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A major link exchange with The Mac Tutor History of Mathematics Archive
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic | Published  06/7/2007 | Science , History | Unrated
William Feller on The Mac Tutor History of Mathematics Archive

A major link exchange dealing with

William Feller

The most authoritative source of biographies of outstanding mathematicians offered by the WWW is The Mac Tutor History of Mathematics Archive, Scotland, UK. It has been designed and prepared by professors John J O'Connor and Edmund F Robertson. This enormous web site contains biographies of three Croatian mathematicians:

Marin GetaldiŠ

It is my pleasant duty to report that since the May 2007 the article dealing with William Feller has a link to the following web site

which is, without any doubt, the most exhaustive presentation of Feller's spectacular scientific biography. By now this web page has more than 60 printed pages, including numerous photos.

I take the opportunity to express my deep gratitude to professor John J. O'Connor for a very fast response to my e-mail, in which I proposed a few corrections regarding Feller's biographical data in the first three sentences.

Since similar mistakes can be found throughout the web (the source of mistakes is Gian Carlo Rota, a well known Italian-American mathematician), I find it pertinent to include a part of my recent e-mail sent to professor O'Connor, in order to indicate the problem:

I have found the MacTutor History of Mathematics web pages very useful, my sincere congratulations for a truly great job.
To introduce myself, I am employed at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, working in elliptic PDEs and fractal analysis of Dynamical systems.
Since the last year I began to collect data about William Feller in a systematic way.

I have recently been encouraged by Professor John Aldrich (Division of Economics, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton) to write to You. He has created a very nice web page "Figures From the History of Probability and Statistics", available at

Last year I have been asked also by descendants of Feller's father, living in Zagreb, to contact You. Namely, some of the data about Feller provided by Gian Carlo Rota, and cited at the beginning of Your (otherwise excellent) article, are incorrect. In particular, Feller's second name, contrary to Rota's claim, was always Feller.
Also the name of "Willibrord" provided by Rota is wrong, as well as his claim about a "Slavic tongue twister" (Rota must have misunderstood something).

It is unfortunate that these (Rota's) mistakes appear in the first three sentences of Your article.
Alow me to cite these three sentences from the very beginning of Your article, with my remarks in angular brackets:

William Feller's parents were Ida Perc [maybe rather Oemichen - since this was her father's second name; Perc or Pertz is the second name of her mother] and Eugene [should be Eugen] V Feller - well that is not strictly true since the family surname was not Feller [this is wrong] but, as Gian-Carlo Rota put it, a Slavic tongue twister [!?] which William changed when he was about twenty years old [he changed Vilim to Willy in Germany, but he was born as Vilibald Srecko, and changed to Vilim at the age of 17, when entering the University of Zagreb], so his father never used the name Feller [totally wrong claim of Rota].

In fact his first name was not William [true: he was born as Vilibald Srecko in 1906] either! Rather it was Willibrord [no, it was Vilibald Srecko (Srecko=Felix)] which was the name of the Saint [Vilibald] whose day falls on his birthday.

His mother was a Roman Catholic and so he was christened Willibrord [Vilibald], but was known as Willy (and he even [understandably for the period of his life in Germany] used the name Willy Feller on his papers into the 1940s).

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

A. Following a recent suggestion of Professor Aldrich, I am free to ask You to take into account my web page containing a detailed Feller's biography (more than 60 pp), available at the following address:

hoping that in the future it might appear among links offered at the end of Your article about Feller.
I understand that it will take time until You check the quality and reliability of my article.


As it usually happens in mathematicis and with mathematicians, there were more fruits than expected! Indeed, professor O'Connor kindly sent me a PDF file containing Feller's plenary lecture delivered at the 1958 International Congress of Mathematicians in Edinburgh (Scotland).

Expressing again my deep appreciation to professors John J O'Connor and Edmund F Robertson for their wonderful web site, I invite You to visit and enjoy The Mac Tutor History of Mathematics Archive.

Many thanks also to Nenad Bach for encouriging me to write this article.

PS. For those who maybe doubt that William Feller is an important figure in the History of Mathematics, I provide an amazing list of mathematical notions bearing his name:

