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Leonhard Euler

Leonhard Euler

Leonhard Euler was born on April 15, 1707 in

Basel, Switzerland. He was the son of Paul Euler

and Margaret Brucker. Paul was a Protestant

minister. A year after Leonhards birth, Paul

moved his family to Riehen, Switzerland, a suburb

of Basel.

Eulers father wanted him to follow his footsteps

into the ministry to become a Protestant

minister. Leonhard was sent to school in Basel

where he lived with his maternal grandmother.

The school was very poor and did not offer any

mathematical education to the young Euler. His

father, however, had taught him the basics of

mathematics while living at home. Paul Euler had

studied theology at the University of Basel where

he attended the lectures of Jacob Bernoulli.

Paul had even lived in Jacobs house with the

younger Bernoulli, Johann. Thus Leonhards

father had some knowledge in mathematics and

imparted this wisdom onto his young son.

Leonhard liked the subject so much that he read

mathematical textbooks and took private lessons

in mathematics.

In 1720, at the age of 14, Leonhard was sent by

his father to the University of Basel to prepare

himself for ministry. Here his mathematical

intuition was discovered by his fathers old

friend, Johann Bernoulli. Euler is quoted from

an unpublished autobiography saying ... I soon

found an opportunity to be introduced to a famous

professor Johann Bernoulli. True, he was very

busy and so refused flatly to give me private

lessons but he gave me much more valuable advice

to start reading more difficult mathematical

books on my own and to study them as diligently

as I could if I came across some obstacle or

difficulty, I was given permission to visit him

freely every Sunday afternoon and he kindly

explained to me everything I could not understand

... After three years at the University,

Leonhard began his theological studies. Despite

being a Christian, he did not enjoy the study of

theology as much as mathematics. Johann

Bernoulli assisted Leonhard in persuading his

father to allow him to change his studies from

theology to mathematics.

In 1726, Euler finished his mathematical studies

at the University of Basel. He was already in

the process of publishing a few papers and

articles of mathematics. In 1727, his submission

of a paper on the best arrangement for a mast on

a ship got him second place for the 1727 Grand

Prize of the Paris Academy. When Nicolaus

Bernoulli died in St. Petersburg, the nineteen

year old Euler was offered his position at the

St. Petersburg Academy. At the time, Euler was

hoping for a physics position at the University

of Basel, but after he failed to get this job, he

went to St. Petersburg. Euler was appointed to

the mathematical-physical division of the Academy

instead of the physiology position that Nicolaus

Bernoullis death had left vacant. This was at

the requests of Daniel Bernoulli, an applied

mathematician, and Jakob Hermann, a relative and

geometer. Daniel and Leonhard were both

interested in applied mathematics.

In 1733, Daniel Bernoulli, who held the senior

chair of mathematics at the Academy, left to

return to Basel. Leonhard was appointed to the

position. His better financial situation allowed

him to marry Katharina Gsell. The two would have

thirteen children together. At this point in his

life, Euler had done work in the following

mathematical areas number theory differential

equations and the calculus of variations and

rational mechanics. Euler considered these

three fields connected. In both 1738 and 1740,

Euler won the Grand Prize of the Paris Academy.

His reputation had grown at this point and he was

asked by Frederick the Great to work at the

Academy of Science in Berlin. Euler spent

twenty-five years in Berlin, where he wrote

around 380 articles.

In 1766, Euler returned to St. Petersburg. At

this time, Eulers already existing eye problem

became worse from a sickness and became

completely blind in both eyes. Despite his new

disability, Euler continued to write almost half

of his entire works at this point of his life.

On September 18, 1783, Euler died of a brain

hemorrhage. When Euler died, the mathematician

and philosopher Marquis de Condorcet commented,

"...et il cessa de calculer et de vivre" (and he

ceased to live and calculate).

Eulers Contributions to Mathematics

Eulers works can be seen all over the various

fields of mathematics. Many of the notations

that we use everyday is due to Euler. Here is a

list of some of the notation Euler initiated

f(x) for a function (1734) e for the base of

natural logs (1727) i for the square root of -1

(1777) ? for pi ? for summation (1755) Other

works Eulers Constant Eulers Formula eix

cosx isinx Eulers Formula (for geometry) In

a simply connected polyhedron, V F E 2.

Euler made a vast amount of contributions to

mathematics. He is the most prolific

mathematician of all time. His collection of

works fills 75 volumes. It was Euler who

dominated eighteenth century mathematics and

deduced many consequences of the newly invented

calculus.

Leonhard Euler April 15, 1707 September 18, 1783

References

http//scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Euler.ht

ml http//www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/Ma

thematicians/Euler.html http//www.worldatlas.com

/webimage/countrys/europe/lgcolor/chcolor.htm

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