Founding and Development of Department of Mathematics

University of Zagreb is the oldest university in Croatia, but it is also one of the oldest universities in Europe. Its roots date back to September 23, 1669 when King Leopold I recognized the status and privileges of the former Jesuit Academy in Zagreb (NeoacademiaZagrabiensis-established in 1662), and since then philosophical study officially started to work within the public higher education institution.

This institution has remained in the hands of the Jesuits more than a century, until the abolition of the Jesuit order in 1773, and when in 1766  the  Queen , Maria  Theresa  officially confirmed its continuity as the Royal Academy of Sciences, with three faculties - Faculty of Philosophy,  Faculty of  Theology, and Faculty of Law.

In 1861, on the initiative of Bishop Strossmayer, the Croatian Parliament issued a legal provision on the establishment of the University of Zagreb, and the Emperor Franz Joseph I confirmed it on Jannuary 5, 1874. The modern University of Zagreb was officially opened on October19, 1874. That same year ban Ivan Mažuranić gave honour to Matija Mesić and introduced him to Rectors  duties.

This date also marks the beginning of organized teaching and research at the University of Zagreb.

Soon after the founding of the University, the other faculties of Law, Theology, and  Philosophy began to work, part of which was the Department of Natural Sciences. The Chair of mathematics of the Faculty began working in 1876 when the Czech mathematician, dr. Karel Zahradnik was invited from Prague to Zagreb and was appointed full professor of mathematics.

In 1886, Chair of Mathematics has grown into Mathematical Seminar with reference library, and in 1893 established a collection of mathematical learning in which mathematical models and other teaching aids were collected. Karel Zahradnik kept the position of Head of the Chair or Seminar until his leave to Brno in 1899. From his post then as Head of Department, he was succeeded by Dr. Vladimir Varicak, who held the post  until 1942, but the Mathematical Seminar in 1930 changed its name to Mathematical Institute. From 1942 to 1944  Head of the Mathematical Institute was Dr. Rudolf Cesarec,  and Dr. Gjuro Kurepa from 1944 to 1946.

In 1898, the Academy of Forestry, which was associated with the Faculty of Philosophy  was founded; as its part also acted Department of descriptive geometry, whose first leader was Dr. David Segan. In 1911 the scope of this Department was extended to the whole geometry, and the leadership was  entrusted to  Dr. Jurje Majcen. The same year  Geometric seminar was established at the Faculty of Philosophy.

 Its representatives were as stated:  Dr. George Majcen (until 1924), Dr. Mary Kiseljak (1925), Dr. Vladimir Varicak (1925-1928), Dr. Stephen Bohnicek (1928-1929), Dr. Rudolf Cesarec (1929-1945t), and Dr. Gjuro  Kurepa (1945-1949).

In 1920, Theoretical physics seminar was established at the Faculty of Philosophy, out of which in 1939 were created the Seminar for theoretical physics and applied mathematics. From 1920  to 1943, the head of the seminar was Dr. Ladislav Stjepanek, and from 1943 to 1946 was Dr. Vladimir Vrkljan, and from 1946 to 1949  the Acting Head was Dr. Ivan Supek.

Long lasting effort on the part of Mathematical Natural Department to become independent of Faculty of Philosophy was accomplished on June 8, 1946,  when the Faculty of Science was established (PMF).

In 1948, there were 5 sections at the faculty, while the institutes for mathematics, geometry and applied mathematics stayed part of Mathematical-Physical Department.

In 1959, there were 6 departments instead of 5. This is because two other departments were formed out of Mathematical and Physical Department, i.e. Department of Mathematics and  Department of Physics.

Of these institutes and seminars respectively, three new institutes were established: Institute for mathematics, Institute for geometry, and the Institute for applied mathematics. Heads of Institute for mathematics were Dr.Djuro Kurepa (1946 – 1965) and Dr. Pavle Papic (1965 – 1978); Dr. Stanko Bilinski was the head of Institute for geometry (1949 – 1978), and heads of Institute for applied mathematics were Dr. Zeljko Markovic (1949 – 1961), Dr. Zlatko Jankovic (1961 – 1976), and Dr. Hrvoje Kraljevic (1976 – 1978).

Since the academic year (1978 – 1979),  Department of Mathematics has been organized into five institutes, namely, Institute for  algebra and foundations of mathematics, for geometry,  for mathematical analysis, for mathematics, and Institute for topology. In the academic year (1986 -1987), Institute for numerical mathematics and mathematical informatics was founded , as well as the Institute for probability theory and mathematical statistics in (1994-1995) .

In addition to these institutes at the Faculty of mathematics there also acted the Chair of the methods of teaching mathematics and computer science, and since 1986 the Computer Centre. The Institute for numerical mathematics and mathematical informatics split in 2011 on Institute for numerical mathematics and scientific computing and Institute for computer science.

Since the autumn of 1991, Department of Mathematics has operated in a newly constructed building at Bijenicka 30, Zagreb, and since 1993 - as an independent college. In fact, on  December 1, 1978   - OOUR Mathematics Department was established, and at the end of 1990, it was decided by referendum at the Faculty of Science to divide the faculty in  two organizations for vocational education: Faculty of Science - Department of Mathematics and Faculty of Natural Sciences. Coming into force of the Higher Education law on November 3. 1993, it became the Faculty, and acquired the name of the Faculty of Science - Department of Mathematics.

According to the court decision, at the end of 2010, the Faculty of Science - Department of Mathematics ceases to exist and continues its activity as a constituent part of Faculty of Science named - Department of Mathematics.


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