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The Wikipedia Book of Men
of Mathematics
Men of Mathematics 1
Zeno of Elea 3
Zeno's paradoxes 5
Eudoxus of Cnidus 12
Archimedes 17
Archimedes' cattle problem 33
Book of Lemmas 36
Archimedes Palimpsest 39
Ren€ Descartes 45
Pierre de Fermat 58
List of things named after Pierre de Fermat 63
Blaise Pascal 64
Isaac Newton 75
Newton's laws of motion 98
Writing of Principia Mathematica 107
Method of Fluxions 114
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 114
Bernoulli family 136
Jacob Bernoulli 137
Johann Bernoulli 140
Bernoulli differential equation 143
Bernoulli distribution 145
Bernoulli number 147
Bernoulli polynomials 169
Bernoulli process 176
Bernoulli trial 182
Bernoulli's principle 184
Leonhard Euler 198
Joseph Louis Lagrange 210
Pierre-Simon Laplace 220
Gaspard Monge 239
Joseph Fourier 243
Jean-Victor Poncelet 249
Poncelet Prize 252
Carl Friedrich Gauss 254
Augustin-Louis Cauchy 265
Nikolai Lobachevsky 275
Niels Henrik Abel 279
Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi 286
William Rowan Hamilton 291
•variste Galois 299
James Joseph Sylvester 306
Karl Weierstrass 310
Arthur Cayley 314
Sofia Kovalevskaya 319
George Boole 324
Charles Hermite 334
Leopold Kronecker 338
Bernhard Riemann 342
Ernst Kummer 346
Richard Dedekind 348
Henri Poincar€ 352
Georg Cantor 370
Article Sources and Contributors 384
Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors 395
Article Licenses
License 399
Men of Mathematics
Men of Mathematics
Men of Mathematics is a book on the history of mathematics written in 1937 by the mathematician E.T. Bell. After a
brief chapter on three ancient mathematicians, the remainder of the book is devoted to the lives of about forty
mathematicians who worked in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The emphasis is on mainstream
mathematics following on from the work.
To keep the interest of readers, the book typically focuses on unusual or dramatic aspects of its subjects' lives. Men
of Mathematics has inspired many young people, including the young John Forbes Nash Jr., to become
mathematicians. It is not intended as a rigorous history, includes many anecdotal accounts, and presents a somewhat
idealised picture of mathematicians, their personalities, research and controversies.
In reviewing the faculty that served with Harry Bateman at Caltech, Clifford Truesdell wrote:
...[Bell] was admired for his science fiction and his Men of Mathematics. I was shocked when, just a few years
later, Walter Pitts told me the latter was nothing but a string of Hollywood scenarios; my own subsequent
study of the sources has shown me that Pitts was right, and I now find the contents of that still popular book to
be little more than rehashes enlivened by nasty gossip and banal or indecent fancy..
An impression of the book was given by Rebecca Goldstein in her novel 36 Arguments for the Existence of God.
Describing a character Cass Seltzer, she wrote on page 105:
Right now he was reading E. T. Bell€s Men of Mathematics, which was the best yet, even though it had real
mathematics in to slow him down. Some of these people sounded as if they had to be changelings, non-human
visitors form some other sphere, with powers so prodigious they burst the boundaries of developmental
psychology, lisping out profundities while other children were playing with their toes.
€ Zeno (Fifth Century BC), Eudoxus (408•355 BC), Archimedes (287?•212 BC)
€ Descartes (1596•1650)
€ Fermat (1601•1665)
€ Pascal (1623•1662)
€ Newton (1642•1727)
€ Leibniz (1646•1716)
€ The Bernoullis (17th and 18th Century )
€ Euler (1707•1783)
€ Lagrange (1736•1813)
€ Laplace (1749 1827)
€ Monge (1746•1818), Fourier (1768•1830)
€ Poncelet (1788•1867)
€ Gauss (1777•1855)
€ Cauchy (1789•1857)
€ Lobachevsky (1793•1856)
€ Abel (1802•1829)
€ Jacobi (1804•1851)
€ Hamilton (1805•1865)
€ Galois (1811•1832)
€ Sylvester (1814•1897), Cayley (1821•1895)
€ Weierstrass (1815•1897), Sonja Kowalewski [sic] (1850•1891)
€ Boole (1815•1864)
Men of Mathematics
€ Hermite (1822•1901)
€ Kronecker (1823•1891)
€ Riemann (1826•1866)
€ Kummer (1810•1893), Dedekind (1831•1916)
€ Poincar• (1854•1912)
€ Cantor (1845•1918)
Notes and references
[1] Truesdell, C. (1984). An idiot's fugitive essays on science: methods, criticism, training, circumstances. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
ISBN 0-387-90703-3. "Genius and the establishment at a polite standstill in the modern university: Bateman", pages 423 to 424
[2] Quoted in the College Mathematics Journal 43(3):231 (May 2010)
External links
€ Men of Mathematics (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/ MenOfMathematics) at the Internet Archive
Zeno of Elea
Zeno of Elea
Zeno shows the Doors to Truth and Falsity (Veritas et Falsitas). Fresco in the Library of El Escorial, Madrid.
Born ca. 490 BC
Died ca. 430 BC (aged around 60)
Era Pre-Socratic philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Eleatic school
Main interests Metaphysics, Ontology
Notable ideas Zeno's paradoxes
Zeno of Elea (pron.: /‚ziƒno„…v‚†li…/; Greek: ƒ„…†… ‡ ˆ‰Š‹Œ•Ž; ca. 490 BC • ca. 430 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek
philosopher of southern Italy and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. Aristotle called him the
inventor of the dialectic.
He is best known for his paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell has described as
"immeasurably subtle and profound".
Little is known for certain about Zeno's life. Although written nearly a century after Zeno's death, the primary source
of biographical information about Zeno is Plato's Parmenides dialogue.
In the dialogue, Plato describes a visit to
Athens by Zeno and Parmenides, at a time when Parmenides is "about 65," Zeno is "nearly 40" and Socrates is "a
very young man".
Assuming an age for Socrates of around 20, and taking the date of Socrates' birth as 469 BC
gives an approximate date of birth for Zeno of 490 BC. Plato says that Zeno was "tall and fair to look upon" and was
"in the days of his youth ‡ reported to have been beloved by Parmenides".
Other perhaps less reliable details of Zeno's life are given by Diogenes La•rtius in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent
where it is reported that he was the son of Teleutagoras, but the adopted son of Parmenides, was
"skilled to argue both sides of any question, the universal critic," and that he was arrested and perhaps killed at the
hands of a tyrant of Elea.
According to Plutarch, Zeno attempted to kill the tyrant Demylus, and failing to do so, "with his own teeth bit off his
tongue, he spit it in the tyrant€s face."
Although many ancient writers refer to the writings of Zeno, none of his writings survive intact.
Plato says that Zeno's writings were "brought to Athens for the first time on the occasion of" the visit of Zeno and
Plato also has Zeno say that this work, "meant to protect the arguments of Parmenides",
was written
in Zeno's youth, stolen, and published without his consent. Plato has Socrates paraphrase the "first thesis of the first
argument" of Zeno's work as follows: "if being is many, it must be both like and unlike, and this is impossible, for
neither can the like be unlike, nor the unlike like".
Zeno of Elea
According to Proclus in his Commentary on Plato's Parmenides, Zeno produced "not less than forty arguments
revealing contradictions",
but only nine are now known.
Zeno's arguments are perhaps the first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurdum, literally meaning
to reduce to the absurd. Parmenides is said to be the first individual to implement this style of argument. This form
of argument soon became known as the epicheirema (•‘’“Š”••–—). In Book VII of his Topics, Aristotle says that an
epicheirema is "a dialectical syllogism". It is a connected piece of reasoning which an opponent has put forward as
true. The disputant sets out to break down the dialectical syllogism. This destructive method of argument was
maintained by him to such a degree that Seneca the Younger commented a few centuries later, "If I accede to
Parmenides there is nothing left but the One; if I accede to Zeno, not even the One is left."
Zeno's paradoxes
Zeno's paradoxes have puzzled, challenged, influenced, inspired, infuriated, and amused philosophers,
mathematicians, and physicists for over two millennia. The most famous are the so-called "arguments against
motion" described by Aristotle in his Physics.
[1] Diogenes La•rtius, 8.57, 9.25
[2] [2] Russell, p. 347: "In this capricious world nothing is more capricious than posthumous fame. One of the most notable victims of posterity's
lack of judgement is the Eleatic Zeno. Having invented four arguments all immeasurably subtle and profound, the grossness of subsequent
philosophers pronounced him to be a mere ingenious juggler, and his arguments to be one and all sophisms. After two thousand years of
continual refutation, these sophisms were reinstated, and made the foundation of a mathematical renaissance..."
[3] Plato (370 BC). Parmenides (http:/ / classics.mit.edu/ Plato/ parmenides. html), translated by Benjamin Jowett. Internet Classics Archive.
[4] Plato, Parmenides 127b-e
[5] Diogenes La•rtius. The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, translated by C.D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Scanned and
edited for Peith˜'s Web. (http:/ / classicpersuasion. org/ pw/ diogenes/ dlzeno-eleatic. htm)
[6] Plutarch, Against Colotes
[7] Proclus, Commentary on Plato's Parmenides, p. 29
[8] Zeno in The Presocratics, Philip Wheelwright ed., The Odyssey Press, 1966, Pages 106-107.
[9] Aristotle (350 BC). Physics (http:/ / classics.mit.edu/ Aristotle/ physics. html), translated by R.P. Hardie and R.K. Gaye. Internet Classics
€ Plato; Fowler, Harold North (1925) [1914]. Plato in twelve volumes. 8, The Statesman.(Philebus).(Ion). Loeb
Classical Library. trans. W. R. M. Lamb. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P. ISBN 978-0-434-99164-8.
OCLC 222336129.
€ Proclus; Morrow, Glenn R.; Dillon, John M. (1992) [1987]. Proclus' Commentary on Plato's Parmenides.
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-02089-1. OCLC 27251522.
€ Russell, Bertrand (1996) [1903]. The Principles of Mathematics. New York, NY: Norton.
ISBN 978-0-393-31404-5. OCLC 247299160.
€ Hornschemeier, Paul (2007). The Three Paradoxes. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books.
Zeno of Elea
Further reading
€ Early Greek Philosophy Jonathan Barnes. (Harmondsworth, 1987).
€ "Zeno and the Mathematicians" G. E. L. Owen. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1957-8).
€ Paradoxes Mark Sainsbury. (Cambridge, 1988).
€ Zeno's Paradoxes Wesley C. Salmon, ed. (Indianapolis, 1970).
€ Zeno of Elea Gregory Vlastos in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Paul Edwards, ed.), (New York, 1967).
€ De compositie van de wereld Harry Mulisch. (Amsterdam, 1980).
External links
€ Zeno of Elea (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ zeno-elea) entry by John Palmer in the Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy
€ Zeno of Elea (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Zeno_of_Elea. html) - MacTutor
€ Plato's Parmenides (http:/ / classics. mit. edu/ Plato/ parmenides. html).
€ Aristotle's Physics (http:/ / classics. mit. edu/ Aristotle/ physics. html).
€ Diogenes La•rtius, Life of Zeno, translated by Robert Drew Hicks (1925).
Zeno's paradoxes
Zeno's paradoxes are a set of philosophical problems generally thought to have been devised by Greek philosopher
Zeno of Elea (ca. 490•430 BC) to support Parmenides's doctrine that "all is one" and that, contrary to the evidence
of one's senses, the belief in plurality and change is mistaken, and in particular that motion is nothing but an illusion.
It is usually assumed, based on Plato's Parmenides 128c-d, that Zeno took on the project of creating these paradoxes
because other philosophers had created paradoxes against Parmenides's view. Thus Zeno can be interpreted as saying
that to assume there is plurality is even more absurd than assuming there is only "the One". (Parmenides 128d). Plato
makes Socrates claim that Zeno and Parmenides were essentially arguing exactly the same point (Parmenides
Some of Zeno's nine surviving paradoxes (preserved in Aristotle's Physics
and Simplicius's commentary thereon)
are essentially equivalent to one another. Aristotle offered a refutation of some of them.
Three of the strongest and
most famousˆthat of Achilles and the tortoise, the Dichotomy argument, and that of an arrow in flightˆare
presented in detail below.
Zeno's arguments are perhaps the first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurdum also known as
proof by contradiction. They are also credited as a source of the dialectic method used by Socrates.
Some mathematicians, such as Carl Boyer, hold that Zeno's paradoxes are simply mathematical problems, for which
modern calculus provides a mathematical solution.
Some philosophers, however, say that Zeno's paradoxes and
their variations (see Thomson's lamp) remain relevant metaphysical problems.
The origins of the paradoxes
are somewhat unclear. Diogenes Laertius, a fourth source for information about Zeno and his teachings, citing
Favorinus, says that Zeno's teacher Parmenides was the first to introduce the Achilles and the Tortoise Argument.
But in a later passage, Laertius attributes the origin of the paradox to Zeno, explaining that Favorinus disagrees.
Zeno's paradoxes
The Paradoxes of Motion
Achilles and the tortoise
In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point
whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead. • as recounted by Aristotle, Physics
VI:9, 239b15
In the paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise, Achilles is in a footrace with the tortoise. Achilles allows the tortoise a
head start of 100 metres, for example. If we suppose that each racer starts running at some constant speed (one very
fast and one very slow), then after some finite time, Achilles will have run 100 metres, bringing him to the tortoise's
starting point. During this time, the tortoise has run a much shorter distance, say, 10 metres. It will then take Achilles
some further time to run that distance, by which time the tortoise will have advanced farther; and then more time still
to reach this third point, while the tortoise moves ahead. Thus, whenever Achilles reaches somewhere the tortoise
has been, he still has farther to go. Therefore, because there are an infinite number of points Achilles must reach
where the tortoise has already been, he can never overtake the tortoise.
The dichotomy paradox
That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal.• as recounted by
Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b10
Suppose Homer wants to catch a stationary bus. Before he can get there, he must get halfway there. Before he can
get halfway there, he must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, he must travel one-eighth;
before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on.
The resulting sequence can be represented as:
This description requires one to complete an infinite number of tasks, which Zeno maintains is an impossibility.
This sequence also presents a second problem in that it contains no first distance to run, for any possible (finite) first
distance could be divided in half, and hence would not be first after all. Hence, the trip cannot even begin. The
paradoxical conclusion then would be that travel over any finite distance can neither be completed nor begun, and so
all motion must be an illusion.
This argument is called the Dichotomy because it involves repeatedly splitting a distance into two parts. It contains
some of the same elements as the Achilles and the Tortoise paradox, but with a more apparent conclusion of
motionlessness. It is also known as the Race Course paradox. Some, like Aristotle, regard the Dichotomy as really
just another version of Achilles and the Tortoise.
There are two versions of the dichotomy paradox. In the other version, before Homer could reach the stationary bus,
he must reach half of the distance to it. Before reaching the last half, he must complete the next quarter of the
distance. Reaching the next quarter, he must then cover the next eighth of the distance, then the next sixteenth, and
so on. There are thus an infinite number of steps that must first be accomplished before he could reach the bus, with
no way to establish the size of any "last" step. Expressed this way, the dichotomy paradox is very much analogous to
that of Achilles and the tortoise.
Zeno's paradoxes
The arrow paradox
If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying
such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless.
• as recounted by Aristotle, Physics
VI:9, 239b5
In the arrow paradox (also known as the fletcher's paradox), Zeno states that for motion to occur, an object must
change the position which it occupies. He gives an example of an arrow in flight. He states that in any one
(durationless) instant of time, the arrow is neither moving to where it is, nor to where it is not.
It cannot move to
where it is not, because no time elapses for it to move there; it cannot move to where it is, because it is already there.
In other words, at every instant of time there is no motion occurring. If everything is motionless at every instant, and
time is entirely composed of instants, then motion is impossible.
Whereas the first two paradoxes divide space, this paradox starts by dividing timeˆand not into segments, but into
Three other paradoxes as given by Aristotle
Paradox of Place:
"‡ if everything that exists has a place, place too will have a place, and so on ad infinitum."
Paradox of the Grain of Millet:
"‡ there is no part of the millet that does not make a sound: for there is no reason why any such part should
not in any length of time fail to move the air that the whole bushel moves in falling. In fact it does not of itself
move even such a quantity of the air as it would move if this part were by itself: for no part even exists
otherwise than potentially."
The Moving Rows (or Stadium):
"‡ concerning the two rows of bodies, each row being composed of an equal number of bodies of equal size,
passing each other on a race-course as they proceed with equal velocity in opposite directions, the one row
originally occupying the space between the goal and the middle point of the course and the other that between
the middle point and the starting-post. This...involves the conclusion that half a given time is equal to double
that time."
For an expanded account of Zeno's arguments as presented by Aristotle, see Simplicius' commentary On Aristotle's
Proposed solutions
According to Simplicius, Diogenes the Cynic said nothing upon hearing Zeno's arguments, but stood up and walked,
in order to demonstrate the falsity of Zeno's conclusions. To fully solve any of the paradoxes, however, one needs to
show what is wrong with the argument, not just the conclusions. Through history, several solutions have been
proposed, among the earliest recorded being those of Aristotle and Archimedes.
