Questions tagged [mathematicians]

For questions about those who do mathematics.

55 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers
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16
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662 views

Did Kontsevich start a lecture with “one I will not define, the other nobody knows how to define, and we will be proving that they are equivalent”?

The story was circulating in early 2000s, so presumably it happened in 1990s. Kontsevich, it goes, opened a lecture course on mirror symmetry with:"This course is about two categories. One I will not ...
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254 views

What was the typical format of a 16th century mathematical debate?

In The Equation that Couldn't be Solved, Mario Livio writes of academia in 16th century Bologna. Apparently, mathematicians would take part in public debates, sometimes involving solving problems. ...
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128 views

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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218 views

Who gave you infinitesimal epsilon?

As someone reputed among certain historians to have given you the epsilon Cauchy startled me by using $\varepsilon$ to denote an infinitely small number in his 1826 text on differential geometry; see ...
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388 views

What was Gödel's proof that errors in U.S. constitution could allow the U.S. to become a fascist dictatorship?

According to this document, Kurt Gödel had discovered logical inconsistiencies in the U.S. constitution that could theoretically allow it to become a dictatorship. Morgenstern told him not to bring it ...
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495 views

About the LOR of John Nash, was there any relationship between Richard Duffin and Solomon Lefschetz?

In Academia SE, there is a question about the credibility of Prof. Richard Duffin, who wrote the notorious letter of recommendation for John Nash, who later received the Nobel Memorial Prize in ...
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83 views

Is there any historical evidence of this quote E.T. Bell attributed to C.G.J. Jacobi?

I read Men of Mathematics by E.T. Bell long ago, and this quote he attributed to Jacobi stuck with me: Certainly I have sometimes endangered my health from overwork, but what of it? Only cabbages ...
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85 views

What was Littlewood's quip about Hardy and plagiarism?

I'm searching for a quote by Littlewood about Hardy not giving proper credit. The story (as I remember it) is that Littlewood claimed uncredited authorship of something Hardy wrote, Hardy claimed it ...
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92 views

Nature of Fermat's friend Lalouvère's activities as censor?

Fermat had a friend at Toulouse named Lalouvère. Lalouvère was censor, jesuit, and mathematician (in alphabetical order). Antonella Romano writes on page 512 of her book La Contre-Réforme ...
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469 views

Why isn't Aryabhata more famous than Pythagoras?

You saw the question right. Why isn't it so? Aryabhata had done more things than him. Is it because of the 400 or 500 years of difference between their existence? Pythagoras is famous most for his ...
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142 views

Reflections in the 18th century

It is well known that the theory of reflections was considerably developed during the 19th century with the development of group theory (e.g. Klein) and the theory of transformations. However, I'm ...
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138 views

Is there a biography of Robert Risch?

The Risch algorithm for computing symbolic integrals was developed by Robert Risch in the 1968-70 time frame. Based on the German Wikipedia article, I know that Risch was awarded a Ph.D. by U.C. ...
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99 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 ...
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156 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 ...
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200 views

Symbolism in illustration for a book by Riccati

Wikipedia has a jpeg of the front cover of the book Opere (1761) by Jacopo Riccati, author of the celebrated Riccati equation. What is the symbolism incorporated in this illustration? See discussion ...
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122 views

A Lecture by Polya on Symmetric Algebraic Equations with an Unexpected Conclusion

Sometime in 1980 George Polya gave a lecture at the University of Minnesota about solutions of algebraic equations that have symmetry in the appearance of the variables in the equation (any ...
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58 views

How much ground was prepared for Riemann so that he could conjecture Riemann hypothesis?

Although I do not doubt in Riemann˙s originality, I would like to know how much complex analysis was developed up to the day when Riemann conjectured what is today called Riemann hypothesis and how ...
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53 views

Asymptotically Periodic Potentials

Who came up with the idea of solving elliptic equations with periodic potentials and from there solving elliptic equations with asymptotically periodic potentials? I heard it was Pierre Louis Lions, ...
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100 views

Textbooks used by Oliver Heaviside

Oliver Heaviside achieved a very high level in mathematics and physics by self-study, starting from a modest school-level math, and working alone in his room, without a tutor. Is it known what ...
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154 views

What was Havil's source for the statement that G.H. Hardy would offer his Savillian chair to whoever could prove $\gamma$ irrational?

In Havil's 2003 book Gamma he states that Hardy offered up his chair in Oxford to whoever could prove that the Euler-Mascheroni constant $\gamma$ is irrational. I'm almost positive I had heard a ...
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73 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 ...
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122 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 ...
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218 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 ...
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77 views

What motivated Green to develop his theorem in order to calculate work for a non conservative vector field?

