Mathematician:Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet

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German mathematician who worked mainly in the field of analysis.

Credited with the first formal definition of a function.

Married Rebecka Mendelssohn, the youngest sister of Fanny Mendelssohn and Felix Mendelssohn.


German, although born in what was then part of the French empire.


  • Born: 13 Feb 1805, Düren, French Empire (now Germany)
  • 1855: Succeeded Gauss in professorship at Göttingen.
  • Died: 5 May 1859, Göttingen, Hanover (now Germany)

Theorems and Definitions


Definitions of concepts named for Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet can be found here.


Results named for Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet can be found here.


Critical View

The story was told that young Dirichlet had as a constant companion on all his travels, like a devout man with his prayer book, an old, worn copy of the Disquisitiones Arithmeticae of Gauss.
-- Heinrich Franz Friedrich Tietze

Dirichlet was not satisfied to study Gauss's Disquisitiones once or several times, but continued throughout his life to keep in close touch with the wealth of deep mathematical thoughts which it contains by perusing it again and again. For this reason the book was never put on the shelf but had an abiding place on the table at which he worked. Dirichlet was the first one who not only fully understood this work, but also made it accessible to others.
-- Ernst Eduard Kummer

Also known as

Usually referred to as Peter Dirichlet.

The Johann is often ignored or forgotten even when specifying his name more fully: Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet.