Lev Pontryagin, an outstanding mathematician, was born in 1908 in Moscow. He started school in 1916. Be studied well, and was particularly interested in mathematics, physics and chemistry.

The tragedy occured when he was in his sixth year at school. One day when he came home from school, he went into the kitchen to get his dinner. There was some washing boiling in a tub on the primus stove. Suddenly the primus exploded, and the boiling water splashed in the boy's face.

He was taken to hospital but he got blind. When he came out of hospital, he had to learn to do everything, even to walk, again.

How could he continue his studies?

The teachers' council at his school agreed that Lev could continue his studies. It was very difficult for him but the difficulties did not break him and he developed an excellent memory, which later became phenomenal.

At first he wanted to be a musician. Then he became more and more interested in difficult mathematical problems. He could not see the mathematical signs but he remembered everything. His schoolmates helped him, they wrote down the calculations at Lev's dictation.

In the eighth year he finished the school mathematics course and began to study higher mathematics. In 1925 he left the nine-year school and in the autumn of that year entered the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the Moscow University.

Pontryagin wrote his first scientific work when he was a second-year student. At the age of 21 he graduated from the University, and within two years he had completed his post-graduate course.

At the age of 24 Pontryagin formulated the law of duality - one of the most fundamental discoveries in the most abstract sphere of mathematics, topology. On the basis of this theory Pontryagin founded a new subject - topological algebra. When he was 27, Lev Pontryagin got the degree of Doctor of Mathematics and the title of Professor. At 30 he became a Corresponding Member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

Academician Pontryagin was awarded a Lenin Prize for a series of works.