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Euler Professor Robin Wilson "Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all....

" So said PierreSimon Laplace, the great French applied mathematician. Leonhard Euler, the most prolific mathematician of all time, wrote more than 500 oo!s and papers during his lifetime a out "00 pages per #ear with another $00 pu lications appearing posthumousl#% his collected wor!s alread# fill &' large (olumes tens of thousands of pages with more (olumes still to appear. Euler wor!ed in an astonishing (ariet# of areas, ranging from the (er# pure the theor# of num ers, the geometr# of a circle and musical harmon# (ia such areas as infinite series, logarithms, the calculus and mechanics, to the practical optics, astronom#, the motion of the )oon, the sailing of ships, and much else esides. Euler originated so man# ideas that his successors ha(e een !ept us# tr#ing to follow them up e(er since. )an# concepts are named after him, some of which *ll e tal!ing a out toda#+ Eulers constant, Eulers pol#hedron formula, the Euler line of a triangle, Eulers e,uations of motion, Eulerian graphs, Eulers pentagonal formula for partitions, and man# others. So with all these achie(ements, wh# is it that his musical counterpart, the prolific composer -oseph .a#dn, creator of s#mphonies, concertos, string ,uartets, oratorios and operas, is !nown to all, while he is almost completel# un!nown to e(er#one ut mathematicians/ 0oda#, *d li!e to pla# a small part in restoring the alance # telling #ou a out Euler, his life, and his di(erse contri utions to mathematics and the sciences.

1 potted histor# of his life di(ides into four main periods. .e was orn is 2asel, Swit3erland, on 45 1pril 4&0&, where he grew up and went to uni(ersit#. 1t the age of twent# he went to Russia, to the St Peters urg 1cadem#, where he ecame head of the mathematics di(ision. 0hings got so ad there that he went to 2erlin in 4&$4, where he sta#ed for twent#-fi(e #ears. 0hings got so ad there, for different reasons, that he returned to St Peters urg in 4&55, where he spent the rest of his life, d#ing in 4&"'. Leonhard Euler was orn on 45 1pril 4&0& in 2asel, in Swit3erland, where his father was a 6al(inist pastor of modest means, who wished his son to follow him into the ministr#. 7n entering the 8ni(ersit# of 2asle at the age of 4$, not unusual in those da#s, the #oung Euler dul# studied theolog# and .e rew, while also writing on law and philosoph#. 9hile there, he encountered -ohann 2ernoulli, possi l# the finest mathematician of his da#, who was impressed with Eulers mathematical a ilities and agreed to gi(e him pri(ate teaching e(er# Saturda#, ,uic!l# realising that his pupil was something out of the ordinar#. Euler also ecame close friends with -ohanns sons, :aniel and ;icholas, although ;icholas died soon after. Euler too! his )asters degree at the age of 4&, and entered di(init# school to train for the ministr#+ * had to register in the facult# of theolog#, and * was to appl# m#self to the <ree! and .e rew languages, ut not much progress was made, for * turned most of m# time to mathematical studies, and # m# happ# fortune the Saturda# (isits to -ohann 2ernoulii continued. E(entuall#, 2ernoulli persuaded Eulers reluctant father that his talented son was destined to ecome a great mathematician, and Euler left the ministr#.

.is first mathematical achie(ement occurred when he was =ust twent#. 0he Paris 1cadem# had proposed a pri3e pro lem in(ol(ing the placing of masts on a sailing ship, and Eulers memoir, while not gaining the pri3e, recei(ed an honoura le mention. >Later, he was to win the pri3e twel(e times?@ .e neAt applied for the 6hair of )athematics at the 8ni(ersit# of 2asle. .e didnt get it, ut meanwhile :aniel 2ernoulli had ta!en up a position at the St Peters urg 1cadem# in Russia, and in(ited Euler to =oin him there. 0he onl# a(aila le position was in medicine and ph#siolog#, ut =o s were scarce so Euler learned medicine and ph#siolog# in the process of which his stud# of the ear led him to in(estigate the mathematics of sound and the propagation of wa(es. *n the e(ent, Fate dealt a cruel low. 7n the (er# da# that he arri(ed in Russia, the li eral Empress 6atherine *, who had set up the 1cadem#, died. 0he heir was still a o#, and the faction that ruled in his place regarded the 1cadem# as something of a luAur#. Euler found himself in ph#sics, rather than medicine, which was pro a l# a relief for all those future patients who might not ha(e appreciated eing operated on with straight-edge and compass. Euler decided to !eep his head down and get on with his wor!, while li(ing at the home of :aniel 2ernoulli and wor!ing closel# with him. *n 4&'', :aniel 2ernoulli had had enough of the pro lems of the 1cadem# and returned to an academic post in Swit3erland, while Euler, still aged onl# B5, replaced him in the 6hair of )athematics. .e determined to ma!e the est of a difficult situation and settle down, so he got married, and had thirteen children, of whom onl# fi(e sur(i(ed to adolescence. Euler alwa#s en=o#ed ha(ing the children around him he e(en managed to carr# out his mathematical researches with a a # on his lap?

0he 4&'0s were producti(e #ears for him, and *d li!e to show #ou some of the areas in which he ecame in(ol(ed. 1t the same time, he was also acting as a scientific consultant to the go(ernment preparing maps, ad(ising the Russian na(#, testing designs for fire engines, and writing teAt oo!s for the Russian schools although he drew the line when he was as!ed to cast a horoscope for the #oung 63ar. 0he first topic *d li!e to mention is the theor# of num ers, an area to which he contri uted throughout his life. *n :ecem er 4&BC, he recei(ed a letter from his colleague 6hristian <old ach, who is est remem ered for the <old ach con=ecture in(ol(ing prime num ers num ers with no proper factors, such 44 and 4', ut not 45 which has the factors ' and 5. <old achs con=ecture is that e(er# e(en num er can e written as the sum of two prime num ers for eAample, 40 D 5 E 5, B0 D 4' E &, '0 D 4C E 44, and so on. <old ach wrote to Euler a out the so-called Fermat primes of the form >B to the power Bn@ E 4+ for eAample, for n D 0, 4, B, ' and $ we get the prime num ers ', 5, 4&, B5& and 555'&. 0he se(enteenth-centur# French mathematician Pierre de Fermat had con=ectured that these num ers are alwa#s prime num ers, ut Euler managed to show that the (er# neAt one, a ten-digit num er, is actuall# di(isi le # 5$4. Since then, no other Fermat num er has een shown to e prime, so it was rather an unfortunate con=ecture. >:emonstration of Eulers proof@ Eulers wa# with num ers, and his calculating a ilities, ecame legendar#. 7ne da#, two students were tr#ing to sum a complicated progression and disagreed o(er the fiftieth decimal place. Euler simpl# calculated the correct (alue in his head. 0his led the French ph#sicist Francois 1rago to eAclaim+

.e calculated without an# apparent effort, =ust as men reathe, as eagles sustain themsel(es in the air. 1nother challenge he was gi(en was to find four different num ers, the sum of an# two of which is a perfect s,uare. Euler managed to produce the ,uartet+ 4"5'0, '"44$, $5C"5 and 555&0. .is ma=or wor! on num er theor# was much later, so well return to this topic later. 1 (er# different preoccupation in the 4&'0s was his wor! on infinite series finding the sum of infinitel# man# terms. For eAample, we ha(e+ 4 E 4FB E 4F$ E 4F" E 4F45 E . . . D B, ut can we sum the following series/ 4 E 4FB E 4F' E 4F$ E 4F5 E . . . , where the denominators increase # 4% 4 E 4FB E 4F' E 4F$ E 4F5 E . . . , where the denominators are all prime num ers% 4 E 4FB E 4F' E 4F$ E 4F5 E . . . , where the denominators are all perfect s,uares. 2oth the second and third series ha(e no sum the# are di(ergent. >:emonstration that the second series di(erges@ .owe(er, if we loo! at the first n terms, then their sum is (er# close to log n in fact, as Euler pro(ed in the 4&'0s, when n ecomes large, their difference gets closer and closer to a strange num er now called Eulers constant. *ts a out 0.5&&BG, ut no-one !nows

an#thing much a out it we dont e(en !now whether its a fraction, aF . 7ne other pu33le that certainl# eAercised man# minds at the time was to find the eAact sum of the fourth series, and one of Eulers earliest achie(ements was to pro(e that the sum of this series is the highl# non-intuiti(e num er pBF5. 0his num er occurs throughout statistics for eAample, if e(er#one in this room were to write down ten pairs of num ers, then the proportion of all those pairs that ha(e no common factor would e (er# close to its reciprocal, 5FpB. Eulers proof of this is hardl# rigorous # toda#s standards he was not a o(e writing such e,uations as 4 4 E 4 4 E 4 4 E . . . D 4FB if it arose from his calculations. >:emonstration of Eulers proof@ 1s a it of light relief, lets loo! at a recreational pu33le that Euler sol(ed in 4&'5+ its the pro lem of the se(en ridges of HInigs erg. 0he pro lem is to cross o(er each of the ridges =ust once, and return to #our starting point. Euler emplo#ed a counting argument, counting the num er of ridges out of each land area, and pro(ed that this cannot e done. >:emonstration of Eulers solution@ Eulers considered this pro lem in the conteAt of a desire that Lei ni3 eApressed for a t#pe of geometr# that doesnt in(ol(e metrical ideas such as length or distance. *ts what we now call topolog#, or ru draw it on ru er-sheet geometr# the pro lem is the same if we er and stretch it.

.eres a letter that Euler wrote to <io(anni )arinoni, 6ourt 1stronomer in Jienna, in 4&'5, with his own drawing of the ridges, and descri ing what he thought of the pro lem+

0his ,uestion is so anal, ut seemed to me worth# of attention in that neither geometr#, nor alge ra, nor e(en the art of counting was sufficient to sol(e it. *n (iew of this, it occurred to me to wonder whether it elonged to the geometr# of position, which Lei ni3 had once so much longed for. 1nd so, after some deli eration, * o tained a simple, #et completel# esta lished, rule with whose help one can immediatel# decide for all eAamples of this !ind whether such a round trip is possi le. 0hese da#s, Eulers solution of the HInigs erg ridges pro lem is considered as the first paper in graph theor# its now sol(ed # loo!ing at a graph, or networ!, with points representing the land areas and lines representing the ridges. 2ut Euler ne(er did this the graph that represents this pu33le was not drawn for another 450 #ears. *n the same #ear, Euler pu lished his first treatise, )echanica, on the d#namics of a particle. .owe(er, his most important wor! in this area came later, in 4&50, with his wor! on the motion of rigid odies oth free, and rotating a out a point. 2# choosing the point to e the origin of coordinates, and aAes aligned along the principal aAes of inertia of the od#, he o tained what are now !nown as Eulers e,uations of motion. 0he important concept of moment of inertia is also due to him. E(en later, in 4&&5, he pro(ed a (er# asic theorem, that the rotation of a rigid od# a out a point is alwa#s e,ui(alent to a rotation a out a line through that point. )uch of this wor! used differential e,uations e,uations that in(ol(ed the latest de(elopments in the differential calculus. 0hese ideas were to continue to e de(eloped during the rest of the se(enteenth centur#, culminating in the fi(e-(olume treatise on celestial mechanics # Laplace around 4"00. *t was around this time, in the late 4&'0s, that Euler went lind in his right e#e. 1lthough he attri uted it to o(erwor!, particularl# for

some close wor! that he had een doing on cartograph#, it was more pro a l# due to an e#e infection. 0his didnt diminish his producti(it#, howe(er. .e continued to write on acoustics, musical harmon#, ship- uilding, prime num ers, and much more esides. *n 4&$4, with his fame preceding him, Euler recei(ed an in(itation from Prussias Frederic! the <reat to =oin the newl# (italised 2erlin 1cadem#. 9ith the political situation in Russia still uncertain, he accepted it, and sta#ed there for B5 #ears. 1t first, Euler got on well with Frederic!, ringing him straw erries from his garden. 2ut later, especiall# after the se(en #ears war etween <erman# and Russia things egan to cool, as Frederic! started to ta!e more and more interest in the wor!ings of the 1cadem#. 2eing (er# sophisticated, cultured and witt# at least, he thought so he found Euler to e lac!ing in sophistication, rather a countr# ump!in, in fact. *n return, Euler found Frederic! pretentious, not to sa# pett# and rude Frederic! e(en referred to him as m# c#clops. 0he stor# is also told that he was reproached # the Kueen of Prussia, Frederic!s mother, for not con(ersing. )adame, he replied, * come from a countr# where, if #ou spea!, #ou are hanged. E(en so, he still managed to wor! on a da33ling range of topics, writing wor!s in the 4&$0s and 4&50s on the theor# of tides, the motion of the moon, h#drod#namics >the flow of a ri(er@, and the wa(e motion of (i rating strings. .is most important wor! was pro a l# his teAt on functions, the *ntroductio in 1nal#sin *nfinitorum, pu lished in 4&$", during his 2erlin #ears. 0his wor! presented the calculus in terms of the asic idea of a function indeed, Euler introduced the notation f>A@ for a function of A. 7ther notations that he introduced were S >for summation@, i >the s,uare root of 4@ and e >the eAponential

num er@. .e also popularised the notation for p, although that was actuall# due to 9illiam -ones in 4&05. *n the 4&$" *ntroductio, Euler eApressed certain well !nown functions as infinite series or power series. .e elie(ed that e(er# function, such as sin A, can e eApanded in powers of A. *ndeed, ;ewton, Lei ni3 and others were familiar with such eApansions as+ >4 A@4 D 4 E A E AB E A' E A$ E . . . , >4 A@B D 4 E BA E 'AB E $A' E 5A$ E . . . and trigonometrical results such as sin A D A A'F'? E A5F5? A&F&? E . . . , cos A D 4 ABFB? E A$F$? A5F5? E... 0hese formulas had also een disco(ered some centuries earlier # *ndian mathematicians. .e then introduced one of the greatest masterstro!es in the whole of mathematics. 1t first, the trigonometrical functions sine and cosine seem to ha(e nothing in common with the eAponential function eA, ut if we introduce the compleA num er i, and pla# around with the power series, we can easil# deduce the fundamental formula lin!ing them, eiA D cos A E i sin A, from which we deduce, on putting A D p, that eip E 4 D 0, an e,uation that include the fi(e great constants of mathematics. 0here were man# other interesting things in the *ntroductio. 7(er the past one hundred #ears, since :escartes, there had een a gradual swing from geometr# towards alge ra, and this reached its climaA when Euler actuall# defined the conic sections, the ellipse, para ola and h#per ola, not as sections of a cone >as their name suggests@, ut in terms of their alge raic e,uations. Starting with the e,uation #B D a E LA E /AB, he showed that we get an ellipse if / is negati(e, a para ola if / is 3ero, and a h#per ola if / is

positi(e. .e then #an!ed the whole argument up to three dimensions, to ,uadrics, which come in se(en t#pes, and studied them alge raicall#, disco(ering the h#per olic para oloid in the process. Met another interesting topic in the 4&$" *ntroductio is partitions, or di(ulsions of integers, as Lei ni3 called them when he introduced them in a letter to 2ernoulli. *n how man# wa#s can we split up a num er into smaller num ers/ Let p>n@ e the num er of partitions of n for eAample, p>$@ D 5, corresponding to the fi(e partitions $, 'E4, BEB, BE4E4 and 4E4E4E4 the order doesnt matter. So we can draw up a ta le of (alues ut how would #ou show that p>B00@ has the (alue ',C&B,CCC,0BC,'""/ 0o find this num er we use Eulers pentagonal num er formula, which he o tained in his 4&$" *ntroductio in anal#sin infinitorum and which #ields p>;@ # iteration. E(en now, its still the most efficient wa# of finding p>;@. >:emonstration of Eulers pentagonal num er theorem@ 1 particularl# nice result on partitions, due to Euler, concerned odd and distinct partitions. 1n odd partition is one where all the separate terms are odd+ for eAample, the num er C has eight odd partitions C, &E4E4, 5E'E4, 5E4E4E4E4, 'E'E', 'E'E4E4E4, 'E4E4E4E4E4E4 and 4E4E4E4E4E4E4E4E4E4. 1 distinct partition is one where all the terms are different+ for eAample, the num er C has eight distinct partitions C, "E4, &EB, 5E', 5EBE4, 5E$, 5E'E4 and $E'EB. Euler pro(ed, using his generating functions, that for an# num er, the num er of odd partitions is alwa#s e,ual to the num er of distinct partitions an intriguing and uneApected result.

1nother preoccupation was mentioned in a letter to <old ach, in 4&50. Euler had een loo!ing at pol#hedra, such as a cu e, and o ser(ed that the num ers of (ertices >corners@, edges and faces are alwa#s related # the formula+ >no. of faces@ E >no. of (ertices@ D >no. of edges@ E B. For eAample, the cu e has 5 faces, " (ertices and 4B edges and 5 E " D 4B E B. 0his formula is sometimes credited to :escartes, ut :escartes didnt ha(e the terminolog# or moti(ation to deri(e it+ it was Euler who introduced the concept of an edge. Euler was una le to pro(e the result, howe(er the proof came fort# #ears later, # the alge raist and num er theorist 1drien-)arie Legendre. Eulers most popular oo! was his Letters to a <erman princess. 0his was a multi-(olume masterpiece of eAposition >Euler alwa#s was a (er# clear writer@ that he produced ecause he was as!ed to gi(e elementar# science lessons to the princess of 1nhalt :essau. 0he result was a collection of o(er two hundred letters that Euler wrote on a range of scientific topics, including gra(it#, astronom#, light, sound, magnetism, logic, and much else esides. .e wrote a out wh# the s!# is lue, wh# the moon loo!s larger when it rises, wh# the tops of mountains are cold, e(en in the tropics, and e(en the electrisation of men and animals, whate(er that was. *t was one of the est oo!s e(er written on popular science. 0he last of his 2erlin wor!s that * want to mention was his 4&55 massi(e tome on the differential calculus, containing all the latest result, which he followed in 4&5"-&0 # a three-(olume treatise on the integral calculus. Regretta l#, * ha(e no time to tal! a out these. 9ith all his difficulties with Frederic! the <reat, Euler must ha(e felt (er# relie(ed when in 4&55, when he was 5C, he recei(ed an in(itation from 6atherine the <reat to return to St Peters urg.

0hings had impro(ed greatl#, than!s to the enlightened Empress, and Euler was recei(ed ro#all#. .e continued to wor! enthusiasticall#, soon producing a delightful result on pure geometr#. *f we ha(e a triangle, then there are three particular points of interest. 0he first is the centroid the meeting point of the three lines =oining a (erteA to the midpoint of the opposite site. 0he second is the orthocentre the meeting point of the perpendiculars from the (ertices to the opposite sides. 0he third is the circumcentre the centre of the circle surrounding the triangle. Euler pro(ed the prett# result that these three points all lie in a straight line now called the Euler line of the triangle and that the centroid lies eAactl# one third of the distance etween the other two. * mentioned earlier that Euler had a life-long interest in num er theor#. *n his later life, Euler was to wor! on results associated with Fermat. Fermats little theorem states that, if p is a prime num er, and a is an# num er that is not di(isi le # p, then ap4 4 must e di(isi le # p. For eAample, if we ta!e the prime p to e BC and a to e $", then we can deduce that $"B" 4 is di(isi le # BC. *n 4&50, Euler eAtended this result to num ers other than primes, introducing the Euler f-function and pro(ing that, for an# num ers a and n, af>n@ 4 is di(isi le # n. Met another connection with Fermat was pro(ided # Fermats last theorem. 9e all !now that there are num ers a, , c that satisf# aB E B D cB for eAample, 'B E $B D 5B, or 5B E 4BB D 4'B, ut Fermat con=ectured, in the margin of his cop# of :iophantuss 1lge ra, that for an# power n higher than B, an E n could ne(er e,ual cn. *n his num er theor# oo! of 4&&0, Euler pro(ed this for n D ' >the sum of two cu es cannot e,ual another cu e@, and for n D $ >the sum of two fourth powers cannot e,ual another fourth power@.

0he last few #ears of Eulers life, though more peaceful than his earlier ones, were full of personal tragedies. *n 4&&4 his house urned down, with the loss of his li rar#, and almost his life, and fortunatel# his manuscripts were sa(ed. Shortl# after, his elo(ed wife died. 1nd finall# he lost the sight of his other e#e ut again, his producti(it# remained undiminished, as he wrote on slates with his two sons as amenuenses. .e wor!ed up to the (er# end. *n his Eulog# # the )ar,uis de 6ondorcet, we read a out his final afternoon+ .e had retained all his facilit# of thought, and apparentl#, all his mental (igour+ no deca# seemed to threaten the sciences with the sudden loss of their great ornament. 7n the &th of Septem er 4&"', after amusing himself with calculating on a slate the laws of the ascending motion of air alloons, the recent disco(er# of which was then ma!ing a noise all o(er Europe, he dined with )r LeAell and his famil#, tal!ed of .erschels planet >8ranus@, and of the calculations which determine its or it. 1 little after, he called his grandchild, and fell a pla#ing with him as he dran! tea, when suddenl# the pipe, which he held in his hand, dropped from it, and he ceased to calculate and to reathe. N Ro in 9ilson