mathematics

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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William Hamilton and the Invention of Quaterions

William Hamilton and the Invention of Quaterions

On August 4, 1805, Irish physicist, astronomer, and mathematician William Rowan Hamilton was born. He made important contributions to classical mechanics, optics, and algebra, but is perhaps best known as the inventor of quaternions, a number system that extends the complex numbers. ‘This young man, I do not say will be, but is, the first mathematician of his age.’ (Astronomer Bishop Dr. John Brinkley about 18-year-old Hamilton) At Age 13 Hamilton spoke…
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Every Set can be Well Ordered – Ernst Zermelo

Every Set can be Well Ordered – Ernst Zermelo

On July 27, 1871, German logician and mathematician Ernst Zermelo was born. Zermelo’s work had major implications for the foundations of mathematics. He is known for his role in developing Zermelo–Fraenkel axiomatic set theory and his proof of the well-ordering theorem. “…self-evidence … must not be confused with … provability.” – Ernst Zermelo The Son of a Grammar School Professor Zermelo was the son of a grammar school professor and attended the…
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John Dee and his World of Science and Magic

John Dee and his World of Science and Magic

On July 13, 1527, Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee was born. He is considered one of the most learned men of his age. Besides being an ardent promoter of mathematics and a respected astronomer, in his later years he immersed himself in the worlds of magic, astrology and Hermetic philosophy. One of his aims was attempting to commune with angels in order to…
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