Elie Cartan 150th birthday – 1869-2019

The mathematician Élie CARTAN (1869-1951) was born in Dolomieu. Son of a blacksmith, this young boy is noticed by the teacher of the communal school of Dolomieu. He appointed him to the attention of the cantonal delegate, Antonin DUBOST, who later became President of the Senate. A. DUBOST takes under his protection the young Elie and makes him study at the College of Vienne, then at the Lycee of Grenoble and finally at the Lycee Janson-de-Sailly in Paris. There, after a year of preparation, Élie CARTAN was received at the École Normale Supérieure in 1888. His doctoral thesis (1894), devoted to the classification of Lie groups, was a historic event. His later work on complex semi-simple groups, then real, had him appointed at the Sorbonne in 1909.
What made him famous all over the world was on the one hand his collaboration, after 1920, with the German mathematician Hermann WEYL, on the global study of Lie groups, on the other hand, the use he did the theory of groups of differential Geometry, then his theory of "generalized spaces" which was applicable in the theory of Relativity and which was the occasion of a long exchange of letters between Albert EINSTEIN and Elie CARTAN. These letters were published by Princeton University Press in 1979, on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of EINSTEIN. It is also to Elie CARTAN that we owe the systematic introduction of "differential exterior forms" in Differential Geometry.
Elie CARTAN was elected to the Academy of Sciences "in 1931. In 1969, the centenary of his birth was celebrated by international symposia in Bucharest and Grenoble, a street of which bears his name.
Elie Cartan papers at archive of the French Academy of Science:
List of documents in Elie Cartan archive:
biographical note: