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Cauchy, Augustin Louis, Baron

École theory analysis complex

[kohshee] (1789–1857) French mathematician: founded complex analysis.

The Terror of 1793–4 drove the Cauchy family to their country retreat at Arcueil, and there Augustin was educated by his father. He also became badly malnourished, which affected his health for the rest of his life. In 1805 he entered the École Polytechnique, and after moving to the École des Ponts et Chaussées served as an engineer in Napoleon’s army. In 1813 ill health caused his return to Paris; 3 years later he became a professor at the École Polytechnique. With the restoration of the Bourbons and departure of republicans such as and others, Cauchy was elected to the Académie des Sciences, which, in the same year (1816), awarded him its Grand Prix for his paper on wave modulation. His recognition and status increased (including a chair at the Collège de France), but all was lost with Charles X’s abdication in 1830, following the July Revolution. Cauchy was extremely pious and, although sincere, was ‘a bigoted Catholic’ even according to A BEL . He refused to take a new oath of allegiance and went into exile.

A professorship at Turin followed, together with a tedious period as tutor to Charles X’s son in Prague. Although Cauchy stuck to his principles, the Government fortunately turned a blind eye and in 1838 he returned to a professorship at the École Polytechnique, and at the Sorbonne in 1848. He died of a fever at the age of 68, after a highly creative lifetime in mathematics, and mathematical physics, which included seven books and over 700 papers. His tally of 16 named concepts and theorems compare with those of any other mathematician.

Cauchy played a large part in founding modern mathematics by his introduction of rigour into calculus and mathematical analysis. He published on convergence, limits and continuity and defined the integral as the limit of a sum. Together with Cauchy created the theory of real and complex functions, including complex analysis and contour integration. He recognized the theory of determinants and initiated group theory by studying substitution groups.

Caulkins, Frances Manwaring (1795–1869) - Local History [next] [back] Catlett, Sid(ney) (aka “Big Sid”)

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