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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Math Madness: The Elite 8

As we whittle down our list of mathematicians, the choices get harder and harder. We published all of the results of the Sweet 16 (click the Math Madness label in the sidebar if you need to find an old post!) and we've got the Elite 8 results right here.

Match 1: Newton vs. Erdös

Check out these short bios for Newton and Erdös.

Both men were important, and both men had eccentric personalities according to biographies. Erdös was a self-proclaimed “solver” more than an innovator of mathematics. For this reason, we award this round to Newton, who created calculus, an entire branch in the tree of mathematics, as well as solving problems of his time. But, Newton will never have a good Erdös number!

Match 2: Poincaré vs. Gauss

Look here for the bios for Poincaré and Gauss.

Gauss wins here because he was a much larger contributor to the world of math. Number Theory was an area of study for centuries before Gauss, but his book the Disquisitiones Arithmeticae finally provided a structured methodology. Poincaré left many notable works behind, but he would have been more significant had he delved into a particular branch of mathematics instead of working a bit in each area.

Match 3: Riemann vs. Hypatia

Find here the bios for Riemann and Hypatia.

It is a shame that none of Hypatia’s original works survived. What little information we have about her states that she was a passionate tutor, and that would hopefully have carried into her math research. Riemann wins this round because his work was revolutionary and built off of new mathematical concepts. And, unfortunately for Hypatia, we have knowledge of what Riemann created!

Match 4: Galois vs. Euler

Click their names to find the short bios for Galois and Euler.

Here we have a mathematician with only 60 pages total published pitted against a giant with over 800 entire papers with his name on them. Galois has no doubt left a large footprint in the field of mathematics. He was not just an innovator but an interesting personality, and the stories behind his multiple imprisonments and death make many young students interested in the history of mathematics. However, Euler accomplished so much more in his longer life. Where Galois proved some of the foundations for Group Theory, Euler produced an entire book to describe the bases of analysis. Euler is the winner here, but perhaps Galois would have fared better if he had lived to produce more work.

So how do you feel about the results so far? Don't forget to let us know if an upset has upset you, or if you think we've got it exactly right. Use the hashtag #MATHmadness to make sure we'll see it, or leave a comment right here on the blog!

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