mathematics

Sofia Kovalevskaya – Mathematician and Writer

Sofia Kovalevskaya – Mathematician and Writer

On January 15, 1850, Russian mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya was born. Kovalevskaya was responsible for important original contributions to analysis, partial differential equations and mechanics, and the first woman appointed to a full professorship in Northern Europe. “Say what you know, do what you must, come what may.” — Sofia Kovaleveskaya, Motto on her paper “On the Problem of the Rotation of a Solid Body about a Fixed Point.” (1886) Sofia Kovalevskaya – Early…
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John von Neumann – Game Theory and the Digital Computer

John von Neumann – Game Theory and the Digital Computer

On December 28, 1903, Hungarian and American pure and applied mathematician, physicist, inventor and polymath John von Neumann was born. He made major contributions to a number of fields including mathematics, physics, economics, computing, and statistics. He was a key figure in the development of game theory, the concepts of cellular automata, and the digital computer. He is definitely one of the candidates to write several biographical articles of, each with a…
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Charles Hermite’s admiration for simple beauty in Mathematics

Charles Hermite’s admiration for simple beauty in Mathematics

On December 24, 1821, French mathematician Charles Hermite was born. He was the first to prove that e, the base of natural logarithms, is a transcendental number. Furthermore, he is famous for his work in the theory of functions including the application of elliptic functions and his provision of the first solution to the general equation of the fifth degree, the quintic equation. “There exists, if I am not mistaken, an entire…
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Jan Łukasiewicz – Multivalued Logic and Polish Notation

Jan Łukasiewicz – Multivalued Logic and Polish Notation

On December 21, 1878, Polish logician and philosopher Jan Łukasiewicz was born. His work centered on philosophical logic, mathematical logic, and history of logic. However, he is best known for Polish notation and Łukasiewicz logic. Jan Łukasiewicz – Youth and Education Łukasiewicz grew up in Lwów and was the only child of Paweł Łukasiewicz, a captain in the Austrian army, and Leopoldina, née Holtzer, the daughter of a civil servant. He finished his gymnasium studies…
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Janos Bolyai and the Discovery of Non-Euclidian Geometry

Janos Bolyai and the Discovery of Non-Euclidian Geometry

On December 15, 1802, Hungarian mathematician János Bolyai was born. He is most famous for being one of the founders of non-euclidian geometry, a geometry that differs from Euclidean geometry in its definition of parallel lines. János Bolyai – Background Bolyai was born in the Transylvanian town of Kolozsvár (Klausenburg), then part of the Habsburg Empire (now Cluj-Napoca in Romania), the son of Zsuzsanna Benkő and the well-known mathematician Farkas Bolyai. Farkas…
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Carl Jacobi and the Elliptic Functions

On December 10, 1804, German mathematician Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi was born. He made fundamental contributions to elliptic functions, dynamics, differential equations, and number theory. “Any progress in the theory of partial differential equations must also bring about a progress in Mechanics.” – Carl Jacobi, Vorlesungen über Dynamik [Lectures on Dynamics] (1842/3) Carl Jacobi – A Child Prodigy Carl Jacobi was the son of a banker and grew up in a rather…
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God made the integers, all the rest is the work of man – Leopold Kronecker

God made the integers, all the rest is the work of man – Leopold Kronecker

On December 7, 1823, German mathematician Leopold Kronecker was born, who worked on number theory and algebra. He criticized Cantor’s work on set theory, and his most cited quote says, “Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk” (traditionally rendered: “God made natural numbers; all else is the work of man“.) Leopold Kronecker – Early Life Leopold Kronecker was born in Liegnitz, Prussia (now Legnica, Poland) in a wealthy Jewish…
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Gerardus Mercator – The Man who Mapped the Planet

Gerardus Mercator – The Man who Mapped the Planet

On December 2, 1594, German cartographer, philosopher and mathematician Gerardus Mercator passed away. He is best known for his work in cartography, particular the world map of 1569 based on a new projection which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines. He was the first to use the term Atlas for a collection of maps. “Since my youth geography has been for me the primary object of study. When I…
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Norbert Wiener and the Science of Cybernetics

Norbert Wiener and the Science of Cybernetics

On November 26, 1894, American mathematician Norbert Wiener was born. Wiener established the science of cybernetics, a term he coined, which is concerned with the common factors of control and communication in living organisms, automatic machines, and organizations. He attained international renown by formulating some of the most important contributions to mathematics in the 20th century. “Scientific discovery consists in the interpretation for our own convenience of a system of existence which has…
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Eugenio Beltrami and the Consistency of Non-Euclidian Geometry

Eugenio Beltrami and the Consistency of Non-Euclidian Geometry

On November 16, 1835, Italian mathematician Eugenio Beltrami was born. He is most notable for his work concerning differential geometry and mathematical physics. His work was noted especially for clarity of exposition. He was the first to prove consistency of non-Euclidean geometry by modeling it on a surface of constant curvature, the pseudosphere. “Students should learn to study at an early stage the great works of the great masters instead of making their minds sterile through…
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