(August 5, 1802 – April 6, 1829)
Abel was prodigious, well-articulated, and extraordinarily inventive. Despite living for 26 years, he pioneered works in 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 500 years. These included his discovery of Elliptic Functions as the Inverse Functions of Elliptic Integrals. Aged only 16 years, he tendered the first complete proof for Newton’s Binomial Theorem. And at just 19, he provided the first conclusive proof which inferred that it is impossible to solve General Quintic Equations in radicals. Not only did that solve the problem which had humbled mathematicians for about 300 years, it saw him inventing Group Theory independently of Évariste Galois. Also, it should be recalled that most of the inaugural prestige which Crelle’s Journal enjoyed eventuated from the brilliant works Abel published there. Even as he drowned in adversities: caused 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. Niels Henrik Abel exemplifies a hapless genius. His premature death from tuberculosis in 1829 meant that his achievements were appreciated posthumously. This prompted the math world to name several of his concepts after him. His native Norway commemorated him through stamps and currencies. A lunar crater was dedicated to him. And during his bicentenary in 2002, the Abel Prize: a prestigious math award with €700,000 reward was endowed in his honor.