Questions tagged [mathematicians]

For questions about those who do mathematics.

46 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers
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16
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647 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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249 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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213 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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374 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 ...
6
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450 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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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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435 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 ...
5
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135 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 ...
4
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113 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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96 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 ...
4
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154 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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197 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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117 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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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, ...
3
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155 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 ...
3
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70 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
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119 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 ...
3
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171 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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86 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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77 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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123 views

What was Havil's source for the statement that G.H. Hardy would offer his Savillian chair to whoever could prove 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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82 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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229 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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163 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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99 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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155 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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22 views

Did Lagrange started studying mathematics in 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
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81 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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151 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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123 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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133 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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132 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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688 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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112 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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176 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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66 views

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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91 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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81 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 ...
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90 views

Is there any general difference between British, French and German mathematicians?

I am recently learning about teaching the history of mathematics. Gradually, impressions about mathematicians in different countries develops in my mind. I just want to ask, whether it is helpful to ...
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88 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-...
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123 views

Why did Nikolai Luzin almost commit suicide?

I tried accesing the original article without much success. Can someone fill in the details ?
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76 views

Cauchy's real line and math philosophy till XIX

I have to write an essay concerning philosophy of mathematics until the end of XIX century. I've heard that the reason why the Cauchy's theorem (if continuous functions $fn→f$ then $f$ is continuous ...
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145 views

What questions led Cayley to the definition of matrix multiplication?

quote: every book I've seen on matrix algebra or linear algebra seem[s] to just define the matrix operations without providing any historical background Talk:Matrix multiplication - Wikipedia, the ...