Aristotle (384 BC‰322 BC) remarked that as the distance decreases, the time needed to cover those distances also
decreases, so that the time needed also becomes increasingly small.
Aristotle also distinguished "things
infinite in respect of divisibility" (such as a unit of space that can be mentally divided into ever smaller units while
remaining spatially the same) from things (or distances) that are infinite in extension ("with respect to their
Before 212 BC, Archimedes had developed a method to derive a finite answer for the sum of infinitely many terms
that get progressively smaller. (See: Geometric series, 1/4 + 1/16 + 1/64 + 1/256 + ™ ™ ™, The Quadrature of the
Parabola.) Modern calculus achieves the same result, using more rigorous methods (see convergent series, where the
"reciprocals of powers of 2" series, equivalent to the Dichotomy Paradox, is listed as convergent). These methods
Zeno's paradoxes
allow the construction of solutions based on the conditions stipulated by Zeno, i.e. the amount of time taken at each
step is geometrically decreasing.
Aristotle's objection to the arrow paradox was that "Time is not composed of indivisible nows any more than any
other magnitude is composed of indivisibles."
Saint Thomas Aquinas, commenting on Aristotle's objection, wrote
"Instants are not parts of time, for time is not made up of instants any more than a magnitude is made of points, as
we have already proved. Hence it does not follow that a thing is not in motion in a given time, just because it is not
in motion in any instant of that time."
Bertrand Russell offered what is known as the "at-at theory of motion". It
agrees that there can be no motion "during" a durationless instant, and contends that all that is required for motion is
that the arrow be at one point at one time, at another point another time, and at appropriate points between those two
points for intervening times. In this view motion is a function of position with respect to time.
Nick Huggett
argues that Zeno is begging the question when he says that objects that occupy the same space as they do at rest must
be at rest.
Peter Lynds has argued that all of Zeno's motion paradoxes are resolved by the conclusion that instants in time and
instantaneous magnitudes do not physically exist.
Lynds argues that an object in relative motion cannot
have an instantaneous or determined relative position (for if it did, it could not be in motion), and so cannot have its
motion fractionally dissected as if it does, as is assumed by the paradoxes.
Another proposed solution is to question one of the assumptions Zeno used in his paradoxes (particularly the
Dichotomy), which is that between any two different points in space (or time), there is always another point. Without
this assumption there are only a finite number of distances between two points, hence there is no infinite sequence of
movements, and the paradox is resolved. The ideas of Planck length and Planck time in modern physics place a limit
on the measurement of time and space, if not on time and space themselves. According to Hermann Weyl, the
assumption that space is made of finite and discrete units is subject to a further problem, given by the "tile argument"
or "distance function problem".
According to this, the length of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle in
discretized space is always equal to the length of one of the two sides, in contradiction to geometry. Jean Paul Van
Bendegem has argued that the Tile Argument can be resolved, and that discretization can therefore remove the
Hans Reichenbach has proposed that the paradox may arise from considering space and time as separate entities. In a
theory like general relativity, which presumes a single space-time continuum, the paradox may be blocked.
The paradoxes in modern times
Infinite processes remained theoretically troublesome in mathematics until the late 19th century. The epsilon-delta
version of Weierstrass and Cauchy developed a rigorous formulation of the logic and calculus involved. These works
resolved the mathematics involving infinite processes.
While mathematics can be used to calculate where and when the moving Achilles will overtake the Tortoise of
Zeno's paradox, philosophers such as Brown and Moorcroft
claim that mathematics does not address the central
point in Zeno's argument, and that solving the mathematical issues does not solve every issue the paradoxes raise.
Zeno's arguments are often misrepresented in the popular literature. That is, Zeno is often said to have argued that
the sum of an infinite number of terms must itself be infinite•with the result that not only the time, but also the
distance to be travelled, become infinite. However, none of the original ancient sources has Zeno discussing the sum
of any infinite series. Simplicius has Zeno saying "it is impossible to traverse an infinite number of things in a finite
time". This presents Zeno's problem not with finding the sum, but rather with finishing a task with an infinite number
of steps: how can one ever get from A to B, if an infinite number of (non-instantaneous) events can be identified that
need to precede the arrival at B, and one cannot reach even the beginning of a "last event"?
Today there is still a debate on the question of whether or not Zeno's paradoxes have been resolved. In The History
of Mathematics, Burton writes, "Although Zeno's argument confounded his contemporaries, a satisfactory
Zeno's paradoxes
explanation incorporates a now-familiar idea, the notion of a 'convergent infinite series.'"
Bertrand Russell offered
a "solution" to the paradoxes based on modern physics, but Brown concludes "Given the history of 'final resolutions',
from Aristotle onwards, it's probably foolhardy to think we've reached the end. It may be that Zeno's arguments on
motion, because of their simplicity and universality, will always serve as a kind of 'Rorschach image' onto which
people can project their most fundamental phenomenological concerns (if they have any)."
The quantum Zeno effect
In 1977,
physicists E. C. G. Sudarshan and B. Misra studying quantum mechanics discovered that the dynamical
evolution (motion) of a quantum system can be hindered (or even inhibited) through observation of the system.
This effect is usually called the "quantum Zeno effect" as it is strongly reminiscent of Zeno's arrow paradox.
This effect was first theorized in 1958.
Zeno behaviour
In the field of verification and design of timed and hybrid systems, the system behaviour is called Zeno if it includes
an infinite number of discrete steps in a finite amount of time.
Some formal verification techniques exclude these
behaviours from analysis, if they are not equivalent to non-Zeno behaviour.
In systems design these
behaviours will also often be excluded from system models, since they cannot be implemented with a digital
A simple example of a system showing Zeno behaviour is a bouncing ball coming to rest. The physics
of a bouncing ball can be mathematically analyzed in such a way, ignoring factors other than rebound, to predict an
infinite number of bounces.
Writings about Zeno€s paradoxes
Zeno€s paradoxes have inspired many writers
€ Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace (Part 11, Chapter I) discusses the race of Achilles and the tortoise when critiquing
"historical science".
€ In the dialogue "What the Tortoise Said to Achilles", Lewis Carroll describes what happens at the end of the race.
The tortoise discusses with Achilles a simple deductive argument. Achilles fails in demonstrating the argument
because the tortoise leads him into an infinite regression.
€ In G€del, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter, the various chapters are separated by dialogues between Achilles
and the tortoise, inspired by Lewis Carroll€s works.
€ The Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges discusses Zeno€s paradoxes many times in his work, showing their
relationship with infinity. Borges also used Zeno€s paradoxes as a metaphor for some situations described by
Kafka. Borges traces, in an essay entitled "Avatars of the Tortoise", the many recurrences of this paradox in
works of philosophy. The successive references he traces are Agrippa the Skeptic, Thomas Aquinas, Hermann
Lotze, F.H. Bradley and William James.
€ In Tom Stoppard's play Jumpers, the philosopher George Moore attempts a practical disproof with bow and arrow
of the Dichotomy Paradox, with disastrous consequences for the hare and the tortoise.
€ Harry Mulisch's philosophical magnum opus, De compositie van de wereld (Amsterdam, 1980) is based on Zeno's
Paradoxes mostly. Along with Herakleitos' thoughts and Cusanus' coincidentia oppositorum they constitute the
foundation for his own system of the 'octave'.
€ In the novel Small Gods by Terry Pratchett the prophet Brutha encounters several Ephebian (Greek) philosophers
in the country, attempting to disprove Zeno's paradox by shooting arrows at a succession of tortoises. So far, this
has resulted only in a succession of "tortoise-kabobs."
Zeno's paradoxes
In popular culture
€ The Firesign Theatre's 1969 album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All
contains a section originally titled "The Policemen's Brawl" but retitled "Zeno's Evil" when released on CD. In
this segment, as the lead character is driving along in his new car, a series of audible highway signs reports that
the distance to the Antelope Freeway is 1 mile, then
mile, then
mile, and so on. The signs' monolog
is interrupted just after reaching the
mile mark.
€ The web comic xkcd makes reference to Zeno's paradoxes: the comic Advent Calendar
shows an advent
calendar version of Achilles and the Tortoise paradox, and the comic Proof
shows a courtroom where Zeno
claims to be able to prove that his client could not have killed anyone with an arrow, referencing the arrow
[1] Aristotle's Physics (http:/ / classics. mit. edu/ Aristotle/ physics. html) "Physics" by Aristotle translated by R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye
[2] ([fragment 65], Diogenes Laertius. IX (http:/ / classicpersuasion. org/ pw/ diogenes/ dlzeno-eleatic. htm) 25ff and VIII 57).
[3] Boyer, Carl (1959). The History of the Calculus and Its Conceptual Development (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=w3xKLt_da2UC&
dq=zeno+ calculus& q=zeno#v=snippet& q=zeno). Dover Publications. p. 295. ISBN 978-0-486-60509-8. . Retrieved 2010-02-26. "If the
paradoxes are thus stated in the precise mathematical terminology of continuous variables (...) the seeming contradictions resolve themselves."
[4] Brown, Kevin. "Zeno and the Paradox of Motion" (http:/ / www. mathpages. com/ rr/ s3-07/ 3-07. htm). Reflections on Relativity. . Retrieved
[5] Moorcroft, Francis. "Zeno's Paradox" (http:/ / web.archive. org/ web/ 20100418141459id_/ http:/ / www. philosophers. co. uk/ cafe/
paradox5. htm). Archived from the original (http:/ / www. philosophers. co. uk/ cafe/ paradox5. htm) on 2010-04-18. .
[6] Papa-Grimaldi, Alba (1996). "Why Mathematical Solutions of Zeno's Paradoxes Miss the Point: Zeno's One and Many Relation and
Parmenides' Prohibition" (http:/ / philsci-archive.pitt.edu/ 2304/ 1/ zeno_maths_review_metaphysics_alba_papa_grimaldi. pdf) (PDF). The
Review of Metaphysics 50: 299•314. .
[7] Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 9.23 and 9.29.
[8] "Math Forum" (http:/ / mathforum.org/ isaac/ problems/ zeno1. html). ., matchforum.org
[9] Huggett, Nick (2010). "Zeno's Paradoxes: 3.2 Achilles and the Tortoise" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ paradox-zeno/ #AchTor).
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Retrieved 2011-03-07.
[10] Huggett, Nick (2010). "Zeno's Paradoxes: 3.1 The Dichotomy" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ paradox-zeno/ #Dic). Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Retrieved 2011-03-07.
[11] Aristotle. "Physics" (http:/ / classics. mit.edu/ Aristotle/ physics. 6. vi. html#752). The Internet Classics Archive. . "Zeno's reasoning,
however, is fallacious, when he says that if everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always
occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless. This is false, for time is not composed of indivisible moments
any more than any other magnitude is composed of indivisibles."
[12] Laertius, Diogenes (about 230 CE). "Pyrrho" (http:/ / en. wikisource. org/ wiki/ Lives_of_the_Eminent_Philosophers/ Book_IX#Pyrrho).
Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. IX. passage 72. ISBN 1-116-71900-2. .
[13] Huggett, Nick (2010). "Zeno's Paradoxes: 3.3 The Arrow" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ paradox-zeno/ #Arr). Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy. . Retrieved 2011-03-07.
[14] Aristotle Physics IV:1, 209a25 (http:/ / classics. mit.edu/ Aristotle/ physics. 4. iv. html)
[15] Aristotle Physics VII:5, 250a20 (http:/ / classics. mit.edu/ Aristotle/ physics. 7. vii. html)
[16] Aristotle Physics VI:9, 239b33 (http:/ / classics.mit. edu/ Aristotle/ physics. 6. vi. html)
[17] [17] Aristotle. Physics 6.9
[18] Aristotle's observation that the fractional times also get shorter does not guarantee, in every case, that the task can be completed. One case in
which it does not hold is that in which the fractional times decrease in a harmonic series, while the distances decrease geometrically, such as:
1/2 s for 1/2 m gain, 1/3 s for next 1/4 m gain, 1/4 s for next 1/8 m gain, 1/5 s for next 1/16 m gain, 1/6 s for next 1/32 m gain, etc. In this case,
the distances form a convergent series, but the times form a divergent series, the sum of which has no limit. Archimedes developed a more
explicitly mathematical approach than Aristotle.
[19] [19] Aristotle. Physics 6.9; 6.2, 233a21-31
[20] George B. Thomas, Calculus and Analytic Geometry, Addison Wesley, 1951
[21] Aristotle. Physics (http:/ / classics. mit.edu/ Aristotle/ physics. 6. vi. html). VI. Part 9 verse: 239b5. ISBN 0-585-09205-2. .
[22] [22] Aquinas. Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, Book 6.861
[23] Huggett, Nick (1999). Space From Zeno to Einstein. ISBN 0-262-08271-3.
[24] Salmon, Wesley C. (1998). Causality and Explanation (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=uPRbOOv1YxUC& pg=PA198& lpg=PA198&
dq=at+ at+ theory+ of+ motion+ russell#v=onepage& q=at at theory of motion russell& f=false). p. 198. ISBN 978-0-19-510864-4. .
[25] Lynds, Peter. Zeno's Paradoxes: a Timely Solution (http:/ / philsci-archive. pitt. edu/ 1197/ )
Zeno's paradoxes
[26] [26] Lynds, Peter. Time and Classical and Quantum Mechanics: Indeterminacy vs. Discontinuity. Foundations of Physics Letter s (Vol. 16, Issue
4, 2003). doi:10.1023/A:1025361725408
[27] Time€s Up Einstein (http:/ / www. wired.com/ wired/ archive/ 13. 06/ physics. html), Josh McHugh, Wired Magazine, June 2005
[28] Van Bendegem, Jean Paul (17 March 2010). "Finitism in Geometry" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ geometry-finitism/
#SomParSolProDea). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Retrieved 2012-01-03.
[29] Cohen, Marc (11 December 2000). "ATOMISM" (https:/ / www. aarweb. org/ syllabus/ syllabi/ c/ cohen/ phil320/ atomism. htm). History of
Ancient Philosophy, University of Washington. . Retrieved 2012-01-03.
[30] van Bendegem, Jean Paul (1987). "Discussion:Zeno's Paradoxes and the Tile Argument". Philosophy of Science (Belgium) 54 (2): 295•302.
doi:10.1086/289379. JSTOR 187807.
[31] [31] Hans Reichenbach (1958) The Philosophy of Space and Time. Dover
[32] Lee, Harold (1965). "Are Zeno's Paradoxes Based on a Mistake?". Mind (Oxford University Press) 74 (296): 563•570. JSTOR 2251675.
[33] Huggett, Nick (2010). "Zeno's Paradoxes: 5. Zeno's Influence on Philosophy" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ paradox-zeno/ #ZenInf).
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Retrieved 2011-03-07.
[34] Burton, David, A History of Mathematics: An Introduction, McGraw Hill, 2010, ISBN 978-0-07-338315-6
[35] Sudarshan, E. C. G.; Misra, B. (1977). "The Zeno€s paradox in quantum theory". Journal of Mathematical Physics 18 (4): 756•763.
Bibcode 1977JMP....18..756M. doi:10.1063/1.523304
[36] W.M.Itano; D.J.Heinsen, J.J.Bokkinger, D.J.Wineland (1990). "Quantum Zeno effect" (http:/ / www. boulder. nist. gov/ timefreq/ general/
pdf/ 858. pdf) (PDF). PRA 41 (5): 2295•2300. Bibcode 1990PhRvA..41.2295I. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.41.2295. .
[37] Khalfin, L.A. (1958). Soviet Phys. JETP 6: 1053. Bibcode 1958JETP....6.1053K
[38] Paul A. Fishwick, ed. (1 June 2007). "15.6 "Pathological Behavior Classes" in chapter 15 "Hybrid Dynamic Systems: Modeling and
Execution" by Pieter J. Mosterman, The Mathworks, Inc." (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=cM-eFv1m3BoC& pg=SA15-PA22). Handbook of
dynamic system modeling. Chapman & Hall/CRC Computer and Information Science (hardcover ed.). Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press.
pp. 15•22 to 15•23. ISBN 978-1-58488-565-8. . Retrieved 2010-03-05.
[39] Lamport, Leslie (2002) (PDF). Specifying Systems (http:/ / research. microsoft. com/ en-us/ um/ people/ lamport/ tla/ book-02-08-08. pdf).
Addison-Wesley. p. 128. ISBN 0-321-14306-X. . Retrieved 2010-03-06.
[40] Zhang, Jun; Johansson, Karl; Lygeros, John; Sastry, Shankar (2001). "Zeno hybrid systems" (http:/ / aphrodite. s3. kth. se/ ~kallej/ papers/
zeno_ijnrc01. pdf). International Journal for Robust and Nonlinear control. . Retrieved 2010-02-28.
[41] Franck, Cassez; Henzinger, Thomas; Raskin, Jean-Francois (2002). A Comparison of Control Problems for Timed and Hybrid Systems
(http:/ / mtc. epfl. ch/ ~tah/ Publications/ a_comparison_of_control_problems_for_timed_and_hybrid_systems. html). . Retrieved 2010-03-02.
[42] Borges, Jorge Luis (1964). Labyrinths. London: Penguin. pp. 237•243. ISBN 0-8112-0012-4.
[43] http:/ / xkcd. com/ 994/
[44] http:/ / xkcd. com/ 1153/
€ Kirk, G. S., J. E. Raven, M. Schofield (1984) The Presocratic Philosophers: A Critical History with a Selection of
Texts, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-27455-9.
