“Failure is the mother of success”, as the saying goes. As seen in history, ancient and modern, great mathematicians also tasted in their early days failure of rejection:
1. Euler (1707 – 1783) applied for a professorship at the University of Basel but was rejected.
2. Galois (1811 – 1832) sat for the Concours (Entrance Exams) of the prestigious École Polytechniques in 2 consecutive years but failed.
3. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) failed in language exams to qualify for the ETH Zurich Polytechnic. He repeated 1 year high-school to finally enter ETH. He graduated there few years later without a good job, ended only with a humble 3rd class patent clerk position – where he got so much free time in office to write the famous paper on Relativity.
4. Zhang YiTang (1955 -) failed to get a university lecturer job for 7 years after his PhD, survived by working as account assistant and Fast Food sandwich seller. He pondered during this period of rejection on Prime Number, proved in 2013 the 70-million bounded gap in twin primes.
5. Hua Lougeng (1910 – 1985) did not excel in Math in Secondary School. He quit Secondary School few months before graduation. He worked as a shopkeeper in his father’s grocery shop, mostly self paced learning Mathematics in the spare times.
6. Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829) died young and poor, without the recognition of his math genius in proving Quintic equation insolvability.
The final job offer of professorship came few days too late after his death.