next yearbook the institute disappears and a “Biblioteca matematica e Gabinetto dei modelli per le matematiche” (Mathematical library and laboratory of models for mathematics) appears instead, with the same director and internal professor. The nature of this institution is explained in the same yearbook by Pascal himself. He recalls that it had been created in 1884 by Eugenio Bertini as a collection of mathematics books for the use of the students of the Scuola Normale. The “foundation”, Pascal goes on, enriched in the meantime by the acquisition of new books and a significant collection of mathematical models, was enlarged in 1894 and it was thus possible to give it ‘’… a character that would correspond more fully to its goal, trying to model it after the well known Mathematischer Institute of some German universities’’, which Pascal was familiar with since he had spent a specialization period in Göttingen. The name “Biblioteca matematica …” lasted until the 1912-13 yearbook. In this year the library was directed by Luigi Berzolari and Ermenegildo Daniele was internal professor. Beginning with the next yearbook the name changes back to “Istituto matematico”, with the same director and internal professor.

After the first World War the Mathematical institute is joined by an “Istituto di Geometria Proiettiva e Descrittiva” (Institute of Projective and Descriptive Geometry), which is mentioned for the first time in the 1922-23 yearbook and was also part of the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences. In 1972 an “Istituto di Matematica Applicata” (Institute of Applied Mathematics) is created inside the new Faculty of Engineering. A few years later, in 1977, the two institutes of the Faculty of Sciences merge into a single Istituto di Matematica. This in turn merges with the Institute of Applied Mathematics in 1982, giving birth to the “Dipartimento di Matematica” which, from this point on, hosts virtually all the mathematicians of the University. The university reform of 1980 adds new duties, like the one of running PhD programs and giving opinions on faculty appointments, to the traditional ones of the institute such as managing facilities and equipment, and in particular the library. In 1994 the department acquires its current name, Dipartimento di Matematica ‘Felice Casorati’. With the university reform of 2010 the nature of the department changes. While keeping its previous name and composition, the department acquires the prerogatives that previously belonged to the faculties, which are abolished by the reform. As for the library, the original nucleus of the mathematical institute, it is separated from the department in 2011 and merged into an amorphous “Biblioteca della Scienza e della Tecnica” (Library of Science and Technology).

Dipartimento di Matematica ''F. Casorati''

Università degli Studi di Pavia - Via Ferrata, 5 - 27100 Pavia
Tel +39.0382.985600 - Fax +39.0382.985602