€ Huggett, Nick (2010). "Zeno's Paradoxes" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ paradox-zeno/ ). Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2011-03-07.
€ Plato (1926) Plato: Cratylus. Parmenides. Greater Hippias. Lesser Hippias, H. N. Fowler (Translator), Loeb
Classical Library. ISBN 0-674-99185-0.
€ Sainsbury, R.M. (2003) Paradoxes, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-48347-6.
External links
€ Silagadze, Z . K. " Zeno meets modern science, (http:/ / uk. arxiv. org/ abs/ physics/ 0505042)"
€ Zeno's Paradox: Achilles and the Tortoise (http:/ / demonstrations. wolfram. com/
ZenosParadoxAchillesAndTheTortoise/ ) by Jon McLoone, Wolfram Demonstrations Project.
€ Kevin Brown on Zeno and the Paradox of Motion (http:/ / www. mathpages. com/ rr/ s3-07/ 3-07. htm)
€ Palmer, John (2008). "Zeno of Elea" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ zeno-elea/ ). Stanford Encyclopedia of
This article incorporates material from Zeno's paradox on PlanetMath, which is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
Eudoxus of Cnidus
Eudoxus of Cnidus
Eudoxus of Cnidus (410 or 408 BC • 355 or 347 BC) was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student
of Plato. Since all his own works are lost, knowledge of him is obtained from secondary sources, such as Aratus's
poem on astronomy. Theodosius of Bithynia's important work, Sphaerics, may be based on a work of Eudoxus.
His name Eudoxus means "honored" or "of good repute" (in Greek š›œ•ž•Ž, from eu "good" and doxa "opinion,
belief, fame"). It is analogous to the Latin name Benedictus.
Eudoxus's father Aeschines of Cnidus loved to watch stars at night. Eudoxus first travelled to Tarentum to study with
Archytas, from whom he learned mathematics. While in Italy, Eudoxus visited Sicily, where he studied medicine
with Philiston.
Around 387 BC, at the age of 23, he traveled with the physician Theomedon, who according to Diogenes La•rtius
some believed was his lover,
to Athens to study with the followers of Socrates. He eventually became the pupil of
Plato, with whom he studied for several months, but due to a disagreement they had a falling out. Eudoxus was quite
poor and could only afford an apartment at the Piraeus. To attend Plato's lectures, he walked the seven miles (11 km)
each direction, each day. Due to his poverty, his friends raised funds sufficient to send him to Heliopolis, Egypt to
pursue his study of astronomy and mathematics. He lived there for 16 months. From Egypt, he then traveled north to
Cyzicus, located on the south shore of the Sea of Marmara, the Propontis. He traveled south to the court of
Mausolus. During his travels he gathered many students of his own.
Around 368 BC, Eudoxus returned to Athens with his students. According to some sources, around 367 he assumed
headship of the Academy during Plato's period in Syracuse, and taught Aristotle. He eventually returned to his native
Cnidus, where he served in the city assembly. While in Cnidus, he built an observatory and continued writing and
lecturing on theology, astronomy and meteorology. He had one son, Aristagoras, and three daughters, Actis, Philtis
and Delphis.
In mathematical astronomy, his fame is due to the introduction of the astronomical globe, and his early contributions
to understanding the movement of the planets.
His work on proportions shows tremendous insight into numbers; it allows rigorous treatment of continuous
quantities and not just whole numbers or even rational numbers. When it was revived by Tartaglia and others in the
16th century, it became the basis for quantitative work in science for a century, until it was replaced by the algebraic
methods of Descartes.
Craters on Mars and the Moon are named in his honor. An algebraic curve (the Kampyle of Eudoxus) is also named
after him
= b
+ y
Eudoxus is considered by some to be the greatest of classical Greek mathematicians, and in all antiquity, second only
to Archimedes. He rigorously developed Antiphon's method of exhaustion, a precursor to the integral calculus which
was also used in a masterly way by Archimedes in the following century. In applying the method, Eudoxus proved
such mathematical statements as: areas of circles are to one another as the squares of their radii, volumes of spheres
are to one another as the cubes of their radii, the volume of a pyramid is one-third the volume of a prism with the
same base and altitude, and the volume of a cone is one-third that of the corresponding cylinder.
Eudoxus introduced the idea of non-quantified mathematical magnitude to describe and work with continuous
geometrical entities such as lines, angles, areas and volumes, thereby avoiding the use of irrational numbers. In doing
Eudoxus of Cnidus
so, he reversed a Pythagorean emphasis on number and arithmetic, focusing instead on geometrical concepts as the
basis of rigorous mathematics. Some Pythagoreans, such as Eudoxus' teacher Archytas, had believed that only
arithmetic could provide a basis for proofs. Induced by the need to understand and operate with incommensurable
quantities, Eudoxus established what may have been the first deductive organization of mathematics on the basis of
explicit axioms. The change in focus by Eudoxus stimulated a divide in mathematics which lasted two thousand
years. In combination with a Greek intellectual attitude unconcerned with practical problems, there followed a
significant retreat from the development of techniques in arithmetic and algebra.
The Pythagoreans had discovered that the diagonal of a square does not have a common unit of measurement with
the sides of the square; this is the famous discovery that the square root of 2 cannot be expressed as the ratio of two
integers. This discovery had heralded the existence of incommensurable quantities beyond the integers and rational
fractions, but at the same time it threw into question the idea of measurement and calculations in geometry as a
whole. For example, Euclid provides an elaborate proof of the Pythagorean theorem (Elements I.47), by using
addition of areas and only much later (Elements VI.31) a simpler proof from similar triangles, which relies on ratios
of line segments.
Ancient Greek mathematicians calculated not with quantities and equations as we do today, but instead they used
proportionalities to express the relationship between quantities. Thus the ratio of two similar quantities was not just a
numerical value, as we think of it today; the ratio of two similar quantities was a primitive relationship between
Eudoxus was able to restore confidence in the use of proportionalities by providing an astounding definition for the
meaning of the equality between two ratios. This definition of proportion forms the subject of Euclid's Book V.
In Definition 5 of Euclid's Book V we read:
Magnitudes are said to be in the same ratio, the first to the second and the third to the fourth when, if any
equimultiples whatever be taken of the first and third, and any equimultiples whatever of the second and
fourth, the former equimultiples alike exceed, are alike equal to, or alike fall short of, the latter equimultiples
respectively taken in corresponding order.
Let us clarify it by using modern-day notation. If we take four quantities: a, b, c, and d, then the first and second
have a ratio ; similarly the third and fourth have a ratio .
Now to say that we do the following: For any two arbitrary integers, m and n, form the equimultiples
m™a and m™c of the first and third; likewise form the equimultiples n™b and n™d of the second and fourth.
If it happens that m™a > n™b, then we must also have m™c > n™d. If it happens that m™a = n™b, then we must also have
m™c = n™d. Finally, if it happens that m™a < n™b, then we must also have m™c < n™d.
Notice that the definition depends on comparing the similar quantities m™a and n™b, and the similar quantities m™c and
n™d, and does not depend on the existence of a common unit of measuring these quantities.
The complexity of the definition reflects the deep conceptual and methodological innovation involved. It brings to
mind the famous fifth postulate of Euclid concerning parallels, which is more extensive and complicated in its
wording than the other postulates.
The Eudoxian definition of proportionality uses the quantifier, "for every ..." to harness the infinite and the
infinitesimal, just as do the modern epsilon-delta definitions of limit and continuity.
Additionally, the Archimedean property stated as definition 4 of Euclid's book V is originally due not to Archimedes
but to Eudoxus.
Eudoxus of Cnidus
In ancient Greece, astronomy was a branch of mathematics; astronomers sought to create geometrical models that
could imitate the appearances of celestial motions. Identifying the astronomical work of Eudoxus as a separate
category is therefore a modern convenience. Some of Eudoxus' astronomical texts whose names have survived
€ Disappearances of the Sun, possibly on eclipses
€ Oktaeteris (ŸŒ—ŠŒ••”Ž), on an eight-year lunisolar cycle of the calendar
€ Phaenomena (¡—’…¢–Š…—) and Entropon (£…Œ••‘•…), on spherical astronomy, probably based on observations
made by Eudoxus in Egypt and Cnidus
€ On Speeds, on planetary motions
We are fairly well informed about the contents of Phaenomena, for Eudoxus' prose text was the basis for a poem of
the same name by Aratus. Hipparchus quoted from the text of Eudoxus in his commentary on Aratus.
Eudoxan planetary models
A general idea of the content of On Speeds can be gleaned from Aristotle's Metaphysics XII, 8, and a commentary by
Simplicius of Cilicia (6th century CE) on De caelo, another work by Aristotle. According to a story reported by
Simplicius, Plato posed a question for Greek astronomers: "By the assumption of what uniform and orderly motions
can the apparent motions of the planets be accounted for?" (quoted in Lloyd 1970, p. 84). Plato proposed that the
seemingly chaotic wandering motions of the planets could be explained by combinations of uniform circular motions
centered on a spherical Earth, apparently a novel idea in the 4th century.
In most modern reconstructions of the Eudoxan model, the Moon is assigned three spheres:
€€ The outermost rotates westward once in 24 hours, explaining rising and setting.
€ The second rotates eastward once in a month, explaining the monthly motion of the Moon through the zodiac.
€ The third also completes its revolution in a month, but its axis is tilted at a slightly different angle, explaining
motion in latitude (deviation from the ecliptic), and the motion of the lunar nodes.
The Sun is also assigned three spheres. The second completes its motion in a year instead of a month. The inclusion
of a third sphere implies that Eudoxus mistakenly believed that the Sun had motion in latitude.
The five visible planets (Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) are assigned four spheres each:
€€ The outermost explains the daily motion.
€€ The second explains the planet's motion through the zodiac.
€ The third and fourth together explain retrogradation, when a planet appears to slow down, then briefly reverse its
motion through the zodiac. By inclining the axes of the two spheres with respect to each other, and rotating them
in opposite directions but with equal periods, Eudoxus could make a point on the inner sphere trace out a
figure-eight shape, or hippopede.
Eudoxus of Cnidus
Importance of Eudoxan system
Callippus, a Greek astronomer of the 4th century, added seven spheres to Eudoxus' original 27 (in addition to the
planetary spheres, Eudoxus included a sphere for the fixed stars). Aristotle described both systems, but insisted on
adding "unrolling" spheres between each set of spheres to cancel the motions of the outer set. Aristotle was
concerned about the physical nature of the system; without unrollers, the outer motions would be transferred to the
inner planets.
A major flaw in the Eudoxan system is its inability to explain changes in the brightness of planets as seen from
Earth. Because the spheres are concentric, planets will always remain at the same distance from Earth. This problem
was pointed out in Antiquity by Autolycus of Pitane. Astronomers responded by introducing the deferent and
epicycle, which caused a planet to vary its distance. However, Eudoxus' importance to Greek astronomy is
considerable, as he was the first to attempt a mathematical explanation of the planets.
Aristotle, in The Nicomachean Ethics
attributes to Eudoxus an argument in favor of hedonism, that is, that
pleasure is the ultimate good that activity strives for. According to Aristotle, Eudoxus put forward the following
arguments for this position:
1. 1. All things, rational and irrational, aim at pleasure; things aim at what they believe to be good; a good indication
of what the chief good is would be the thing that most things aim at.
2. Similarly, pleasure's opposite ‰ pain ‰ is universally avoided, which provides additional support for the idea that
pleasure is universally considered good.
3. 3. People don't seek pleasure as a means to something else, but as an end in its own right.
4. 4. Any other good that you can think of would be better if pleasure were added to it, and it is only by good that good
can be increased.
5. Of all of the things that are good, happiness is peculiar for not being praised, which may show that it is the
crowning good.
€ Evans, James (1998). The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy. Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-509539-1. OCLC 185509676.
€ Huxley, GL (1980). Eudoxus of Cnidus p. 465-7 in: the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, volume 4.
€ Lloyd, GER (1970). Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle. W.W. Norton.
[1] [1] Diogenes Laertius; VIII.87
[2] Morris Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times Oxford University Press, 1972 pp. 48-50
[3] [3] ibid
[4] Knopp, Konrad (1951). Theory and Application of Infinite Series (English 2nd ed.). London and Glasgow: Blackie & Son, Ltd.. p. 7.
[5] [5] largely in book ten
[6] [6] this particular argument is referenced in book one
Eudoxus of Cnidus
Further reading
€ De Santillana, G. (1968). "Eudoxus and Plato: A Study in Chronology". Reflections on Men and Ideas.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
€ Huxley, G. L. (1963). "Eudoxian Topics". Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 4: 83•96.
€ Knorr, Wilbur Richard (1986). The Ancient tradition of geometric problems. Boston: Birkh¤user.
ISBN 0-8176-3148-8.
€ Knorr, Wilbur Richard (1978). "Archimedes and the Pre-Euclidean Proportion Theory". Archives Intemationales
d'histoire des Sciences 28: 183•244.
€ Neugebauer, O. (1975). A history of ancient mathematical astronomy. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
ISBN 0-387-06995-X.
€ Van der Waerden, B. L. (1988). Science Awakening (5th ed.). Leiden: Noordhoff.
External links
€ Working model and complete explanation of the Eudoxus's Spheres (http:/ / www. youtube. com/
€ Dennis Duke, "Statistical dating of the Phaenomena of Eudoxus", DIO, volume 15 (http:/ / www. dioi. org/ vols/
wf0. pdf) see pages 7 to 23
€ Diogenes La•rtius, Life of Eudoxus, translated by Robert Drew Hicks (1925). Wikisource
€ Eudoxus of Cnidus (http:/ / www. britannica. com/ EBchecked/ topic/ 195005/ Eudoxus-of-Cnidus)
€ Eudoxus of Cnidus (http:/ / www. math. tamu. edu/ ~don. allen/ history/ eudoxus/ eudoxus. html) Donald Allen,
Professor, Texas A&M University
€ Eudoxos of Knidos (Eudoxus of Cnidus): astronomy and homocentric spheres (http:/ / www. calstatela. edu/
faculty/ hmendel/ Ancient Mathematics/ Eudoxus/ Astronomy/ EudoxusHomocentricSpheres. htm) Henry
Mendell, Cal State U, LA
€ Herodotus Project: Extensive B+W photo essay of Cnidus (http:/ / www. losttrails. com/ pages/ Hproject/ Caria/
Cnidus/ Cnidus. html)
€ Models of Planetary MotionˆEudoxus (http:/ / faculty. fullerton. edu/ cmcconnell/ Planets. html#3), Craig
McConnell, Ph.D., Cal State, Fullerton
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Eudoxus of Cnidus" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Eudoxus. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ The Universe According to Eudoxus (http:/ / hsci. cas. ou. edu/ images/ applets/ hippopede. html) (Java applet)
Archimedes of Syracuse
(Greek: •‚ƒ„…†‡ˆ‰)
Archimedes Thoughtful by Fetti (1620)
Born c. 287 BC
Syracuse, Sicily
Magna Graecia
Died c. 212 BC (aged around
Residence Syracuse, Sicily
Fields Mathematics
Known for Archimedes' principle
Archimedes' screw
Archimedes of Syracuse (Greek: ¥•“’–„œ•Ž; c. 287 BC • c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist,
engineer, inventor, and astronomer.
Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading
scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an
explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, including siege engines
and the screw pump that bears his name. Modern experiments have tested claims that Archimedes designed
machines capable of lifting attacking ships out of the water and setting ships on fire using an array of mirrors.
Archimedes is generally considered to be the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all
He used the method of exhaustion to calculate the area under the arc of a parabola with the summation of
an infinite series, and gave a remarkably accurate approximation of pi.
He also defined the spiral bearing his name,
formulae for the volumes of surfaces of revolution and an ingenious system for expressing very large numbers.
Archimedes died during the Siege of Syracuse when he was killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he should
not be harmed. Cicero describes visiting the tomb of Archimedes, which was surmounted by a sphere inscribed
within a cylinder. Archimedes had proven that the sphere has two thirds of the volume and surface area of the
cylinder (including the bases of the latter), and regarded this as the greatest of his mathematical achievements.
Unlike his inventions, the mathematical writings of Archimedes were little known in antiquity. Mathematicians from
Alexandria read and quoted him, but the first comprehensive compilation was not made until c. 530 AD by Isidore of
Miletus, while commentaries on the works of Archimedes written by Eutocius in the sixth century AD opened them
to wider readership for the first time. The relatively few copies of Archimedes' written work that survived through
the Middle Ages were an influential source of ideas for scientists during the Renaissance,
while the discovery in
1906 of previously unknown works by Archimedes in the Archimedes Palimpsest has provided new insights into
how he obtained mathematical results.
This bronze statue of Archimedes is at the
Archenhold Observatory in Berlin. It was
sculpted by Gerhard Thieme and unveiled in
Archimedes was born c. 287 BC in the seaport city of Syracuse, Sicily,
at that time a self-governing colony in Magna Graecia. The date of
birth is based on a statement by the Byzantine Greek historian John
Tzetzes that Archimedes lived for 75 years.
