Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Grete Hermann (1901-1984) was a German mathematician and philosopher. She studied mathematics at Göttingen under Emmy Noether, where she achieved her Ph.D. in 1926. Her doctoral thesis, Die Frage der endlich vielen Schritte in der Theorie der Polynomideale, published in Mathematische Annelen , is the foundational paper for computer algebra. It first established existence of algorithms (including complexity bounds) for many of the basic problems of abstract algebra, such as ideal membership for polynomial rings. Hermann's algorithm for primary decomposition is still in use now.
As a philosopher, Hermann had a particular interest in the foundations of physics. In 1935 she discovered a flaw in John von Neumann's purported 1932 proof that a hidden variable theory of quantum mechanics was impossible. The result went unnoticed by the physics community until it was rediscovered by John Stewart Bell.
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