7 Extraordinary Mathematicians You Should Know About

There are numerous mathematicians who have made significant contributions in the field of mathematics. We cannot argue the mathematical greatness of Euclid, Newton, Gauss, Euler, and others who have set the foundation to the many branches of mathematics. In this post, we learn about 7 extraordinary mathematicians who are quite less known — less known in the sense that they are probably familiar to those who study mathematics and related fields.

1. Evariste Galois (1811-1832, France)
Evariste Galois was probably the most unfortunate mathematician who ever lived. He lived during the political turmoil in France. He failed the entrance examinations at Ecole Polytechnique twice because he could not explain his answers, was jailed for six months, and died in a duel at the age of 21.

Evariste Galois

Galois was  ahead of his time. In his teens, he was able to determine necessary and sufficient conditions for algebraic solutions of polynomials to exist. He barely attended college, but most of his contemporaries could not understand his work. He submitted research papers that were either lost or “incomprehensible.”  It was only 14 years after his death that the mathematics community was able to recognize the value of his work.

Despite his short life and his numerous misfortunes, his works gave a firm foundation to group theory. » Read more

Where is the Nobel Prize in Mathematics?

The Nobel Prize are prestigious awards given each year to individuals (as well as organizations) who have contributed significantly in cultural and scientific advances.

Alfred B. Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, bequeathed 31 million Swedish kronor in 1895 (about 250 million dollars in 2008) to fund the awards for achievements in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology and Medicine, Literature, and Peace. In 1901, the first set of awards were given, and in 1969, the Nobel Foundation established the Nobel Prize for Economics.

But did you ever wonder why there was no Nobel Prize of Mathematics? » Read more

Understanding the Fermat’s Last Theorem

The Fermat’s Last Theorem is one of the hardest problems in the history of mathematics.  The problem was written by Pierre de Fermat in 1637, and it was only solved more than 300 years later —  in 1995 by Professor Andrew Wiles.

But what is exactly the Fermat’s Last Theorem?

The Fermat’s Last Theorem is an extension of the Pythagorean Theorem.  Recall that the Pythagorean Theorem states that given a right triangle whose side lengths are x, y and hypotenuse z, x^2 + y^2 = z^2 is satisfied. For example, a right triangle with side lengths 2, and 3 has hypotenuse \sqrt{13}.

There are some interesting things that we can see if we examine the side lengths of right triangles.  For instance, if we let the triples (x,y,z) be the side lengths of a right triangle, where z is the hypotenuse, we can find triples such that all lengths are integers. The triples  (3, 4, 5), (5,12,13), (8,15,17) are integer triples, and they satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem. These triples are called Pythagorean Triples. It is not also difficult to see that there are infinitely many Pythagorean Triples (Can you see why?). » Read more

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