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Sunday, July 17, 2005


What an interesting life for someone who died at 21...

"... So, why is Galois theory called Galois theory? The answer is that it is named after a French mathematician Evariste Galois (1811-1832) who did some very important work in this area. He had a very dramatic and difficult life, failing to get much of his work recognised due to his great difficulty in expressing himself clearly. For example, he wasn't admitted to the leading university in Paris, the Ecole Polytechnique, and had to make do with the Ecole Normale. He also met with difficulty because of his political sympathies, he was a republican. This led to him being expelled from the Ecole Normale when he wrote a letter to a newspaper criticising the director of the school. He joined a republican branch of the militia and was later imprisoned (twice) because of his membership. The second time whilst in prison he fell in love with the daughter of the prison physician, Stephanie-Felice du Motel and after being released died in a duel with Perscheux d'Herbinville. The reasons for the duel are not entirely clear, but it seems likely it had something to do with Stephanie. His death started republican riots and rallies which lasted for several days.

Although Galois is often credited with inventing group theory and Galois theory, it seems that an Italian mathematician Paolo Ruffini (1765-1822) may have come up with many of the ideas first. Unfortunately his ideas were not taken seriously by the rest of the mathematical community at the time. There are some links at the end of this document for anyone interested in finding out more about the history of group theory and Galois theory. ..."

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