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Bernhard Riemann. “It is difficult to recall another example in the history of nineteenth-century mathematics when a struggle for a rigorous proof led to such productive results.” -Monastyrsky, in speaking about Riemann. HIS LIFE, FAITH AND WORK.

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bernhard riemann

Bernhard Riemann

“It is difficult to recall another example in the history of nineteenth-century mathematics when a struggle for a rigorous proof led to such productive results.”

-Monastyrsky, in speaking about Riemann




georg friedrich bernhard riemann
Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann

Born: September 17, 1826 in

Breselenz, Hanover (modern

day Germany)

Died: July 20, 1866

In Selasca, Italy

Riemann’s birthplace

who was bernhard riemann
Who was Bernhard Riemann?

A Mathematician who studied:



(e.g.. Studied sound waves)

non-Euclidean geometry

elliptical geometry

theory of functions

All of Riemann’s studies were greatly

influenced by his Christianity, as he

knew he was in service to the King.

the poet of mathematics
“The poet of mathematics”
  • Bernhard Riemann did not intend on a being a mathematician, though from childhood he was skilled in this area
  • Riemann was studying to be a minister at the University of Gottingen in Germany, but with the permission of his father, he began to study mathematics instead
  • He spent countless hours in his short life, studying many different branches of math
early life
Early Life
  • Son of a poor, Lutheran minister
  • Studied works of Euler and Legendre while in secondary school and master Legendre’s book on the theory of numbers in a week
  • Shy and modest, often the target of bullies, which would penetrate his profession later in life
  • Second of six children, two boys & four girls
  • When he was 19, Riemann began schooling at the University of Gottingen
his work
His Work
  • But, the custom was that to get the position you had to give a demonstration lecture on one of three subjects
  • Riemann was prepared for two, but Gauss chose the one Riemann was unprepared for on the foundations of geometry because Gauss had studied this area and had unanswered questions
  • This lecture led to his discovery of the Riemann surface and the mathematics of curved space.
  • Riemann received his doctorate degree, but there was no place for him to have a steady paying job as a professor
  • During the next eight years, he endured great poverty, but during this time, created his greatest work
  • Finally, Riemann received a position as a professor under Gauss. It was the long awaited job.
so why is he famous
So, why is he famous?
  • Before one can understand Riemann’s discoveries, one must understand Euclidean Geometry
    • Euclid said that parallel lines never meet, even at infinity
    • Two other famous mathematicians Lobachevsky and Bolyai posed the question “ Can parallel lines meet?”(non-Euclidean Geometry)
  • These thoughts laid the foundation for Riemann’s studies
    • He began studying what is called, elliptic geometry or the geometry of curved surfaces, in which he said that parallel lines can meet
    • Riemannian geometry, 60 years after his death, became the foundations for Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
  • Riemann also found a new way to find the integral (area under a graph), now rightfully titled, the Riemann sum
  • Due to Riemann’s premature death, his work was left unfinished
the purpose behind it all
The Purpose behind it all
  • Riemann’s faith influenced his lifestyle greatly, even in his poverty and sickness, he desired to glorify God through the talents he had been given.
    • Gauss gave this report of Riemann, “The dissertation submitted by Herr Riemann offers convincing evidence of the author’s thorough and penetrating investigations in those part of the subject treated in the dissertation, of a creative, active, truly mathematical mind, and of a gloriously fertile originality.”
  • It could be said that Riemann was destined for mathematics. With the passion for his faith, armed with the genius the Lord had given him, he diligently and tediously studied until the day of his death.
  • It is also obvious in his family life, as Riemann faithfully and lovingly cared for his wife, children and sisters until the time of his death.

A contemporary wrote upon Riemann’s death,

“The gentle mind which had been implanted in him by his father’s house remained with him all his life and he served his God faithfully as his father had, but in a different way.”

The End

works cited
Works Cited
  • Bell, E. T., Men of Mathematics. Simon and Schustes. New York, 1965.
  • “Biography of Bernhard Riemann.”
  • Boyer, Carl B. A History of Mathematics. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. United States of America, 1968.
  • Coppedge, David. “World’s Greatest Creation Scientists.”
  • Graves, Dan. Scientists of Faith: 48 Bibliographies of Historic Scientists and Their Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI 1996
  • School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St. Andrews. September 1998.