In The Sand Reckoner,
Archimedes gives his father's name as Phidias, an astronomer about
whom nothing is known. Plutarch wrote in his Parallel Lives that
Archimedes was related to King Hiero II, the ruler of Syracuse.
biography of Archimedes was written by his friend Heracleides but this
work has been lost, leaving the details of his life obscure.
It is
unknown, for instance, whether he ever married or had children.
During his youth, Archimedes may have studied in Alexandria, Egypt,
where Conon of Samos and Eratosthenes of Cyrene were
contemporaries. He referred to Conon of Samos as his friend, while
two of his works (The Method of Mechanical Theorems and the Cattle Problem) have introductions addressed to
Archimedes died c. 212 BC during the Second Punic War, when Roman forces under General Marcus Claudius
Marcellus captured the city of Syracuse after a two-year-long siege. According to the popular account given by
Plutarch, Archimedes was contemplating a mathematical diagram when the city was captured. A Roman soldier
commanded him to come and meet General Marcellus but he declined, saying that he had to finish working on the
problem. The soldier was enraged by this, and killed Archimedes with his sword. Plutarch also gives a lesser-known
account of the death of Archimedes which suggests that he may have been killed while attempting to surrender to a
Roman soldier. According to this story, Archimedes was carrying mathematical instruments, and was killed because
the soldier thought that they were valuable items. General Marcellus was reportedly angered by the death of
Archimedes, as he considered him a valuable scientific asset and had ordered that he not be harmed.
A sphere has 2/3 the volume and surface area of
its circumscribing cylinder. A sphere and cylinder
were placed on the tomb of Archimedes at his
The last words attributed to Archimedes are "Do not disturb my
circles" (Greek: –„ –•¦ Œ•§Ž ¨‰•¦Ž Œ‹•—ŒŒŠ), a reference to the
circles in the mathematical drawing that he was supposedly studying
when disturbed by the Roman soldier. This quote is often given in
Latin as "Noli turbare circulos meos," but there is no reliable evidence
that Archimedes uttered these words and they do not appear in the
account given by Plutarch.
The tomb of Archimedes carried a sculpture illustrating his favorite
mathematical proof, consisting of a sphere and a cylinder of the same
height and diameter. Archimedes had proven that the volume and
surface area of the sphere are two thirds that of the cylinder including
its bases. In 75 BC, 137 years after his death, the Roman orator Cicero
was serving as quaestor in Sicily. He had heard stories about the tomb
of Archimedes, but none of the locals was able to give him the
location. Eventually he found the tomb near the Agrigentine gate in
Syracuse, in a neglected condition and overgrown with bushes. Cicero
had the tomb cleaned up, and was able to see the carving and read some of the verses that had been added as an
A tomb discovered in a hotel courtyard in Syracuse in the early 1960s was claimed to be that of
Archimedes, but its location today is unknown.
The standard versions of the life of Archimedes were written long after his death by the historians of Ancient Rome.
The account of the siege of Syracuse given by Polybius in his Universal History was written around seventy years
after Archimedes' death, and was used subsequently as a source by Plutarch and Livy. It sheds little light on
Archimedes as a person, and focuses on the war machines that he is said to have built in order to defend the city.
Discoveries and inventions
Archimedes' principle
Archimedes may have used his principle of
buoyancy to determine whether the golden crown
was less dense than solid gold.
The most widely known anecdote about Archimedes tells of how he
invented a method for determining the volume of an object with an
irregular shape. According to Vitruvius, a votive crown for a temple
had been made for King Hiero II, who had supplied the pure gold to be
used, and Archimedes was asked to determine whether some silver had
been substituted by the dishonest goldsmith.
Archimedes had to
solve the problem without damaging the crown, so he could not melt it
down into a regularly shaped body in order to calculate its density.
While taking a bath, he noticed that the level of the water in the tub
rose as he got in, and realized that this effect could be used to
determine the volume of the crown. For practical purposes water is
so the submerged crown would displace an amount
of water equal to its own volume. By dividing the mass of the crown
by the volume of water displaced, the density of the crown could be
obtained. This density would be lower than that of gold if cheaper and
less dense metals had been added. Archimedes then took to the streets
naked, so excited by his discovery that he had forgotten to dress,
crying "Eureka!" (Greek: "Š©••—!," meaning "I have found it!"). The test was conducted successfully, proving that
silver had indeed been mixed in.
The story of the golden crown does not appear in the known works of Archimedes. Moreover, the practicality of the
method it describes has been called into question, due to the extreme accuracy with which one would have to
measure the water displacement.
Archimedes may have instead sought a solution that applied the principle known
in hydrostatics as Archimedes' principle, which he describes in his treatise On Floating Bodies. This principle states
that a body immersed in a fluid experiences a buoyant force equal to the weight of the fluid it displaces.
this principle, it would have been possible to compare the density of the golden crown to that of solid gold by
balancing the crown on a scale with a gold reference sample, then immersing the apparatus in water. The difference
in density between the two samples would cause the scale to tip accordingly. Galileo considered it "probable that this
method is the same that Archimedes followed, since, besides being very accurate, it is based on demonstrations
found by Archimedes himself."
Archimedes' screw
The Archimedes screw can raise water efficiently.
A large part of Archimedes' work in engineering arose from fulfilling
the needs of his home city of Syracuse. The Greek writer Athenaeus of
Naucratis described how King Hiero II commissioned Archimedes to
design a huge ship, the Syracusia, which could be used for luxury
travel, carrying supplies, and as a naval warship. The Syracusia is said
to have been the largest ship built in classical antiquity.
to Athenaeus, it was capable of carrying 600 people and included
garden decorations, a gymnasium and a temple dedicated to the
goddess Aphrodite among its facilities. Since a ship of this size would
leak a considerable amount of water through the hull, the Archimedes
screw was purportedly developed in order to remove the bilge water.
Archimedes' machine was a device with a revolving screw-shaped blade inside a cylinder. It was turned by hand, and
could also be used to transfer water from a low-lying body of water into irrigation canals. The Archimedes screw is
still in use today for pumping liquids and granulated solids such as coal and grain. The Archimedes screw described
in Roman times by Vitruvius may have been an improvement on a screw pump that was used to irrigate the Hanging
Gardens of Babylon.
The world's first seagoing steamship with a screw propeller was the SS Archimedes,
which was launched in 1839 and named in honor of Archimedes and his work on the screw.
Claw of Archimedes
The Claw of Archimedes is a weapon that he is said to have designed in order to defend the city of Syracuse. Also
known as "the ship shaker," the claw consisted of a crane-like arm from which a large metal grappling hook was
suspended. When the claw was dropped onto an attacking ship the arm would swing upwards, lifting the ship out of
the water and possibly sinking it. There have been modern experiments to test the feasibility of the claw, and in 2005
a television documentary entitled Superweapons of the Ancient World built a version of the claw and concluded that
it was a workable device.
Heat ray
Archimedes may have used mirrors acting
collectively as a parabolic reflector to burn ships
attacking Syracuse.
The 2nd century AD author Lucian wrote that during the Siege of
Syracuse (c. 214•212 BC), Archimedes destroyed enemy ships with
fire. Centuries later, Anthemius of Tralles mentions burning-glasses as
Archimedes' weapon.
The device, sometimes called the
"Archimedes heat ray", was used to focus sunlight onto approaching
ships, causing them to catch fire.
This purported weapon has been the subject of ongoing debate about
its credibility since the Renaissance. Ren• Descartes rejected it as
false, while modern researchers have attempted to recreate the effect
using only the means that would have been available to
It has been suggested that a large array of highly
polished bronze or copper shields acting as mirrors could have been
employed to focus sunlight onto a ship. This would have used the
principle of the parabolic reflector in a manner similar to a solar
A test of the Archimedes heat ray was carried out in 1973 by the Greek
scientist Ioannis Sakkas. The experiment took place at the Skaramagas naval base outside Athens. On this occasion
70 mirrors were used, each with a copper coating and a size of around five by three feet (1.5 by 1 m). The mirrors
were pointed at a plywood mock-up of a Roman warship at a distance of around 160 feet (50 m). When the mirrors
were focused accurately, the ship burst into flames within a few seconds. The plywood ship had a coating of tar
paint, which may have aided combustion.
A coating of tar would have been commonplace on ships in the
classical era.
In October 2005 a group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology carried out an experiment with
127 one-foot (30 cm) square mirror tiles, focused on a mock-up wooden ship at a range of around 100 feet (30 m).
Flames broke out on a patch of the ship, but only after the sky had been cloudless and the ship had remained
stationary for around ten minutes. It was concluded that the device was a feasible weapon under these conditions.
The MIT group repeated the experiment for the television show MythBusters, using a wooden fishing boat in San
Francisco as the target. Again some charring occurred, along with a small amount of flame. In order to catch fire,
wood needs to reach its autoignition temperature, which is around 300 ªC (570 ªF).
When MythBusters broadcast the result of the San Francisco experiment in January 2006, the claim was placed in the
category of "busted" (or failed) because of the length of time and the ideal weather conditions required for
combustion to occur. It was also pointed out that since Syracuse faces the sea towards the east, the Roman fleet
would have had to attack during the morning for optimal gathering of light by the mirrors. MythBusters also pointed
out that conventional weaponry, such as flaming arrows or bolts from a catapult, would have been a far easier way of
setting a ship on fire at short distances.
In December 2010, MythBusters again looked at the heat ray story in a special edition featuring Barack Obama,
entitled President's Challenge. Several experiments were carried out, including a large scale test with 500
schoolchildren aiming mirrors at a mock-up of a Roman sailing ship 400 feet (120 m) away. In all of the
experiments, the sail failed to reach the 210 ªC (410 ªF) required to catch fire, and the verdict was again "busted".
The show concluded that a more likely effect of the mirrors would have been blinding, dazzling, or distracting the
crew of the ship.
Other discoveries and inventions
While Archimedes did not invent the lever, he gave an explanation of the principle involved in his work On the
Equilibrium of Planes. Earlier descriptions of the lever are found in the Peripatetic school of the followers of
Aristotle, and are sometimes attributed to Archytas.
According to Pappus of Alexandria, Archimedes' work on
levers caused him to remark: "Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth." (Greek: œ«Ž –•’ ‘¬ -Œ« —®
Œ¯… °¬… ’…‹-†)
Plutarch describes how Archimedes designed block-and-tackle pulley systems, allowing sailors
to use the principle of leverage to lift objects that would otherwise have been too heavy to move.
Archimedes has
also been credited with improving the power and accuracy of the catapult, and with inventing the odometer during
the First Punic War. The odometer was described as a cart with a gear mechanism that dropped a ball into a
container after each mile traveled.
Cicero (106•43 BC) mentions Archimedes briefly in his dialogue De re publica, which portrays a fictional
conversation taking place in 129 BC. After the capture of Syracuse c. 212 BC, General Marcus Claudius Marcellus is
said to have taken back to Rome two mechanisms, constructed by Archimedes and used as aids in astronomy, which
showed the motion of the Sun, Moon and five planets. Cicero mentions similar mechanisms designed by Thales of
Miletus and Eudoxus of Cnidus. The dialogue says that Marcellus kept one of the devices as his only personal loot
from Syracuse, and donated the other to the Temple of Virtue in Rome. Marcellus' mechanism was demonstrated,
according to Cicero, by Gaius Sulpicius Gallus to Lucius Furius Philus, who described it thus:
Hanc sphaeram Gallus cum moveret, fiebat ut soli luna totidem conversionibus in aere illo quot diebus in ipso
caelo succederet, ex quo et in caelo sphaera solis fieret eadem illa defectio, et incideret luna tum in eam metam
quae esset umbra terrae, cum sol e regione. ˆ When Gallus moved the globe, it happened that the Moon
followed the Sun by as many turns on that bronze contrivance as in the sky itself, from which also in the sky
the Sun's globe became to have that same eclipse, and the Moon came then to that position which was its
shadow on the Earth, when the Sun was in line.
This is a description of a planetarium or orrery. Pappus of Alexandria stated that Archimedes had written a
manuscript (now lost) on the construction of these mechanisms entitled On Sphere-Making. Modern research in this
area has been focused on the Antikythera mechanism, another device from classical antiquity that was probably
designed for the same purpose. Constructing mechanisms of this kind would have required a sophisticated
knowledge of differential gearing. This was once thought to have been beyond the range of the technology available
in ancient times, but the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism in 1902 has confirmed that devices of this kind
were known to the ancient Greeks.
While he is often regarded as a designer of mechanical devices, Archimedes also made contributions to the field of
mathematics. Plutarch wrote: "He placed his whole affection and ambition in those purer speculations where there
can be no reference to the vulgar needs of life."
Archimedes used Pythagoras' Theorem to
calculate the side of the 12-gon from that of the
hexagon and for each subsequent doubling of the
sides of the regular polygon.
Archimedes was able to use infinitesimals in a way that is similar to
modern integral calculus. Through proof by contradiction (reductio ad
absurdum), he could give answers to problems to an arbitrary degree of
accuracy, while specifying the limits within which the answer lay. This
technique is known as the method of exhaustion, and he employed it to
approximate the value of ‘. In Measurement of a Circle he did this by
drawing a larger regular hexagon outside a circle and a smaller regular
hexagon inside the circle, and progressively doubling the number of
sides of each regular polygon, calculating the length of a side of each
polygon at each step. As the number of sides increases, it becomes a
more accurate approximation of a circle. After four such steps, when
the polygons had 96 sides each, he was able to determine that the value
of ‘ lay between 3
(approximately 3.1429) and 3
(approximately 3.1408), consistent with its actual value of
approximately 3.1416.
He also proved that the area of a circle was equal to ‘ multiplied by the square of the
radius of the circle (‘r
). In On the Sphere and Cylinder, Archimedes postulates that any magnitude when added to
itself enough times will exceed any given magnitude. This is the Archimedean property of real numbers.
In Measurement of a Circle, Archimedes gives the value of the square root of 3 as lying between
(approximately 1.7320261) and
(approximately 1.7320512). The actual value is approximately 1.7320508,
making this a very accurate estimate. He introduced this result without offering any explanation of how he had
obtained it. This aspect of the work of Archimedes caused John Wallis to remark that he was: "as it were of set
purpose to have covered up the traces of his investigation as if he had grudged posterity the secret of his method of
inquiry while he wished to extort from them assent to his results."
It is possible that he used an iterative procedure
to calculate these values.
As proven by Archimedes, the area of the
parabolic segment in the upper figure is equal to
4/3 that of the inscribed triangle in the lower
In The Quadrature of the Parabola, Archimedes proved that the area
enclosed by a parabola and a straight line is
times the area of a
corresponding inscribed triangle as shown in the figure at right. He
expressed the solution to the problem as an infinite geometric series
with the common ratio
If the first term in this series is the area of the triangle, then the second
is the sum of the areas of two triangles whose bases are the two smaller
secant lines, and so on. This proof uses a variation of the series 1/4 +
1/16 + 1/64 + 1/256 + ™ ™ ™ which sums to
In The Sand Reckoner, Archimedes set out to calculate the number of
grains of sand that the universe could contain. In doing so, he
challenged the notion that the number of grains of sand was too large
to be counted. He wrote: "There are some, King Gelo (Gelo II, son of
Hiero II), who think that the number of the sand is infinite in
multitude; and I mean by the sand not only that which exists about
Syracuse and the rest of Sicily but also that which is found in every
region whether inhabited or uninhabited." To solve the problem,
Archimedes devised a system of counting based on the myriad. The
word is from the Greek –¦•’‹Ž murias, for the number 10,000. He
proposed a number system using powers of a myriad of myriads (100
million) and concluded that the number of grains of sand required to fill the universe would be 8 vigintillion, or
The works of Archimedes were written in Doric Greek, the dialect of ancient Syracuse.
The written work of
Archimedes has not survived as well as that of Euclid, and seven of his treatises are known to have existed only
through references made to them by other authors. Pappus of Alexandria mentions On Sphere-Making and another
work on polyhedra, while Theon of Alexandria quotes a remark about refraction from the now-lost Catoptrica.
During his lifetime, Archimedes made his work known through correspondence with the mathematicians in
Alexandria. The writings of Archimedes were collected by the Byzantine architect Isidore of Miletus (c. 530 AD),
while commentaries on the works of Archimedes written by Eutocius in the sixth century AD helped to bring his
work a wider audience. Archimedes' work was translated into Arabic by Th²bit ibn Qurra (836•901 AD), and Latin
by Gerard of Cremona (c. 1114•1187 AD). During the Renaissance, the Editio Princeps (First Edition) was
published in Basel in 1544 by Johann Herwagen with the works of Archimedes in Greek and Latin.
Around the
year 1586 Galileo Galilei invented a hydrostatic balance for weighing metals in air and water after apparently being
inspired by the work of Archimedes.
Surviving works
Archimedes is said to have remarked of the lever:
Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the
€ On the Equilibrium of Planes (two volumes)
The first book is in fifteen propositions with seven postulates,
while the second book is in ten propositions. In this work
Archimedes explains the Law of the Lever, stating, "Magnitudes
are in equilibrium at distances reciprocally proportional to their
Archimedes uses the principles derived to calculate the areas and
centers of gravity of various geometric figures including
triangles, parallelograms and parabolas.