  1. Feller theory
  2. Feller process
  3. Feller minimal process
  4. strong Feller process
  5. doubly Feller process
  6. Feller property
  7. strong Feller's property
  8. weak Feller's property
  9. Feller class
  10. Feller chain
  11. Feller-McKean chain
  12. Feller-Markov chains
  13. Quasi-Feller Markov chains
  14. Feller extension
  15. Feller's decomposition
  16. Feller's road map
  17. Feller diffusion process
  18. two-parameter Feller process
  19. Doubly-Feller process
  20. Feller branching diffusion
  21. Feller transition function
  22. Feller's representation
  23. Feller's construction
  24. Feller transition probabilities
  25. Feller-Reuter-Riley (FRR) property
  26. Feller-Reuter-Riley transition function
  27. Feller continuity
  28. Feller semigroup
  29. Feller-Dynkin semigroup
  30. Feller-Dynkin diffusion
  31. Feller-Dynkin process
  32. Feller-Dynkin propagators
  33. Feller-Dynkin characterizations
  34. Feller generator
  35. Feller's transformation
  36. Feller's randomization technique
  37. Chung-Feller theorem
  38. Feller-Lindvall diffusion
  39. Feller-Lamperti-Lindvall invariance principle
  40. Feller-Pareto distribution
  41. Feller data
  42. Feller's parametric equations
  43. Feller operator
  44. sub-Feller operator
  45. discrete Feller operator
  46. selfadjoint Feller operators
  47. Feller kernel
  48. Feller stochastic kernel
  49. quasi-Feller kernels
  50. Feller approximation
  51. Feller perturbation
  52. Feller resolvent
  53. Feller minimal resolvent
  54. Feller boundary
  55. Feller's natural boundaries
  56. Feller classification
  57. Feller boundary classification
  58. Feller-Wentzell-type boundary conditions
  59. Feller-Ventcel' end conditions
  60. Feller-Ueno boundary decomposition
  61. Feller's domainated variation
  62. Feller alternatives
  63. Dirichlet-Feller operator
  64. Trotter-Feller operator
  65. Feller potential
  66. Riesz-Feller potential
  67. Riesz Feller derivative
  68. Kato-Feller (Feller-Kato) potential
  69. Kato-Feller class
  70. Kato-Feller norm
  71. Kato-Feller property
  72. Trotter-Feller operator
  73. Keldysh-Feller operator
  74. Keldysh-Feller conditions
  75. Feller Brownian motions
  76. co-Feller operator
  77. co-Feller Markov chain
  78. stochastic compactness in Feller's sense
  79. Feller's test for explosions
  80. Lindeberg-Feller condition
  81. generalized Feller condition
  82. Feller-Lindeberg central limit theorem
  83. Bernstein-Feller central limit theorem
  84. Feller-Khintchine-LÚvy central limit theorem
  85. Feller's renewal theorem
  86. Blackwell-Feller-Orey renewal theorem
  87. Feller's theory of recurrent events
  88. Feller's recurrent events
  89. Feller's discrete time recurrent phenomena
  90. concept of Feller-Gantos
  91. Feller-Jirina-Lamperti convergence
  92. Erd÷s-Feller-Pollard theorem
  93. Feller's paradox
  94. Chernoff-Feller-Klotz-Stone-Sievers approach
  95. Aleksandrov-Busemann-Feller theorem
  96. Busemann-Feller-Aleksandrov theorem
  97. Busemann-Feller (BF) basis
  98. Feller measures
  99. Feller invariant measure
  100. Feller system
  101. Feller-Arley process (model)
  102. Feller-Arley birth and death process
  103. Feller minimal birth-death process
  104. Feller minimal solutions
  105. Feller's solution
  106. Non-Feller model
  107. Quasi-Feller model
  108. Feller's coupling method
  109. Dickey-Feller test
  110. LÚvy-Feller process
  111. LÚvy-Feller diffusion
  112. LÚvy-Feller advection-dispersion process
  113. Markov-Feller (Feller-Markov) process
  114. Markov-Feller semigroup
  115. Markov-Feller (Feller-Markov) operators
  116. Markov-Feller pair
  117. Feller semi-Markov control processes
  118. Krein-Feller operators
  119. indefinite Krein-Feller differential operators
  120. Krein-Feller (eigenvalue) problem
  121. Krein-Feller second order derivative
  122. Feller-Miyadera-Phillips theorem
  123. Hille-Phillips-Feller-Miyadera conditions
  124. Hille-Yosida-Feller-Phillips-Miyadera semigroup
  125. Hille-Yosida-Feller theorem
  126. Feller cocycle
  127. Feller-Jirina theorem
  128. Feller-Jirina scheme
  129. Feller-Tornier constant
  130. Generalized Feller equation
  131. Feller solutions to SPDE's
  132. Feller's law of the iterated logarithm
  133. Feller-Erd÷s-Kolmogorov-Petrovski criterion
  134. Petrovskii-Erd÷s-Feller integral functional
  135. Feller-Fokker-Planck equation
  136. Fokker-Planck-Kolmogorov-Feller equation
  137. Kolmogorov-Feller test
  138. Kolmogorov-Erd÷s-Feller integral tests
  139. KolmogorovFeller weak law of large numbers
  140. Kolmogorov-Feller (Feller-Kolmogorov) equation
  141. Kolmogorov-Feller integro-differential equation
  142. Kolmogorov-Feller-Stratonovich equation
  143. Kolmogorov-Feller theory of Markov processes
  144. Kolmogorov-Feller jump processes
  145. Kolmogorov-Feller-type operator

The list has been obtained using references on MathSciNet in the period between 1970 (since Feller's death) and 2007, citing Feller's name.

Paul C. Kettler, Norway:

...the personal aspects of creative lives are just as important I believe as the professional aspects. At the lowest level, it is personal interaction, after all, which produces great collaborations. Feller and Kolmogorov, across continents and ideologies, is the perfect example.

Since the May 2007 my web page about William Feller has been translated into Croatian by two students of mine, Ms Marta Kolar and Ms Ines Leskovar (University of Zagreb, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing):

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko «ubriniŠ
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