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Writing Small Omegas - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128142448, 9780128142745

Writing Small Omegas

1st Edition

Elie Cartan's Contributions to the Theory of Continuous Groups 1894-1926

Author: Alberto Cogliati
Paperback ISBN: 9780128142448
eBook ISBN: 9780128142745
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 24th October 2017
Page Count: 304
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Table of Contents

1. Lie on the backstage
2. Cartan’s doctoral dissertation
3. Infinite Continuous Groups 1883-1902
4. Exterior Differential Systems
5. Cartan’s Theory (1902-1909)
6. The method of moving frames
7. The geometry of continuous groups
8. Conclusion


Writing Small Omegas: Elie Cartan's Contributions to the Theory of Continuous Groups 1894-1926 provides a general account of Lie’s theory of finite continuous groups, critically examining Cartan’s doctoral attempts to rigorously classify simple Lie algebras, including the use of many unpublished letters. It evaluates pioneering attempts to generalize Lie's classical ideas to the infinite-dimensional case in the works of Lie, Engel, Medolaghi and Vessiot. Within this context, Cartan’s groundbreaking contributions in continuous group theory, particularly in his characteristic and unique recourse to exterior differential calculus, are introduced and discussed at length.

The work concludes by discussing Cartan’s contributions to the structural theory of infinite continuous groups, his method of moving frames, and the genesis of his geometrical theory of Lie groups.

Key Features

  • Discusses the origins of the theory of moving frames and the geometrical theory of Lie groups
  • Reviews Cartan’s revolutionary contributions to Lie group theory and differential geometry
  • Evaluates many unpublished sources that shed light on important aspects of the historical development of Lie algebras


1st year PhD students, advanced graduate students and tenured mathematicians and historians of mathematics with an interest in differential geometry, Lie algebras and continuous groups


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2018
24th October 2017
Academic Press
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:


"This is necessarily a very heavily mathematical book, which nevertheless manages to balance the need for such detail with an awareness of the historical context - great effort appears to have been taken, for example, to ensure that Cartan’s mathematics is interpreted on his terms, rather than in a modern way. The referencing throughout is sufficiently detailed to enable the reader to follow up on any points of interest, and a comprehensive index makes the book easy to navigate. This is an extremely valuable contribution to the study of the history of modern mathematics." --Zentralblatt Math

Ratings and Reviews

About the Author

Alberto Cogliati

Alberto Cogliati, currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Mathematics ‘F. Enriques’ of the Università degli Studi di Milano. He received his PhD in March 2012 discussing Cartan’s structural approach to the theory of continuous groups of transformations. His main research interest is the history of 19th-20th mathematics, especially differential geometry, the history of Lie groups and the theory of connections.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Mathematics ‘F. Enriques’ of the Universita degli Studi di Milano