I am somewhat amazed at the depth of the theorem but I believe it involved his work with electricity and magnetism. Additionally I don't think he had a formal education. I have not found much on this ...
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89 views

Who is the first to give the proof of insolvability of quintic functions using Galois theory?

The first correct proof of the insolvability of the quintic is due to Abel. But my question is who gave the proof of insolvability of the quintic using Galois theory? Does Abel know about Galois ...
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88 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 ...
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241 views

Grothendieck and Gaussian integral

http://www.jmilne.org/math/apocrypha.html This article goes something like this: "In a discussion with Grothendieck, Messing mentioned the formula expressing the integral of exp(-x2) in terms of pi,...
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164 views

Works of mathematician François Viète

I'm searching for a book or an online copy of complete works of the mathematician François Viète, preferably in English. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.
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2k views

Kakutani's Lemma

I read this story a while ago, and I'm wondering whether there's any proof that it is true or whether it's just made up? One day Shizuo Kakutani…was teaching a class at Yale. He wrote down a ...
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101 views

Are there any memorial of Marcel Riesz in Lund?

Marcel Riesz spent most of his career in Lund (Sweden). Are there any memorial of Marcel Riesz in Lund? A plaque or a sculpture? I was looking for information about it, but I didn't find any. I ...
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99 views

Is Leibnizian calculus embeddable in first order logic?

We just published an article making what we feel is a plausible case in favor of an affirmative answer in Foundations of Science, see preprint here. The basic argument is that while such a requirement ...
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157 views

The intersection of history, mathematics, and geography

I was looking for some material on the history of fractional calculus and googled Pincherle Amaldi to find a source. Up popped a map of the environs of the University of Rome and there was the ...
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1answer
77 views

Newton as the first one to establish numerical analysis as a new field of study

I was reading about the history of Newton's Method. Newton used a cubic equation, $x^3 - 2x - 5 = 0$, to show the efficacy of his method around 1670. I was wondering that why Newton would choose this ...
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39 views

Where did the Delannoy numbers make their first appearance?

I am writing a short exposition on the central Delannoy numbers and would like to find the year which Henri Delannoy first introduced them in a formal setting. I believe Delannoy's initial ...
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83 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 ...
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111 views

How did Euler stumble on this proof?

Euler proved $n=641$ divides $2^{32}+1$ by noting $n=5^4+2^4=5\times 2^7+1$ so $$2^{32}\equiv-5^4\times 2^{28}=-(5\times 2^7)^4\equiv-1\,(\text{mod}\, n).$$How did he happen upon this realisation? One ...
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166 views

Timeline of mathematical foundation?

As it is globally known that set theory as a foundation of mathematics, although in the beginning we didn't call it "Set" rather group of elements. For example - set of [1(banana) + 2(apple)+1(cow)] =>...
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127 views

18th and 19th century skeptics of imaginary numbers?

Complex numbers were used in as early as the 16th century to solve cubic equations, but they didn't gain wide acceptance until the late 18th and early 19th century. What is the reason for the 200 year ...
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140 views

Which mathematician first proved the laws of arithmetic?

Specifically, the associative, distributive, and commutative laws of addition and multiplication. Was it Peano?
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134 views

Was Newton aware of a nascent inverse function theorem?

More specifically, was Newton aware that given an inverse pair of functions $f$ and $h$ such that $$f(h(x)) = x = h(f(x))$$ about the origin that, for $$(x,y)=(h(y),f(x)),$$ the derivatives satisfy ...
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114 views

Felix Klein and the mean value theorem

This is a reference request prompted by some intriguing comments made by Felix Klein. In 1908, Felix Klein formulated a criterion of what it would take for a theory of infinitesimals to be ...
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182 views

Why did Lagrange say that Cauchy should learn Classics before mathematics?

I read somewhere that Lagrange said that Cauchy should concentrate his efforts on Classics/litterature before studying maths. Is there any reasons for this ?
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Is there any online resource on Yitang Zhang's biography?

Where I should look for a biographical note on Yitang Zhang's life. I read the wikipedia article but it does not provide any in depth perception on his life. There is nothing on here. If anybody knows ...
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59 views

Did the mathematician Garrett Birkhoff ever work with or mention Feynman's path integrals?

Did Garrett Birkhoff ever work with Feynman's path integral? Did he ever work in his Many-Histories interpretation? Or at least, did he mention it in any of his articles?
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88 views

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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104 views

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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41 views

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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88 views

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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95 views

Why didn't Euclid use equations or numerals in his proofs?

I think the Elements would have been a lot more concise if he did.
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105 views

Why isn't François Proth's name used for Gilbreath's conjecture as he discovered & published a proof 80 years earlier?

According to Wikipedia's Gilbreath's conjecture page, The statement is named after mathematician Norman L. Gilbreath who, in 1958, presented it to the mathematical community after observing the ...