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Neils Abel
Alex Garnier

 

Neils Abel

At the first evening meeting of this academic year of the Abelian Group, aka the Upper Sixth Maths Society, organised by Mr Fergus Yuille those present considered the person whom the society is named after, namely Neils Abel. They also learned about Group Theory and the characteristics of an Abelian group, in particular. 

Looking online, Georgie, Harvey and Ollie learned that Abel lived in the early 19th century, grew up in Norway, and discovered Group Theory. Tragically, he died young of tuberculosis which he contracted while visiting his fiancée and just before he received what would have been the highlight of his mathematical career to date, a letter of appointment to be Professor of Mathematics at Berlin University.

In his short life, Abel became famous for providing proof that there is no general algebraic solution for polynomials of degree 5 or higher, a problem that had baffled Mathematicians for over 250 years. In order to solve this problem, he invented an important part of Mathematics known as ‘Group Theory’. 

‘Group Theory is invaluable for many areas of Mathematics, and Physics as well, and a certain type of ‘group’ has been named after him,’ said Mr Yuille. ‘At the meeting, the concept of ‘an Abelian group’ was discussed.’

The hour’s meeting ended all too quickly with all present having whet their appetite for further sessions which are planned for the New Year.