
When studying mathematics, it is very fascinating to find out at what time the different fields were discovered or invented. One of the first things you'll notice if you read about the history of mathematics is that wherever you look, Gauss certainly will be be mentioned. He was such a universal genius that there is hardly any mathematical field where he didn't discover an important fact. If you look at the lives of different mathematicians, you won't only be reading the history of mathematics, but history in general. For example, if you read about Kowalewskaja, you will also learn about the Russian nihilist movement and the fight for equal rights. And of course, Decartes wasn't only an influencial mathematician, but equally important as a philosopher. And Russell didn't limit himself to disturbing the picture of logic either. He turned the world on its head in every possible way. The development of mathematics is a very long process. Through all these years the meaning of the term "mathematics" also changed a lot too. For example, the Greek term "mathema" was used for describing science in general. Later this turned into the latin word "mathematica", which still contained physics, astronomy, music, etc. The meaning of the term "mathematics" the way we use it today is only a couple of hundred years old. Since the field "mathema" or "mathematica" contained so many different things, so did the work the mathematicians were doing. For example, today Newton has to be regarded as both a mathematician and a physisist; during his life this was one and the same thing. Or Leonardo da Vinci who is now celebrated as a great painter and inventor; in his time designing machines and painting was also the work of mathematicians. In this chapter you will find a small assortement of influencial and important mathematicians.
Of course many just as important ones are missing. For example, we didn't even take into account all the
eastern mathematicians. But hopefully you'll get hooked on the ones we chose and continue
the research on your own.


