(February 13, 1805 – May 5, 1859)

Peter Dirichlet was among the budding mathematicians 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, as well as easier access to the 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 develop 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 students included Bernhard Riemann, Richard Dedekind, Gotthold Eisenstein and Leopold Kronecker: all of whom revered him. As with other great mathematicians, he foraged into physics: where his accomplishments in Hydrodynamics and the Theory of Heat made headlines. He even improved upon Lagrange’s work on 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, several maths concepts alongside the Dirichlet lunar crater, the Dirichlet-Jackson lunar basin, and the 11665 Dirichlet asteroid, were dedicated to him.

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