Marcel Grossmann is perhaps best known for helping Einstein learn the Riemannian geometry necessary to formulate general relativity. He was instrumental in its early development. Wikipedia states:

The collaboration of Einstein and Grossmann led to a ground-breaking paper: "Outline of a Generalized Theory of Relativity and of a Theory of Gravitation", which was published in 1913 and was one of the two fundamental papers which established Einstein's theory of gravity.

The Wikipedia page on Grossmann references that paper and a second paper the duo authored the presented the second part of general relativity, "Covariance Properties of the Field Equations of the Theory of Gravitation Based on the Generalized Theory of Relativity".

This provides an English translation of the first paper. Note that Einstein is credited with the "physical part", while Grossmann is credited with the "mathematical part". This suggests that Grossmann was not intimately tied to the theory's physical predictions, merely the math behind it.

Did Grossmann author any other papers on general relativity, with or without Einstein?


2 Answers 2


Grossmann is spelled with two n in the end. According to the Jahrbuch database he had 31 papers, 3 of them joint with Einstein.

Jahrbuch is available free:


This is a database in Mathematics, covering papers 1868-1942, but most papers in theoretical physics are included.

You can look at the complete list there and decide which are in General relativity.

The most comprehensive database covering all papers in all sciences is Poggendorff, but most of it is not available online, even in my university. We have a paper copy, and if this question is considered important (why?) I can go and check.

Comment. Einstein had many assistants (he changed them frequently). But one can argue that the most famous of them was Cornelius Lanczos. He is not famous as an Einstein assistant (he spent only about one year on this position) but for his own contributions. Among other things, he invented the Fast Fourier Transform, one of the crucial mathematical inventions which made the modern computer revolution possible. He also discovered the Schrodinger equation, but his paper was published few weeks after Schrodinger.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for correcting the misspelling. I'm absolutely mortified. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:32

Grossmann himself always stated his role quite clearly, "the theory is Einstein's." And it was Einstein, and Einstein alone, that came up with generally covariant field equations for General Relativity (to beat Hilbert of all people). There are some equations from the failed Entwurf theory that Grossmann came up with, but virtually all of GR's structure as a conceptual beauty (geodesics and so forth) was Einstein. (And the eponymously named "Einstein Equations" and "Einstein metric" tells you who conceived of them).

Martin Klein and Abraham Pais, the latter a rigorous theoretical physicist himself, downplayed Grossmann's role in the construction of GR, essentially stating that Grossman helped ensure the math was correct but did not contribute to the "most abstract elements of the theory"

Hope that helps.

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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't actually answer the question as posed. $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2016 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @MichaelWeiss. Of course I know that general relativity was Einstein's theory, but that doesn't preclude others from working on it - as has been going on for over a century. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Jun 23, 2016 at 22:03

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