Galois, Évariste (1811–1832)
French mathematician who led a short, dramatic life and is often credited
with founding modern group theory, though the Italian
Paolo Ruffini (1765–1822) came up with many of the ideas first. Galois'
work wasn't widely acknowledged by his contemporaries, partly because he
didn't present his material very well and partly because he held unpopular
political views. In fact, he was a republican revolutionary who was twice
imprisoned because of his activities. During his second incarceration he
fell in love with the daughter of the prison physician, Stephanie-Felice
du Motel, and after being released, fought a gun duel over her with Perscheux
d'Herbinville. Mortally wounded in the duel, he was abandoned in a field
but found by a peasant and taken to a hospital. After a few days he died
of an infection. His death started republican riots and rallies which lasted
for several days.
Reputedly, the night before his fatal duel, Galois tried to write down as
many thoughts as possible. These notes and a few other papers were discovered
14 years later by Joseph Liouville, who recognized them as works of genius.
Galois set out the theory of groups and laid down conditions for the solvability
of various algebraic equations.
• Galois theory