The great technical and military schools founded or encouraged by Napoleon began [in the early 19th century] to enroll the most brilliant scientists of France. Among these was Augustin-Louis Cauchy 1, who entered the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris at the age of sixteen, proceeding thence to the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees. After a certain amount of engineering experience he was elected to the chair of mechanics in the Ecole Polytechnique and to membership in the Academie des Sciences. On account of the political situation he went to Turin in 1830, where he became professor of mathematics in the university. Two years later he went to Prague and in 1838 returned to Paris and taught in certain Church schools. In 1848 he was made professor of mathematical astronomy in the university. His life was one of unrest on account of his own marked eccentricities as well as because of the changing political situation in France; but in spite of this fact he published upwards of seven hundred memoirs on mathematics and showed himself a man of uncommon scientific ability. Although usually displaying an affable manner, he was not a man of good breeding, being possessed of an unfortunate conceit, narrow in his views, and disposed to argue endlessly over trifles. he was an indefatigable worker, and his contributions to mathematics include researches into the theory of residues, the question of convergence, differential equations, the theo ry of functions, the elucidation of the imaginary, operations with determinants, the theory of equations, the theory of probability, the foundations of the calculus, and the applications of mathematics to physics. He was one of the first to use the imagi nary as a fundamental instead of a subsidiary quantity, was the first to use Gauss's word "determinant" in its present sense, did much to establish the modern theory of convergence, and perfected the theory of linear differential equations and the calculu s of variations.
(Smith, pp. 496-497.)