**Nikolai Brashman** was a Czech mathematician who worked on mechanics.

- In its early days when Brashman studied there, the number of courses that it offered was very limited and those that it did offer were of a very applied nature totally lacking scientific rigour.
- In order to get a more rigorous education, in addition to attending courses at the Polytechnical Institute, Brashman enrolled in courses at the University of Vienna.
- At first Littrow felt that Brashman had such a poor educational background that he would not be able to succeed in studying at university level.
- However, Brashman soon showed that he did indeed have the ability not only to overcome his weak grounding but to produce work of high quality.
- Littrow and Brashman became good friends and the friendship continued until Littrow's death in 1840.
- Brashman graduated from the University of Vienna in 1821, but continued to undertake research at the university.
- Two years later, in 1823, with several letters of recommendation and a small amount of money, Brashman went to St Petersburg in Russia.
- In St Petersburg, Brashman was supported by Princess Evdokia Ivanovna Golitsyna (nee Izmailova) (1780-1850).
- The Princess was friends with many leading mathematicians and this provided a good way for Brashman to become known.
- In January 1824 Brashman was appointed to teach mathematics and physics at Saint Peter and Saint Paul's School in St Petersburg.
- At Kazan, Brashman became a colleague of Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky and in fact he taught mechanics using Lobachevsky's lecture notes.
- Brashman also took on a number of administrative roles but he was very definite that his greatest satisfaction was gained through teaching and research.
- The year 1830 proved a difficult one for everyone at the university when a cholera epidemic struck but Brashman played his part in minimising the damage.
- Brashman became professor of applied mathematics in the University of Moscow in August 1834.
- Brashman wrote one of the best analytic geometry texts of his time, for which the Russian Academy of Sciences awarded him the entire Demidov Prize for 1836.
- Brashman toured through Germany, France and England in 1842, where he met with leading European mathematicians.
- Brashman wrote research articles on the Principle of Least Action which are important in the development of mechanics.
- Another aspect of Brashman's work for which he is remembered is for his founding of the Moscow Mathematical Society which grew out of meetings held in Brashman's own home.
- The first meeting of the society was 15 September 1864 when Brashman was elected as the first president and August Yulevich Davidov was elected vice-president.
- Brashman held this position until his death in 1866 when Davidov became president.
- Brashman's aims for the Society were, at first, quite limited since it was intended only for those with a Master's Degree (or higher degree) in a mathematical discipline or for those with at least one important publication.
- However Brashman quickly became more ambitious for the new Society and, at a meeting in January 1866, the aim had extended to become a Russian wide Society; "The goal of the organisation of the Society is to promote the development of mathematical sciences in Russia." Brashman also set up the Journal of that Society, Matematicheskii Sbornik, the first part of which appeared in the year of his death.
- This first part contains the paper Find the pressure of a river at its bank resulting from the Earth rotation about its axis (Russian) by Brashman.
- Brashman had a number of outstanding students, including Pafnuty Lvovich Chebyshev and Osip Ivanovich Somov.
- We note that Brashman's students had a huge respect for him both as a mathematician and as a person.
- For example, Chebyshev felt that he had been inspired by Brashman and asked him for a photograph that he might keep with him; indeed he still had Brashman's photograph at the time of his death.
- Brashman was a strong believer in the power of mathematics.
- Brashman gives a strong refutation of William Hamilton's ideas.
- Brashman was honoured for his contributions with election to the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1855.

Born 14 June 1796, Rassnova: near Brünn, Austria-Hungary (now Brno, Czech Republic). Died 13 May 1866, Moscow, Russia.

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Astronomy, Origin Czech Republic

**O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F**: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive