Charles-FranÃÂ§ois Sturm's father was Jean-Henri Sturm whose family came from Strasbourg to settle in Geneva about 50 years before Charles-FranÃÂ§ois's birth. Jean-Henri Sturm was a teacher of arithmetic who had married Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Gremay. Charles-FranÃÂ§ois's parents gave him a good education and at school he showed great promise, particularly in Greek and Latin poetry for which he had a remarkable talent.
Sturm came from a Protestant family and, in order to learn German, he attended the local Lutheran church where sermons were preached in that language. When Sturm was sixteen years old his father died and he changed tack in his academic studies, leaving the humanities and taking up the study of mathematics. He was taught mathematics at Geneva Academy by Simon Lhuilier in 1821 and immediately Lhuilier recognised the mathematical genius in Sturm. However, Lhuilier was over seventy years of age and close to retiring at this time so it was his successor Jean-Jacques Schaub who inspired Sturm.
Schaub did more than teach Sturm mathematics for he supported him financially at the Academy. Sturm's family had been left in considerable financial difficulties on the death of his father so the financial assistance allowed Sturm to continue with his education.
At the Academy Sturm's best friend was Daniel Colladon and the friendship would have a marked influence on Sturm's early research career. After leaving the Academy, Sturm was appointed as a tutor to the youngest son of Mme de StaÃÂ«l at the ChÃÂ¢teaux de Coppet close to Geneva. He took up his appointment in May 1823 and found that it left him plenty of free time to devote to his own studies. He used his time well and began to write articles on geometry which were published in Gergonne's Annales de mathÃÂ©matique pures et appliquÃÂ©es. Before the end of 1823 the...