Leonhard Euler: A Biography

Topics: Leonhard Euler, Russian Academy of Sciences, Basel Pages: 12 (4001 words) Published: July 14, 2013
Leonhard Euler (/ˈɔɪlər/ oil-er;[2] German pronunciation: [ˈɔʏlɐ] ( listen), local pronunciation: [ˈɔɪlr̩] ( listen); 15 April 1707 – 18 September 1783) was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion of amathematical function.[3] He is also renowned for his work in mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, and astronomy. Euler spent most of his adult life in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Berlin, Prussia. He is considered to be the pre-eminent mathematician of the 18th century, and one of the greatest mathematicians ever to have lived. He is also one of the most prolific mathematicians ever; his collected works fill 60–80 quarto volumes.[4] A statement attributed to Pierre-Simon Laplace expresses Euler's influence on mathematics: "Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all."[5] Contents  [hide]  * 1 Life * 1.1 Early years * 1.2 St. Petersburg * 1.3 Berlin * 1.4 Eyesight deterioration * 1.5 Return to Russia * 2 Contributions to mathematics and physics * 2.1 Mathematical notation * 2.2 Analysis * 2.3 Number theory * 2.4 Graph theory * 2.5 Applied mathematics * 2.6 Physics and astronomy * 2.7 Logic * 3 Personal philosophy and religious beliefs * 4 Commemorations * 5 Selected bibliography * 6 See also * 7 References and notes * 8 Further reading * 9 External links| -------------------------------------------------

Early years

Old Swiss 10 Franc banknote honoring Euler
Euler was born on April 15, 1707, in Basel to Paul Euler, a pastor of the Reformed Church, and Marguerite Brucker, a pastor's daughter. He had two younger sisters named Anna Maria and Maria Magdalena. Soon after the birth of Leonhard, the Eulers moved from Basel to the town of Riehen, where Euler spent most of his childhood. Paul Euler was a friend of the Bernoulli family—Johann Bernoulli, who was then regarded as Europe's foremost mathematician, would eventually be the most important influence on young Leonhard. Euler's early formal education started in Basel, where he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother. At the age of thirteen he enrolled at the University of Basel, and in 1723, received his Master of Philosophy with a dissertation that compared the philosophies of Descartes and Newton. At this time, he was receiving Saturday afternoon lessons from Johann Bernoulli, who quickly discovered his new pupil's incredible talent for mathematics.[6] Euler was at this point studying theology, Greek, and Hebrew at his father's urging, in order to become a pastor, but Bernoulli convinced Paul Euler that Leonhard was destined to become a great mathematician. In 1726, Euler completed a dissertation on the propagation of sound with the title De Sono.[7] At that time, he was pursuing an (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to obtain a position at the University of Basel. In 1727, he first entered the Paris AcademyPrize Problem competition; the problem that year was to find the best way to place the masts on a ship. Pierre Bouguer, a man who became known as "the father of naval architecture" won, and Euler took second place. Euler later won this annual prize twelve times.[8] St. Petersburg

Around this time Johann Bernoulli's two sons, Daniel and Nicolas, were working at the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg. On July 10, 1726, Nicolas died of appendicitis after spending a year in Russia, and when Daniel assumed his brother's position in the mathematics/physics division, he recommended that the post in physiology that he had vacated be filled by his friend Euler. In November 1726 Euler eagerly accepted the offer, but delayed making the trip to St Petersburg while he unsuccessfully applied for a physics professorship at the...

References: Old Swiss 10 Franc banknote honoring Euler
Euler was born on April 15, 1707, in Basel to Paul Euler, a pastor of the Reformed Church, and Marguerite Brucker, a pastor 's daughter
Euler is also credited with using closed curves to illustrate syllogistic reasoning (1768)
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