(March 18, 1796 – April 1, 1863)

Jakob Steiner was a math maverick widely regarded as one of the most astute geometers. His disinclination towards Calculus led him to invent new ways of solving problems. Unlike many of his contemporaries who embraced Analysis and its applications to the problems of Geometry, Steiner loathed what he perceived as avoidable encroachments by Calculus fanatics. This ensured that he ignored Analytical Geometry: focusing almost exclusively on the Axiomatic one (often referred to as Pure or Synthetic Geometry). Regarding his aversion for Analysis and love for Geometry, he later opined that calculating is an impediment to reasoning whereas pure geometry is an enhancer of creative thoughts. It was while in Berlin (in 1826) that he met and befriended both August Leopold Crelle and Niels Henrik Abel. His works, alongside Abel’s, inspired Crelle to inaugurate his famous Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik (known simply as Crelle’s Journal). Steiner’s ingenuity gave Projective Geometry a breath of fresh air: enabling him to produce impressive works devoid of any trace of Analysis. To the amazement of his Analysis-counterparts, his methodologies and proofs easily matched theirs in both depth and rigor. His 1832 masterpiece: a book titled Systematische Entwicklung der Abhängigkeit geometrischer Gestalten voneinander harbored several of his latest and previous works. It delighted Carl Jacobi so much that he helped secure him an honorary doctorate from Koenigsberg University, as well as professorship at University of Berlin (with assistance from the von Humboldt brothers). Alongside numerous concepts, the Steiner Symmetrization is named after him.


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