Mathematician:Bernhard Placidus Johann Nepomuk Bolzano

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Bohemian priest who was also a mathematician, logician, theologian and philosopher.

A major precursor of the wave of development of analysis in the late $19$th century.

Proved the Bolzano-Weierstrass Theorem, independently of (and earlier than) Karl Weierstrass.

Gave the first analytical proof of the Intermediate Value Theorem (which is also known as Bolzano's Theorem).




  • Born: 5 Oct 1781 in Prague, Bohemia, Austrian Habsburg domain (now Czech Republic)
  • 1791 to 1796: Attended Piarist Gymnasium in Prague
  • 1796: Entered faculty of Philosophy at Charles University of Prague, studying philosophy, physics and mathematics
  • 1799 to 1800: undertook research in mathematics with František Josef Gerstner
  • 1800: Began three years of theological study at Charles University, at the same time preparing a doctoral thesis in geometry
  • 1804: Received doctorate in mathematics and ordained as a Roman Catholic priest
  • 1807: Granted a chair at University of Prague in the philosophy of religion
  • 1815: Elected to the Royal Bohemian Society of Sciences
  • 1816: Charges brought against him at the court of Vienna
  • 1818: Elected Dean of Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University
  • December 1819: Dismissed from his position, placed under house arrest and forbidden to publish.
  • 1821 to 1825: Tried by the Church, required to recant his supposed heresies
  • 1823 to 1830: Lived during the summer near Techobuz, with his friends Josef and Anna Hoffmann; during the winter lived in Prague with his brother Johann
  • 1830 to 1841: Lived throughout the year with the Hoffmanns
  • 1841: Move with the Hoffmanns to Prague, became active in Royal Bohemian Society of Sciences
  • 1842 to 1843: President of Royal Bohemian Society of Sciences
  • Died: 18 Dec 1848 in Prague, Bohemia (now Czech Republic)

Theorems and Definitions

Results named for Bernhard Placidus Johann Nepomuk Bolzano can be found here.


  • 1810: Beyträge zu einer begründeteren Darstellung der Mathematik. Erste Lieferung
  • 1816: Der binomische Lehrsatz
  • 1816: On the Condition of the Two Nationalities in Bohemia
  • 1817: Rein analytischer Beweis (Pure Analytical Proof)
  • 1837: Wissenschaftslehre (Theory of Science)
  • 1851: Paradoxien des Unendlichen (The Paradoxes of the Infinite) (contains the first instance in mathematical literature of the term Set)

Also known as

Some sources render his name as Bernard Bolzano.

Critical View

Weierstrass and Bolzano march arm-in-arm together through the history of mathematics, but not nearly enough seems to be known about Bolzano.
-- George F. Simmons: Calculus Gems ($1992$)