The Felix Klein Award is awarded for life-time achievement in mathematics education research. This award is aimed at acknowledging those excellent scholars who have shaped our field over their lifetimes. Past candidates have been influential and have had an impact both at the national level within their own countries and at the international level. We have valued in the past those candidates who not only have made substantial research contributions, but also have introduced new issues, ideas, perspectives, and critical reflections. Additional considerations have included leadership roles, mentoring, and peer recognition, as well as the actual or potential relationship between the research done and improvement of mathematics education at large, through connections between research and practice.
Christian Felix Klein (25 April 1849 - 22 June 1925) was a German mathematician and mathematics educator, known for his work in group theory, complex analysis, non-Euclidean geometry, and on the connections between geometry and group theory. His 1872 Erlangen Program, classifying geometries by their underlying symmetry groups, was a hugely influential synthesis of much of the mathematics of the day. In 1893 in Chicago, Klein was a keynote speaker at the International Mathematical Congress held as part of the World's Columbian Exposition. He supported that University of Göttingen began admitting women in 1893. He supervised the first Ph.D. thesis in mathematics written at Göttingen by a woman; (Grace Chisholm Young, an English student of Arthur Cayley's.
Around 1900, Klein began to take an interest in mathematical instruction in schools. In 1905, he played a decisive role in formulating a plan recommending that analytic geometry, the rudiments of differential and integral calculus, and the function concept be taught in secondary schools.This recommendation was gradually implemented in many countries around the world.
In 1908, Klein was elected president of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction at the Rome International Congress of Mathematicians. Under his guidance, the German branch of the Commission published many volumes on the teaching of mathematics at all levels in Germany.