(September 18, 1752 – January 10, 1833)
The legendary Adrien-Marie Legendre was among the most influential mathematicians of his era. His substantial inheritance enabled him to focus on his research for long, without any need for a salaried job. He contributed to several branches of mathematics: such as algebra, analysis, geometry and number theory. Those works nourished the likes of Évariste Galois, Henrik Abel, Gustav Jacobi, Peter Dirichlet, Bernhard Riemann and even Carl Gauss. Alongside Lazare Carnot, he was an early proponent of rigorous proofs. In 1782, after clinching the top prize of Berlin Science Academy (with an essay on ballistics), both Joseph-Louis Lagrange and Pierre-Simon Laplace became aware of his abilities. He would later establish himself as one of the best mathematicians of late 18th century and early 19th century. Most notable of his works pertained to Elliptic Integrals, Gamma Functions and Quadratic Reciprocity. Apart from preceding Gauss in pioneering the Method of Least Square, he was among the first to dig deeply into the distribution of prime numbers. But the fact that most of his innovations were either completed or significantly improved-upon by others (such as Carl Gauss, Augustin Cauchy, Henrik Abel and Gustav Jacobi) led to his ingenuity being underestimated. Still, in-depth reviews of his works show that he was a versatile and inspiring researcher. Legendre was an intellectual adventurer, whose journeys into physics saw him bolstering electrostatics with his Legendre Polynomials; and classical mechanics with his Legendre Transformation. He is the eponym of 26950 Legendre asteroid and the 78-kilometer-wide Legendre lunar impact crater.