€€ On the Measurement of a Circle
This is a short work consisting of three propositions. It is written in the form of a correspondence with
Dositheus of Pelusium, who was a student of Conon of Samos. In Proposition II, Archimedes gives an
approximation of the value of pi (‘), showing that it is greater than
and less than
€€ On Spirals
This work of 28 propositions is also addressed to Dositheus. The treatise defines what is now called the
Archimedean spiral. It is the locus of points corresponding to the locations over time of a point moving away
from a fixed point with a constant speed along a line which rotates with constant angular velocity.
Equivalently, in polar coordinates (r, ³) it can be described by the equation
with real numbers a and b. This is an early example of a mechanical curve (a curve traced by a moving point)
considered by a Greek mathematician.
€ On the Sphere and the Cylinder (two volumes)
In this treatise addressed to Dositheus, Archimedes obtains the result of which he was most proud, namely the
relationship between a sphere and a circumscribed cylinder of the same height and diameter. The volume is
for the sphere, and 2‘r
for the cylinder. The surface area is 4‘r
for the sphere, and 6‘r
for the
cylinder (including its two bases), where r is the radius of the sphere and cylinder. The sphere has a volume
two-thirds that of the circumscribed cylinder. Similarly, the sphere has an area two-thirds that of the cylinder
(including the bases). A sculpted sphere and cylinder were placed on the tomb of Archimedes at his request.
€€ On Conoids and Spheroids
This is a work in 32 propositions addressed to Dositheus. In this treatise Archimedes calculates the areas and
volumes of sections of cones, spheres, and paraboloids.
€ On Floating Bodies (two volumes)
In the first part of this treatise, Archimedes spells out the law of equilibrium of fluids, and proves that water
will adopt a spherical form around a center of gravity. This may have been an attempt at explaining the theory
of contemporary Greek astronomers such as Eratosthenes that the Earth is round. The fluids described by
Archimedes are not self-gravitating, since he assumes the existence of a point towards which all things fall in
order to derive the spherical shape.
In the second part, he calculates the equilibrium positions of sections of paraboloids. This was probably an
idealization of the shapes of ships' hulls. Some of his sections float with the base under water and the summit
above water, similar to the way that icebergs float. Archimedes' principle of buoyancy is given in the work,
stated as follows:
Any body wholly or partially immersed in a fluid experiences an upthrust equal to, but opposite in sense
to, the weight of the fluid displaced.
€€ The Quadrature of the Parabola
In this work of 24 propositions addressed to Dositheus, Archimedes proves by two methods that the area
enclosed by a parabola and a straight line is 4/3 multiplied by the area of a triangle with equal base and height.
He achieves this by calculating the value of a geometric series that sums to infinity with the ratio
€€ (O)stomachion
This is a dissection puzzle similar to a Tangram, and the treatise describing it was found in more complete
form in the Archimedes Palimpsest. Archimedes calculates the areas of the 14 pieces which can be assembled
to form a square. Research published by Dr. Reviel Netz of Stanford University in 2003 argued that
Archimedes was attempting to determine how many ways the pieces could be assembled into the shape of a
square. Dr. Netz calculates that the pieces can be made into a square 17,152 ways.
The number of
arrangements is 536 when solutions that are equivalent by rotation and reflection have been excluded.
puzzle represents an example of an early problem in combinatorics.
The origin of the puzzle's name is unclear, and it has been suggested that it is taken from the Ancient Greek
word for throat or gullet, stomachos (-Œ¢–—“•Ž).
Ausonius refers to the puzzle as Ostomachion, a Greek
compound word formed from the roots of ´-Œµ•… (osteon, bone) and –‹“• (mach¶ • fight). The puzzle is also
known as the Loculus of Archimedes or Archimedes' Box.
€€ Archimedes' cattle problem
This work was discovered by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in a Greek manuscript consisting of a poem of 44
lines, in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenb·ttel, Germany in 1773. It is addressed to Eratosthenes and the
mathematicians in Alexandria. Archimedes challenges them to count the numbers of cattle in the Herd of the
Sun by solving a number of simultaneous Diophantine equations. There is a more difficult version of the
problem in which some of the answers are required to be square numbers. This version of the problem was
first solved by A. Amthor
in 1880, and the answer is a very large number, approximately
€€ The Sand Reckoner
In this treatise, Archimedes counts the number of grains of sand that will fit inside the universe. This book
mentions the heliocentric theory of the solar system proposed by Aristarchus of Samos, as well as
contemporary ideas about the size of the Earth and the distance between various celestial bodies. By using a
system of numbers based on powers of the myriad, Archimedes concludes that the number of grains of sand
required to fill the universe is 8±10
in modern notation. The introductory letter states that Archimedes' father
was an astronomer named Phidias. The Sand Reckoner or Psammites is the only surviving work in which
Archimedes discusses his views on astronomy.
€€ The Method of Mechanical Theorems
This treatise was thought lost until the discovery of the Archimedes Palimpsest in 1906. In this work
Archimedes uses infinitesimals, and shows how breaking up a figure into an infinite number of infinitely small
parts can be used to determine its area or volume. Archimedes may have considered this method lacking in
formal rigor, so he also used the method of exhaustion to derive the results. As with The Cattle Problem, The
Method of Mechanical Theorems was written in the form of a letter to Eratosthenes in Alexandria.
Apocryphal works
Archimedes' Book of Lemmas or Liber Assumptorum is a treatise with fifteen propositions on the nature of circles.
The earliest known copy of the text is in Arabic. The scholars T. L. Heath and Marshall Clagett argued that it cannot
have been written by Archimedes in its current form, since it quotes Archimedes, suggesting modification by another
author. The Lemmas may be based on an earlier work by Archimedes that is now lost.
It has also been claimed that Heron's formula for calculating the area of a triangle from the length of its sides was
known to Archimedes.
However, the first reliable reference to the formula is given by Heron of Alexandria in the
1st century AD.
Archimedes Palimpsest
Stomachion is a dissection puzzle in the
Archimedes Palimpsest.
The foremost document containing the work of Archimedes is the
Archimedes Palimpsest. In 1906, the Danish professor Johan Ludvig
Heiberg visited Constantinople and examined a 174-page goatskin
parchment of prayers written in the 13th century AD. He discovered
that it was a palimpsest, a document with text that had been written
over an erased older work. Palimpsests were created by scraping the
ink from existing works and reusing them, which was a common
practice in the Middle Ages as vellum was expensive. The older works
in the palimpsest were identified by scholars as 10th century AD
copies of previously unknown treatises by Archimedes.
parchment spent hundreds of years in a monastery library in
Constantinople before being sold to a private collector in the 1920s. On
October 29, 1998 it was sold at auction to an anonymous buyer for $2
million at Christie's in New York.
The palimpsest holds seven
treatises, including the only surviving copy of On Floating Bodies in the original Greek. It is the only known source
of The Method of Mechanical Theorems, referred to by Suidas and thought to have been lost forever. Stomachion
was also discovered in the palimpsest, with a more complete analysis of the puzzle than had been found in previous
texts. The palimpsest is now stored at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, where it has been subjected
to a range of modern tests including the use of ultraviolet and x-ray light to read the overwritten text.
The treatises in the Archimedes Palimpsest are: On the Equilibrium of Planes, On Spirals, Measurement of a Circle,
On the Sphere and the Cylinder, On Floating Bodies, The Method of Mechanical Theorems and Stomachion.
The Fields Medal carries a portrait of
€ There is a crater on the Moon named Archimedes (29.7ª N, 4.0ª W)
in his honor, as well as a lunar mountain range, the Montes
Archimedes (25.3ª N, 4.6ª W).
€ The asteroid 3600 Archimedes is named after him.
€ The Fields Medal for outstanding achievement in mathematics
carries a portrait of Archimedes, along with a carving illustrating his
proof on the sphere and the cylinder. The inscription around the
head of Archimedes is a quote attributed to him which reads in
Latin: "Transire suum pectus mundoque potiri" (Rise above oneself
and grasp the world).
€ Archimedes has appeared on postage stamps issued by East
Germany (1973), Greece (1983), Italy (1983), Nicaragua (1971),
San Marino (1982), and Spain (1963).
€ The exclamation of Eureka! attributed to Archimedes is the state motto of California. In this instance the word
refers to the discovery of gold near Sutter's Mill in 1848 which sparked the California Gold Rush.
€ A movement for civic engagement targeting universal access to health care in the US state of Oregon has been
named the "Archimedes Movement," headed by former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.
Notes and references
a.  In the preface to On Spirals addressed to Dositheus of Pelusium, Archimedes says that "many years have elapsed
since Conon's death." Conon of Samos lived c. 280•220 BC, suggesting that Archimedes may have been an older
man when writing some of his works.
b.  The treatises by Archimedes known to exist only through references in the works of other authors are: On
Sphere-Making and a work on polyhedra mentioned by Pappus of Alexandria; Catoptrica, a work on optics
mentioned by Theon of Alexandria; Principles, addressed to Zeuxippus and explaining the number system used in
The Sand Reckoner; On Balances and Levers; On Centers of Gravity; On the Calendar. Of the surviving works by
Archimedes, T. L. Heath offers the following suggestion as to the order in which they were written: On the
Equilibrium of Planes I, The Quadrature of the Parabola, On the Equilibrium of Planes II, On the Sphere and the
Cylinder I, II, On Spirals, On Conoids and Spheroids, On Floating Bodies I, II, On the Measurement of a Circle, The
Sand Reckoner.
c.  Boyer, Carl Benjamin A History of Mathematics (1991) ISBN 0-471-54397-7 "Arabic scholars inform us that the
familiar area formula for a triangle in terms of its three sides, usually known as Heron's formula ˆ
k = ‹(s(s ‰ a)(s ‰ b)(s ‰ c)), where s is the semiperimeter ˆ was known to Archimedes several centuries before
Heron lived. Arabic scholars also attribute to Archimedes the 'theorem on the broken chord' ... Archimedes is
reported by the Arabs to have given several proofs of the theorem."
d.   "It was usual to smear the seams or even the whole hull with pitch or with pitch and wax". In ¸Š•’•® ¹’‹‰•°•’
(Dialogues of the Dead), Lucian refers to coating the seams of a skiff with wax, a reference to pitch (tar) or wax.
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[2] "Archimedes Death Ray: Testing with MythBusters" (http:/ / web. mit. edu/ 2. 009/ www/ / experiments/ deathray/ 10_Mythbusters. html).
MIT. . Retrieved 2007-07-23.
[3] Calinger, Ronald (1999). A Contextual History of Mathematics. Prentice-Hall. p. 150. ISBN 0-02-318285-7. "Shortly after Euclid, compiler
of the definitive textbook, came Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 287 212 BC), the most original and profound mathematician of antiquity."
[4] "Archimedes of Syracuse" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-and. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Archimedes. html). The MacTutor History of Mathematics
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Further reading
€ Boyer, Carl Benjamin (1991). A History of Mathematics. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-54397-7.
€ Clagett, Marshall (1964-1984). Archimedes in the Middle Ages. 5 vols. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin
€ Dijksterhuis, E.J. (1987). Archimedes. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 0-691-08421-1. Republished
translation of the 1938 study of Archimedes and his works by an historian of science.
€ Gow, Mary (2005). Archimedes: Mathematical Genius of the Ancient World. Enslow Publishers, Inc.
ISBN 0-7660-2502-0.
€ Hasan, Heather (2005). Archimedes: The Father of Mathematics. Rosen Central. ISBN 978-1-4042-0774-5.
€ Heath, T.L. (1897). Works of Archimedes. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-42084-1. Complete works of
Archimedes in English.
€ Netz, Reviel and Noel, William (2007). The Archimedes Codex. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0-297-64547-1.
€ Pickover, Clifford A. (2008). Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them.
Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533611-5.
€ Simms, Dennis L. (1995). Archimedes the Engineer. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
ISBN 0-7201-2284-8.
€ Stein, Sherman (1999). Archimedes: What Did He Do Besides Cry Eureka?. Mathematical Association of
America. ISBN 0-88385-718-9.
The Works of Archimedes online
€ Text in Classical Greek: PDF scans of Heiberg's edition of the Works of Archimedes, now in the public domain
(http:/ / www. wilbourhall. org)
€ In English translation: The Works of Archimedes (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/
worksofarchimede029517mbp), trans. T.L. Heath; supplemented by The Method of Mechanical Theorems (http:/ /
books. google. com/ books?id=suYGAAAAYAAJ), trans. L.G. Robinson
External links
€ Archimedes (http:/ / www. bbc. co. uk/ programmes/ b00773bv) on In Our Time at the BBC. ( listen now (http:/ /
www. bbc. co. uk/ iplayer/ console/ b00773bv/ In_Our_Time_Archimedes))
€ Archimedes (https:/ / inpho. cogs. indiana. edu/ thinker/ 2546) at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project
€ Archimedes (http:/ / philpapers. org/ s/ archimedes) at PhilPapers
€ The Archimedes Palimpsest project at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland (http:/ / www.
archimedespalimpsest. org/ )
€ The Mathematical Achievements and Methodologies of Archimedes (http:/ / mathdb. org/ articles/ archimedes/
e_archimedes. htm)
€ "Archimedes and the Square Root of 3" (http:/ / www. mathpages. com/ home/ kmath038/ kmath038. htm) at
€ "Archimedes on Spheres and Cylinders" (http:/ / www. mathpages. com/ home/ kmath343/ kmath343. htm) at
€ Photograph of the Sakkas experiment in 1973 (http:/ / www. cs. drexel. edu/ ~crorres/ bbc_archive/
mirrors_sailors_sakas. jpg)
€ Testing the Archimedes steam cannon (http:/ / web. mit. edu/ 2. 009/ www/ experiments/ steamCannon/
ArchimedesSteamCannon. html)
€ Stamps of Archimedes (http:/ / www. stampsbook. org/ subject/ Archimedes. html)
€ Eureka! 1,000-year-old text by Greek maths genius Archimedes goes on display (http:/ / www. dailymail. co. uk/
sciencetech/ article-2050631/ Eureka-1-000-year-old-text-Greek-maths-genius-Archimedes-goes-display. html)
Daily Mail, October 18, 2011.
Archimedes' cattle problem
Archimedes' cattle problem (or the problema bovinum or problema Archimedis) is a problem in Diophantine
analysis, the study of polynomial equations with integer solutions. Attributed to Archimedes, the problem involves
computing the number of cattle in a herd of the sun god from a given set of restrictions. The problem was discovered
by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in a Greek manuscript containing a poem of forty-four lines, in the Herzog August
Library in Wolfenb·ttel, Germany in 1773.
The problem remained unsolved for a number of years, due partly to the difficulty of computing the huge numbers
involved in the solution. The general solution was found in 1880 by A. Amthor. He gave the exact solution using
exponentials and showed that it was about cattle, far more than could fit in the observable
universe. The decimal form is too long for humans to calculate exactly, but multiple precision arithmetic packages
on computers can easily write it out explicitly.
In 1769, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was appointed librarian of the Herzog August Library in Wolfenb·ttel,
Germany, which contained many Greek and Latin manuscripts.
A few years later, Lessing published translations
of some of the manuscripts with commentaries. Among them was a Greek poem of forty-four lines, containing an
arithmetical problem which asks the reader to find the number of cattle in the herd of the god of the sun. The name
of Archimedes appears in the title of the poem, it being said that he sent it in a letter to Eratosthenes to be
investigated by the mathematicians of Alexandria. The claim that Archimedes authored the poem is disputed,
though, as no mention of the problem has been found in the writings of the Greek mathematicians.
The problem, from an abridgement of the German translations published by Georg Nesselmann in 1842, and by
Krumbiegel in 1880, states:
Compute, O friend, the number of the cattle of the sun which once grazed upon the plains of Sicily, divided
according to color into four herds, one milk-white, one black, one dappled and one yellow. The number of
bulls is greater than the number of cows, and the relations between them are as follows:
White bulls black bulls + yellow bulls,
Black bulls dappled bulls + yellow bulls,
Dappled bulls white bulls + yellow bulls,
White cows black herd,
Black cows dappled herd,
Dappled cows yellow herd,
Yellow cows white herd.
Archimedes' cattle problem
If thou canst give, O friend, the number of each kind of bulls and cows, thou art no novice in numbers, yet can
not be regarded as of high skill. Consider, however, the following additional relations between the bulls of the
White bulls + black bulls = a square number,
Dappled bulls + yellow bulls = a triangular number.
If thou hast computed these also, O friend, and found the total number of cattle, then exult as a conqueror, for
thou hast proved thyself most skilled in numbers.
The first part of the problem can be solved readily by setting up a system of equations. If the number of white, black,
dappled, and yellow bulls are written as and , and the number of white, black, dappled, and yellow
cows are written as and , the problem is simply to find a solution to:
which is a system of seven equations with eight unknowns. It is indeterminate, and has infinitely many solutions.
The least positive integers satisfying the seven equations are:
which is a total of 50,389,082 cattle
and the other solutions are integral multiples of these. Note that the first four
numbers are multiples of 4657, a value which will appear repeatedly below.
The general solution to the second part of the problem was first found by A. Amthor
in 1880. The following
version of it was described by H. W. Lenstra,
based on Pell's equation: the solution given above for the first part of
the problem should be multiplied by
Archimedes' cattle problem
and j is any positive integer. Equivalently, squaring w results in,
where {u,v} are the fundamental solutions of the Pell equation,
The size of the smallest herd that could satisfy both the first and second parts of the problem is then given by j = 1,
and is about (first solved by Amthor). Modern computers can easily print out all digits of the
answer. This was first done at the University of Waterloo, in 1965 by Hugh C. Williams, R. A. German, and Charles
Robert Zarnke. They used a combination of the IBM 7040 and IBM 1620 computers.
