Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [mathematicians]

For questions about those who do mathematics.

2
votes
3answers
86 views

Are there any sources of mathematicians talking about their research methods?

I recall reading this article that was written to explain how Descartes read philosophy effectively. I am wondering if such analogous tips have been made by past mathematicians?
3
votes
1answer
66 views

Who coined the term random variable?

Who is the first person defined the concept of a random variable?
18
votes
3answers
3k views

What does it mean by “d-ism of Leibniz” and “dotage of Newton” in simple English?

I am reading this article by Donald E. Knuth and get stuck by this sentence: Our mathematical language continues to improve, just as “the d-ism of Leibniz overtook the dotage of Newton” in past ...
2
votes
0answers
70 views

Who first “depressed” the cubic equation?

In his Ars Magna Cardano specifies procedures to "depress" a cubic - a means to convert an equation such as $x^3+6x^2=100$ to $y^3=84+12y$, eliminating the $x^2$ term. Was he the one who discovered ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

The convention for speakers to refer to themselves at the board with a single initial

I found an interesting question on Math SE asked by @KCd, but it is over four years old without a clear answer. Since it seems to be more on topic here than on Math SE, I thought to post it here in ...
3
votes
1answer
134 views

How did philosophers and scientists in the 18th century view mathematical explanation?

The 18th century saw a rise in the use of mathematical formalisms to account for natural phenomena. Works of Lagrange, Euler, d'Alembert, etc., were groundbreaking in the history of mechanics and ...
6
votes
1answer
72 views

The minimax theorem from 1928 to 1956

Minimax theorems are beautiful saddle-point results regarding conditions on a function $f$ under which $\max_x \min_y f(x,y) = \min_y \max_x f(x,y)$. In the common "normal form" game case, $x$ and $y$ ...
6
votes
1answer
145 views

What's that on Euler's head? Does the head covering shown in Emanuel Handmann 1753 painting signify scholarship?

This may be borderline off-topic but this is the only place that I can think of ask this particular question. I've always seen images of Leonhard Euler with a "hat" or head covering that is ...
11
votes
2answers
183 views

History of various definitions of topology

I have been reading Point Set Topology for a while, and turns out that there are various possible ways to define a topology. Most popular one is using open set axioms. Another one is using closure ...
3
votes
1answer
146 views

How long would it have taken Cole to multiply the factors of $M_{67}$ on a blackboard?

The famous anecdote of the 1903 announcement of the factorization of $2^{67}-1$ by Frank Nelson Cole has recently been discussed, for example in light of the announcement of another "twitter-sized" ...
7
votes
1answer
182 views

Did Cambridge change their BSc policy for Ramanujan?

I found this quote at Quora: In March 1916 Ramanujan graduated from Cambridge with a Bachelor of Science by Research (This degree was later renamed as Ph.D. from 1920) for his work on Highly ...
3
votes
0answers
140 views

Can we fairly assess Ada Lovelace's talent for mathematics?

Dorothy Stein, a biographer of Ada Lovelace, was pretty blunt in her assessment: Lovelace was a mediocre mathematician, for example see here. I wonder if she's fair to her. The fact that Lovelace ...
0
votes
1answer
62 views

Was multivariable calculus particularly prominent in Italy?

From my classes I don't hear about a lot of italian mathematicians, but two of them, Fubini and Tonelli, are both related to multivariable calculus. Is there a reason for this? Just a coincidence? Or ...
0
votes
0answers
78 views

Is it the 'd' or 'D' operator?

Philip J. Davis' article on the history of the gamma function (PDF) mentions how Leibniz proposed the iterated differential operator (p. 851 in the upper right corner, or p. 3 of the PDF, about half-...
8
votes
1answer
107 views

Who first proved that only primes of the form $4k+1$ divide odd integers of the form $n^2+1$?

I am writing a paper and I would like to cite the person(s) who proved that only primes of the form $4k+1$ can evenly divide odd integers of the form $n^2+1$? For example, if $n=8$, $n^2 + 1 = 65$ ...
3
votes
1answer
225 views

Why didn't John von Neumann win the Turing Award, Fields Medal or Nobel Prize?

