Nikolai Brashman was a student at the University of Vienna and at Vienna Polytechnic. His family was so poor that he had to make money as a private tutor to enable him to support himself through university.
He left for Russia in 1824, spending a short time in St Petersburg before accepting a post at the University of Kazan. There he taught mathematics and mechanics.
Brashman became professor of applied mathematics in Moscow in 1834. At Moscow he promoted the subject which he loved most, namely mechanics. He did this by fine teaching, writing excellent textbooks and research articles.
A T Grigorian, writing in , says:-
His texts on mathematics and mechanics reflect the state of science at that time, and his proofs of important theorems show originality, clarity and comprehensiveness. 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.
The following year his textbook on mechanics, covering statics and hydrostatics using a highly original presentation, again won him the whole of the Demidov Prize.
Brashman wrote research articles on the Principle of Least Action which are important in the development of mechanics. He tried to prove that the rotation of the Earth puts pressure on the same rail of a straight track of a railway irrespective of the direction of travel.
Another aspect of Brashman's work for which he is remembered is for his founding of the Moscow Mathematical Society. He also set up the Journal of that Society, the first part of which appeared in the year of his death.
Chebyshev and Somov were among his students.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson