Mikhail Ostrogradsky

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Mikhail Leo Ostrogradsky
Mikhail Vasilyevich Ostrogradsky
Born(1801-09-24)September 24, 1801
DiedJanuary 1, 1862(1862-01-01) (aged 60)
CitizenshipRussian Empire
Alma materUniversity of Kharkiv,
University of Paris
Known forOstrogradsky instability,
Divergence theorem
Scientific career

Mikhail Vasilyevich Ostrogradsky (transcribed also Ostrogradskiy, Ostrogradskiĭ) (Russian: Михаил Васильевич Остроградский, Ukrainian: Михайло Васильович Остроградський, September 24, 1801 – January 1, 1862) was a Russian[1][2] mathematician, mechanician and physicist. Ostrogradsky was a student of Timofei Osipovsky and is considered to be a disciple of Leonhard Euler and one of the leading mathematicians of Imperial Russia.


Ostrogradsky was born on September 24, 1801 in the village of Pashenivka (at the time in the Poltava Governorate, Russian Empire, today in Poltava Oblast, Ukraine). From 1816 to 1820, he studied under Timofei Osipovsky (1765–1832) and graduated from the University of Kharkiv. When Osipovsky was suspended on religious grounds in 1820, Ostrogradsky refused to be examined and he never received his Ph.D. degree. From 1822 to 1826, he studied at the Sorbonne and at the Collège de France in Paris, France. In 1828, he returned to the Russian Empire and settled in Saint Petersburg, where he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences. He also became a professor of the Main military engineering School of the Russian Empire.

Ostrogradsky died in Poltava in 1862, aged 60. The Kremenchuk Mykhailo Ostrohradskyi National University in Kremenchuk, Poltava oblast, as well as Ostrogradsky street in Poltava, are named after him.


A 2 hryvna commemorative coin minted by the National Bank of Ukraine in 2001.
Commemorative plaque in Poltava, Ukraine on the last house where Ostrogradsky resided.

He worked mainly in the mathematical fields of calculus of variations, integration of algebraic functions, number theory, algebra, geometry, probability theory and in the fields of applied mathematics, mathematical physics and classical mechanics. In the latter, his key contributions are in the motion of an elastic body and the development of methods for integration of the equations of dynamics and fluid power, following up on the works of Euler, Joseph Louis Lagrange, Siméon Denis Poisson and Augustin Louis Cauchy.

In Russia, his work in these fields was continued by Nikolay Dmitrievich Brashman (1796–1866), August Yulevich Davidov (1823–1885) and especially by Nikolai Yegorovich Zhukovsky (1847–1921).

Ostrogradsky's grave in the village of Pashenivka, Ukraine, where he was born.

Ostrogradsky did not appreciate the work on non-Euclidean geometry of Nikolai Lobachevsky from 1823 and he rejected it, when it was submitted for publication in the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

Divergence theorem[edit]

In 1826, Ostrogradsky gave the first general proof of the divergence theorem, which was discovered by Lagrange in 1762.[3]

Ostrogradsky's equation[edit]


Ostrogradsky's integration method[edit]

His method for integrating rational functions[4] is well known. First, we separate the rational part of the integral of a fractional rational function, the sum of the rational part (algebraic fraction) and the transcendental part (with the logarithm and the arctangent). Second, we determine the rational part without integrating it and we assign a given integral in Ostrogradsky's form:

where are known polynomials of degrees p, s, y respectively, is a known polynomial of degree not greater than , and are unknown polynomials of degrees not greater than and respectively.

Third, is the greatest common divisor of and . Fourth, the denominator of the remaining integral can be calculated from the equation .

Ostrogradsky instability[edit]

The Ostrogradsky instability can explain why derivatives higher than two do not seem to appear in physical systems.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Albert Parry (1973). The Russian scientist. Macmillan. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-025-94820-4.
  2. ^ James Stewart (2005). Multivariable Calculus: Concepts and Contexts. Thomson Brooks/Cole. p. 966. ISBN 978-0-534-41002-5.
  3. ^ For references, see Divergence theorem#History.
  4. ^ Ostrogradsky 1845a and Ostrogradsky 1845b.


  • Ostrogradsky, M. (1845a), "De l'intégration des fractions rationnelles", Bulletin de la classe physico-mathématique de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de Saint-Pétersbourg, 4: 145–167.
  • Ostrogradsky, M. (1845b), "De l'intégration des fractions rationnelles (fin)", Bulletin de la classe physico-mathématique de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de Saint-Pétersbourg, 4: 286–300.
  • Woodard, R.P. (9 August 2015). "The Theorem of Ostrogradsky". arXiv:1506.02210 [hep-th].

External links[edit]