Volodymyr Levytsky

Born: 31 December 1872 in Ternopil, Galicia (now Ukraine)
Died: 13 August 1956 in Lviv, Ukraine

Volodymyr Levytsky attended the University of Lvov, receiving his doctorate in 1901. After this he taught both mathematics and physics at high schools.

The University of Lvov, which Levytsky studied at, was an ancient educational establishment which was founded in 1784. However problems arose between the Polish and Ukrainian populations after World War I. Ukrainian students were not permitted to enrol at the University in 1919 and the following year Ukrainian lecturers were banned from the University, only Polish citizens being allowed as lecturers.

The Ukrainian students who could no longer enrol at Lvov University set up their own University, the Lvov (Underground) Ukrainian University, in July 1921. Levytsky taught mathematics at this new university from its foundation. The Underground Ukrainian University was financed by private donations and was able to survive for a few years but, when it was denied official recognition, it was forced to close in 1925.

Levytsky headed the mathematics-physics section of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lvov. He served for two terms as the President of the Society from 1931 to 1935 and also was editor of the Journal of the Society. From 1940, until his death in 1956, Levytsky taught at the Lvov Pedagogical Institute.

Levytsky wrote the first mathematical paper in Ukrainian and was the editor of the first Ukrainian mathematical journal. Most of his publications were in the area of functions of a complex variable. However he was also very active in applications of mathematics to theoretical physics.

He is known for his work on Ukrainian mathematical, physical and chemical terminology, which was one of the main areas of study of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lvov. Levytsky also wrote important historical works on mathematics at the Lvov (Underground) Ukrainian University and mathematics at the Shevchenko Scientific Society.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

December 1997
MacTutor History of Mathematics