(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 Complex Analysis, Continuum Mechanics, Permutation Group, and Elasticity Theory: in addition to advancing many works of his predecessors. He was proficient in every branch of mathematics, contributed significantly to all areas, and published frequently. Several of these works 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 meticulous works, Cauchy became the icon of rigorous proofs. He was the first to prove many theorems: including the 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 to be first-rate. Even after depicting him as irredeemably mad, Niels Henrik Abel acknowledged him as the only person who knew how mathematics should be done. Judith Grabiner praised him for institutionalizing rigorous mathematics; whereas Hans Freudenthal reminded that more mathematical concepts and theorems are named after Cauchy than anybody else.