Born in 1707, Leonhard Euler grew up in the town of Riehen, near Basel, Switzerland. Encouraged by his father, Paulus, a minister, young Leonhard received very early instruction from Johann I Bernoulli, who immediately recognized Euler’s talents. Euler completed his work at the University of Basel at age 1 5, and at age 19 won a prize in the competition organized by the Academy of Sciences in Paris. His paper discussed the optimal arrangement of masts on sailing ships (Meditationes super problemate nautico. . .). In 1727 Euler attempted unsuccessfully to obtain a professorship of physics in Basel by submitting a dissertation on sound (Dissertatio physica de sono); however, this failure, in retrospect, was fortunate. Encouraged by Nicholas and Daniel, sons of his teacher Johann Bernoulli, he went to the St. Petersburg Academy in Russia, a field of action that could accommodate his genius and energy.
In St. Petersburg Euler was met by compatriots Jacob Hermann and Daniel Bernoulli and soon befriended the diplomat and amateur mathematician Christian Goldbach. During the years 1727-1741 spent there, Euler wrote over 100 scientific papers and his fundamental work on mechanics. ln 1741, at the invitation of Fredrick the Great, he went to rhe Akademie in Berlin. During his 25 years in Berlin, his incredible mathematical productivity continued. He created, among other works, the calculus of variations, wrote the Introductio in analysin infinitorum,and translated and rewrote the treatise on artillery by Benjamin Robins.
Disputes with the Court led Euler in 1766 to accept a very favorable invitation by Katherine II to return to St. Petersburg. There he was received in a princely manner, and he spent the rest of his life in St. Petersburg. Although totally blind, he wrote, with the heip of his students, the famous Algebra and over 400 scientific papers; he left many unpublished manuscripts.