Landau was famous for his abusive personality. Are there any examples of his students leaving his tutelage because of that and still achieving great success in physics? Any similar examples with other teachers?

More generally, are there historical examples correlating students' success with teachers' personality at the high end of the spectrum? (I.e., very talented graduate students, very famous professors, success is measured in Nobel Prizes or something similar).

This question is motivated by the movie Whiplash which justifies the abusive behavior of a teacher by the future success of the student. The idea is that if a student fails to become fanatically driven to the degree that (s)he ignores/survives/enjoys teacher's abuse, then (s)he is no potential genius and his/her departure from the field is no loss to the field and Humanity. Is this idea supported by history?

PS. I tried to expand on the question here (as recommended by a commenter).

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    $\begingroup$ While the question about Landau's students alone would probably be fine here, I'm inclined to think that your main question is somewhat off-topic, being more about pedagogy than history. For mathematics specifically, it might fit on Math Educators, and Academia could probably cover the practical aspects. $\endgroup$ – Logan M Mar 8 '15 at 7:18
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    $\begingroup$ There seems to be a presupposition that "genius" is something pre-existing, genetically determined perhaps, which then does or does not develop depending on a teacher. This in itself is doubtful. Also, "abusive behavior" in its current meaning is a very modern notion, and I suspect it was quite ubiquitous in centuries past. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Mar 9 '15 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ There's the famous fable about Pythagoras and his student - which, if true, is quite abusive :) :S Youtube - Pythagoras and Root Two - xtranormal $\endgroup$ – user6337 Sep 25 '17 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ @user6337: yes, I head the story. The student did not survive, so this is not an example I am looking for ;-) $\endgroup$ – sds Sep 26 '17 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ Maxim Kontsevich might be a good example: he started at Gelfand's (famously abusive) seminar (if I remember the story correctly, Maxim first worked with Kirillov) and then switched to Manin (a totally different personality). Whether Kontsevich can qualify as a genius, I do not know, but his work was highly influential, that much one can surely say. $\endgroup$ – Moishe Kohan Sep 26 '17 at 18:53

If a genius is "broken" at an early stage, we will never know that s/he was a genius.

On the other hand there are abundant positive examples. For example, Hungarian mathematician Fejer made an important contribution to mathematics himself, but also as a teacher had such students as von Neumann, Erdos, Polya and Turan. (There was one school in Budapest in the early 20-th century whose graduates are called collectively "Hungarian miracle").

In Russia, in the early 20-th century, there was Luzin who taught in Moscow University. Perhaps more than 1/2 of the most famous Russian mathematicians were his students or students of his students.

The most incredible fact of this sort is that Gauss (in Braunschweig) and Lobachevski (in Kazan) had the same teacher, Johann Christian Martin Bartels.

So there is no doubt that there is some strong correlation between a teacher personality and his students success.

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    $\begingroup$ Your examples do not indicate a correlation between teacher personality and student success. It might be that the teaches was an exceptional scholar. Do you have any examples of abusive teachers being left by great students? $\endgroup$ – sds Mar 8 '15 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ In all examples that I listed, the students were greater scholars than teachers, and Bartels is not known as great scholar. Examples of abusive teachers whose students became great scholars I do not know. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Mar 8 '15 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ Do we know that all those teachers with students better than themselves were "nice"? (i.e., not "abusive") $\endgroup$ – sds Mar 8 '15 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ No, we don't. What is the definition of "nice"? They certainly were effective teachers. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Mar 8 '15 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ Abusive teachers are also less likely to be sought for tutelage. $\endgroup$ – hjhjhj57 Mar 9 '15 at 0:43

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