mathematics

Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

On May 26, 1667, French mathematician Abraham de Moivre was born. De Moivre is best known for de Moivre‘s formula, one of those that link complex numbers and trigonometry, and for his work on the normal distribution and probability theory. He was a friend of Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, and James Stirling. De Moivre wrote a book on probability theory, The Doctrine of Chances, said to have been prized by gamblers. He…
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George Stibitz and the Electromechanical Digital Computer

George Stibitz and the Electromechanical Digital Computer

  On April 30, 1904, U.S. mathematician George Robert Stibitz was born. Stibitz is recognized as one of the fathers of the modern first digital computer. He was a Bell Labs researcher known for his work in the 1930s and 1940s on the realization of Boolean logic digital circuits using electromechanical relays as the switching element. “Part of the charm in solving a differential equation is in the feeling that we are…
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Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

On April 8, 1461, Austrian astronomer, mathematician and instrument maker Georg von Peuerbach passed away. He is best known for his streamlined presentation of Ptolemaic Astronomy in the Theoricae Novae Planetarum, a task being finally completed by famous astronomer Johannes Müller von Königsberg, better known as Regiomontanus.[5] Georg Peurbach’s father was Ulrich Aunpekh. The name Peurbach is just derived from the town in which they lived, about 40 km west of Linz, Austria. His…
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William Brouncker’s approximation of Pi

William Brouncker’s approximation of Pi

On April 5, 1684, English mathematician William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker passed away. Brouncker introduced Brouncker‘s formula, a development of 4/π in a generalized continued fraction, and was the first President of the Royal Society. Brouncker was born in Castlelyons, County Cork, the elder son of William Brouncker, 1st Viscount Brouncker and Winifred, daughter of Sir William Leigh of Newnham. His father was created a Viscount in the Peerage of Ireland in…
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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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Stefan Banach and Modern Function Analysis

Stefan Banach and Modern Function Analysis

On March 30, 1892, Polish mathematician Stefan Banach was born. One of the founders of modern functional analysis, he is generally considered one of the world’s most important and influential 20th-century mathematicians. Some of the notable mathematical concepts that bear Banach‘s name include Banach spaces, Banach algebras, the Banach–Tarski paradox, the Hahn–Banach theorem, the Banach–Steinhaus theorem, the Banach-Mazur game, the Banach–Alaoglu theorem, and the Banach fixed-point theorem. Stefan Banach was born in…
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Nicolas de Condorcet and the Condorcet method

Nicolas de Condorcet and the Condorcet method

On March 28, 1794, French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist Nicolas de Condorcet died a mysterious death in prison after a period of flight from French Revolutionary authorities. He is probably best known for the Condorcet method, which in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he advocated a liberal economy, free and equal public instruction, constitutionalism,…
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Francois Viète and his New Algebra

Francois Viète and his New Algebra

On February 23, 1603, French mathematician François Viète passed away. Viète‘s work on a  algebra was an important step towards modern algebra, due to its innovative use of letters as parameters in equations. He was a lawyer by trade, and served as a privy councillor to both Henry III and Henry IV. Vieta was born at Fontenay-le-Comte, in western France about 50 km east of the coastal town of La Rochelle, to his father…
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John Wilkins and the Universal Language

John Wilkins and the Universal Language

On February 14, 1614, Anglican clergyman, natural philosopher and author John Wilkins was born. Wilkins was one of the founders of the Royal Society and a polymath, although not one of the most important scientific innovators of the period. He is particularly known for An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668) in which, amongst other things, he proposed a universal language and a decimal system of measures which…
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Richard Hamming and the Hamming Code

Richard Hamming and the Hamming Code

On February 11, 1915, American mathematician Richard Wesley Hamming was born. Hamming’s work had many implications for computer science and telecommunications. His contributions include the Hamming code (which makes use of a Hamming matrix), the Hamming window, Hamming numbers, sphere-packing (or Hamming bound), and the Hamming distance. “The purpose of computation is insight, not numbers.” (Richard Wesley Hamming) Youth and Education Richard Wesley Hamming was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of…
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