Pell Equation
The constraints of the second part of the problem are straightforward and the actual Pell equation that needs to be
solved can easily be given. First, it asks that B+W should be a square, or using the values given above,
thus one should set k = (3)(11)(29)(4657)q
for some integer q. That solves the first condition. For the second, it
requires that D+Y should be a triangular number,
Solving for t,
Substituting the value of D+Y and k and finding a value of q
such that the discriminant of this quadratic is a perfect
square p
entails solving the Pell equation,
Amthor's approach discussed in the previous section was essentially to find the smallest v such that it is integrally
divisible by 2*4657. The fundamental solution of this equation has more than 100,000 digits.
[1] Rorres, Chris. "Archimedes' Cattle Problem (Statement)" (http:/ / www. mcs. drexel. edu/ ~crorres/ Archimedes/ Cattle/ Statement. html).
Archived (http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20070124203443/ http:/ / www. mcs. drexel. edu/ ~crorres/ Archimedes/ Cattle/ Statement. html)
from the original on 24 January 2007. . Retrieved 2007-01-24.
[2] Merriman, Mansfield (1905). "The Cattle Problem of Archimedes". Popular Science Monthly 67: 660•665.
[3] B. Krumbiegel, A. Amthor, Das Problema Bovinum des Archimedes, Historisch-literarische Abteilung der Zeitschrift F·r Mathematik und
Physik 25 (1880) 121-136, 153-171.
[4] Lenstra, H. W. (2002). "Solving the Pell equation" (http:/ / www. ams. org/ notices/ 200202/ fea-lenstra. pdf) (PDF). Notices of the American
Mathematical Society 29 (2): 182•192. .
[5] Harold Alkema and Kenneth McLaughlin (2007). "Unbundling Computing at The University of Waterloo" (http:/ / www. cs. uwaterloo. ca/
40th/ Chronology/ printable. shtml). University of Waterloo. Archived (http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20110404172741/ http:/ / www. cs.
uwaterloo.ca/ 40th/ Chronology/ printable.shtml) from the original on 4 April 2011. . Retrieved April 5, 2011. (includes pictures)
Archimedes' cattle problem
Further reading
€ D»rrie, Heinrich (1965). "Archimedes' Problema Bovinum". 100 Great Problems of Elementary Mathematics.
Dover Publications. pp. 3•7.
€ Williams, H. C.; German, R. A.; and Zarnke, C. R. (1965). "Solution of the Cattle Problem of Archimedes".
Mathematics of Computation (American Mathematical Society) 19 (92): pp. 671•674. doi:10.2307/2003954.
JSTOR 2003954.
€ Vardi, I. (1998). "Archimedes' Cattle Problem". American Mathematical Monthly (Mathematical Association of
America) 105 (4): pp. 305•319. doi:10.2307/2589706.
Book of Lemmas
The first page of the Book of Lemmas as seen in
The Works of Archimedes (1897).
The Book of Lemmas is a book attributed to Archimedes by Th²bit ibn
Qurra, though the authorship of the book is questionable. It consists of
fifteen propositions on circles.
The Book of Lemmas was first introduced in Arabic by Th²bit ibn
Qurra; he attributed the work to Archimedes. In 1661, the Arabic
manuscript was translated into Latin by Abraham Ecchellensis and
edited by Giovanni A. Borelli. The Latin version was published under
the name Liber Assumptorum.
T. L. Heath translated Heiburg's Latin
work into English in his The Works of Archimedes.
The original authorship of the Book of Lemmas has been in question because in proposition four, the book refers to
Archimedes in third person; however, it has been suggested that it may have been added by the translator.
possibility is that the Book of Lemmas may be a collection of propositions by Archimedes later collected by a Greek
New geometrical figures
The Book of Lemmas introduces several new geometrical figures.
Book of Lemmas
The arbelos is the shaded region (grey).
Archimedes' first introduced the arbelos in proposition four of his

If AB be the diameter of a semicircle and N any point on AB, and if semicircles be described within the first semicircle and having AN, BN as
diameters respectively, the figure included between the circumferences of the three semicircles is "what Archimedes called —•¼•‰•Ž"; and its
area is equal to the circle on PN as diameter, where PN is perpendicular to AB and meets the original semicircle in P.

The figure is used in propositions four through eight. In propositions five, Archimedes introduces the Archimedes'
twin circles, and in proposition eight, he makes use what would be the Pappus chain, formally introduced by Pappus
of Alexandria.
The salinon is the blue shaded region.
Archimedes' first introduced the salinon in proposition fourteen of
his book:

Let ACB be a semicircle on AB as diameter, and let AD, BE be equal lengths measured along AB from A, B respectively. On AD, BE as
diameters describe semicircles on the side towards C, and on DE as diameter a semicircle on the opposite side. Let the perpendicular to AB
through O, the centre of the first semicircle, meet the opposite semicircles in C, F respectively. Then shall the area of the figure bounded by
the circumferences of all the semicircles be equal to the area of the circle on CF as diameter.

Archimedes proved that the salinon and the circle are equal in area.
Book of Lemmas
1. 1. If two circles touch at A, and if CD, EF be parallel diameters in them, ADF is a straight line.
2. 2. Let AB be the diameter of a semicircle, and let the tangents to it at B and at any other point D on it meet in T. If
now DE be drawn perpendicular to AB, and if AT, DE meet in F, then DF = FE.
3. 3. Let P be any point on a segment of a circle whose base is AB, and let PN be perpendicular to AB. Take D on AB
so that AN = ND. If now PQ be an arc equal to the arc PA, and BQ be joined, then BQ, BD shall be equal.
4. 4. If AB be the diameter of a semicircle and N any point on AB, and if semicircles be described within the first
semicircle and having AN, BN as diameters respectively, the figure included between the circumferences of the
three semicircles is "what Archimedes called —•¼•‰•Ž"; and its area is equal to the circle on PN as diameter,
where PN is perpendicular to AB and meets the original semicircle in P.
5. 5. Let AB be the diameter of a semicircle, C any point on AB, and CD perpendicular to it, and let semicircles be
described within the first semicircle and having AC, CB as diameters. Then if two circles be drawn touching CD
on different sides and each touching two of the semicircles, the circles so drawn will be equal.
6. 6. Let AB, the diameter of a semicircle, be divided at C so that AC = 3/2 ± CB [or in any ratio]. Describe
semicircles within the first semicircle and on AC, CB as diameters, and suppose a circle drawn touching the all
three semicircles. If GH be the diameter of this circle, to find relation between GH and AB.
7. 7. If circles are circumscribed about and inscribed in a square, the circumscribed circle is double of the inscribed
8. 8. If AB be any chord of a circle whose centre is O, and if AB be produced to C so that BC is equal to the radius; if
further CO meets the circle in D and be produced to meet the circle the second time in E, the arc AE will be equal
to three times the arc BD.
9. 9. If in a circle two chords AB, CD which do not pass through the centre intersect at right angles, then (arc
AD) + (arc CB) = (arc AC) + (arc DB).
10. 10. Suppose that TA, TB are two tangents to a circle, while TC cuts it. Let BD be the chord through B parallel to
TC, and let AD meet TC in E. Then, if EH be drawn perpendicular to BD, it will bisect it in H.
11. If two chords AB, CD in a circle intersect at right angles in a point O, not being the centre, then AO
+ BO
+ DO
= (diameter)
12. 12. If AB be the diameter of a semicircle, and TP, TQ the tangents to it from any point T, and if AQ, BP be joined
meeting in R, then TR is perpendicular to AB.
13. 13. If a diameter AB of a circle meet any chord CD, not a diameter, in E, and if AM, BN be drawn perpendicular to
CD, then CN = DM.
14. 14. Let ACB be a semicircle on AB as diameter, and let AD, BE be equal lengths measured along AB from A, B
respectively. On AD, BE as diameters describe semicircles on the side towards C, and on DE as diameter a
semicircle on the opposite side. Let the perpendicular to AB through O, the centre of the first semicircle, meet the
opposite semicircles in C, F respectively. Then shall the area of the figure bounded by the circumferences of all
the semicircles be equal to the area of the circle on CF as diameter.
15. Let AB be the diameter of a circle., AC a side of an inscribed regular pentagon, D the middle point of the arc
AC. Join CD and produce it to meet BA produced in E; join AC, DB meeting in F, and Draw FM perpendicular to
AB. Then EM = (radius of circle).
Book of Lemmas
[1] Heath, Thomas Little (1897), The Works of Archimedes (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=bTEPAAAAIAAJ& printsec=titlepage), Cambridge
University: University Press, pp. xxxii, 301•318, , retrieved 2008-06-15
[2] "From Euclid to Newton" (http:/ / www. brown.edu/ Facilities/ University_Library/ exhibits/ math/ nofr. html). Brown University. .
Retrieved 2008-06-24.
[3] Aaboe, Asger (1997), Episodes from the Early History of Mathematics (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=5wGzF0wPFYgC&
printsec=frontcover), Washington, D.C.: Math. Assoc. of America, pp. 77, 85, ISBN 0-88385-613-1, , retrieved 2008-06-19
[4] Glick, Thomas F.; Livesey, Steven John; Wallis, Faith (2005), Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine: An Encyclopedia (http:/ / books.
google.com/ ?id=SaJlbWK_-FcC& printsec=frontcover#PPT9,M1), New York: Routledge, p. 41, ISBN 0-415-96930-1, , retrieved
[5] Bogomolny, A. "Archimedes' Book of Lemmas" (http:/ / www. cut-the-knot. org/ Curriculum/ Geometry/ BookOfLemmas/ index. shtml).
Cut-the-Knot. . Retrieved 2008-06-19.
Archimedes Palimpsest
Ostomachion is a dissection puzzle in the
Archimedes Palimpsest (shown after Suter from a
different source; this version must be stretched to
twice the width to conform to the Palimpsest)
The Archimedes Palimpsest is a palimpsest (ancient overwritten
manuscript) on parchment in the form of a codex (hand-written bound
book, as opposed to a scroll). It originally was a 10th-century
Byzantine copy of an otherwise unknown work of the ancient
mathematician, physicist, and engineer Archimedes (c. 287 BC•c. 212
BC) of Syracuse and other authors, which was overwritten with a
religious text. The manuscript currently belongs to an American
private collector.
Archimedes lived in the 3rd century BC, and a copy of his work was
made around 950 AD in the Byzantine Empire by an anonymous
In 1229 the original Archimedes codex was unbound, scraped
and washed, along with at least six other parchment manuscripts,
including one with works of Hypereides. The parchment leaves were
folded in half and reused for a Christian liturgical text of 177 pages; the older leaves folded so that each became two
leaves of the liturgical book. The erasure was incomplete, and Archimedes' work is now readable after scientific and
scholarly work from 1998 to 2008 using digital processing of images produced by ultraviolet, infrared, visible and
raking light, and X-ray.
In 1906 it was briefly inspected in Istanbul by the Danish philologist Johan Ludvig Heiberg. With the aid of
black-and-white photographs he arranged to have taken, he published a transcription of the Archimedes text. Shortly
thereafter Archimedes' Greek text was translated into English by T. L. Heath. Before that it was not widely known
among mathematicians, physicists or historians. It contains:
€ "On the Equilibrium of Planes"
€ "Spiral Lines"
€ "Measurement of a Circle"
€ "On the Sphere and Cylinder"
€ "On Floating Bodies" (only known copy in Greek)
€ "The Method of Mechanical Theorems" (only known copy)
€ "Stomachion" (only known copy).
Archimedes Palimpsest
The palimpsest also contains speeches by the 4th century BC politician Hypereides, a commentary on Aristotle's
Categories by Alexander of Aphrodisias, and other works.
Mathematical content
A typical page from the Archimedes Palimpsest. The text of the
prayer book is seen from top to bottom, the original Archimedes
manuscript is seen as fainter text below it running from left to
The most remarkable of the above works is The Method,
of which the palimpsest contains the only known copy.
In his other works, Archimedes often proves the equality
of two areas or volumes with Eudoxus' method of
exhaustion, an ancient Greek counterpart of the modern
method of limits. Since the Greeks were aware that some
numbers were irrational, their notion of a real number was
a quantity Q approximated by two sequences, one
providing an upper bound and the other a lower bound. If
you find two sequences U and L, with U always bigger
than Q, and L always smaller than Q, and if the two
sequences eventually came closer together than any
prespecified amount, then Q is found, or exhausted, by U
and L.
Archimedes used exhaustion to prove his theorems. This
involved approximating the figure whose area he wanted
to compute into sections of known area, which provide
upper and lower bounds for the area of the figure. He then
proved that the two bounds become equal when the
subdivision becomes arbitrarily fine. These proofs, still
considered to be rigorous and correct, used geometry with
rare brilliance. Later writers often criticized Archimedes
for not explaining how he arrived at his results in the first
place. This explanation is contained in The Method.
The method that Archimedes describes was based upon
his investigations of physics, on the center of mass and the
law of the lever. He compared the area or volume of a figure of which he knew the total mass and center of mass
with the area or volume of another figure he did not know anything about. He divided both figures into infinitely
many slices of infinitesimal width, and balanced each slice of one figure against a corresponding slice of the second
figure on a lever. The essential point is that the two figures are oriented differently, so that the corresponding slices
are at different distances from the fulcrum, and the condition that the slices balance is not the same as the condition
that they are equal.
Archimedes Palimpsest
After imaging a page from the palimpsest, the original Archimedes
text is now seen clearly
Once he shows that each slice of one figure balances
each slice of the other figure, he concludes that the two
figures balance each other. But the center of mass of one
figure is known, and the total mass can be placed at this
center and it still balances. The second figure has an
unknown mass, but the position of its center of mass
might be restricted to lie at a certain distance from the
fulcrum by a geometrical argument, by symmetry. The
condition that the two figures balance now allows him to
calculate the total mass of the other figure. He
considered this method as a useful heuristic but always
made sure to prove the results he found using exhaustion,
since the method did not provide upper and lower
Using this method, Archimedes was able to solve several
problems now treated by integral calculus, which was
given its modern form in the seventeenth century by
Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. Among those
problems were that of calculating the center of gravity of
a solid hemisphere, the center of gravity of a frustum of a
circular paraboloid, and the area of a region bounded by
a parabola and one of its secant lines. (For explicit
details, see Archimedes' use of infinitesimals.)
When rigorously proving theorems, Archimedes often used what are now called Riemann sums. In "On the Sphere
and Cylinder," he gives upper and lower bounds for the surface area of a sphere by cutting the sphere into sections of
equal width. He then bounds the area of each section by the area of an inscribed and circumscribed cone, which he
proves have a larger and smaller area correspondingly. He adds the areas of the cones, which is a type of Riemann
sum for the area of the sphere considered as a surface of revolution.
But there are two essential differences between Archimedes' method and 19th-century methods:
1. 1. Archimedes did not know about differentiation, so he could not calculate any integrals other than those that came
from center-of-mass considerations, by symmetry. While he had a notion of linearity, to find the volume of a
sphere he had to balance two figures at the same time; he never figured out how to change variables or integrate
by parts.
2. 2. When calculating approximating sums, he imposed the further constraint that the sums provide rigorous upper
and lower bounds. This was required because the Greeks lacked algebraic methods that could establish that error
terms in an approximation are small.
A problem solved exclusively in the Method is the calculation of the volume of a cylindrical wedge, a result that
reappears as theorem XVII (schema XIX) of Kepler's Stereometria.
Some pages of the Method remained unused by the author of the palimpsest and thus they are still lost. Between
them, an announced result concerned the volume of the intersection of two cylinders, a figure that Apostol and
Mnatsakanian have renamed n = 4 Archimedean globe (and the half of it, n = 4 Archimedean dome), whose volume
relates to the n-polygonal pyramid.
Archimedes Palimpsest
In Heiberg's time, much attention was paid to Archimedes' brilliant use of infinitesimals to solve problems about
areas, volumes, and centers of gravity. Less attention was given to the Stomachion, a problem treated in the
palimpsest that appears to deal with a children's puzzle. Reviel Netz of Stanford University has argued that
Archimedes discussed the number of ways to solve the puzzle, that is, to put the pieces back in their box. No pieces
have been identified as such; the rules for placement, such as whether pieces are allowed to be turned over, are not
known; and there is doubt about the board. The board illustrated here, as also by Netz, is one proposed by Heinrich
Suter in translating an unpointed Arabic text in which twice and equals are easily confused; Suter makes at least a
typographical error at the crucial point, equating the lengths of a side and diagonal, in which case the board cannot
be a rectangle. But, as the diagonals of a square intersect at right angles, the presence of right triangles makes the
first proposition of Archimedes' Stomachion immediate. Rather, the first proposition sets up a board consisting of
two squares side by side (as in Tangram). A reconciliation of the Suter board with this Codex board was published
by Richard Dixon Oldham, FRS, in Nature in March, 1926, sparking a Stomachion craze that year. Modern
combinatorics reveals that the number of ways to place the pieces of the Suter board to reform their square, allowing
them to be turned over, is 17,152; the number is considerably smaller • 64 • if pieces are not allowed to be turned
over. The sharpness of some angles in the Suter board makes fabrication difficult, while play could be awkward if
pieces with sharp points are turned over. For the Codex board (again as with Tangram) there are three ways to pack
the pieces: as two unit squares side by side; as two unit squares one on top of the other; and as a single square of side
the square root of two. But the key to these packings is forming isosceles right triangles, just as Socrates gets the
slave boy to consider in Plato's Meno • Socrates was arguing for knowledge by recollection, and here pattern
recognition and memory seem more pertinent than a count of solutions. The Codex board can be found as an
extension of Socrates' argument in a seven-by-seven-square grid, suggesting an iterative construction of the
side-diameter numbers that give rational approximations to the square root of two. The fragmentary state of the
palimpsest leaves much in doubt. But it would certainly add to the mystery had Archimedes used the Suter board in
preference to the Codex board. However, if Netz is right, this may have been the most sophisticated work in the field
of combinatorics in Greek antiquity. Either Archimedes used the Suter board, the pieces of which were allowed to be
turned over, or the statistics of the Suter board are irrelevant.
