Portrait of Charles Hermite

Portrait of Charles Hermite

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Portrait of Charles Hermite (1822-1901), French mathematician. Hermite had a basic inability to pass exams, and it was not until the age of 25 that he managed to graduate from the Ecole Polytechnique. He taught at the College de France, and later became a professor at the Sorbonne. He extended Abel's treatment of elliptic functions to hyperelliptics, leading to a general solution for quintic equations. He proved that e is transcendental (ie. not a solution of an algebraic equation with rational coefficients) and theorised Hermitian forms (complex generalisations of quadratics). He also developed Hermite polynomial functions, now a useful tool in quantum mechanics.

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Keywords: c., charles, hermite, mathematician, portraits, surname h

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