mathematics

Kurt Gödel Shaking the Very Foundations of Mathematics

Kurt Gödel Shaking the Very Foundations of Mathematics

On April 28, 1906, Kurt Gödel was born. He was one of the most significant logicians of all time. Gödel made an immense impact upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when many, such as Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead and David Hilbert, were pioneering the use of logic and set theory to understand the foundations of mathematics. “Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human…
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Kolmogorov and the Foundations of Probability Theory

Kolmogorov and the Foundations of Probability Theory

On April 25, 1903, Soviet mathematician Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov was born. He was one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century, who advanced various scientific fields, among them probability theory, topology, intuitionistic logic, turbulence, classical mechanics, algorithmic information theory and computational complexity. “The epistemological value of probability theory is based on the fact that chance phenomena, considered collectively and on a grand scale, create non-random regularity.” Andrey Kolmogorov, Limit Distributions for…
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The Important Theorem of Thomas Bayes

The Important Theorem of Thomas Bayes

On April 17, 1761, English mathematician and Presbyterian minister Thomas Bayes passed away. He is best known as name giver of the Bayes’ theorem, of which he had developed a special case. It expresses (in the Bayesian interpretation) how a subjective degree of belief should rationally change to account for evidence, and finds application in in fields including science, engineering, economics (particularly microeconomics), game theory, medicine and law. Thomas Bayes was born into…
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Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the Celestial Mechanics

Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the Celestial Mechanics

On April 10, 1813, Italian mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange passed away. Lagrange made significant contributions to the fields of analysis, number theory, and both classical and celestial mechanics. Lagrange was born on January 25, 1736 as Giuseppe Ludovico Lagrangia in Turin, previously capital of the duchy of Savoy, but became the capital of the kingdom of Sardinia in 1720. His father was Giuseppe Francesco Lodovico Lagrangia, Treasurer of the Office of…
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Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology

Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology

On April 8, 1859, German philosopher and mathematician Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl was born. He is best know as the founder of the 20th century philosophical school of phenomenology, where he broke with the positivist orientation of the science and philosophy of his day, yet he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic. “First, anyone who seriously intends to become a philosopher must “once in his life” withdraw into himself…
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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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