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Nikolai Lobachevsky

Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky was the first mathematician to publish an account of non-Euclidean geometry.

Born on December 1, 1792 in Novgorod, Russia. When he was only 7, Lobachevsky's father died. As such, he moved to Kazan, Siberia where he eventually studied at the University of Kazan. There, he studied physics and mathematics under Johann Bartels who had also instructed Karl Gauss. By 1811, he had a master's in mathematics and physics and by 1814 he was appointed a lectureship. By 1816, Lobachevsky became a professor.

In 1829, he published his Non-Euclidean Geometry which was the first account on the matter to be published in the world. Basically, Lobachevsky stopped the common practice of turning Euclid's Fifth Postulate into a theorem. Rather, he studied a geometry apart from Euclid's final postulate. In other terms, he considered Euclid's postulate as a special case of a more simplified, general geometry.

Lobachevsky came up with his own parallel postulate and his diagram:

There exist two lines parallel to a given line through a given point not on the line.

Though Lobachevsky did not receive a great deal of recognition, he is one of the fathers of non-Euclidean geometry. He is accused of pleagarism as is shown in the poem, "Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky". To read it, click here.

Lobachevsky died in Kazan on February 24, 1856.

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