Questions tagged [biographical-details]

For questions about the details of a particular scientist's life.

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How did Yao came up with his minimum spanning tree algorithm?

I recently stumbled upon this text about Yao's algorithm for the minimum spanning tree (MST) and I was wondering if there are some preceding algorithms (other than Sollin's algorithm) that were ...
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Did Kolmogorov complexity influence the development of communication complexity?

I was reading a wikipedia article about communication complexity and it seems to me that it bears some resemblance to Kolmogorov complexity. Was the founder of communication complexity influenced by ...
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What are the direct predecessors of Lagrange's theory of quadratic forms?

I was reading Stillwell's Mathematics and its History, where Lagrange's theory of quadratic forms is synoptically presented, and I was wondering of what are the direct predecessors of the theory. ...
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Did Rydberg ever learn of Bohr's quantum-mechanical explanation of his formula?

The Rydberg formula on the wavelengths of a spectral line in chemical elements was first stated empirically in 1888 by Johannes Rydberg. A theoretical explanation of the formula wouldn't arive until ...
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Did John Von Neumann hate pure mathematics that became too abstract?

John Von Neumann says this in his essay The Mathematician.: "As a mathematical discipline travels far from its empirical source, or still more, if it is a second and third generation only ...
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What was the content of Sakharov's research into cosmic rays?

According to Wikipedia, Sakharov in his early scientific career investigated cosmic rays. It offers no other details. It claims that it was for this work that he was awarded his doctorate. However ...
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Do you know about this anecdote or its source where the mother reads out the letter to Gauss and made him Gauss, the mathematician?

I remember my brother telling me an anecdote about Carl F. Gauss three-four years ago, I want to know if anybody here also know about it, or can provide the source of it. The anecdote goes like this ...
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235 views

Who is considered the greatest mathematician between the years 400 AD and 1300 AD? [closed]

Some mathematicians are considered the "greatest of their era". For instance, Archimedes is generally considered the greatest mathematician of Antiquity. Is there any mathematician who stood out ...
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What was Legendre's opinion of Lagrange?

Are there any references to Lagrange's character or abilities in Legendre's work or letters?
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Was Joseph Priestley “isolated”

Joseph Priestley is often said to have discovered Oxygen, or not due to calling it Dephlogisticated air - depending on one's preference. However, regardless of this, it is often said in popular ...
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What was Gauss' opinion of Lagrange,Laplace and Euler?

Do we have anything of what Gauss thought of these people from his works or anecdotes ?
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Is there any paper on how Viete may have came up with his algebraic notation?

Is there any indication that Viete read Bombelli or Stifel before he discovered his algebraic notation?
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What actions and communications did Fibonacci undergo to introduce the Hindu-Arabic Number System to Europe?

Fibonacci is credited with the introduction of Arabic arithmetic to Europe. Did he tried hard to share this knowledge with other mathematicians? With whom? How did they react?
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Did Lagrange make any noteworthy contribution to the philosophy of mathematics?

I saw a post here about Gauss' contribution to the philosophy of mathematics and I was wondering if Lagrange also made any known contribution to philosophy (of math).
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When did the study of the rate of convergence of algorithms begin?

I was reading a book about computational complexity theory and the author made a claim that the study of time complexity of algorithms started with a result on the upper bound on the number of ...
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Who is this Mathematician from 17th century or earlier?. Possibly the 18th century, but before calculus had spread?

I'm looking for a mathematician from this time period, 17th century or earlier, its probably at a period where trigonometry was the most advanced math that existed. I'm not sure of the exact quote ...
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When did the concept of probability density explicitly appear in mathematics?

I was reading the wikipedia article about the normal distribution and it's attribution by some historians of science to De Moivre(althought he lacked the concept of the probability density function) ...
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Did Heisenberg ever accept Schrödinger's formulation of quantum mechanics, or at least did he relax his negative views about it?

Both Heisenberg and Schrödinger found each other's way of formulating Quantum Mechanics quite repellent. My question is: Did any of the two change their views towards each other (specially Heisenberg)...
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Portrait of Stephen Butterworth

Does anybody know of a portrait of Stephen Butterworth (1885 - 1958), a British physicist?
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Question about Hermite's 1858 solution to the quintic equation using elliptic modular functions and it's relation to Gauss' and Jacobi's work

The general quintic equation cannot be solved by radicals and is shown in a landmark and far reaching work of Galois from 1832, which became a template of modern Group theory and Galois theory. ...
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Lawrence and Segre: Further information about relationship

There is a oft-repeated story (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emilio_Segr%C3%A8) about Lawrence, upon discovering that Segre was legally trapped in the USA, unable to return to Italy due to fascist ...
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How did Cramer's work on permutations influence early pre-group theory (particularly the work of Lagrange and Vandermonde)?

In his Réflexions paper, Lagrange is using one of Cramer's results on the Elimination Theory for the proof of a theorem. It seems that Cramer did some early work on the permutations of variables in ...
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211 views

Does the word “God” appear regularly in the works of Joseph Lagrange?

In the Religious opinions section of the Wikipedia article on Laplace, there is an excerpt from Antommarchi's "The Last Moments of Napoleon", in which it is written that the name of God appeared ...
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Was Tesla the only scientist whose possessions were confiscated by secret services?

Tesla, especially later in his life was constantly monitored by the FBI. When he died all his notes and other belongings were taken and for a very long time nothing was returned to his family. Has ...
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Were Gauss's 1846 remarks on the distinction between right and left related to orientability of surfaces?

Recently i was striked by a quotation of Gauss from a letter to his student Gerling from the date June 23, 1846. This letter states in very concise words that the distinction between right-handed and ...
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Where can one find the source of Fourier's recollections of his professors?

