Fueter, Karl Rudolf

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Fueter, Karl Rudolf

(b. Basel, Switzerland, 30 June 1880; d. Brunnen, Switzerland, 9 August 1950)


Fueter was the son of Eduard Rudolf Fueter, an architect, and Adele Gelzer. In 1908 he married Amelie von Heusinger

After receiving his early education in Basel, Fueter began to study mathematics at Gottingen in 1899 and graduated in 1903. Under the supervision of David Hilbert he presented a work dealing with the theory of quadratic number fields. After further study in Paris, Vienna, and London and teaching in Marburg and Clausthal (now Clausthal-Zellerfeld), Fueter became a professor of mathematics in Basel in 1908; he accepted the same post at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe in 1913 and at the University of Zurich in 1916. His field of interest was the theory of numbers as presented in Hilbert’s work. He derived the class formula for the entire group of Abelian number fields over an imaginary quadratic base field. He gave a summary of these in his Vorlesungen uber in singu laren Moduln und die komplexe Multiplikation der elliptischen Funktionen (1924–1927). Later he founded his own school of thought on the theory of functions of a quaternion variable.

Fueter was cofounder and president of the Swiss Mathematical Society, rector of the University of Zurich, and president of the Euler Commission of the Swiss Society of Sciences (editors of the Opera Omnia Leonhardi Euleri). He held the rank of colonel in the artillery of the Swiss militia, and at the outbreak of World War II he served in the Department of Press and Radio. In Spying for Peace (London, 1961), Jon Kimche states, “Fueter restated the democratic rights of the press in almost classical form. . . . In his report of April 10, 1940 . . . Fueter developed his argument more fully. “It is the duty of our press to reject the domestic and foreign policies of the National Socialists both clearly and forcefully.’” Fueter was, therefore, particularly noted for his opposition to Nazism and to the spread of its policies within Switzerland.


Fueter’s major works are Synthetische Zahlentheorie (Berlin, 1917; 3rd ed., 1950); Vorlesungen uber die singu laren Moduln und die komplexe Multiplikation der elliptischen Funktionen, 2 vols. (Leipzig-Berlin, 1924–1927); and Das mathematische Werzeung des Chemiskers, Biolgen und Statistikers (Zurich, 1926; 3rd ed., 1947).

A biogrpahy is A. Speiser, in Elemente der Mathematik, 5 (1950), published with Fuete’s autobiographical notes.

J. J. Burckhardt