Pafnuty Chebyshev

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Pafnuty Lvovich Chebyshev (Russian: Пафну́тий Льво́вич Чебышёв, IPA: [pafˈnutʲɪj ˈlʲvovɪtɕ tɕʲebɨˈʂof]) (May 16 [O.S. May 4] 1821 – December 8 [O.S. November 26] 1894)[1] was a Russian mathematician. His name can be alternatively transliterated as Chebychev, Chebyshov, Tchebycheff or Tschebyscheff (the latter two are French and German transcriptions).



Early years

One of nine children,[2] Chebyshev was born in the village of Okatovo in the district of Borovsk, province of Kaluga. His father, Lev Pavlovich, was a Russian nobleman and wealthy landowner. Pafnuty Lvovich was first educated at home by his mother Agrafena Ivanovna (in reading and writing) and by his cousin Avdotya Kvintillianovna Sukhareva (in French and arithmetic). Chebyshev mentioned that his music teacher also played an important role in his education, for she "raised his mind to exactness and analysis."

A physical handicap (of unknown cause) affected Chebyshev's adolescence and development. From childhood, he limped and walked with a stick and so his parents abandoned the idea of his becoming an officer in the family tradition. His disability prevented his playing many children's games and he devoted himself instead to mathematics.

In 1832, the family moved to Moscow, mainly to attend to the education of their eldest sons (Pafnuty and Pavel, who would become lawyers). Education continued at home and his parents engaged teachers of excellent reputation, including (for mathematics and physics) P.N. Pogorelski, held to be one of the best teachers in Moscow and who had taught (for example) the writer Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev.

University studies

In summer 1837, Chebyshev passed the registration examinations and, in September of that year, began his mathematical studies at the second philosophical department of Moscow University. His teachers included N.D. Brashman, N.E. Zernov and D.M. Perevoshchikov of whom it seems clear that Brashman had the greatest influence on Chebyshev. Brashman instructed him in practical mechanics and probably showed him the work of French engineer J.V. Poncelet. In 1841 Chebyshev was awarded the silver medal for his work "calculation of the roots of equations" which he had finished in 1838. In this, Chebyshev derived an approximating algorithm for the solution of algebraic equations of nth degree based on Newton's algorithm. In the same year he finished his studies as "most outstanding candidate".

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