(October 31, 1815 – February 19, 1897)
Despite his son’s intelligence and love for mathematics, Karl Weierstrass’ father insisted that he study law and finance in order to chart a career in administration. This contributed to the dismayed student becoming wayward. He spent more time reveling than studying. As a result, he dropped out of the University of Bonn without degree. But while working as a secondary school tutor, he devoted himself to advanced mathematics: proving theorems and publishing a series of monographs which stunned the mavens of his era. Chief among these publications centered on Abelian Functions. It appeared in the prestigious Crelle’s Journal in 1854. In recognition, the Koenigsberg University awarded him an honorary doctorate degree, while the Berlin Technical University offered him lectureship. In this capacity, Karl Weierstrass toed the line of Augustin-Louis Cauchy by focusing on the soundness of calculus. He consolidated the Calculus of Variations and used rigorous proofs to bolster several Analytical theorems. Brilliant and meticulous, his reputation quickly soared. After refining some works of the great Cauchy, Dirichlet, Bolzano and Gudermann, he expanded those of Abel and Jacobi. His obsession with rigor ensured that his analyses were deep and detailed. This led to him being referred to as the “Father of modern Analysis”. Weierstrass also nurtured many notable students that included Georg Cantor and Sofya Kovalevskaya. With regards to the numerous great mathematicians born in 19th century, he ranks among the very best. Alongside other honors, he is the eponym of the Weierstrass lunar crater and the 14100 Weierstrass asteroid.