Short history of the Department of Algebra and Number Theory of University of Debrecen

The predecessor of the Department of Algebra and Number Theory of University of Debrecen was the No. 2 Department of Mathematics of the Faculty of Humanities, which came into existence by a ministry regulation in August 1948. This does not mean that there were no algebraic and number theory lectures before; since 1924 these were part of the higher education in Debrecen. Lajos Dávid, who led the Seminar/Department of Mathematics of University of Debrecen between 1926 and 1942, held lectures about group theory, thereafter, from 1932 his assistant lecturer, Béla Barna gave lectures about classical algebra and number theory. At the same time, from 1932 László Rédei became the private professor of number theory. Tibor Szele was one of his excellent students. In 1945 Béla Gyires, in 1948 Tibor Szele and Alfréd Rényi got appointment. Alfréd Rényi (1948-1950) became the leader of the newly established No. 2 Department of Mathematics. (Later, the work of László Rédei, Tibor Szele and Andor Kertész was awarded by Kossuth Prize.)

From 1950 Rényi continued his career in Budapest, he was replaced by Tibor Szele (1950-1955), first, by a ministerial appointment as a teacher of the institute, then in 1952 he became professor and the head of the Department. He created a prosperous algebraic school and reached significant results in the area of modern algebra. The later algebrist co-workers of the Department of Algebra and Number Theory were the students of Szele. In this period, Sándor Gacsályi, Mária Erdélyi and Jenő Erdős started their work in the Department, and Béla Barna joined again. From the academic year 1953/54 the name of the Department was Department of Algebra.

Because of the early death of Tibor Szele, the Department needed a new leader. The position was filled in by Andor Kertész in several periods (between 1955-1960 transitionally, then between 1960-1962 and 1964-1968 in full-time). During these years he continued his internationally acclaimed research in the theory of Abelian groups and modules. As an excellent professional, he also had an effect on teaching algebra. In the periods 1962-1964 and 1968-1971 he was a visiting professor in Halle. During the first term Béla Gyires (1962-1964) took over the lead of the Department. From 1955 till the end of the 1960s, several new researchers joined the Department for a longer or shorter period of time: László Kovács, Zoltán Papp, Károly Buzási, Ferenc Fenyves, Szvetlána Buzási, Erzsébet Szodoray and Kálmán Győry. With the employment of Kálmán Győry in 1964, the international standard number theory research appeared in the Department. To emphasize this profile extension, the name of the Department was changed to Department of Algebra and Number Theory.

Jenő Erdős (1968-1979) became the next head of the Department, who also reached important results in the theory of Abelian groups. In addition, he supported the admission to the Department of the number theorists Béla Kovács, Sándor Turjányi and Attila Pethő. As the head of the Department, Károly Buzási (1979-1988) established a new research direction: the theory of group representation. The Algebraic Coding Theory Research Group, which was led by him, was extended to new areas. In these years, Edit Szabó became member of the Department, together with Béla Brindza and István Gaál, students of Kálmán Győry.

As we mentioned, the number theory research in Debrecen was started by Kálmán Győry, who was awarded with Széchenyi Prize and was the head of the Department between 1988-2005. He is doing internationally outstanding and acknowledged research in the area of Diophantine and algebraic number theory. His research group, which is mentioned as the Number Theory School of Debrecen, was founded by the students of Kálmán Győry, and now it has more than 50 members with the students of the students. While the number theory research was flourishing, the teaching and research of algebra was in trouble because of the departure/death of some colleagues. Kálmán Győry took steps to remedy this situation with the hire of Béla Bódi, Pál Dömösi, Piroska Lakatos and Viktor Bódi. In the following years Béla Bódi wrote new algebra textbooks, initiated research in the theory of group algebras. He was supervisor of many PhD students, which gathered momentum to the algebraic research. In the meantime Ákos Pintér, Lajos Hajdu, Imre Ruzsa (in part-time position), Attila Bérczes, István Pink, Szabolcs Tengely and Csaba Rakaczki joined to the number theory part of the Department. The results of the Number Theory Research Group get a lot of appreciation in Hungary and abroad alike. Among the members of the group Attila Pethő, Béla Brindza, István Gaál, Ákos Pintér, Lajos Hajdu and Attila Bérczes became Doctors of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and they were awarded by Academic Prize. Later, Attila Pethő became member of the HAS.

