• A recent question asked whether Galois’ “lost” memoir has been since recovered (similar to Abel’s lost memoir). The memoir referenced in the question is the one Galois submitted to the French “Académie des Sciences” in competition for the “Grand Prix” (in Mathematics), (probably) in Feb. 1830.

The interesting ramification of this question is that, would our perception of Galois’ relationship with his contemporary mathematicians be different, had we been able to read this lost memoir?

. Oct 1811: Birth

. Apr 1829: published first article on continued fractions. Manuscript available.

. May & June 1829: Submitted two articles to the Académie on algebraic researches. Not found in archives (a theory runs that it was Cauchy who lost it).

. Feb. 1830 (probably): re-submitted (at Cauchy’s recommendation) his work to the Académie for the “Grand Prix”. Not found in archives. The Grand Prix was awarded to Abel (posthumously).

. Jan. 1831: Submitted to the Académie his memoir on the resolvability of equations (now referred to as the “First Memoir”).

. July 1831: Negative assessment report by the Académie, by a committee chaired by Poisson (and Lacroix).

. 29th May 1832: Letter (in a form of a testament) to his friend Auguste Chevallier. Summary by himself of his work with recommendations on where it should be published and to whom it should be transmitted for further review.

. 30th May 1832: Shot in a duel (died on 31st).

. 1846: Publication by Liouville, first recognition of Galois' exceptional contribution to the progress of Mathematics.

  • My Question: Was Poisson (and Lacroix) professional and correct in his assessment of the Galois “First Memoir”, with the knowledge at that time and the material submitted by Galois?
  • $\begingroup$ I have read that Liouville has re-written a good part of Galois' manuscript, as was the case for many of the articles Liouville has published in his journal. Liouville is known to be a model of selflessness... $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2022 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


There is already some pro-Poisson remarks in Peter Neumann’s “The writings of Evariste Galois”.

One is by Neumann himself:

With hindsight one may feel that this report was wrong. But I cannot think so: it seems to me to be a model of good refereeing. Can any of us be sure that in an analogous situation today we would react differently? I doubt it: it is an admirable report, sympathetic but firm. All that is wrong with it is that it deals with the work of an exceptionally brilliant and awkward man. Galois had no research supervisor who might have shown him how his discoveries should be properly written up. Besides, Galois was not aman who took advice easily. Another young mathematician might have taken the criticism to heart, re-written his work, published it and become famous. Galois took offence, returned to political agitation, died young and became famous.

Another one by Jacques Tits:

Is it shameful to admit that even today, having to judge the memoir in the form that Galois had given it, I would be pretty close to joining myself with the opinion expressed by Poisson?


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