Bernhard Riemann

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About this sound Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann (German pronunciation: [ˈʁiːman]; September 17, 1826 – July 20, 1866) was an influential German mathematician who made lasting contributions to analysis and differential geometry, some of them enabling the later development of general relativity.



Early years

Riemann was born in Breselenz, a village near Dannenberg in the Kingdom of Hanover in what is the Federal Republic of Germany today. His father, Friedrich Bernhard Riemann, was a poor Lutheran pastor in Breselenz who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. His mother, Charlotte Ebell, died before her children had reached adulthood. Riemann was the second of six children, shy, and suffered from numerous nervous breakdowns. Riemann exhibited exceptional mathematical skills, such as fantastic calculation abilities, from an early age but suffered from timidity and a fear of speaking in public.


During 1840, Riemann went to Hanover to live with his grandmother and attend lyceum (middle school). After the death of his grandmother in 1842, he attended high school at the Johanneum Lüneburg. In high school, Riemann studied the Bible intensively, but he was often distracted by mathematics. To this end, he even tried to prove mathematically the correctness of the Book of Genesis. His teachers were amazed by his adept ability to solve complicated mathematical operations, in which he often outstripped his instructor's knowledge. In 1846, at the age of 19, he started studying philology and theology in order to become a priest and help with his family's finances.

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