In Wikipedia I found this claim by E.T. Bell in his Men of Mathematics. However in the next paragraph it says that "it is doubtful that Gauss put Eisenstein in the same league as Newton", which makes me wonder why is he not considered to be in the same league as the aforementioned giants?

Can anyone with better knowledge clarify this for me please?

  • $\begingroup$ You are not mixing up Eisenstein and Einstein by any chance? $\endgroup$
    – mmm
    Aug 16, 2015 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @ Michael L:lol ,I was referring to the mathematician,who was one of the students of gauss. $\endgroup$
    – Nicco
    Sep 12, 2015 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Gauss was hardly likely to nominate himself, was he? $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Oct 19, 2015 at 9:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @mmm: Gauss did not know about Einstein. $\endgroup$
    – timur
    Nov 11, 2018 at 23:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For the record: Einstein was born 24 years after Gauss died. $\endgroup$ Nov 5, 2021 at 1:32

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia also says:"this is not a quote by Gauss, but is (a translation of) the end of a sentence from the biography of Eisenstein by Moritz Cantor (1877), one of Gauss's last students and a historian of mathematics, who was summarizing his recollection of a remark made by Gauss about Eisenstein in a conversation many years earlier". Human memory is tricky with context and nuance after many years, especially when one admires a person enough to write their biography, and is focused predominantly on this person.

As for why, Archimedes founded mechanics as a science, and anticipated ideas of integral calculus by two thousand years, Newton revolutionized physics and invented calculus, Eisenstein's work had a much more narrow impact, mostly in algebra. But it was of high quality, and we know from Gauss's own writings that he thought very highly of Eisenstein.

And generally, take everything E.T. Bell writes with a grain of salt.

  • $\begingroup$ For Bell's Men of Mathematics, yes, include a gran of salt. But don't let that make you underrate his The Development of Mathematics (several editions beginning 1940). It is a badly neglected resource on 20th century math. $\endgroup$ May 25, 2016 at 14:32

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