If you wanted to know about the (arguably) greatest mathematician of all time, read this.
“He calculated without any apparent effort, just as men breathe, as eagles sustain themselves in the air.” This quote from Francois Arago describes the mathematical king, if not god, Leonhard Euler. Although Euler became blind later in life, he still had a productive adulthood, filled with accomplishments that were still being discovered fifty years later. Dedicated to his work, he also won many awards, corresponding roughly to one every three years of his life, including his childhood. For one man, he was one of, if not the, most amazing figure in the history of mathematics. He created ideas still being built upon in many ways. Actually, if not for his ideas, we would not know about the planet Neptune. Leonhard Euler was an important man in mathematics and the related sciences.
Leonhard Euler was born in Switzerland in 1707, and died after a mathematically productive lifetime of seventy-six years. Although his father wanted Leonhard to become a important member of the ministry, there was no evading the truth: Euler was a child prodigy. Squaring and calculating mathematical operations mentally, and finding anything he came across simple, he was bound for greatness. Studying under the mathematical titan Johann Bernoulli, Euler discovered his niche: mathematics. Quickly going through college, he went to the St. Petersburg Academy soon after as a professor of mathematics. In the space of a single lifetime, he produced more papers than most mathematicians. Actually, his papers, which seem to be an inexhaustible well of new mathematical knowledge, are still being found. Due to staring at papers in dim lighting too long, he went blind in his right eye, and soon after lost his sight completely. Even this did not hamper his productivity: he racticed dictating to his sons and daughters, who he employed as scribes.
Although he was just one man, his accomplishments seem otherwise; looking at a list of his awards, one may be confused about whether this is the work of one man, or of a not-so-small army of mathematicians. Having many awards, he did not aspire solely to prizes; one of his key accomplishments is writing an astounding 500 papers and books. Even his own death did not impair him; fifty years later, his well seemed nearly dry. Luckily, more of his works sprang up; a relatively recent posthumous list of books and papers contains a stunning 886 entries. Committed to his work, Euler even won a biyearly prize twelve times, corresponding to winning one almost every three years of his lifetime, including his childhood.
Euler impacted mathematics as much as the asteroid that collided with Earth impacted the lives of the dinosaurs and our own evolution. Considering he developed equations pertaining to gravity that led to the discovery of the cosmic body Neptune, he was influential in the sciences as well. Although mathematical notation was confusing to wade through in the eighteenth century, he constructed a base of notation upon which mathematicians have continued to build.
Euler, in addition to being the one of the best mathematician of the time, also wrote textbooks that were used in Russian schools. Being a influential mathematician, he had a extraordinary life. Amazingly, he wrote over 880 papers and books. Because he wrote an outrageous amount of papers, he impacted mathematics by a large amount. Leonhard Euler was one of the most important men in mathematics.
Dunham, William. Euler: The Master of Us All. New York: The Mathematical Association of America, 2000.
Bover, Carl. A History of Mathematics. New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1989.