This link contains excerpts of Fourier's descriptions of some of his math professors but doesn't really provide any source. What's the name of the original document containing these descriptions?
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Dénes Kőnig vs. König's Lemma

In Hungarian you spell the surname of Dénes Kőnig with a double acute accent, whereas Lemma von König is written in German with an umlaut. Why the difference? Is the reason behind it purely ...
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When was the first recorded occurence of irrational and imaginary number usage in number theory?

I saw a letter of Euler to Lagrange congratulating him on his usage of imaginary numbers in the "analysis devoted to rational numbers alone", was that the first known such usage? What was the likely ...
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Were Christoffel symbols used by Riemann?

The answer to the question would appear to be "no" looking at the transcription of Riemann's 1854 Ueber die Hypothesen, welche der Geometrie zu Grunde liegen lecture. However, Bernhard Riemann (1826-...
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Is there any scientist whose work was not recognised during his/her lifetime and was underestimated?

A lot of people have contributed to the development of science (which includes mathematics). I have read that Newton's popularity was powerful enough to dominate the wave-model. Similarly, do we have ...
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Who discovered pigeonhole principle in mathematics?

The principle was used as early as late 1760s by Lagrange but are there any earlier uses of it in math?
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When did the concept of palindromic sequences first appear in mathematics?

I have been reading one of Lagrange's works where he mentions palindromic sequences in the context of Periodic continued fractions. I am wondering if that was the first time that palindromic sequences ...
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What are the context and motivation for Gauss's study of the “Pothenot problem”?

My question refers to p.307-335 of volume 8 of Gauss's werke, which are part of a section of volume 8 which deals with Gauss's applications of complex numbers for geometry. The pages mentioned are ...
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What was Lagrange's contribution to the Knights Tour Problem?

Did Lagrange make any noteworthy contribution to the Knights Tour Problem?
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Did Lagrange finish his law degree during the 1750s?

According to this, Lagrange enrolled in the University of Turin to study Law in the 1750s but eventually shifted to Maths. Did he finish his Law degree?
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In which year did Lagrange start studying mathematics - 1752 or 1753?

Some articles indicate that he started studying maths "after reading an article by Edmund Halley" in 1753, but in this paper it is claimed that he started studying mathematics in 1752. So, in which ...
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Was Lagrange aware of Hamiltonian mechanics?

In the book "The Road to Reality", Penrose claims that Joseph Lagrange was aware of Hamiltonian mechanics. Is there any evidence that this statement is true?
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What did Hans Bethe think of von Neumann's quantum logic?

Nobel laureate Hans Bethe was a friend of mathematician-physicist John von Neumann, and he once said: "I have sometimes wondered whether a brain like von Neumann's does not indicate a species ...
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Gauss on philosophers

Carl Friedrich Gauss said: When a philosopher says something that is true then it is trivial. When he says something that is not trivial then it is false. On one occasion I read that supposedly ...
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Jean-Christophe Yoccoz (May 29, 1957 – September 3, 2016)

Outstanding French mathematician had also his Brasilian chapter in his life (or two chapters?). I'd like to know more. The en.wikipedia tells us that Yoccoz was born, raised and educated in France, "...
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Did Heisenberg defend that Germany should rule Europe?

The following has been attributed to the German physicist Werner Heisenberg: History legitimizes Germany to rule Europe and later the world. Only a nation that rules ruthlessly can maintain itself. ...
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Was Richard Feynman really awarded a patent for a nuclear Airplane and Rocket?

I've been re-reading "Surely you're Joking Mr. Feynman", and at one point he talks about how at Los Alamos they were asked to write down any idea, no matter how obvious involving nuclear technology, ...
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Where to get more biographical information about Fritz Peter?

Fritz Peter (1899–1949) is known mainly as one of the authors of the Peter-Weyl theorem. This theorem appears in a paper (Die Vollständigkeit der primitiven Darstellungen einer geschlossenen ...
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What is the Leroy Grumman Medal won by the theoretical physicist Kenneth G. Wilson?

I happened to find that one of the most important inventors of the renormalization group, Kenneth G. Wilson, won the Leroy Randle Grumman Award Medal in 1986, 4 years after his Nobel prize. Details in ...
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What happened to the undergrad students who attended the Feynman Lecture Series in 1961-63?

Note: This question was originally asked here, but I was wondering if I could get further clarification as this has truly intrigued me. In the academic years of 1962-2 and 1962-3, Richard Feynman ...
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Women in mathematics

I'd like to read something about the history of women in mathematics. I'd love to have reading suggestions of books in English or Italian, of 3 kinds: 1) History of math books, academic style; 2) ...
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Identification of scientists in de Gennes book

Petit Point: A Candid Portrait on the Aberrations of Science is a charming book written by the French physicist Pierre-Gilles de Gennes containing short essays on some of the prominent scientists that ...
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What was the relationship between Einstein and Minkowski?

I read many Einstein's Biographies, but Minkowski was never mentioned, though his discovery of the union of space and time created the basis for GR. Minkowski was Einstein's teacher of mathematics ...
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Did Paul Dirac believe in multiple universes?

Prominent physicist Paul Dirac proposed a hypothesis that said that constants and laws of physics would evolve with time into different constants and laws of nature. This hypothesis was used by ...
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What was the “libration of Pallas” that Gauss studied, when Pallas is not a moon of Jupiter?

This question is a request for general explanation of an astronomical phenomenon known as "Pallas libration", and isn't much about the details of Gauss's mathematical model of this libration. As is ...

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