The University of Pavia has a long and illustrious tradition of mathematical studies. The history of the department and of the institutions from which it originated is relatively short. Until the last years of the nineteenth century there was no “scientific establishment” dedicated to mathematics in the University of Pavia, while for example the chemistry and physics cabinets date back to the second half of the 1700s.
A “mathematical institute” at the University of Pavia is mentioned for the first time in the 1898-1899 yearbook. The institute belongs to the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences, and it is directed by Ernesto Pascal and has Tito Cazzaniga as an internal professor. In the following yearbook, the institute disappears and instead the lettering “Mathematics Library and Cabinet of Models for Mathematics” appears, with the same director and internal professor. The nature of this institution is illustrated in the same yearbook by Pascal, who recalls that it was created in 1884 by Eugenio Bertini as a collection of mathematics books for use by the students of the Scuola Normale. The “foundation”, continues Pascal, enriched in the meantime by new book acquisitions and a large collection of models, has been expanded in 1894 and thus it was possible to give it “… a character that more broadly fulfilled its purpose, trying to model it on the genre of the well-known Mathematischer Institute of some Germanic Universities”, a reality that Pascal knew very well thanks to a period of improvement he carried out in Göttingen. The name “Mathematical Library …” is maintained until the 1912-1913 yearbook. In that year the library is directed by Luigi Berzolari, with Ermenegildo Daniele as internal professor. Starting from the following yearbook, we speak again of the “Mathematical Institute”, with the same director and internal professors.
In the first postwar period, after World War I, the Mathematical Institute is joined by an “Institute of Projective and Descriptive Geometry”, mentioned for the first time in the 1922-1923 yearbook, which is also part of the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences. In 1972, an “Institute of Applied Mathematics” was created within the new Faculty of Engineering. Shortly thereafter, in 1977, the two institutes of the Faculty of Sciences merged into a single Institute of Mathematics. In 1982, from the merger of the Institute of Mathematics and the Institute of Applied Mathematics, the “Department of Mathematics” was born, which from this moment gathers almost all of the university main mathematicians. The department, while maintaining the prerogatives of managing equipment and material, especially books, which already belonged to the Institutes, acquires, following the university reform of 1980, new powers such as those to manage doctoral courses and provide opinions on calls and assignments of teaching. In 1994 it starts being denoted with the current denomination of the Department of Mathematics “Felice Casorati”. Following the university reform of 2010, the department, while keeping the name and composition unchanged, changes nature, acquiring the prerogatives already proper to the faculties, the latter in fact abolished by the reform. The library, the original nucleus of the Mathematical Institute, it is taken from the department in 2011 to merge into the “Library of Science and Technology”.