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Mathematical Treasure: Dirichlet on Number Theory

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet (1805-1859) was a Belgian-born mathematician, noted for his work in algebraic number theory. He invented the algebraic structure known as an “ideal,” so fundamental in ring theory, and is also considered the founder of the theory of Fourier series. His Vorlesung uber Zahlentheorie (Lectures in Number Theory) was published posthumously, in 1863. The work was written in large part by Richard Dedekind, Dirichlet’s good friend, but is based on the work of Dirichlet himself.

Pages 34 and 35 (shown above and individually below) of Dirichlet’s lectures contain a discussion of modular arithmetic.

The Special Collections staff at the Linderman Library of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is pleased to cooperate with the Mathematical Association of America to exhibit this and other items from the Library’s holdings in Mathematical Treasures. In particular, Convergence would like to thank Lois Fischer Black, Curator, Special Collections, and Ilhan Citak, Archives and Special Collections Librarian, for their kind assistance in helping to make this display possible. You may use these images in your classroom; all other uses require permission from the Special Collections staff, Linderman Library, Lehigh University.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Dirichlet on Number Theory," Convergence (June 2014)