## Happy Birthday, Leonhard Euler!

April 15, 2012 5 Comments

Happy Birthday to Leonhard Euler!

What can I say about Leonhard Euler that hasn’t already been said? Not much. Born in Basel, Switzerland on April 15, 1707, Euler showed his mathematical talents early. By the age of 7, Euler’s father hired a private mathematics tutor to work with him. By the age of 13, Euler was attending lectures at the University of Basel.

At the age of 14, Euler began attending the University as a student. It is here that he caught the eye of the great Johann Bernoulli (It seems that everything this man touched turned to gold!) According to Euler, *“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 …”*

Once finished at the University, Euler spent most of his professional career in Russia at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. During his career, Euler made significant contributions to the fields of analytic geometry, geometry, number theory, trigonometry and calculus as well as in several areas of physics.

All was not smooth sailing for Euler, however. In 1738, he lost one of his eyes in an accident from an experiment involving light diffraction. In 1771, Euler contracted an illness that left him almost completely blind in his remaining eye. However, despite being essentially blind, Euler still managed to produce hundreds of original mathematical papers.

By the time of his death in 1783, Euler is credited with over 900 mathematical publications. He was so prolific a mathematician that the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences continued to publish his work for nearly 50 years after his death!

If you are interested in reading more about Euler, check out one of these resources:

- Euler biography biography from the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive
- Euler biography from The Euler International Mathematical Institute
- Euler: The Master of Us All by William Dunham (Click here to read my brief synopsis.)

If you would like to see my mathematical collection, some of which is dedicated to Euler, you can click here.