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I currently use to find papers in cases like Sophus Lie's original papers on "Transformation Groups". Does anyone know of other places that collect original works like this, i.e. works by those such as Weierstrass, Riemann or Lie describing the ideas that they originated. isn't "bad" per se, I'd just like to look up just those papers and not every paper on the same topic.

I have access to many journals so that isn't so much the problem as knowing where to look.

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What about books written about the history of various fields of mathematics, such as those listed at ? Some monographs have historical notes at the end of chapters that are often ignored (by m e, at least), but which often contain tasty morsels of historical interest. I guess that I am stating the obvious a bit here... were you thinking instead of an online repository or something instead? – Philip Brooker May 17 '10 at 11:30
Whoops... I misread your question; you specifically asked for a place that collects such papers. Sorry. – Philip Brooker May 17 '10 at 11:33
It's ok Philip, I'll check that as well, as I was looking for that recently as well – Michael Hoffman May 17 '10 at 14:10
what was wrong with the initial post? something got editing out but I can't remember what the whole post was – Michael Hoffman May 17 '10 at 14:32
@Michael, you can see the edit history by clicking the link in "edit X hours ago". – Scott Morrison May 17 '10 at 14:38

10 Answers 10

I would also advise (especially if they were published in french journals, such as the articles by Elie Cartan, Frechet, Henri Cartan)




You can often download whole articles, depending on date and copyright.

Here you have an obituary for Sophus Lie in the Weekly Accounts of the French Science Academy in 1899 (CRAS 1899, p525).

3 important original articles from Sophus Lie, probably on GDZ for the first 2.

Sophus Lie, Über Complexe, insbesondere Linien- und Kugel-Complexe, mit Anwendung auf die Theorie partieller Differentialgleichungen; Mathematische Annalen Vol 5, pp145- 256 (1872)

Sophus Lie, Untersuchungen über Transformationsgruppen. II; Archiv for Mathematik og Naturvidenskab vol 10, pp353-413 (Kristiania 1886)

Sophus Lie, unter Mitwirkung von Friedrich Engel, Theorie der Transformationsgruppen III, 1895. Printed as a book I think. I have it as chapters in the Chelsea reprint.

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Both are good, unfortunately my French is terrible >< I could translate if I had exactly the article I needed, but trying to get the article when I don't exactly know the French words for certain topics But thanks! these seem very helpful in certain cases, so most assuredly a good answer to this question – Michael Hoffman May 17 '10 at 17:05
I hope that at least your german is correct because most articles from Sophus Lie on algebras and differential transformations were written in german. I will list the most important of them in editing my answer. They have been reprinted in volumes by Chelsea, and this volume should be in most good mathematical libraries. – ogerard May 17 '10 at 18:27
By looking I found that most articles of Sophus Lie were reprinted in a collected works series, edited among others by Engels and published by Teubner in the 1930s. – ogerard May 17 '10 at 18:36
I'm pretty good with German, French is always a trick for me – Michael Hoffman May 18 '10 at 16:43

Two resources that haven't been mentioned are Cornell University's digital collection of historical math monographs and the University of Michigan's historical mathematics collection.

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Michigan will also print and bind book for you "on demand", and it's often a bargain (especially for long books - they charge the same regardless of the number of pages). – Victor Protsak May 18 '10 at 2:53
Thanks for this information! It's good to know. – grshutt May 18 '10 at 8:53

On, you can find works by Felix Klein, Cayley, George Boole (and also by Mary Everest-Boole, btw - some also very nice.) Perhaps there are others there, too.

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archive, ok, thanks Herman! – Michael Hoffman May 17 '10 at 13:56

Besides JSTOR, NUMDAM, and the like there is a German digital math archive GDZ at Some sources require access through a subscribing institution, by the way. There is no central resource and may never be. Copyright laws in many parts of the world pose a strong barrier to sharing material, though as some posts on Math Overflow illustrate there is a lot of unauthorized dissemination (as with recorded music). Commercial ownership complicates the question of what information can be freely distributed. This is currently a big issue in book publishing generally and mathematics in particular as E-books proliferate. Even nonprofit publishers like AMS and Cambridge have hard choices to make.

ADDED: There is no shortage of Web sites to browse such as The Euler Archive at and many others accessed through the AMS e-math pages Too many sites, too litle time. Many are helpful only if you know exactly what you are looking for, which is however the problem most of us begin with.

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Conveniently, Zentralblatt and DMV reviews now have links to many original papers if they have been digitized. – Victor Protsak May 18 '10 at 2:55

I have mentioned this link before. You can find links to almost everything that is freely and legally available on the web as far as mathematical publications are concerned.

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JSTOR is a very good digital archive of scholarly works.

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OH! good call, I forgot exactly what JSTOR was for! – Michael Hoffman May 17 '10 at 14:35

Are you looking for just the papers, or also for commentary on them? For the former, surely you can just consult the collected works of the people named. For the latter, it seems likely that the collected works will also have at least some commentary on the work, perhaps with references to additional commentary. You can also try looking up history of mathematics on mathscinet. (The classification is 01.)

For Sophus Lie in particular, try the book "The genesis of the abstract group concept", by Hans Wussing, and the detailed analysis of the history of Lie groups by Thomas Hawkins. (Look on mathscinet for his long list of publications on this topic.)

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Commentary would of course be useful, thanks for the advice! – Michael Hoffman May 18 '10 at 16:43

Google books is useful in some cases. I found a couple of full view books about Sophus Lie's original papers including one on Transformation groups:

Sophus Lie's 1880 transformation group paper by Sophus Lie, Róbert Hermann

This is volume one is the series "Lie groups: History, frontiers and applications."

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On they seem to have most of Weierstrass, a lot of Lie, and all of Riemann.

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Your university library, and interlibrary loan.

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I don't doubt that these could be found in the library, however the library, of course, is very big and finding original papers when I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for (other than the general subject) makes the process more difficult than it should be. – Michael Hoffman May 17 '10 at 17:01
This is what librarians are for. If you are not in the habit of asking librarians for assistance, you may find them surprisingly effective! – Steven Gubkin May 17 '10 at 17:39
Thanks for the advice Steven, I really haven't thought of asking librarians... I guess that reference desk is something I should check out! (Sometimes the easy answers get by me) – Michael Hoffman May 18 '10 at 16:40

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