Christiaan Huygens was an illustrious figure in the field of mathematics during the seventeenth century. He was also an eminent Dutch scientist, physicist and astronomer. Moreover, he explored the wonders of space by making telescopic studies of the rings of Saturn. Besides, he made a colossal discovery of the moon named Titan. He is accredited for inventing pendulum clock and making observations on timekeeping. He made contribution to the studies of optics and mechanics by publishing works on these subjects.
Christiaan Huygens was born on 14 April 1629 in The Hague, Dutch Republic into an affluent and influential family. He was named after his paternal grandfather and hold the second number among the five siblings. His father was Constantijn Huygens was a poet, who wrote a famous book-long poem for his wife Suzanna van Baerle. She died when Christiaan was only eight years old. His father was a diplomat and an advisor to the House of Orange who knew many a great mathematicians. Christiaan was home-schooled until he turned sixteen. His home education was liberal where he learnt several languages, history, music, geography, rhetoric and mathematics along with some physical education.
A renowned Dutch mathematician of that time, Jan Jansz de Jonge Stampioen, taught him mathematics and made him read books on the subject. His extraordinary mathematical and geometrical skills left Descartes impressed. Upon completion of his liberal studies at home, his father sent him to the University of Leiden to study mathematics and law. Upon the advice of Descartes, Van Schooten replaced Stampioen as his mathematics tutor. Christiaan later studied at the newly founded College of Orange, in Breda and completed his studies in 1649.
Upon completion of his studies Christiaan did a stint as a diplomat as his father wished but later when he was removed from power and political influence, he didn’t persuade him. The medium of Christiaan’s writing was Latin and French. Mersenne praised his work to his father and compared him to Archimedes. Christiaan took his time to work and then publish his discoveries. Some of his earlier works include Theoremata de quadrature which was published in 1651. He preferred the method dictated by Archimedes and Fermat. From theoretical point of view, he studied spherical lenses to comprehend the working of telescope. In 1662, he invented a telescope ocular called the Huygenian eyepiece. Moreover, he wrote the first treatise “On Reasoning in Games of Chance” which deals with the games of chance.
In the field of astronomy, he also made use of mathematics when he observed the planet Mercury transit over the Sun. He met the young diplomat Gottfried Leibniz was working on a calculating machine. Later on Christiaan ended up tutoring the young aspiring mathematician. He taught him analytical geometry and while teaching Christiaan, he was not willing to accept the importance of infinitesimal calculus. He suffered a serious depressive illness afterwards which led him to his moving back to The Hague, in 1681. In the following years he wrote a treatise on tubeless aerial telescope, Astroscopia Compendiaria. He met Issac Newton in 1689 and discussed Iceland spar with him. The acoustical phenomenon called flanging was observed by him. He remained unmarried till the end of his life. He passed away on 8 July 1695, in The Hague and was buried at Grote Kerk.