Lasker - Life Outside of Chess



Academic activities 1894-1918

Despite his superb playing results, chess was not Lasker's only interest. His parents recognized his intellectual talents, especially for mathematics, and sent the adolescent Emanuel to study in Berlin (where he found he also had a talent for chess). Lasker gained his abitur (high school graduation certificate) at Landsberg an der Warthe, now a Polish town named Gorzow Wielkopolski but then part of Prussia. He then studied mathematics and philosophy at the universities in Berlin, Göttingen and Heidelberg.

In 1895 Lasker published two mathematical articles in NatureOn the advice of David Hilbert he registered for doctoral studies at Erlangen during 1900-1902. In 1901 he presented his doctoral thesis Über Reihen auf der Convergenzgrenze("On Series at Convergence Boundaries") at Erlangen and in the same year it was published by the Royal Society. He was awarded a doctorate in mathematics in 1902. His most significant mathematical article, in 1905, published a theorem of which Emmy Noether developed a more generalized form that is now regarded as of fundamental importance to modern algebra and algebraic geometry.

Lasker held short-term positions as a mathematics lecturer at: Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana (1893); and Victoria University in Manchester, England (1901; Victoria University was one of the "parents" of the current University of Manchester). However he was unable to secure a longer-term position, and pursued his scholarly interests independently.

In 1906 Lasker published a booklet titled Kampf (Struggle), in which he attempted to create a general theory of all competitive activities, including chess, business and war; this later had some influence on von Neumann's work on game theory. He produced two other books which are generally categorized as philosophy, Das Begreifen der Welt (Comprehending the World; 1913) and Die Philosophie des Unvollendbar (The Philosophy of the Unattainable; 1918).