mathematics

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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Nicole Oresme – Polymath of the Late Middle Ages

Nicole Oresme – Polymath of the Late Middle Ages

On July 11, 1382, significant philosopher of the later Middle Ages Nicole Oresme passed away. As for many historic people of the middle ages, his actual birthdate is unknown and can only be fixed to a period between 1325 and 1330. Nicole Oresme besides William of Ockham [7] or Jean Buridan — a French priest who sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe [6] — is considered as one of the most…
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Augustus de Morgan and Formal Logic

Augustus de Morgan and Formal Logic

On June 27, 1806, British mathematician and logician Augustus De Morgan was born. He formulated De Morgan‘s laws and introduced the term mathematical induction, a method of mathematical proof typically used to establish a given statement for all natural numbers. As a computer scientist, I am of course familiar with De Morgan‘s laws, which are fundamental for Boolean logic. De Morgan‘s laws are merely transformation rules for two of the basic operators…
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The Phantastic Worlds of M. C. Escher

The Phantastic Worlds of M. C. Escher

On June 17, 1898, Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, better known as M. C. Escher, was born. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints, which feature impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations. “The ideas that are basic to [my work] often bear witness to my amazement and wonder at the laws of nature which operate in the world around us. He who wonders discovers…
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The Beautiful Mind of John Forbes Nash

The Beautiful Mind of John Forbes Nash

On June 13, 1928, American mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. was born. Nash made fundamental contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of partial differential equations. His work has provided insight into the factors that govern chance and decision-making inside complex systems found in everyday life. John Nash is the only person to be awarded both the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the Abel Prize. “You don’t have…
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Please Don’t Ignite the Earth’s Atmosphere…

Please Don’t Ignite the Earth’s Atmosphere…

When in 1952 the world‘s first thermonuclear fusion bomb was ignited, mathematicians and physicists thought it would be rather unlikely that testing the newly developed device might result in burning all the nitrogen in the earth‘s atmosphere. However, the possibility could not be excluded completely. Nevertheless, they have have tested the bomb and fortunately for all of us not the like did happen. One of the key persons behind the development of…
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Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

On April 30, 1777, German mathematician and physical scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss was born. He contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics. He is often referred to as Princeps mathematicorum (Latin, “the Prince of Mathematicians”) as well as “greatest mathematician since antiquity”. “Mathematics is the Queen of Science, and Arithmetic is the Queen of Mathematics” – handed down in Wolfgang Sartorius…
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