Sunday, April 15, 2007

“He is the master of us all.”

Today is Leonhard Euler’s 300th birthday. He was the most prolific mathematician ever and touched on almost every area of math, contributed to physics, and was a polyglot. And I mean prolific:
Before his death at 76, he had written more than 800 papers and books on pure and applied mathematics. In 1775, he composed about one paper a week, ranging in length from 10 to 50 pages. (Twenty papers is considered a good lifetime output for modern mathematicians.) His collected works fill 25,000 pages in 79 volumes, including five of correspondence to the leading thinkers of his day.

Euler went blind but still would produce papers by dictating to a scribe. The Mathematical Intelligencer took a poll of the five most beautiful equations in math. Euler had three of the top five. Fellow mathematician Laplace said “Read Euler, read Euler, he is a master for us all.”

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