After early schooling in math, physics, and philosophy, I studied at the University of Gottingham...Gauss' home.
My mentor was David Hilbert, who, recognizing my interests and abilities, made me his assistant and later helped me secure the position of director of the mathematics institute.
Though I loved pure or theoretical mathematics, I argued that mathematical research should both emerge from and help solve real-world problems.
When Hitler grew powerful, my work at the institute was basically destroyed...and like my fellow professors, I too immigrated to the U.S. (I was Jewish as well).
I built a new mathematical institute at New York University, where the mathematical tradition of Gottingen lives on.
I created the mathematical basis of the engineer's finite element method (a way to solve partial differential equations numerically) and my eponym is the minimax principle.
Though many described me as being egotistical, self-serving, and controversial, they also agreed that I was a good judge of mathematical talent, a solid mathematician, and a great writer of math books...often with distinguished co-authors such as David Hilbert and Herbert Robbins.
Richard Courant (1888 - 1972)