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Derrick Norman Lehmer | D.H. and Emma Lehmer

THE LEHMERS AT BERKELEY
Derrick H. Lehmer (1905-1991)
and Emma Trotskaia Lehmer (1906- )
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“I hear that at the Univ. of Illinois they are planning to build a very fast all purpose machine 100 or 1000 times as fast as Livac.  You planned to build an enormously fast special machine, what happened to it?”


The Bancroft Library's collection of Dick Lehmer’s correspondence with Paul Erdos – the famous “man who loved only numbers” and one of the most brilliant and eccentric of mathematicians – consists of 7 autograph manuscript and typescript letters, and 1 autograph post card, ranging in date from 1952 to 1961 (some undated). In the example below, Erdos demonstrates a characteristic mix of mathematical and personal interests. 
PAUL ERDOS
Autograph letter to D. H. Lehmer, 2 p.
15 December, no year
5.0 x 8.0 inches

"I was very glad to meet you at St. Mary's College. It was only to (sic) short. When the meeting came to an end I looked out to you for continuing our talk, but you had already disappeared."


One of Emma Lehmer's main interests was reciprocity laws. This exchange of letters with the leading German algebraic number theorist Helmut Hasse (1898-1979) deals in part with an article Hasse solicited for Crelles Journal, "On the Quadratic Character of Some Quadratic Surds." It also demonstrates Hasse's high regard for Emma. 

HELMUT HASSE
Autograph letter to Emma T. Lehmer, 2 p.
25 October 1970
6.0 x 9.0 inches
 

Correspondence in the Library's collection consists of 10 manuscript letters and 2 autograph manuscript postcards signed by Hasse and Dick Lehmer, 1969-1971 (some undated). 

L. PONTRIAGIN
Topological Groups
London: Princeton University Press, 1939
6.75 x 10.0 inches
 

Emma Lehmer also accomplished important editorial work, translating L. S. Pontriagin's Topological Groups (Princeton University Press, 1939) from the Russian and overseeing the publication of several of her husband's papers.

"On the Advantages of Not Having a Ph.D," corrected typescript, 
1 l., n.d.
8.5 x 11.0 inches
Private collection


"First of all there are lower expectations. If one happens to discover something new, one's peers are pleasantly surprised and generous in their praise. This is good for the morale ...."


In her brief essay "On the Advantages of Not Having a Ph.D.," Emma showed a sense of humor and good reasons for being satisfied with her Sc.M. from Brown. 

 
 


 


D. H. Lehmer (right) and others at Brown University, 1980
10.0 x 8.0 inches
Private collection

Dick Lehmer received an Honorary Degree from Brown University in 1980. 

“Prolific in research, you have made far-reaching contributions to number theory …. You were among the first to recognize the importance of high-speed computers as an aid to mathematical research.  With great energy and enthusiasm, you demonstrated how, in both theory and practice, computers can be an invaluable tool in testing conjectures…


7.0 x 5.0 inches
Private collection

Dick and Emma Trotskaia Lehmer, 
Spring 1991.
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