From what I've read in Wikipedia, John von Neumann made a stupendous number of contributions to economics, computer science and mathematics. Why, then, didn't he receive a top award in any of these ...
4
votes
0answers
89 views

Courant (1943) and History of Finite Element Method

I am interested in the history of Finite Element Methods and Methods of Weighted Residuals (MWR), especially reduced quadrature and collocation methods. I have a paper coming out called “Orthogonal ...
7
votes
1answer
205 views

Did the author of Alice in Wonderland make any substantial original discoveries in mathematics?

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name of Lewis Carroll, was a mathematics lecturer at Oxford University and today is primarily famous for his fanciful stories laced with mathematical ...
68
votes
13answers
23k views

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right?

What are the most glaring examples -- if any -- of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right?
1
vote
0answers
78 views

Who came up with a formula expressing the sign function in terms of the absolute value?

I read here and here that Karl Weierstrass used "| |" to indicate absolute value in 1841. The same sources indicate that Leopold Kronecker wrote of the sign function in 1878. Here it is indicated that ...
0
votes
1answer
77 views

Who was the first person who emphasis the importance of proof?

I think it should be an ancient Greek mathematician who was interested in proving all triangle has inner angles summing to 180 degree? Was it Thales?
0
votes
2answers
146 views

Why do mathematicians call ~ 'twiddle'?

Every one of my lecturers have always called it this, as do I, despite the fact that I know its properly called 'tilde'. Does anyone have any clue where this convention comes from and why it might ...
0
votes
0answers
39 views

Modern Views on Pythagoras [duplicate]

I've done a lot of research on Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans and am currently in a state of uncertainty. I do believe Pythagoras existed, but I am unsure if he can be given credit to hardly anything ...
0
votes
0answers
49 views

Irrational numbers math in old Roman age [duplicate]

I know that Hippasus proved that $√2$ is irrational number. My question is how were they doing the mathmatical operations like multiplication for rational numbers like 1.41421356237 I can do ...
5
votes
2answers
91 views

Does anybody know the history of how Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet came up with the “nowhere continuous” Dirichlet function?

So I am writing a research paper on the properties of the Dirichlet function (the function with 1 if x is rational and 0 if x is irrational), and I wanted to include some historical background on how ...
0
votes
1answer
104 views

Cantor's fortune

Wiki says that his transfinite numbers met opposition: Henri Poincaré referred to his ideas as a "grave disease" infecting the discipline of mathematics,[8] and Leopold Kronecker's public ...
3
votes
0answers
67 views

A portrait of Bombelli

Is there any known portrait of Rafael Bombelli? I don't think so, but if you visit his MacTutor biography, you will see there this picture: It is clear to me that this cannot possibly be a picture of ...
3
votes
1answer
72 views

Gregory's integration of $\sec\theta$

The integral of the secant function was first correctly conjectured by Henry Bond in the 1640s, and Isaac Newton was aware of his conjecture in 1665, although no proof was published until 1668. Of ...
5
votes
1answer
94 views

Did Nikolai Luzin plagiarize?

Luzin was accused of plagiarism and other misconduct by Kolmogorov and other students during the Luzin Affair of 1936. Were these allegations actually true?
-2
votes
2answers
164 views

How did the integer degrees angles counting being first adopted in geometry and mathematics? [duplicate]

The purpose of this question is trying to know originally how did counting in integer degrees angles from (one degree to $360$ degrees) being adopted basically in geometry, despite the impossibility ...
1
vote
0answers
67 views

Example of: Two researchers working on the same question but get opposite conclusions [closed]

I wish to know about whether such example exists, could someone please help and tell me some stories about this? p.s: Also I wonder why such thing can happen. I wish the two main characters in the ...
3
votes
0answers
113 views

How many active mathematicians were there in Euler's time?

It seems that when you play around with the Math Genealogy Project, starting at some contemporary mathematician and going backwards through their advisor, advisor's advisor, etc., you tend to arrive ...
0
votes
0answers
39 views

Kronecker's aphorism [duplicate]

The common translation of Kronecker's "Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk" is something like "God made the integers, all else is man's handiwork." But I have ...
0
votes
1answer
73 views

Existence of Pythagoras Resources

I am aware that approximately two years ago a question was posted on the existence of Pythagoras. After two years, I want to gain more incite on the thought of those on this site. I was drawn to the ...
4
votes
0answers
149 views

How old might Emmy Noether be in this picture?

