Number Theory pp 309-359 | Cite as

An Age of Transition: Lagrange and Legendre

  • André Weil
Part of the Modern Birkhäuser Classics book series (MBC)


In 1745 Euler had been hailed by his old teacher Johann Bernoulli as “mathematicorum princeps”, the first of mathematicians (cf. Chap.III, §III). By 1775 he clearly felt ready to pass the title on to Lagrange. “It is most flattering to me”, he wrote to his younger colleague, “to have as my successor in Berlin the most outstanding geometer of this century” (loc.cit. Chap.III, §IX). Such was indeed by then the universal verdict of the scientific world. “Le célèbre Lagrange, le premier des géomètres” is how LAVOISIER referred to him in 1793 in an official request to the Convention in behalf of his friend (Lag.XIV.314-315) at the onset of the Terror which was soon to claim Lavoisier himself as a victim. In the next century the title of “princeps mathematicorum” was bestowed upon Gauss by the unanimous consent of his countrymen. It has not been in use since.


Quadratic Residue Proper Solution Binary Quadratic Form Ternary Form Ternary Quadratic Form 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

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  • André Weil

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