Bernhard Riemann

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Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866) was one of the most influential mathematicians in history. "It may ... be truly said of Riemann that he touched nothing that he did not in some measure revolutionize" and that he was "[o]ne of the most original mathematicians of modern times."[1]

Riemann was born in Germany, a devoutly Christian son of a Lutheran pastor. He was schooled at home by his father, and was sent to attend a prominent school (Johanneum at Luneburg) at the age of 16. Riemann quickly became bored with the math class and asked the director for more advanced material. The director gave him most advanced math books (including Leonhard Euler's works and Adrien Marie Legendre's Theory of Numbers). Riemann mastered them in only a few days.[2]

Riemann created a new type of geometry that became useful in the next century, and he formulated the most famous hypothesis (the Riemann hypothesis) that remains unsolved in mathematics today. It concerns the distribution of prime numbers and was first proposed in Riemann's class paper On the Number of Primes Less Than a Given Magnitude (1859).[3]


  1. E.T. Bell, "Men of Mathematics," 484 (1937).