(August 21, 1789 – May 23, 1857)

Augustin-Louis Cauchy is the crème-de-la-crème of French mathematicians. His father (Louis-François Cauchy) was also a top genius; who like his son, won France’s Concours Général competition. Augustin-Louis excelled in everything he studied. The-then leading mathematicians, Joseph-Louis Lagrange and Pierre-Simon Laplace, were amazed by his talents. He would later grow up to become the greatest French mathematician. Despite his civil engineering chores, Cauchy always found time for his math-leisure. He pioneered Continuum Mechanics, Complex Analysis, Permutation Group, and Elasticity Theory: in addition to advancing numerous works of his predecessors. He was proficient in every branch of maths, contributed significantly to all areas, and published frequently. Several of his contributions which were indispensable to physics found applications in engineering. Cauchy’s abilities together with his output rate awed his contemporaries. These ensured that for several years, he remained more famous than Carl Friedrich Gauss (the seemingly invincible Prince of Mathematics). Revered for his intellect and deemed immortal through his masterful works, Cauchy became the icon of rigorous proofs. He was the first to prove many theorems: including the 175-year-old complex and difficult Fermat’s Polygonal Number Theorem. Throughout history, only Leonhard Euler outputted more individual disquisitions than him. His entire 800 publications were adjudged first-rate. Even after depicting him as irredeemably mad, Niels Henrik Abel praised him as the only person who knew how mathematics should be done. Judith Grabiner panegyrized him for institutionalizing rigorous mathematics; whereas Hans Freudenthal reminded that more mathematical concepts and theorems are named after Cauchy than anybody else.

15 Comments

  1. Augustin Cauchy was a magnificent genius. Tomorrow will be 161st anniversary of his death. Rest In Peace!

  2. This ranking did justice to many underrated mathematicians, such as Cauchy, Al-Khwarizmi and Noether. I spent a great deal of time searching for something like this until a friend directed me to SAPAVIVA.

  3. Thank u for making excellent points. Did u see how E. T. Bell criticized Cauchy in his book called “Men of Mathematics”? He did the same thing to Blaise Pascal. He behaved like a rat goading two great elephants. Anyways this tribute u wrote here reminds everybody who Cauchy really was.

  4. Cauchy was awesome. Pleased to read from someone who knows what they are talking about, unlike others who wrongly blame him for other peoples’ failures.

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