Modern history
The Biblical scholar Constantin von Tischendorf visited Constantinople in the 1840s, and, intrigued by the Greek
mathematics visible on the palimpsest, brought home a page of it. (This page is now in the Cambridge University
Library.) It was Johan Heiberg who realized, when he studied the palimpsest in Constantinople in 1906, that the text
was of Archimedes, and included works otherwise lost. Heiberg took photographs, from which he produced
transcriptions, published between 1910 and 1915 in a complete works of Archimedes. It is not known how the
palimpsest subsequently wound up in France.
From the 1920s, the manuscript lay unknown in the Paris apartment of a collector of manuscripts and his heirs. In
1998 the ownership of the palimpsest was disputed in federal court in New York in the case of the Greek Orthodox
Patriarchate of Jerusalem v. Christie's, Inc. At some time in the distant past, the Archimedes manuscript had lain in
the library of Mar Saba, near Jerusalem, a monastery bought by the Patriarchate in 1625. The plaintiff contended that
the palimpsest had been stolen from one of its monasteries in the 1920s. Judge Kimba Wood decided in favor of
Christie's Auction House on laches grounds, and the palimpsest was bought for $2 million by an anonymous buyer.
Simon Finch, who represented the anonymous buyer, stated that the buyer was "a private American" who worked in
"the high-tech industry", but was not Bill Gates.
(The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the buyer is
probably Jeff Bezos.)
At the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the palimpsest was the subject of an extensive imaging study from 1999 to
2008, and conservation (as it had suffered considerably from mold). This was directed by Dr. Will Noel, curator of
manuscripts at the Walters Art Museum, and managed by Michael B. Toth of R.B. Toth Associates, with Dr. Abigail
Archimedes Palimpsest
Quandt performing the conservation of the manuscript.
A team of imaging scientists including Dr. Roger Easton from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Dr. Bill
Christens-Barry from Equipoise Imaging, and Dr. Keith Knox with Boeing LTS used computer processing of digital
images from various spectral bands, including ultraviolet and visible light, to reveal most of the underlying text,
including of Archimedes. After imaging and digitally processing the entire palimpsest in three spectral bands prior to
2006, in 2007 they reimaged the entire palimpsest in 12 spectral bands, plus raking light: UV: 365 nanometers;
Visible Light: 445, 470, 505, 530, 570, 617, and 625 nm; Infrared: 700, 735, and 870 nm; and Raking Light: 910 and
470 nm.
The team digitally processed these images to reveal more of the underlying text with pseudocolor. They
also digitized the original Heiberg images. Dr. Reviel Netz
of Stanford University and Nigel Wilson have
produced a diplomatic transcription of the text, filling in gaps in Heiberg's account with these images. All images are
currently hosted on the website.
Sometime after 1938, one owner of the manuscript forged four Byzantine-style religious images in the manuscript in
an effort to increase its value. It appeared that these had rendered the underlying text forever illegible. However, in
May 2005, highly focused X-rays produced at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, California,
were used by Drs. Uwe Bergman and Bob Morton to begin deciphering the parts of the 174-page text that had not
yet been revealed. The production of X-ray fluorescence was described by Keith Hodgson, director of SSRL.
"Synchrotron light is created when electrons traveling near the speed of light take a curved path around a storage
ringˆemitting electromagnetic light in X-ray through infrared wavelengths. The resulting light beam has
characteristics that make it ideal for revealing the intricate architecture and utility of many kinds of matterˆin this
case, the previously hidden work of one of the founding fathers of all science."
In April 2007, it was announced that a new text had been found in the palimpsest, which was a commentary on the
work of Aristotle attributed to Alexander of Aphrodisias. Dr. Will Noel said in an interview: "You start thinking
striking one palimpsest is gold, and striking two is utterly astonishing. But then something even more extraordinary
happened." This referred to the previous discovery of a text by Hypereides, an Athenian politician from the fourth
century BC, which has also been found within the palimpsest.
It is from his speech Against Diondas, and was
published in 2008 in the German scholarly magazine Zeitschrift f‚r Papyrologie und Epigraphik, vol. 165, becoming
the first new text from the palimpsest to be published in a scholarly journal.
The transcriptions of the book were digitally encoded using the Text Encoding Initiative guidelines, and metadata for
the images and transcriptions included identification and cataloging information based on Dublin Core Metadata
Elements. The metadata and data were managed by Dr. Doug Emery of Emery IT.
On October 29, 2008, (the tenth anniversary of the purchase of the palimpsest at auction) all data, including images
and transcriptions, were hosted on the Digital Palimpsest Web Page for free use under a Creative Commons License,
and processed images of the palimpsest in original page order were posted as a Google Book.
In late 2011 it was
the subject of the Walters Art Museum exhibit "Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes".
Archimedes Palimpsest
[1] Archimedes brought to light (http:/ / www.archimedespalimpsest. org/ pdf/ physicsworld-november2007. pdf) Physics World, November
[2] "Reading Between the Lines, Smithsonian Magazine" (http:/ / www. smithsonianmag. com/ science-nature/ archimedes. html). . Retrieved
[3] "The Archimedes Palimpsest Project" (http:/ / www.archimedespalimpsest. org/ digitalproduct1. html). Archived (http:/ / web. archive. org/
web/ 20090221153000/ http:/ / www. archimedespalimpsest. org/ digitalproduct1. html) from the original on 21 February 2009. . Retrieved
[4] Morelle, Rebecca (2007-04-26). ""Text Reveals More Ancient Secrets", BBC News" (http:/ / news. bbc. co. uk/ 1/ hi/ technology/ 6591221.
stm). Archived (http:/ / web. archive.org/ web/ 20090219230234/ http:/ / news. bbc. co. uk/ 1/ hi/ technology/ 6591221. stm) from the original
on 19 February 2009. . Retrieved 2009-03-31.
[5] "History of the Archimedes Manuscript" (http:/ / www. archimedespalimpsest. org/ palimpsest_history1. html). . Retrieved 2009-03-31.
[6] Hisrhfield, Alan. Eureka Man, Walker & Co, NY, 2009; p. 187.
[7] "File Naming Conventions" (http:/ / archimedespalimpsest. net/ Documents/ Internal/ FileNamingConventions. txt). . Retrieved 2009-03-31.
[8] "The Scholarship of the Palimpsest" (http:/ / www.archimedespalimpsest. org/ scholarship_netz2. html). Archived (http:/ / web. archive.org/
web/ 20090515114709/ http:/ / www. archimedespalimpsest. org/ scholarship_netz2. html) from the original on 15 May 2009. . Retrieved
[9] Archimedespalimpsest.net (http:/ / archimedespalimpsest. net/ )
[10] "Placed under X-ray gaze, Archimedes manuscript yields secrets lost to time" (http:/ / news-service. stanford. edu/ news/ 2005/ may25/
archimedes-052505.html). . Retrieved 2009-03-31.
[11] Carey, C. et al., "Fragments of Hyperides€ Against Diondas from the Archimedes Palimpsest" (http:/ / www. uni-koeln. de/ phil-fak/ ifa/
zpe/ indices/ inhaltsverzeichnis_165. pdf), "Inhaltsverzeichnis", Zeitschrift f‚r Papyrologie und Epigraphik, vol. 165, pp. 1-19. Retrieved
[12] Archimedes Palimpsest (http:/ / books.google.com/ books?id=_zX8OG3QoF4C& printsec=frontcover& cad=0). . Retrieved 2009-03-31.
€ Reviel Netz and William Noel, The Archimedes Codex (http:/ / www. orionbooks. co. uk/ books/
the-archimedes-codex-paperback), Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007
€ Dijksterhuis, E.J., Archimedes, Princeton U. Press, 1987, pages 129•133. copyright 1938, ISBN 0-691-08421-1,
ISBN 0-691-02400-6 (paperback)
External links
€ The Archimedes Palimpsest Project Web Page (http:/ / www. archimedespalimpsest. org/ )
€ Digital Palimpsest on the Web (http:/ / www. archimedespalimpsest. org/ )
€ The Nova Program outlined (http:/ / www. pbs. org/ wgbh/ nova/ archimedes/ palimpsest. html)
€ The Nova Program teacher's version (http:/ / www. pbs. org/ wgbh/ nova/ teachers/ programs/ 3010_archimed.
€ The Method: English translation (Heiberg's 1909 transcription) (http:/ / books. google. com/
€ Did Isaac Barrow read it? (http:/ / dftuz. unizar. es/ ~rivero/ research/ isisletter. htm)
€ May 2005 Stanford Report: Heather Rock Woods, "Archimedes manuscript yields secrets under X-ray gaze"
(http:/ / news-service. stanford. edu/ news/ 2005/ may25/ archimedes-052505. html) May 19, 2005
€ Will Noel: Restoring The Archimedes Palimpsest (http:/ / www. youtube. com/ watch?v=t3IP_FmGams)
(YouTube), Ignite (O'Reilly), August 2009
€ The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem v. Christies€s Inc., 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13257 (S.D. N.Y. 1999)
(http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20060910145753/ http:/ / www. law. washington. edu/ courses/ andrews/
A503C_WiSp06/ Documents/ Greek_Orthodox_Patriarchate_of_Jerusalem_v. pdf) (via Archive.org)
€ Eureka! 1,000-year-old text by Greek maths genius Archimedes goes on display (http:/ / www. dailymail. co. uk/
sciencetech/ article-2050631/ Eureka-1-000-year-old-text-Greek-maths-genius-Archimedes-goes-display. html)
Daily Mail, October 18, 2011.
Ren• Descartes
RenŠ Descartes
RenŠ Descartes
Portrait after Frans Hals, 1648
Born 31 March 1596
La Haye en Touraine, Touraine, France
Died 11 February 1650 (aged 53)
Stockholm, Sweden
Nationality French
Era 17th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
Roman Catholic
School Cartesianism
Founder of Cartesianism
Main interests Metaphysics, Epistemology, Mathematics
Notable ideas Cogito ergo sum, method of doubt, Cartesian coordinate system, Cartesian dualism, ontological argument for the existence of
Christian God, mathesis universalis;
folium of Descartes
RenŠ Descartes (French: [Œ…ne dekaŒt]; Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; adjectival form: "Cartesian";
31 March
1596 • 11 February 1650) was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his adult life in
the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western
philosophy is a response to his writings,
which are studied closely to this day. In particular, his Meditations on
First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes' influence in
mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system ˆ allowing reference to a point in space as a set of
numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate
system (and conversely, shapes to be described as equations) ˆ was named after him. He is credited as the father of
analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and
analysis. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution and has been described as an example
of genius.
Ren• Descartes
Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the
Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, Descartes goes so far as to
assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his
philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier
philosophers like Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the schools on two major points: First, he
rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to endsˆdivine or
naturalˆin explaining natural phenomena.
In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God's act of
Descartes was a major figure in 17th-century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and
Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley,
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all well versed in mathematics as well as
philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well.
He is perhaps best known for the philosophical statement "Cogito ergo sum" (French: Je pense, donc je suis;
English: I think, therefore I am), found in part IV of Discourse on the Method (1637 • written in French but with
inclusion of "Cogito ergo sum") and º7 of part I of Principles of Philosophy (1644 • written in Latin).
Graduation registry for Descartes at the Coll½ge
Royal Henry-Le-Grand, La Fl½che, 1616
Descartes was born in La Haye en Touraine (now Descartes),
Indre-et-Loire, France. When he was one year old, his mother Jeanne
Brochard died. His father Joachim was a member of the Parlement of
Brittany at Rennes.
In 1606 or 1607 he entered the Jesuit Coll½ge
Royal Henry-Le-Grand at La Fl½che
where he was introduced to
mathematics and physics, including Galileo's work.
After graduation
in December 1616, he studied at the University of Poitiers, earning a
Baccalaurƒat and Licence in law, in accordance with his father's
wishes that he should become a lawyer.
"I entirely abandoned the study of letters. Resolving to seek no
knowledge other than that of which could be found in myself or else in
the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth traveling,
visiting courts and armies, mixing with people of diverse
temperaments and ranks, gathering various experiences, testing myself
in the situations which fortune offered me, and at all times reflecting upon whatever came my way so as to derive
some profit from it." (Descartes, Discourse on the Method).
In 1618, Descartes was engaged in the army of Maurice of Nassau in the Dutch Republic, but as a truce had been
established between Holland and Spain, Descartes used his spare time to study mathematics.
In this way he
became acquainted with Isaac Beeckman, principal of Dordrecht school. Beeckman had proposed a difficult
mathematical problem, and to his astonishment, it was the young Descartes who found the solution. Both believed
that it was necessary to create a method that thoroughly linked mathematics and physics.
While in the service of
the Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, Descartes was present at the Battle of the White Mountain outside Prague, in
November 1620.
On the night of 10•11 November 1619, while stationed in Neuburg an der Donau, Germany, Descartes experienced
a series of three powerful dreams or visions that he later claimed profoundly influenced his life. He concluded from
these visions that the pursuit of science would prove to be, for him, the pursuit of true wisdom and a central part of
his life's work.
Descartes also saw very clearly that all truths were linked with one another, so that finding a
fundamental truth and proceeding with logic would open the way to all science. This basic truth, Descartes found
Ren• Descartes
quite soon: his famous "I think".
In 1622 he returned to France, and during the next few years spent time in Paris and other parts of Europe. It was
during a stay in Paris that he composed his first essay on method: Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii (Rules for the
Direction of the Mind).
He arrived in La Haye in 1623, selling all of his property to invest in bonds, which
provided a comfortable income for the rest of his life. Descartes was present at the siege of La Rochelle by Cardinal
Richelieu in 1627.
He returned to the Dutch Republic in 1628, where he lived until September 1649. In April 1629 he joined the
University of Franeker, living at the Sjaerdemaslot, and the next year, under the name "Poitevin", he enrolled at the
Leiden University to study mathematics with Jacob Golius and astronomy with Martin Hortensius.
In October
1630 he had a falling-out with Beeckman, whom he accused of plagiarizing some of his ideas. In Amsterdam, he had
a relationship with a servant girl, Helena Jans van der Strom, with whom he had a daughter, Francine, who was born
in 1635 in Deventer, at which time Descartes taught at the Utrecht University. Francine Descartes died in 1640 in
Amersfoort, from Scarlet Fever.
While in the Netherlands he changed his address frequently, living among other places in Dordrecht (1628),
Franeker (1629), Amsterdam (1629•30), Leiden (1630), Amsterdam (1630•32), Deventer (1632•34), Amsterdam
(1634•35), Utrecht (1635•36), Leiden (1636), Egmond (1636•38), Santpoort (1638•1640), Leiden (1640•41),
Endegeest (a castle near Oegstgeest) (1641•43), and finally for an extended time in Egmond-Binnen (1643•49).
Despite these frequent moves he wrote all his major work during his 20-plus years in the Netherlands, where he
managed to revolutionize mathematics and philosophy. In 1633, Galileo was condemned by the Roman Catholic
Church, and Descartes abandoned plans to publish Treatise on the World, his work of the previous four years.
Nevertheless, in 1637 he published part of this work in three essays: Les Mƒtƒores (The Meteors), La Dioptrique
(Dioptrics) and La Gƒomƒtrie (Geometry), preceded by an introduction, his famous Discours de la Mƒtode
(Discourse on the Method). In it Descartes lays out four rules of thought, meant to ensure that our knowledge rests
upon a firm foundation.
Ren• Descartes (right) with Queen Christina of
Sweden (left).
Descartes continued to publish works concerning both mathematics
and philosophy for the rest of his life. In 1641 he published a
metaphysics work, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (Meditations on
First Philosophy), written in Latin and thus addressed to the learned. It
was followed, in 1644, by Principia Philosophi„ (Principles of
Philosophy), a kind of synthesis of the Meditations and the Discourse.
In 1643, Cartesian philosophy was condemned at the University of
Utrecht, and Descartes began his long correspondence with Princess
Elisabeth of Bohemia, devoted mainly to moral and psychological
subjects. Connected with this correspondence, in 1649 he published
Les Passions de l'…me (Passions of the Soul), that he dedicated to the
Princess. In 1647, he was awarded a pension by the King of France.
Descartes was interviewed by Frans Burman at Egmond-Binnen in
A French translation of Principia Philosophi„, prepared by Abbot Claude Picot, was published in 1647. This edition
Descartes dedicated to Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. In the preface Descartes praised true philosophy as a means to
attain wisdom. He identifies four ordinary sources to reach wisdom, and finally says that there is a fifth, better and
more secure, consisting in the search for first causes.