I have not found bibliographic data to show what age Noether was in this picture: And I cannot estimate well either by her clothes or her face. Can anyone here help me? In the past I have known ...
3
votes
4answers
425 views

Failures in math

I would like to have help in producing examples of mathematicians that, in some sense I'll explain below,turned their career into failure. I am mainly interested in examples from XIX and XXth century. ...
0
votes
0answers
91 views

English translation of Lagrange's Théorie des fonctions analytiques?

I've done some looking around and came up with nothing. There apparently was a German translation done by August Leopold Crelle, but I couldn't find anything else. If anyone else knows of an English ...
4
votes
1answer
193 views

Can we identify Paul Benacerraf in these photos

This question is about Paul Benacerraf, who worked on the philosophy of mathematics, and wrote the 1965 essay What numbers could not be (see: Benacerraf's identification problem). He was at Princeton ...
4
votes
1answer
198 views

Do these trigonometric identities belong to Antonio Cagnoli?

I'm new to this stack community, please bear with me as I try to explain my question properly. Recently I came across with these trigonometric identities (where $ \omega + \phi + \psi = 180^\circ $): ...
2
votes
1answer
170 views

On the birthdate of Gotthold Eisenstein

The birthdate of Gotthold Eisenstein is Apr. 16, 1823 as is stated in the Wikipedia. But a letter(whose recipient is Gauss) of Encke on Oct. 11, 1852 clearly states that the birthdate of Eisenstein is ...
9
votes
4answers
627 views

Help translate from German a quote by Hermann Weyl in Space Time Matter

I would like to find an accurate translation to the following quote from Space Time Matter: Man muß gegen diese Orgien des Formalismus, mit dem man heute sogar die Techniker zu belästigen beginnt, ...
2
votes
1answer
171 views

Translation of Gauss' Disquisitiones Arithmeticae

Out of curiosity I was searching for an English translation of the Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, and I found out that there is indeed one. It was translated in English in 1965 by a certain Arthur A. ...
3
votes
0answers
107 views

Priority on lemniscate of Gerono?

The Lemniscate of Gerono is a special case of the Lissajous curves. The dates for the two mathematicians are fairly close: Gerono (1799-1891) and Lissajous (1822-1880). Historically who has priority ...
5
votes
1answer
152 views

Was Paul Cohen a student or assistant of Gödel?

In The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, a biography about Paul Erdős, by Paul Hoffman, the author claims that Paul Cohen was "Gödel's former assistant" (p 225). However, I can't find any other sources ...
5
votes
1answer
266 views

Poincaré and the baker: was the anecdote true?

There is a story featuring Henri Poincaré and an unscrupuolous baker. Every day Poincaré bought a piece of bread which should have weighted 1 kg. After an year, the mathematician brought the baker to ...
7
votes
4answers
259 views

Mathematics PhD dissertations that opened a new field of research

I propose this as a companion wiki page to the one about PhD dissertations which contain a solution to an open problem in the style of big-list questions, thinking ...
8
votes
2answers
620 views

How was the sum of squares formula discovered by Archimedes?

AFAIK, Archimedes is credited with discovering the following formula for computing the sum of squares: $1^2 + 2^2 + 3^2+...+n^2 = \frac{n(n+1)(2n+1)}{6}$ This seems to have come up in his quest for ...
8
votes
1answer
554 views

What was Euler's first language?

Mathematicians of the 18th century and the Swiss people are known to speak and write every language. Leonhard Euler belongs to both of these categories and wrote articles in any language, I am not ...
4
votes
1answer
174 views

Who influenced Gauss in his abstract approach to mathematics?

I have studied that Gauss was one of the firsts mathematicians to defend this idea, about the Abstract Math and the conception of number, claiming that "What is calculated (in the sense of things ...
2
votes
1answer
167 views

Does an English translation of Bombelli's L'Algebra exist?

I'm looking for an English translation of Rafael Bombelli's L'Algebra. From what I can tell searching the usual corners of the web, it doesn't exist, but I'm asking here just in case. I'm ...