Background
Leonhard Euler was born at Basel, Switzerland on the 15th of April 1707, his father Paul Euler, who had considerable attainments as a mathematician, being Calvinistic pastor of the neighbouring village of Riechen.
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Leonhard Euler was born at Basel, Switzerland on the 15th of April 1707, his father Paul Euler, who had considerable attainments as a mathematician, being Calvinistic pastor of the neighbouring village of Riechen.
After receiving preliminary instructions in mathematics from his father, he was sent to the university of Basel, where geometry soon became his favourite study.
Having taken his degree as master of arts in 1723, Euler applied himself, at his father's desire, to the study of theology and the Oriental languages with the view of entering the church, but, with his father's consent, he soon returned to geometry as his principal pursuit.
In 1735 he lost the sight of one eye.
In 1741, by invitation and command of Frederick the Great, he became a member of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin.
In 1766 Euler returned to Russia at the invitation of Catherine II (the Great).
Soon after his arrival in St. Petersburg, he became completely blind as the result of a cataract, but his facility in mental computation and his remarkable memory allowed him to continue to work energetically during the remaining 17 years of his life. Euler's writings indicate the unusual versatility of his intellect.
Its attack on Leibniz' monadology, a theory of preestablished harmony, had a considerable influence on contemporary philosophers.
His interest in improving eyeglass lenses resulted in the treatise Sur la Perfection des Verres Object des Lunettes (1747), a work which contributed to the discovery of achromatic telescopes.
He is best known, however, for his work in the field of pure mathematics.
He is responsible for the common use of the symbols e, p, pi, and i, which he related through the equation epipii + 1=0.
He improved the integral and differential calculus, his complete text surpassing anything then extant on the subject.
His Introductio in analysin infinitorum (1748), which did for modern analysis what the Elements of Euclid did for ancient geometry, is considered his greatest production. In all, during the almost 60 years of his scientific studies, his tireless genius produced 32 books in Latin, German, and French (many in more than one volume) and nearly 700 treatises in French and Latin.
A projected 72-volume edition of all of Euler's work was begun in 1911 and is still in progress.
In 1741 he became a member of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin.