mathematics

Alexis Claude Clairaut and the True Figure of the Earth

Alexis Claude Clairaut and the True Figure of the Earth

On May 13, 1713, French mathematician, astronomer, and geophysicist Alexis Claude Clairaut was born. Clairaut was one of the key figures in the expedition to Lapland that helped to confirm Newton’s theory for the figure of the Earth.[3] In that context, Clairaut worked out a mathematical result now known as “Clairaut’s theorem“. He also tackled the gravitational three-body problem, being the first to obtain a satisfactory result for the apsidal precession of…
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The Instruments of Jean-Charles de Borda

The Instruments of Jean-Charles de Borda

On May 4, 1733, French mathematician, physicist, political scientist, and sailor Jean-Charles de Borda was born. De Borda is noted for his studies of fluid mechanics and his development of instruments for navigation and geodesy, the study of the size and shape of the Earth. He is one of 72 scientists commemorated by plaques on the Eiffel tower. From Latin and Greek to Mathematics and Physics Jean-Charles de Borda grew up in Dax, France,…
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Jerzy Neyman – Architect of Modern Theoretical Statistics

Jerzy Neyman – Architect of Modern Theoretical Statistics

On April 16, 1894, Polish mathematician and statistician Jerzy Neyman was born. Neyman was one of the principal architects of modern theoretical statistics. He first introduced the modern concept of a confidence interval into statistical hypothesis testing and co-devised null hypothesis testing in collaboration with Egon Pearson. “Statistics is the servant to all sciences.”, Jerzy Neyman Youth and Education Jerzy Neyman was born into a Polish family in Bendery, in the Bessarabia…
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Edward Kasner and how Google got its Name

Edward Kasner and how Google got its Name

On April 2, 1878, American mathematician Edward Kasner was born. Kasner is best remembered for introducing the term “googol” for a very large number, which you might probably already know, at least if you know the story how the search engine “Google” got its name. Moreover, he is known also for the Kasner metric and the Kasner polygon. Edward Kasner – Early Life Edward Kasner was born among eight siblings in New…
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Karl Pearson and Mathematical Statistics

Karl Pearson and Mathematical Statistics

On March 27, 1857, English mathematician and biostatistician Karl Pearson was born. Pearson has been credited with establishing the discipline of mathematical statistics. He founded the world’s first university statistics department at University College London in 1911, and contributed significantly to the field of biometrics, meteorology, theories of social Darwinism and eugenics. “It was Karl Pearson, a man with an unquenchable ambition for scholarly recognition and the kind of drive and determination that…
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George David Birkhoff and the Ergodic Theorem

George David Birkhoff and the Ergodic Theorem

On March 21, 1884, American mathematician George David Birkhoff was born. Birkhoff is best known for what is now called the ergodic theorem. Birkhoff was one of the most important leaders in American mathematics in his generation, and during his time he was considered by many to be the preeminent American mathematician. “The transcendent importance of love and good-will in all human relationships is shown by their mighty beneficent effect upon the…
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August Leopold Crelle and his Journal

August Leopold Crelle and his Journal

On March 11, 1780, German mathematician and civil engineer August Leopold Crelle was born. Crelle is best known for being the founder of Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik (also known as Crelle’s Journal). He also worked on the construction and planning of roads and the first railway in Germany, which was completed in 1838. “The real purpose of mathematics is to be the means to illuminate reason and to exercise spiritual…
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John Pell and the Obelus

John Pell and the Obelus

On March 1, 1611, English mathematician John Pell was born. Pell introduced the division sign (obelus, ÷) into England. The obelus was first used by Johann Rahn (1622-1676) in 1659 in Teutsche Algebra. Rahn’s book was interpreted into English and published, with additions made by John Pell. John Pell – Early Years Pell was born in Southwick in Sussex, where his father of the same name, John Pell, was pastor and rector; his…
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Émile Borel and the Infinite Monkey Problem

Émile Borel and the Infinite Monkey Problem

On January 7, 1871, French mathematician Félix Édouard Justin Émile Borel was born. Borel is known for his founding work in the areas of measure theory and probability. In one of his books on probability, he proposed the thought experiment that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard will – with absolute certainty – eventually type every book in France’s Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library). This is now…
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The Short Life of Srinivasa Ramanujan

The Short Life of Srinivasa Ramanujan

On December 22, 1887, Indian mathematician and autodidact Srinivasa Ramanujan was born. Though he had almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made major contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. Supported by English mathematician G. H. Hardy from Cambridge, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3,900 results during his short life, which all have been proven correct. “Sir, an equation has no meaning for me unless it expresses…
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