Great mathematicians failed too

“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.


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