(October 31, 1815 – February 19, 1897)
Despite his son’s intelligence and love for mathematics, Karl Weierstrass’ father insisted that he study law and finance in order to chart a career in administration. This caused the dismayed young student to become wayward: spending more time reveling than studying. As a result, he dropped out of the University of Bonn without a degree. But while working as a secondary school tutor, he devoted himself to advanced mathematics: proving theorems and publishing a series of papers which stunned the math gurus of his era. Chief among these publications centered on Abelian Functions. It appeared in the prestigious Crelle’s Journal in 1854. In recognition, the Koenigsberg University awarded him an honorary doctorate degree, while the Berlin Technical University offered him position as a lecturer. In this capacity, he focused on the soundness of calculus: consolidating the Calculus of Variations and using rigorous proofs to bolster several other analytical theorems. After refining some works of the great Cauchy, Dirichlet, Bolzano and Gudermann, he expanded those of Abel and Jacobi. His obsession with rigor ensured that his analyses were deep and detailed. This led to him being referred to as the “Father of modern Analysis”. Karl Weierstrass also nurtured many notable students such as Georg Cantor and Sofya Kovalevskaya. With regards to the uncountable great mathematicians, which Germany produced, most pundits consider Weierstrass to be the fifth best: behind only Gauss, Riemann, Leibniz and Hilbert. Among other honors, he is the eponym of the Weierstrass lunar crater and the 14100 Weierstrass asteroid.