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Évariste Galois

Évariste Galois

Early Life

Évariste Galois, a French mathematician was born on 25th October 1811 in Bourg-la-Reine to parents who were well educated and thus put strong emphasis on educating their son. On 18th October 1823 he started going to Lycee Louis-le-Grand. At 14 his interest shifted from Latin to mathematics; a field which was later to become the reason for his fame. To pursue the subject extensively, Galois chose the most prestigious institution in the country ‘École Polytechnique’ but unfortunately failed in his attempt of admission. He then opted for ‘École Normale’ where he continued with his education.

Mathematical Work

His paper on continued fractions was published in 1828 followed by significant discoveries in polynomial equation theory. After the death of his father in 1829, an already disheartened Galois failed yet again in his second attempt for Polytechnique. In 1830 he submitted his memoir on equation theory in consideration for the Grand Prix of the Academy. However due to some unfortunate circumstances his memoir was lost. This did not discourage Galois and he published three papers one of which became the base for the Galois Theory.

Galois and the French Revolution

1830 marked the year of the French Revolution. Due to the political turmoil, the students of Ecole Nomale were locked in and were not allowed to participate in any political activity. When Galois heard about the Polytechnique students who were in the streets taking part in and witnessing the current events, he wrote an intense letter in the Gazette des Ecole condemning the director responsible for the lock down of students. For this action, Galois was expelled. In response to the expulsion he joined the Republican artillery unit of the National Guard. An incident concerning his fellow unit members and a conspiracy to overthrow the government caused him to show his open disapproval of the King Louis- Phillipe for which he got arrested. Galois tried to continue with his work in mathematics but the political activities interested him more.

Personal Life and Death

When Cholera spread in Paris in 1930, the prisoners including Galois, were transferred to the pension Sieur Faultrier where he fell in love with Stephanie- Felice du Motel who was the daughter of the prison physician. The name has been seen in many of Galois letters. This affair became the reason that led to Galois’s death. There was a serious quarrel between him and one of the prison guards in which Galois got seriously injured due to gunshots. After many hours he was found and taken to the hospital. Unfortunately he could not survive the wounds and died the next day on 30th May 1832. He was only twenty years old at the time of his death. Though Galois did not live for long but his contributions to mathematics cannot be denied. He was the first to use the word ‘group’ in mathematics. He also developed the concept of normal subgroups and finite fields (Known as Galois Field). His most influential contribution to the field is the Galois Theory.


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