Problems about construction using compass and straightedge preoccupied mathematicians for 2000 years. The first three postulates of Euclid’s Elements (300 BC) involve constructions and the first proposition was about the construction of an equilateral triangle. Constructions of other regular polygons were solved, but the heptadecagon (17-gon) proved to be difficult. It was only solved by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1796 when he was just 19 (see the following animation).
Aside from the heptadecagon problem and other construction problems, numerous mathematicians attempted to solve the three most difficult ancient construction problems: trisection of any given angle, duplication of a cube, and squaring the circle. » Read more
We have met the number or the approximation of pi (written as ) in our good old elementary school days. In fact, we have used it a countless number of times in mathematical computations. Most of us have used it when calculating the area of a circle or volume of a sphere, but only a few probably know that it appears in numerous branches of mathematics and even in other sciences.
The number is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. What does that mean? It means that if we measure the circumference of a circle and its diameter and divide them, the quotient is “three point something.” Now that three point something is . What is amazing is that this is always true even if the circle is a big as a planet or as small as an atom. » Read more
It is very sad that some of the most brilliant mathematicians had died early in their life. Had these men lived their full lives, they would have made tremendous advancement in the field of mathematics. Get to know the 10 mathematicians who died at the age of 40 and below.
1. Evariste Galois (25 October 1811 – 31 May 1832; aged 20)
Evariste Galois was a French mathematician. He was probably the most unfortunate among all the mathematicians. His father committed suicide; he failed the entrance exam at Ecole Polytechnique for failure to explain his answers. He was jailed for six months and was killed in a duel over a young lady at the age of 20 (see his 10 misfortunes).
Galois was ahead of his time. His work was not understood until 20 years after his death. Despite his short life, his groundbreaking work made him the ‘father’ of group theory, an important branch of modern mathematics. » Read more