The story of Évariste Galois is one of the most romantic, intriguing and frequently told stories in mathematics. It's no secret that Galois was a gifted but troubled teenager.
A passionate republican during a time of political turmoil he would frequently put his beliefs before his best-interests. Arrested numerous times, imprisoned, expelled, and eventually, killed.
Although dying at such a tragically young age (20) Galois' contribution to mathematics was rather phenomenal. Perhaps Jason is cranky today because, although a few years older than Galois ever lived to see, Jason is yet to contribute anything to mathematics on par with such things as:
- Showing algebraic solutions to a polynomial equation are related to the structure of a group of permutations associated with the roots of the polynomial (Such a group is now known as a Galois group and is a fundamental object in the branch of mathematics known as Galois Theory)
- Subsequently showing that any general polynomial of degree greater than or equal to five has no explicit solutions that can be expressed radically
- Developing the idea of a normal subgroup, finite fields, projective special linear groups, general linear groups and a whole bunch of theorems on these objects
- Coining the word group
Of special interest is that a lot of the above was frantically penned in a letter the night before Galois met his death. Too proud to back down from a duel he knew he was sure to lose, the stupidity of the genius ensured the world of mathematics lost one of its shortest lived, but brightest shining stars.
Jason's mood today in letter-penned-the-night-before-a-duel-you-know-you-will-lose form:
(sorry for the gap in posts, moved back in at uni and have been without internet)