Farkas (Wolfgang) Bolyai
Farkas Bolyai (Wolfgang in German) is remembered today
primarily as a friend and lifelong correspondent of Gauss and as the father
of János Bolyai, one of the discoverers of non-Euclidean geometry.
Farkas was born in the Transylvanina region of Hungary (now part of
Romania) and educated in Evangelical Reformed schools in Hungary until
studying at the University of Göttingen from 1796 to 1799. It was at
Götingen that he became friends with his fellow student Gauss. His
professional life was spent as Professor of Mathematics at the Evangelical-Reformed
College at Marosvásárhely. He was interested in the parallel axiom
throughout his life, but his lack of success frustrated him to the extent
that he warned his son János to give up its study to `preserve peace of
mind'. His major published work entitled the Tentamen is an
attempt to provide a rigorous foundation to geometry; it was an unappreciated
precursor of the works of Frege and Cantor. It is well-known today since
he appended János' paper on non-Euclidean geometry to the first volume.
He reportedly requested that an apple tree mark his grave in memory of the
three apples: the two of Eve and Eris, which made the earth an inferno, and
that of Newton, which elevated the earth again into the family of the
heavenly bodies. This may not have been done, but in addition to
two stamps in his honor, he and János have been remembered with
the names of three Budapest streets.
|Farkas Bolyai (1775-1856)||Farkas Bolyai (1775-1856)|
|Hungary (1975), No. 2347||Hungary (1932), No. 479|