As the head of the Department, Kálmán Győry was followed by his student, István Gaál (2005-2016). His main research area is the constructive theory of index form equations and the monogenity of algebraic fields. During his leadership, the number theory research kept going intensely, meanwhile, because of the retirement of Béla Bódi, Piroska Lakatos and the departure for abroad of Viktor Bódi, it was neccessary to strengthen the area of algebra: the presence of Pham Ngoc Anh (in part-time position), Zoltán Halasi, Gábor Horváth and Carolin Hannusch helped through the lack of algebraists temporarily. Due to several reasons, they are no longer employees of the Department, so the research and teaching of algebra falls on András Pongrácz, who joined to the Department also in this period. In these years, Gábor Nyul, András Bazsó, Tünde Lality-Kovács, Nóra Györkös-Varga, Zsolt Rábai (in position sponsored by the HAS) and Judit Ferenczik (in position sponsored by the HAS) became members of the Department, working in the area of number theory. After his appointment, the research interest of Gábor Nyul turned towards enumerative combinatorics and as supervisor, introduced several PhD students into the research of this topic.

The current head of the Department is Attila Bérczes (2016- ), who is also a student of Kálmán Győry and his most important scientific results are his effective finiteness results for Diophantine equations over finitely generated domains. In these years, Márton Szikszai, Eszter Szabó-Gyimesi, Gabriella Rácz and László Remete became members of the Department.

In the latter 15 years one can observe, that a part of the young members of the Department spent only a few years here. One reason behind this is the financial situation of the Institute, for some colleagues we could give only fixed-term contracts. Another reason is that they are lured to the private sector or to institutions of higher education in the capital.


Heads of the Department of Algebra and Number Theory:

1948-1950          Alfréd Rényi

1950-1955          Tibor Szele

1955-1962          Andor Kertész

1962-1964          Béla Gyires

1964-1968          Andor Kertész

1968-1979          Jenő Erdős

1979-1988          Károly Buzási

1988-2005          Kálmán Győry

2005-2016          István Gaál

2016-                   Attila Bérczes


The late and current members of the Department of Algebra and Number Theory, with the years spent at the Department:

László Rédei (1932-1934),

Béla Kovács (1970-1993), Csaba Rakaczki (2002/2004-2009),

Béla Barna (1932-1935; 1952-1976),

Sándor Turjányi (1972-2011),

Pham Ngoc Anh (2006-2012)

Alfréd Rényi (1948-1950),

Attila Pethő (1974-1988),

Gábor Nyul (2006- ),

Tibor Szele (1948-1955),

Zoltán Papp (1975-1978),

András Bazsó (2009- ),

Andor Kertész (1954-1974),

Edit Szabó (1981- 2005),

Gábor Horváth (2010-2017),

Sándor Gacsályi (1950-1964),

Béla Brindza (1986-2003),

Tünde Lality-Kovács (2011-2015),

Mária Erdélyi (1953-1980),

István Gaál (1987- ),

Zoltán Halasi (2011-2014),

Jenő Erdős (1954-1991),

Pál Dömösi (1989-2000),

Nóra Györkös-Varga (2014- ),

Béla Gyires (1962-1964),

Piroska Lakatos (1995-2010),

Carolin Hannusch (2014-2016)

László Kovács (1958),

Béla Bódi (1991/1994-2005),

Zsolt Rábai (2014-2015)

Zoltán Papp (1958-1959),

Ákos Pintér (1991- ),

Judit Ferenczik (2015-2020)

Károly Buzási (1961-1988),

Lajos Hajdu (1995- ),

András Pongrácz (2015- ),

Ferenc Fenyves (1962-1970),

Imre Ruzsa (1995-2005),

Márton Szikszai (2016-2020),

Szvetlána Buzási (1963-1990),

Viktor Bódi (1994-2012),

Eszter Szabó-Gyimesi (2016-),

Erzsébet Szodoray (1963-1964),

Attila Bérczes (1999- ),

Gabriella Rácz (2018- ),

Kálmán Győry (1964- ),

István Pink (2002- ),

László Remete (2020- ).


Szabolcs Tengely (2005- ),





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Last update: 2023. 07. 04. 11:20