mathematics

Giuseppe Peano and the Axiomatization of Mathematics

Giuseppe Peano and the Axiomatization of Mathematics

Giuseppe Peano (1858-1932) On August 27, 1858, Italian mathematician and philosopher Giuseppe Peano was born. He is he author of over 200 books and papers, and is considered the founder of mathematical logic and set theory. The standard axiomatization of the natural numbers is named the Peano axioms in his honor. These axioms have been used nearly unchanged in a number of metamathematical investigations, including research into fundamental questions of consistency and…
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Augustin-Louis Cauchy and the Rigor of Analysis

Augustin-Louis Cauchy and the Rigor of Analysis

On August 21, 1789, French mathematician Augustin-Louis Cauchy was born. He is considered one of the greatest mathematicians during the nineteenth century. There are 16 concepts and theorems named for Cauchy, more than for any other mathematician. Cauchy was one of the most prolific mathematicians of all times. Cauchy wrote 789 papers, a quantity exceeded only by Euler and Cayley, which brought precision and rigor to mathematics. Actually, Cauchy was one of…
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William Hamilton and the Quaterions

William Hamilton and the 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) William Hamilton was born as…
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Vilfredo Pareto and the Law of the Vital Few

Vilfredo Pareto and the Law of the Vital Few

On July 15, 1848, Italian engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist and philosopher Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born. He made several important contributions to economics, particularly in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals’ choices. The Pareto principle was named after him and built on observations of his such as that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Vilfredo Pareto was well…
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John Napier and his Napier Bones

John Napier and his Napier Bones

On April 4, 1617, Scottish mathematician, physicist, astronomer and astrologer John Napier of Merchiston, the 8th Laird of Merchistoun passed away. John Napier is best known as the discoverer of logarithms. He was also the inventor of the so-called “Napier’s bones“, a kind of abacus for calculation of products and quotients of numbers. Napier also made common the use of the decimal point in arithmetic and mathematics. John Napier grew up in…
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Joseph Fourier and the Greenhouse Effect

Joseph Fourier and the Greenhouse Effect

On March 21, 1768, French mathematician and physicist Jean Baptiste Joseph du Fourier was born. He is probably best known for his work in thermodynamics, where he introduced the concept of the Fourier Analysis, named in honor after him. There, he claimed that every mathematical function of a variable can be expanded to a sum of sines of multiples of that variable. What people most likely don’t know is that Fourier also was the…
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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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David Hilbert’s 23 Problems

David Hilbert’s 23 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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