Janos Bolyai
Janos Bolyai was born in Hungary and received his early education in mathematics from his mathematician father Farkas Bolyai. His father had hopes that he would go to Gottingen and study with Gauss, but Janos received a military education at the imperial engineering academy in Vienna. He entered the military and served until he was pensioned off for ill health; he returned to his hometown of Marosvasarhely where he lived for the rest of his life. During the time in the military he was known as a dashing and volatile officer who dueled (successfully) readily. He inherited an interest in geometry and the theory of parallels from his father, who nevertheless advised him to "shy away from it as if from lewd intercourse" to preserve "peace of mind." Janos continued anyway and today is recognized, along with Lobachevsky and Gauss, as one of the discoverers of non-Euclidean geometry; his work was published as an appendix to his father's book the Tentamen. His father was a college friend of the now famous Gauss, but when Farkas sent Janos' work to Gauss, Gauss replied that it was fine work, but he could not praise it, for this would be self-praise, since he had developed a similar theory years before. This demoralized Janos so much that, while he continued to work on mathematical problems, he published no more.
Janos Bolyai (1802-1860) |
Janos Bolyai (1802-1860) |
Hungary (1960), No. 1321 |
Hungary (1960), No. 1345 |