(March 18, 1796 – April 1, 1863)

Jakob Steiner was a math maverick widely regarded as one of the most astute geometers. His dislike for Calculus led him to invent new ways of solving geometrical 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 visiting Berlin in 1826 that he met and befriended both August Leopold Crelle and Niels Henrik Abel. His works, alongside Abel’s, inspired Crelle into launching 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 fantastic works devoid of any trace of Analysis. To the amazement of his Analysis-counterparts, his methodologies and proofs were able to match theirs in both depth and rigor. His 1832 masterpiece: a book titled Systematische Entwicklung der Abhängigkeit geometrischer Gestalten voneinander harbored several of his new and old works. It impressed Gustav Jacobi so much that he helped secure him an honorary degree from Koenigsberg University, as well as a professorial chair at the University of Berlin (with the help of Alexander von Humboldt and his brother: Wilhelm).


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