Leonhard Euler

28.03.2015 |

Episode #1 of the course “Greatest Mathematicians”

Combining all his books and papers, Leonhard Euler has 885 published works to his name. That’s a rate of one publication for every month of his entire life! Of course, Euler did not actually start publishing his mathematical works from birth, but rather published the vast majority during the last 20 years of his life, a time during which he had completely lost his sight.

Although he spent most of his life in St. Petersburg, Russia and Berlin, Germany, Euler was born and educated in Basel, Switzerland. He is widely considered to be the pre-eminent mathematician of the 18th century and one of the greatest to have ever lived. He was a revolutionary thinker in the fields of geometry, trigonometry, calculus, differential equations, number theory, and notational systems. He lived from 1707 to 1783.

Euler’s contributions to the field of mathematics are most noticeable in the way the subject is taught and learned. Much of the terminology, notation, and function of modern mathematics was created by Euler. Trigonometry notations, for example, were completely of his design. His contributions to mathematics are almost unparalleled. A reflection of this can be seen in the two numbers named after him (he is the only mathematician to have more than one): Euler’s Number in calculus, which goes by the notation e, and the Euler-Mascheroni Constant γ (gamma), sometimes referred to as just “Euler’s constant.”

Euler’s contributions to the world extended beyond mathematics as well. Much of his work has implications in the fields of physics and astronomy. The latter, in fact, ultimately led to his death. During a heated discussion over the newly discovered planet, Uranus, Euler suffered a brain aneurysm.


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