(August 5, 1802 – April 6, 1829)
Niels Henrik Abel was prodigious, well-articulated and extraordinarily inventive. Despite living for only 26 years, he pioneered works in math fields (such as Algebra, Geometry, Number Theory and Complex Analysis) which awed the legendary Adrien-Marie Legendre. And which according to the great Charles Hermite, will keep mathematicians busy for the next 500 years. These included his discovery of Elliptic Functions as the Inverse Functions of Elliptic Integrals. At just 19 years old, he provided the first conclusive proof which inferred that it is impossible to solve the General Quintic Equations in radicals. Not only did that answer the question which had stumped mathematicians for more than 250 years, it saw him inventing Group Theory independently of Évariste Galois. Also, it must be remembered that a great deal of the inaugural prestige which Crelle’s Journal enjoyed stemmed from the brilliant works which Abel published there. Even as he drowned in adversities brought about by poverty, lack of recognition, and no formal training in the scientific lingua franca of his era: Latin, he persevered and succeeded in opening-up many new areas of maths and mathematical physics. His early death from tuberculosis in 1829 meant that most of his works were appreciated posthumously. This prompted the math world to name many of his concepts after him. His native Norway honored him through stamp and currency commemorations. A crater at the south-eastern part of the moon was dedicated to him. And in 2002, the prestigious Abel Prize (a top math award with €700,000 reward) was established in his honor.