You are here

Mathematical Treasure: Abel's Complete Works

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829) was a talented Norwegian mathematician whose life was tragically cut short by tuberculosis. At an early age, Abel determined that a general equation of fifth degree or higher could not be solved by radicals, the Abel-Ruffini Theorem. Among his many other mathematical accomplishments, he was co-founder of the Journal fur die reine und angewandt Mathematik, along with August Leopold Crelle (1780-1855). The journal is usually referred to as “Crelle’s journal.” Abel was a frequent contributor to this journal and by 1827 had developed a theory of elliptic functions. After his death, his teacher and mentor, Bernt Holmboe (1795-1850), published a collection of his works, Oeurvres completes de N. H. Abel (1839):

The “Table of Contents” testifies to the scope of Abel’s genius:

The images above were obtained through the cooperation of The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Abel's Complete Works," Convergence (January 2016)