Wednesday, 20 May 2009


Euler, Leonhard (1707-1783)

Swiss mathematician who was tutored by Johann Bernoulli. He worked at the Petersburg Academy and Berlin Academy of Science. He had a phenomenal memory, and once did a calculation in his head to settle an argument between students whose computations differed in the fiftieth decimal place. Euler lost sight in his right eye in 1735, and in his left eye in 1766. Nevertheless, aided by his phenomenal memory (and having practiced writing on a large slate when his sight was failing him), he continued to publish his results by dictating them. Euler was the most prolific mathematical writer of all times finding time (even with his 13 children) to publish over 800 papers in his lifetime. He won the Paris Academy Prize 12 times. When asked for an explanation why his memoirs flowed so easily in such huge quantities, Euler is reported to have replied that his pencil seemed to surpass him in intelligence.

Euler systematized mathematics by introducing the symbols e, i, and f(x) for a function  of x. He also made major contributions in optics, mechanics, electricity, and magnetism. He made significant contributions to the study of differential equations. His Introducio in analysin infinitorum (1748) provided the foundations of analysis.  He showed that any complex number to a complex power can be written as a complex number,  and investigated the beta and gamma functions. He computed the Riemann zeta function for even numbers.


No comments: