The mathematical writings of Évariste Galois. (English) Zbl 1237.01011

Heritage of European Mathematics. Zürich: European Mathematical Society (EMS) (ISBN 978-3-03719-104-0/hbk). xi, 410 p. (2011).
Peter M. Neumann is not only a renowned mathematician but has also been for many years more than interested in the history of mathematics. His love in mathematics is clearly algebra and his love in the history of this topic belongs to Évariste Galois and his writings. Here is now the result of his research.
Galois died very early in his career but left mathematical papers of the utmost importance. The most important papers date from around May 1829 to June 1830 and his death in a duel occurred already at the end of May 1832. Although the mathematical works of Galois were edited several times in French there was no English translation until now. Neumann has edited the manuscripts with great care. In an Introduction we are informed about the life of Galois and his scientific background. The manuscripts are then discussed as is the reception of Galois’ ideas. Neumann then gives an idea about the French editions so far and the subtle problems which occur when translating Galois’ French into English. This leads to lists of words and phrases and their counterparts in the English language used. The Introduction ends with remarks concerning the transcription.
The second chapter is devoted to the writings of Galois which were published in his lifetime. These are five manuscripts which are edited which much care by Neumann. In the third chapter the testamentary letter of 29 May 1832 is presented. It is characteristic of this book that the French originals are faithfully given and the translation is augmented by remarks in the margins concerning problems of the translation process or decisions in language alternatives taken. This is also the case for the testamentary letter. Chapters 4 to 6 are concerned with the first and second memoirs and the minor mathematical manuscripts, respectively. The book closes with a seventh chapter discussing myths and mysteries on Galois and his mathematical work in an epilogue.
The book is simply a masterpiece. The publisher has equipped the book with a robust binding, beautiful opaque paper and many facsimiles so that reading the book is a delight.


01-02 Research exposition (monographs, survey articles) pertaining to history and biography
01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century
01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies

Biographic References:

Galois, Évariste
Full Text: DOI