mathematics

Nicole Oresme – Polymath of the Late Middle Ages

Nicole Oresme – Polymath of the Late Middle Ages

Portrait of Nicole Oresme: Miniature from Oresme’s Traité de l’espere, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France, fonds français 565, fol. 1r. 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 or Jean Buridan — a French…
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Augustus de Morgan and Formal Logic

Augustus de Morgan and Formal Logic

Augustus de Morgan (1806-1871) 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…
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The Phantastic Worlds of M. C. Escher

The Phantastic Worlds of M. C. Escher

Hand with Reflecting Sphereby 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. M. C. Escher always glanced with his drawing abilities as a child, but also arrested attention with his otherwise poor grades. After school, he enrolled at…
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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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