mathematics

The Short but Influential Life of Niels Henrik Abel

The Short but Influential Life of Niels Henrik Abel

On April 6, 1829, Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel passed away. Abel is well known in mathematics for proving the impossibility of solving the quintic equation by radicals. In parallel to Évariste Galois – who also died very young – , he laid the foundations of group theory.[8] Nils Henrik Abel was born into a family of educated people. His father, for instance earned himself a degree in theology and philosophy and…
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Cogito Ergo Sum – The Philosophy of René Descartes

Cogito Ergo Sum – The Philosophy of René Descartes

On March 31, 1596, French philosopher, mathematician, and writer René Descartes was born. The Cartesian coordinate system is named after him, allowing reference to a point in space as a set of numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis.…
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Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

On March 28, 1749, French mathematician and astronomer Pierre Simon marquis de Laplace was born, whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. One of his major achievements was the conclusion of the five-volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) which translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. Pierre Simon Laplace, the son of a cider merchant was…
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Emmy Noether and the Love for Mathematics

Emmy Noether and the Love for Mathematics

On April 23, 1882, German mathematician and physicist Emmy Noether was born, who is best known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. Albert Einstein called her the most important woman in the history of mathematics, as she revolutionized the theories of rings, fields, and algebras. “My methods are really methods of working and thinking; this is why they have crept in everywhere anonymously.” Letter to Helmut Hasse (1931)…
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Georg Cantor and the Beauty of Infinity

Georg Cantor and the Beauty of Infinity

On March 3, 1845, German mathematician Georg Cantor, creator of the set theory was born. Set Theory is considered the fundamental theory of mathematics. He also proved that the real numbers are “more numerous” than the natural numbers, which was quite shocking for his contemporaries that there should be different numbers of infinity. “In mathematics the art of asking questions is more valuable than solving problems.” Georg Cantor, Doctoral thesis (1867) Georg Cantor…
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Karl Weierstrass – the Father of Modern Analysis

Karl Weierstrass – the Father of Modern Analysis

On February 19, 1897, German mathematician Karl Theodor Wilhelm Weierstrass passed away. Weierstrass often is cited as the “father of modern analysis“. He formalized the definition of the continuity of a function, proved the intermediate value theorem and the Bolzano–Weierstrass theorem, and used the latter to study the properties of continuous functions on closed bounded intervals. “… it is true that a mathematician who is not somewhat of a poet, will never be a…
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Lewis Carroll – Mathematician and Creator of the Wonderland

Lewis Carroll – Mathematician and Creator of the Wonderland

On January 27, 1832, British mathematician, photographer, and children’s book author Lewis Carroll, creator of the stories about ‘Alice in Wonderland’, was born. The English all round talented Carroll was first home schooled and confronted with challenging works like ‘The Pilgrim´s Progress‘ – a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan, regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature – from early years on. When being transferred to grammar…
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Arthur Cayley and the Love for Pure Mathematics

Arthur Cayley and the Love for Pure Mathematics

Arthur Cayley (1821-1895) On January 26, 1895, British mathematician Arthur Cayley passed away. He was the first to define the concept of a group in the modern way and helped to found the modern British school of pure mathematics. Arthur Cayley was born in Richmond, London, England, on 16 August 1821 to his father Henry Cayley, a descended from an ancient Yorkshire family, who settled in Saint Petersburg, Russia, as a merchant. Arthur…
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Pierre de Fermat and his Last Problem

Pierre de Fermat and his Last Problem

Pierre de Fermat On January 12, 1665, French lawyer and amateur mathematician Pierre de Fermat, famous for his research in number theory, analytical geometry and probability theory, passed away. He is best known for Fermat’s Last Theorem, which he described in a note at the margin of a copy of Diophantus’ Arithmetica.[4] Born into a wealthy French family, Pierre de Fermat grew up in Beaumont de Lomagne and later attended the University…
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Donald Knuth and the Art of Programming

Donald Knuth and the Art of Programming

Donald E. Knuth, photo: October 25, 2005 by Jacob Appelbaum On January 10, 1938, computer scientist Donald Knuth, developer of the seminal computer science textbooks ‘The Art of Computer Programming‘, was born. He is also widely known for his development of the TeX typesetting framework and the METAFONT font definition language. Actually, Donald Knuth is one of my personal heroes in computer science. The very day I started to study this subject, his…
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