(February 13, 1805 – May 5, 1859)

Peter Dirichlet was among the budding mathematicians Niels Henrik Abel met during his European tour. And he envied the fact that Dirichlet, whom he considered his junior in both age and ability, was already on his path to lectureship. But that was part of the advantages of living in mainland Europe (which include: more interactions, more opportunities, fluency in Latin, and easier access to latest publications). Still, his ability which compares favorably to Abel’s is unquestionable. He was an awesome genius whose ingenuity Bernhard Riemann ranked next to Gauss’. And upon Gauss’ demise in 1855, he succeeded him at Goettingen. But long before all that, the mathematical physicist, Georg Simon Ohm, had mentored a young Peter Dirichlet: whetting his lifelong appetite for maths. He would later spearhead Analytical Number Theory, work astoundingly on Algebra, and expand the scope of Fourier series. A rigorous theorem prover as well as an inspiring tutor, his long list of students include: Bernhard Riemann, Richard Dedekind, Gotthold Eisenstein, and Leopold Kronecker — all of whom revered him. Like other notable mathematicians, he foraged into physics: where his accomplishments in Hydrodynamics and the Theory of Heat made headlines. He even improved upon Lagrange’s achievements in Conservative Systems. His brilliance was such that after his death in 1859, his brain was removed before interment; and was preserved at Goettingen University’s Physiology Department (just like Carl Gauss’). As memorials, numerous mathematical concepts alongside the Dirichlet lunar crater, the Dirichlet-Jackson lunar basin, and the 11665 Dirichlet asteroid, were dedicated to him.


  1. It’s not anyone who can succeed Gauss. Dirichlet deserved the prestige. He was an amazing problem solver.

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