mathematics

Michael Servetus and the Pulmonary Circulation

Michael Servetus and the Pulmonary Circulation

On September 29, 1509, Spanish theologian, physician, cartographer, and Renaissance humanist Michael Servetus was born. Servetus was a polymath versed in many sciences: mathematics, astronomy and meteorology, geography, human anatomy, medicine and pharmacology, as well as jurisprudence, translation, poetry and the scholarly study of the Bible in its original languages. He was probably the first European to correctly describe the function of pulmonary circulation. Michael Servetus studied law in Toulouse. In 1531, he published…
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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 modern-day Libya,…
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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 concept of…
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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 important contributions…
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John William Mauchly and the Electronic Computer

John William Mauchly and the Electronic Computer

On August 30, 1907, US-American physicist John William Mauchly was born. Along with J. Presper Eckert, Mauchly designed ENIAC, the first general purpose electronic digital computer, as well as EDVAC, BINAC and UNIVAC I, the first commercial computer made in the United States. Together they started the first computer company, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC), and pioneered fundamental computer concepts including the stored program, subroutines, and programming languages. Childhood and Education John…
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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. “We would wish to discover the…
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Ferdinand Georg Frobenius and Group Theory

Ferdinand Georg Frobenius and Group Theory

On August 3, 1917, German mathematician Ferdinand Georg Frobenius passed away. Frobenius best known for his contributions to the theory of elliptic functions, differential equations and to group theory. He is known for the famous determinantal identities, known as Frobenius–Stickelberger formulae, governing elliptic functions, and for developing the theory of biquadratic forms. He was also the first to introduce the notion of rational approximations of functions (nowadays known as Padé approximants), and…
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Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

At about 428 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist Archytas of Tarentum was born. A scientist of the Pythagorean school he is famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato. “That tho’ a Man were admitted into Heaven to view the wonderful Fabrick of the World, and the Beauty of the stars, yet what would otherwise be Rapture and Extasie,…
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Roger Cotes and Newton’s Principia Mathematica

Roger Cotes and Newton’s Principia Mathematica

On July 10, 1682, English mathematician Roger Cotes was born. Cotes is well known for working closely with Isaac Newton by proofreading the second edition of his famous book, the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,[4] before publication. He also invented the quadrature formulas known as Newton–Cotes formulas and first introduced what is known today as Euler’s formula. “If he had lived we would have known something.”, Remark of Issac Newton on the early…
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Jean-Victor Poncelet and Projective Geometry

Jean-Victor Poncelet and Projective Geometry

On July 1, 1788, French engineer and mathematician Jean-Victor Poncelet was born, whose study of the pole and polar lines associated with conic led to the principle of duality. As a mathematician, his most notable work was in projective geometry. He developed the concept of parallel lines meeting at a point at infinity and defined the circular points at infinity that are on every circle of the plane. These discoveries led to…
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