mathematics

Leonid Kantorovich and the Optimal Allocation of Scarce Resources

Leonid Kantorovich and the Optimal Allocation of Scarce Resources

On January 19, 1912, Soviet mathematician and economist Leonid Vitaliyevich Kantorovich was born. Kantorovich shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Economics with Tjalling Koopmans for their work on the optimal allocation of scarce resources. Kantorovich was born in St. Peterburg, Russia, into a Russian Jewish family. His father Vitaliy Moiseevich Kantorovich, was a popular medical doctor specialising in sexually transmitted diseases, and his mother was Paulina Grigoryevna Zaks. Kantorovich was…
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…
Camille Jordan and the Cours d’Analyse.

Camille Jordan and the Cours d’Analyse.

On January 5, 1838, French mathematician Marie Ennemond Camille Jordan was born. Jordan is known both for his foundational work in group theory and for his influential Cours d’analyse. Camille Jordan was born in Lyon, France, to Esprit-Alexandre Jordan, an engineer who had been educated at the École Polytechnique, and, Joséphine Puvis de Chavannes. Jordan studied at the Lycée de Lyon and at the Collège d’Oullins. He entered the École…
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. Ramanujan was born into a Tamil Brahmin Iyengar family…
G. H. Hardy and the aesthetics of Mathematics

G. H. Hardy and the aesthetics of Mathematics

On December 1, 1947, English mathematician G. H. Hardy passed away. Hardy is known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis, but also for his 1940 essay on the aesthetics of mathematics, A Mathematician’s Apology, and for mentoring the brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. “A mathematician … has no material to work with but ideas, and so his patterns are likely to last longer, since ideas wear less…
Lewis Fry Richardson and the accurate Weather Forecast

Lewis Fry Richardson and the accurate Weather Forecast

On October 11, 1811, English mathematician, physicist, meteorologist, psychologist and pacifist Lewis Fry Richardsen was born. Richardson pioneered modern mathematical techniques of weather forecasting, and the application of similar techniques to studying the causes of wars and how to prevent them. He is also noted for his pioneering work concerning fractals and a method for solving a system of linear equations known as modified Richardson iteration. Lewis Fry Richardson attended Durham College of…
Eratosthenes and the Circumference of the Earth

Eratosthenes and the Circumference of the Earth

Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a Greek mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist. He was a man of learning, becoming the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. He invented the discipline of geography, including the terminology used today. He is best known for being the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth. The son of Aglaos, Eratosthenes was born in 276 BC in Cyrene. Now part of…
Haskell Brooks Curry and Computational Logic

Haskell Brooks Curry and Computational Logic

On September 12, 1900, American mathematician and logician Haskell Brooks Curry was born. Curry’s research in the foundations of mathematics led him to the development of combinatory logic. Later, this seminal work found significant application in computer science, especially in the design of programming languages. Curry is also known for Curry’s paradox and the Curry–Howard correspondence. There are three programming languages named after him, Haskell, Brook and Curry, as well as the…
Maurice René Fréchet and the Theory of Abstract Spaces

Maurice René Fréchet and the Theory of Abstract Spaces

On September 2, 1878, French mathematician Maurice René Fréchet was born. Fréchet is known chiefly for his contribution to real analysis. He is credited with being the founder of the theory of abstract spaces, which generalized the traditional mathematical definition of space as a locus for the comparison of figures; in Fréchet‘s terms, space is defined as a set of points and the set of relations. He also made several…
Johann Heinrich Lambert – A Swiss Polymath

Johann Heinrich Lambert – A Swiss Polymath

On August 26, 1728, Swiss polymath Johann Heinrich Lambert was born. Lambert provided the first rigorous proof that pi is irrational (i.e. it cannot be expressed as the quotient of two integers). He also was the first to introduce hyperbolic functions into trigonometry as well as the first mathematician to address the general properties of map projections. He also made significant contributions to physics, philosophy, and logic. Lambert was born in…
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