algebra

William Hamilton and the Invention of Quaterions

William Hamilton and the Invention of 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) At Age 13 Hamilton spoke…
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Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

On April 30, 1777, German mathematician and physical scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss was born. He contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics. He is often referred to as Princeps mathematicorum (Latin, “the Prince of Mathematicians”) as well as “greatest mathematician since antiquity”. “Mathematics is the Queen of Science, and Arithmetic is the Queen of Mathematics” – handed down in Wolfgang Sartorius…
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Only the Good Die Young – the Very Short Life of Évariste Galois

Only the Good Die Young – the Very Short Life of Évariste Galois

On June 1st, 1832, French mathematician Évariste Galois was killed in a duel. He was only 20 years of age. He left an elaborate manuscript three years earlier, in which he established that an algebraic equation is solvable by radicals, if and only if the group of permutations of its roots has a certain structure, thereby solving a problem standing for 350 years. But why did he have to die so young? Just because…
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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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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 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known under his pen name Lewis Carroll, creator of the stories about ‘Alice in Wonderland‘, was born. With his ability for pun, logic and fantasy he managed to captivate a wide audience. His works, known as nonsense literature, have remained popular to this day and have influenced not only children’s literature, but also writers such as James Joyce, surrealists…
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Arthur Cayley and his Love for Pure Mathematics

Arthur Cayley and his Love for Pure Mathematics

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. “As for everything else, so for a mathematical theory: beauty can be perceived but not explained. “ — Arthur Cayley, President’s address (1883) to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in [13] A Mathematical Genius…
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Sophus Lie and the Theory of Continuous Symmetry

Sophus Lie and the Theory of Continuous Symmetry

On December 17, 1842, Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie was born. Lie largely created the theory of continuous symmetry and applied it to the study of geometry and differential equations. He made significant contributions to the theories of algebraic invariants, continuous groups of transformations and differential equations. Lie groups and Lie algebras are named after him. Early Years Marius Sophus Lie was born in Nordfjordeid, near Bergen, Norway, to his father Johann Lie,…
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Emil Artin and Algebraic Number Theory

Emil Artin and Algebraic Number Theory

On March 3, 1898, Austrian mathematician Emil Artin was born. Artin was one of the leading mathematicians of the twentieth century. He is best known for his work on algebraic number theory, contributing largely to class field theory and a new construction of L-functions. He also contributed to the pure theories of rings, groups and fields. Early Years Emil Artin was born in Vienna to parents Emma Maria Artin, a soubrette on…
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John Pell and the Obelus

John Pell and the Obelus

On March 1, 1611, English mathematician John Pell was born. Pell introduced the division sign (obelus, ÷) into England. The obelus was first used by Johann Rahn (1622-1676) in 1659 in Teutsche Algebra. Rahn’s book was interpreted into English and published, with additions made by John Pell. Early Years Pell was born in Southwick in Sussex, where his father of the same name, John Pell, was pastor and rector; his mother was Mary…
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Diophantos of Alexandria – the father of Algebra

Diophantos of Alexandria – the father of Algebra

Probably sometime between AD 201 and 215, Alexandrian Greek mathematician Diophantos of Alexandria was born. He is often referred to as the father of algebra. He is the author of a series of books called Arithmetica, many of which are now lost, which deal with solving algebraic equations. Diophantus was the first Greek mathematician who recognized fractions as numbers; thus he allowed positive rational numbers for the coefficients and solutions. The name…
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