mathematics

Eratosthenes and the Circumference of the Earth

Eratosthenes and the Circumference of the Earth

Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a Greek mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist. He was a man of learning, becoming the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. He invented the discipline of geography, including the terminology used today. He is best known for being the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth. “Eratosthenes of Cyrene, employing mathematical theories and geometrical methods, discovered from the course of the sun the…
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Maurice René Fréchet and the Theory of Abstract Spaces

Maurice René Fréchet and the Theory of Abstract Spaces

On September 2, 1878, French mathematician Maurice René Fréchet was born. Fréchet is known chiefly for his contribution to real analysis. He is credited with being the founder of the theory of abstract spaces, which generalized the traditional mathematical definition of space as a locus for the comparison of figures; in Fréchet‘s terms, space is defined as a set of points and the set of relations. He also made several important contributions…
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Carl Runge and the Early Days of Numerical Mathematics

Carl Runge and the Early Days of Numerical Mathematics

On August 20, 1856, German mathematician, physicist, and spectroscopist Carl Runge (Carl David Tolmé Runge) was born. He was co-developer and co-eponym of the Runge–Kutta method , a single-step method for the approximate solution of initial value problems in numerical mathematics. Carl Junge – Youth and Education Carl Runge was born in Bremen, Germany, the son of the merchant Julius Runge and his wife Fanny Tolmé, who was from England. He spent…
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Ferdinand Georg Frobenius and Group Theory

Ferdinand Georg Frobenius and Group Theory

On August 3, 1917, German mathematician Ferdinand Georg Frobenius passed away. Frobenius best known for his contributions to the theory of elliptic functions, differential equations and to group theory. He is known for the famous determinantal identities, known as Frobenius–Stickelberger formulae, governing elliptic functions, and for developing the theory of biquadratic forms. He was also the first to introduce the notion of rational approximations of functions (nowadays known as Padé approximants), and…
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The Astronomical Achievements of Sir George Biddell Airy

The Astronomical Achievements of Sir George Biddell Airy

On July 27, 1801, English mathematician, astronomer, and Astronomer Royal George Biddell Airy was born. His many achievements include work on planetary orbits, measuring the mean density of the Earth, a method of solution of two-dimensional problems in solid mechanics and, in his role as Astronomer Royal, establishing Greenwich as the location of the prime meridian. “It is not simply that a clear understanding is acquired of the movements of the great bodies which we regard as the system of the…
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Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

At about 428 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist Archytas of Tarentum was born. A scientist of the Pythagorean school he is famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato. “That tho’ a Man were admitted into Heaven to view the wonderful Fabrick of the World, and the Beauty of the stars, yet what would otherwise be Rapture and Extasie,…
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Roger Cotes and Newton’s Principia Mathematica

Roger Cotes and Newton’s Principia Mathematica

On July 10, 1682, English mathematician Roger Cotes was born. Cotes is well known for working closely with Isaac Newton by proofreading the second edition of his famous book, the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,[4] before publication. He also invented the quadrature formulas known as Newton–Cotes formulas and first introduced what is known today as Euler’s formula. “If he had lived we would have known something.”, Remark of Issac Newton on the early…
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Jean-Victor Poncelet and Projective Geometry

Jean-Victor Poncelet and Projective Geometry

On July 1, 1788, French engineer and mathematician Jean-Victor Poncelet was born, whose study of the pole and polar lines associated with conic led to the principle of duality. As a mathematician, his most notable work was in projective geometry. He developed the concept of parallel lines meeting at a point at infinity and defined the circular points at infinity that are on every circle of the plane. These discoveries led to…
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Henri Léon Lebesgue and the Theory of Integration

Henri Léon Lebesgue and the Theory of Integration

On June 28, 1875, French mathematician Henri Léon Lebesgue was born. He is best known for his theory of integration, which was a generalization of the 17th century concept of integration, i.e. summing the area between an axis and the curve of a function defined for that axis. By extending the work of Camille Jordan and Émile Borel on the Riemann integral, Lebesgue provided a generalization that solved many of the difficulties…
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Oswald Veblen and Foundations of modern Topology

Oswald Veblen and Foundations of modern Topology

On June 24, 1880, American mathematician, geometer and topologist Oswald Veblen was born. Veblen‘s work found application in atomic physics and the theory of relativity. He proved the Jordan curve theorem in 1905 while this was long considered the first rigorous proof, many now also consider Jordan‘s original proof rigorous. “Mathematics is one of the essential emanations of the human spirit, a thing to be valued in and for itself, like art…
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