mathematics

Alfred Tarski and the Undefinability of Truth

Alfred Tarski and the Undefinability of Truth

On January 14, 1902, Polish-American mathematician and logician Alfred Tarski was born. A prolific author he is best known for his work on model theory, metamathematics, and algebraic logic, he also contributed to abstract algebra, topology, geometry, measure theory, mathematical logic, set theory, and analytic philosophy. For my Semantic Web Technologies lecture series I always introduce my students to model-theoretic semantics as means to enable a formal representation of meaning for languages. I…
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Agner Erlang and the Mathematics of Telecommunication Traffic

Agner Erlang and the Mathematics of Telecommunication Traffic

On January 1, 1878, Danish mathematician, statistician and engineer Agner Krarup Erlang was born, who invented the fields of traffic engineering and queueing theory. He developed mathematical theories applying the theory of probability, while working for the Copenhagen Telephone Company. He provided significant insights for planning the operation of automatic telephone exchanges that proved so useful that his formulas were used by telephone companies in other countries. Agner Erlang – Youth and Education…
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A great man whose only fault was being a woman – Émilie du Châtelet

A great man whose only fault was being a woman – Émilie du Châtelet

On December 17, 1706, French mathematician, physicist, and author Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet was born. Her major achievement is considered to be her translation and commentary on Isaac Newton‘s work Principia Mathematica, which still is the standard French translation of Newton‘s work today. Philosopher and author Voltaire, one of her lovers, once declared in a letter to his friend King Frederick II of Prussia that du Châtelet…
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Hypatia – the first Woman in Mathematics

Hypatia – the first Woman in Mathematics

The Neoplatonian philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria, Egypt, was the first well-documented woman in mathematics. Her actual date of birth is unknown, although considered somewhen between 350 and 370 AD. She was the head of the Platonist school at Alexandria and additionally taught philosophy and astronomy. Hypatia’s Early Life There is little news about Hypatia’s life and work. Hypatia’s father was the astronomer and mathematician Theon of Alexandria, the last scientist known by…
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George Boole – The Founder of Modern Logics

George Boole – The Founder of Modern Logics

On December 8, 1864, British mathematician and logician George Boole passed away. He is best known as the inventor of the prototype of what is now called Boolean logic, which became the basis of the modern digital computer. Thus, Boole also is regarded as one of the founders of the field of computer science. “It appeared to me that, although Logic might be viewed with reference to the idea of quantity, it…
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August Ferdinand Möbius and the Beauty of Geometry

August Ferdinand Möbius and the Beauty of Geometry

On November 17, 1790, German mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Möbius was born. He is best known for his discovery of the Möbius strip, a non-orientable two-dimensional surface with only one side when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space. August Ferdinand Möbius – Family Background and Education August Möbius’ father Johann Heinrich Möbius was a dance teacher in Schulpforta, near Naumburg on the Saale River in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. He died…
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Leibniz and the Integral Calculus

Leibniz and the Integral Calculus

On November 11, 1675, German mathematician and polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz demonstrates integral calculus for the first time to find the area under the graph of y = ƒ(x). Integral calculus is part of infinitesimal calculus, which in addition also comprises differential calculus. In general, infinitesimal calculus is the part of mathematics concerned with finding tangent lines to curves, areas under curves, minima and maxima, and other geometric and analytic problems. Today, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz…
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FORTRAN – The First Programming Language for Numeric Calculations

FORTRAN – The First Programming Language for Numeric Calculations

On October 15, 1956, the Reference Manual for the Programming Language FORTRAN – The IBM Mathematical Formula Translating System – was published. It is considered the very first high-level programming language. FORTRAN was developed at IBM under the guidance of John W. Backus to develop a more practical alternative to assembly language for programming their IBM 704 mainframe computer. FORTRAN became to dominate the area of numerical programming early on and has…
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Gerolamo Cardano and Physician, Mathematician, and Gambler

Gerolamo Cardano and Physician, Mathematician, and Gambler

On September 24, 1501, Italian Renaissance mathematician, physician, astrologer and gambler Gerolamo Cardano was born. He wrote more than 200 works on medicine, mathematics, physics, philosophy, religion, and music. But, he is best known for his gambling that led him to formulate elementary rules in probability, making him one of the founders of probability theory. “The greatest advantage in gambling lies in not playing at all.” – Gerolamo Cardano (around 1560). Liber…
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David Hilbert’s 23 Fundamental Problems

David Hilbert’s 23 Fundamental Problems

On August 8, 1900 David Hilbert, probably the greatest mathematician of his age,  gave a speech at the Paris conference of the International Congress of Mathematicians, at the Sorbonne, where he presented 10 mathematical Problems (out of a list of 23), all unsolved at the time, and several of them were very influential for 20th century mathematics. “Who of us would not be glad to lift the veil behind which the future…
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