Ren• Descartes died on 11 February 1650 in Stockholm, Sweden, where he had been invited as a tutor for Queen
Christina of Sweden. The cause of death was said to be pneumonia; accustomed to working in bed until noon, he
may have suffered damage to his health from Christina's demands for early morning study (the lack of sleep could
Ren• Descartes
have severely compromised his immune system). Descartes stayed at the French ambassador Pierre Chanut.
In 1663, the Pope placed his works on the Index of Prohibited Books.
The tomb of Descartes (middle, with detail of the
inscription), in the Abbey of
Saint-Germain-des-Pr•s, Paris
As a Roman Catholic in a Protestant nation, he was interred in a
graveyard used mainly for unbaptized infants in Adolf Fredriks kyrka
in Stockholm. Later, his remains were taken to France and buried in
the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pr•s in Paris. Although the National
Convention in 1792 had planned to transfer his remains to the
Panth•on, they are, two centuries later, still resting between two other
graves ˆ those of the scholarly monks Jean Mabillon and Bernard de
Montfaucon ˆ in a chapel of the abbey. His memorial, erected in the
18th century, remains in the Swedish church.
Religious beliefs
The religious beliefs of Ren• Descartes have been rigorously debated
within scholarly circles. He claimed to be a devout Roman Catholic,
claiming that one of the purposes of the Meditations was to defend the Christian faith. However, in his own era,
Descartes was accused of harboring secret deist or atheist beliefs. Contemporary Blaise Pascal said that "I cannot
forgive Descartes; in all his philosophy, Descartes did his best to dispense with God. But Descartes could not avoid
prodding God to set the world in motion with a snap of his lordly fingers; after that, he had no more use for God."
Stephen Gaukroger's biography of Descartes reports that "he had a deep religious faith as a Catholic, which he
retained to his dying day, along with a resolute, passionate desire to discover the truth."
After Descartes died in
Sweden, Queen Christina abdicated her throne to convert to Roman Catholicism (Swedish law required a Protestant
ruler). The only Roman Catholic with whom she had prolonged contact was Descartes, who was her personal
Philosophical work
Descartes is often regarded as the first thinker to emphasize the use of reason to develop the natural sciences.
him the philosophy was a thinking system that embodied all knowledge, and expressed it in this way:

Thus, all Philosophy is like a tree, of which Metaphysics is the root, Physics the trunk, and all the other sciences the branches that grow out of
this trunk, which are reduced to three principal, namely, Medicine, Mechanics, and Ethics. By the science of Morals, I understand the highest
and most perfect which, presupposing an entire knowledge of the other sciences, is the last degree of wisdom. ‚
In his Discourse on the Method, he attempts to arrive at a fundamental set of principles that one can know as true
without any doubt. To achieve this, he employs a method called hyperbolical/metaphysical doubt, also sometimes
referred to as methodological skepticism: he rejects any ideas that can be doubted, and then reestablishes them in
order to acquire a firm foundation for genuine knowledge.
Initially, Descartes arrives at only a single principle: thought exists. Thought cannot be separated from me, therefore,
I exist (Discourse on the Method and Principles of Philosophy). Most famously, this is known as cogito ergo sum
(English: "I think, therefore I am"). Therefore, Descartes concluded, if he doubted, then something or someone must
be doing the doubting, therefore the very fact that he doubted proved his existence. "The simple meaning of the
phrase is that if one is sceptical of existence, that is in and of itself proof that he does exist."
Ren• Descartes
Ren• Descartes at work
Descartes concludes that he can be certain that he exists because he
thinks. But in what form? He perceives his body through the use of the
senses; however, these have previously been unreliable. So Descartes
determines that the only indubitable knowledge is that he is a thinking
thing. Thinking is what he does, and his power must come from his
essence. Descartes defines "thought" (cogitatio) as "what happens in
me such that I am immediately conscious of it, insofar as I am
conscious of it". Thinking is thus every activity of a person of which he
is immediately conscious.
To further demonstrate the limitations of the senses, Descartes
proceeds with what is known as the Wax Argument. He considers a
piece of wax; his senses inform him that it has certain characteristics,
such as shape, texture, size, color, smell, and so forth. When he brings
the wax towards a flame, these characteristics change completely.
However, it seems that it is still the same thing: it is still the same piece
of wax, even though the data of the senses inform him that all of its
characteristics are different. Therefore, in order to properly grasp the
nature of the wax, he should put aside the senses. He must use his
mind. Descartes concludes:

And so something which I thought I was seeing with my eyes is in fact grasped solely by the faculty of judgment which is in my mind.

In this manner, Descartes proceeds to construct a system of knowledge, discarding perception as unreliable and
instead admitting only deduction as a method. In the third and fifth Meditation, he offers an ontological proof of a
benevolent God (through both the ontological argument and trademark argument). Because God is benevolent, he
can have some faith in the account of reality his senses provide him, for God has provided him with a working mind
and sensory system and does not desire to deceive him. From this supposition, however, he finally establishes the
possibility of acquiring knowledge about the world based on deduction and perception. In terms of epistemology
therefore, he can be said to have contributed such ideas as a rigorous conception of foundationalism and the
possibility that reason is the only reliable method of attaining knowledge. He, nevertheless, was very much aware
that experimentation was necessary in order to verify and validate theories.
Descartes also wrote a response to scepticism about the existence of the external world. He argues that sensory
perceptions come to him involuntarily, and are not willed by him. They are external to his senses, and according to
Descartes, this is evidence of the existence of something outside of his mind, and thus, an external world. Descartes
goes on to show that the things in the external world are material by arguing that God would not deceive him as to
the ideas that are being transmitted, and that God has given him the "propensity" to believe that such ideas are
caused by material things.
Descartes in his Passions of the Soul and The Description of the Human Body suggested that the body works like a
machine, that it has material properties. The mind (or soul), on the other hand, was described as a nonmaterial and
does not follow the laws of nature. Descartes argued that the mind interacts with the body at the pineal gland. This
form of dualism or duality proposes that the mind controls the body, but that the body can also influence the
otherwise rational mind, such as when people act out of passion. Most of the previous accounts of the relationship
between mind and body had been uni-directional.
Ren• Descartes
Descartes suggested that the pineal gland is "the seat of the soul" for several reasons. First, the soul is unitary, and
unlike many areas of the brain the pineal gland appeared to be unitary (though subsequent microscopic inspection
has revealed it is formed of two hemispheres). Second, Descartes observed that the pineal gland was located near the
ventricles. He believed the cerebrospinal fluid of the ventricles acted through the nerves to control the body, and that
the pineal gland influenced this process. Cartesian dualism set the agenda for philosophical discussion of the
mind•body problem for many years after Descartes's death.
In present day discussions on the practice of animal vivisection, it is normal to consider Descartes as an advocate of
this practice, as a result of his dualistic philosophy. Some of the sources say that Descartes denied the animals could
feel pain, and therefore could be used without concern.
Other sources consider that Descartes denied that animal
had reason or intelligence, but did not lack sensations or perceptions, but these could be explained
Descartes' moral philosophy
For Descartes, morals was a science, the highest and most perfect of them, and like the rest of sciences had its roots
in Metaphysics.
In this way he argues for the existence of God, investigates the place of men in nature, formulates
the theory of mind-body dualism and defends free will. But, he being a convinced rationalist, clearly estates that
reason suffices us in the search for the goods we should seek, and for him, virtue consists in the correct reasoning
that should guide our actions. Nevertheless, the quality of this reasoning depends on knowledge, as a well informed
mind will be more capable of making good choices, and also on mental condition. For this reason he said that a
complete moral philosophy should include the study of the body. He discussed this subject in the correspondence
with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, and as a result wrote his work The Passions of the Soul, that contains a study of
the psychosomatic processes and reactions in man, with an emphasis on emotions or passions.
Men should seek the sovereign good that Descartes, following Zeno, identifies with virtue, as this produces a solid
blessedness or pleasure. For Epicurus the sovereign good was pleasure, and Descartes says that in fact this is not in
contradiction with Zeno's teaching, because virtue produces a spiritual pleasure, that is better than bodily pleasure.
Regarding Aristotle opinion that happiness depends on the goods of fortune, Descartes does not deny that this goods
contribute to happiness, but remarks that they are in great proportion outside our control, whereas our mind is under
our complete control.
The moral writings of Descartes came at the last part of his life, but earlier, in his Discourse on Method he adopted
three maxims to be able to act while he put all his ideas into doubt. This is known as his "Provisional Morals".
Historical impact
Emancipation from Church doctrine
Descartes has been often dubbed as the father of modern Western philosophy, the philosopher that with his sceptic
approach has profoundly changed the course of Western philosophy and set the basis for modernity.
The first
two of his Meditations on First Philosophy, those that formulate the famous methodic doubt, are the portion of
Descartes writings that most influenced modern thinking.
It has been argued that Descartes himself didn't realize
the extent of his revolutionary gesture.
In shifting the debate from "what is true" to "of what can I be certain?,"
Descartes shifted the authoritative guarantor of truth from God to Man (While traditional concept of "truth" implies
an external authority, "certainty" instead relies on the judgement of the individual Man). In an anthropocentric
revolution, Man is now raised to the level of a subject, an agent, an emancipated being equipped with autonomous
reason. This is a revolutionary step which posed the basis of modernity (whose repercussion are still ongoing): the
emancipation of man from Christian revelational truth and Church doctrine, a man that makes his own law and takes
its own stand.
In modernity, the guarantor of truth is not God anymore but Man, a "self-conscious shaper
and guarantor" of his reality.
Man in this way is turned into a reasoning adult, a subject and agent,
Ren• Descartes
opposed to a child obedient to God. This change in perspective was characteristic of the shift from the Christian
mediaval period to the modern period, it had been anticipated in other fields and now Descartes was giving it a
formulation in the field of philosophy.
This anthropocentric perspective, establishing human reason as autonomous, posed the basis for the Enlightenment's
emancipation from God and the Church. It also posed the basis for all subsequent anthropology.
philosophical revolution is sometimes said to have sparked modern anthropocentrism and subjectivism.
Mathematical legacy
One of Descartes' most enduring legacies was his development of Cartesian or analytic geometry, which uses algebra
to describe geometry. He "invented the convention of representing unknowns in equations by x, y, and z, and knowns
by a, b, and c". He also "pioneered the standard notation" that uses superscripts to show the powers or exponents; for
example, the 4 used in x
to indicate squaring of squaring.
He was first to assign a fundamental place for algebra
in our system of knowledge, and believed that algebra was a method to automate or mechanize reasoning,
particularly about abstract, unknown quantities. European mathematicians had previously viewed geometry as a
more fundamental form of mathematics, serving as the foundation of algebra. Algebraic rules were given geometric
proofs by mathematicians such as Pacioli, Cardan, Tartaglia and Ferrari. Equations of degree higher than the third
were regarded as unreal, because a three dimensional form, such as a cube, occupied the largest dimension of reality.
Descartes professed that the abstract quantity a
could represent length as well as an area. This was in opposition to
the teachings of mathematicians, such as Vieta, who argued that it could represent only area. Although Descartes did
not pursue the subject, he preceded Leibniz in envisioning a more general science of algebra or "universal
mathematics," as a precursor to symbolic logic, that could encompass logical principles and methods symbolically,
and mechanize general reasoning.
Descartes' work provided the basis for the calculus developed by Newton and Leibniz, who applied infinitesimal
calculus to the tangent line problem, thus permitting the evolution of that branch of modern mathematics.
His rule
of signs is also a commonly used method to determine the number of positive and negative roots of a polynomial.
Descartes discovered an early form of the law of conservation of mechanical momentum (a measure of the motion of
an object), and envisioned it as pertaining to motion in a straight line, as opposed to perfect circular motion, as
Galileo had envisioned it. He outlined his views on the universe in his Principles of Philosophy.
Descartes also made contributions to the field of optics. He showed by using geometric construction and the law of
refraction (also known as Descartes's law or more commonly Snell's law, who discovered it 16 years earlier) that the
angular radius of a rainbow is 42 degrees (i.e., the angle subtended at the eye by the edge of the rainbow and the ray
passing from the sun through the rainbow's centre is 42ª).
He also independently discovered the law of reflection,
and his essay on optics was the first published mention of this law.
Ren• Descartes
Contemporary reception
Although Descartes was well known in academic circles towards the end of his life, the teaching of his works in
schools was controversial. Henri de Roy (Henricus Regius, 1598•1679), Professor of Medicine at the University of
Utrecht, was condemned by the Rector of the University, Gijsbert Voet (Voetius), for teaching Descartes's
Handwritten letter by Descartes, December 1638.
€ 1618. Compendium Musicae. A treatise on music theory and the
aesthetics of music written for Descartes's early collaborator, Isaac
€ 1626•1628. Regulae ad directionem ingenii (Rules for the Direction
of the Mind). Incomplete. First published posthumously in Dutch
translation in 1684 and in the original Latin at Amsterdam in 1701
(R. Des-Cartes Opuscula Posthuma Physica et Mathematica). The
best critical edition, which includes the Dutch translation of 1684, is
edited by Giovanni Crapulli (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966).
€ 1630•1633. Le Monde (The World) and L'Homme (Man).
Descartes's first systematic presentation of his natural philosophy.
Man was published posthumously in Latin translation in 1662; and
The World posthumously in 1664.
€ 1637. Discours de la mƒthode (Discourse on the Method). An
introduction to the Essais, which include the Dioptrique, the
Mƒtƒores and the Gƒomƒtrie.
€ 1637. La Gƒomƒtrie (Geometry). Descartes's major work in
mathematics. There is an English translation by Michael Mahoney
(New York: Dover, 1979).
€ 1641. Meditationes de prima philosophia (Meditations on First Philosophy), also known as Metaphysical
Meditations. In Latin; a French translation, probably done without Descartes's supervision, was published in 1647.
Includes six Objections and Replies. A second edition, published the following year, included an additional
objection and reply, and a Letter to Dinet.
€ 1644. Principia philosophiae (Principles of Philosophy), a Latin textbook at first intended by Descartes to replace
the Aristotelian textbooks then used in universities. A French translation, Principes de philosophie by Claude
Picot, under the supervision of Descartes, appeared in 1647 with a letter-preface to Princess Elisabeth of
€ 1647. Notae in programma (Comments on a Certain Broadsheet). A reply to Descartes's one-time disciple
Henricus Regius.
€ 1647. La description du corps humaine (The Description of the Human Body). Published posthumously.
€ 1648. Responsiones Renati Des Cartes... (Conversation with Burman). Notes on a Q&A session between
Descartes and Frans Burman on 16 April 1648. Rediscovered in 1895 and published for the first time in 1896. An
annotated bilingual edition (Latin with French translation), edited by Jean-Marie Beyssade, was published in 1981
(Paris: PUF).
€ 1649. Les passions de l'…me (Passions of the Soul). Dedicated to Princess Elisabeth of the Palatinate.
€ 1656. Musicae Compendium (Instruction in Music). Posth. Publ.: Johannes Janssonius jun., Amsterdam.
€ 1657. Correspondance. Published by Descartes's literary executor Claude Clerselier. The third edition, in 1667,
was the most complete; Clerselier omitted, however, much of the material pertaining to mathematics.
Ren• Descartes
In January 2010, a previously unknown letter from Descartes, dated 27 May 1641, was found by the Dutch
philosopher Erik-Jan Bos when browsing through Google. Bos found the letter mentioned in a summary of
autographs kept by Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania. The College was unaware that the letter had
never been published. This was the third letter by Descartes found in the last 25 years.
[1] Russell Shorto. Descartes' Bones. (Doubleday, 2008) p. 218; see also The Louvre, Atlas Database, http:/ / cartelen. louvre. fr
[2] "Ren• Descartes" (http:/ / www. newadvent.org/ cathen/ 04744b. htm). Newadvent.org. . Retrieved 30 May 2012. "...preferred to avoid all
collision with ecclesiastical authority."
[3] Colie, Rosalie L. (1957). Light and Enlightenment. Cambridge University Press. p. 58.
[4] Bertrand Russell (2004) History of western philosophy (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=Ey94E3sOMA0C& pg=PA516) pp.511, 516-7
[5] Watson, Richard A. (31 March 2012). "Ren• Descartes" (http:/ / www. britannica. com/ EBchecked/ topic/ 158787/ Rene-Descartes).
Encyclop„dia Britannica (Encyclop¾dia Britannica Online. Encyclop¾dia Britannica Inc). . Retrieved 31 March 2012.
[6] Carlson, Neil R. (2001). Physiology of Behavior. Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Pearson: Allyn & Bacon. p. 8. ISBN 0-205-30840-6.
[7] Rodis-Lewis, Genevi½ve (1992). "Descartes' life and the development of his philosophy" (http:/ / books. google. dk/
books?id=Prhr9FBdQ_MC). In Cottingham, John. The Cambridge Companion to Descartes. Cambridge University Press. p. 22.
ISBN 978-0-521-36696-0. .
[8] [8] Desmond, p. 24
[9] Porter, Roy (1999) [1997]. "The New Science". The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the
Present (paperback edition, 135798642 ed.). Great Britain: Harper Collins. p. 217. ISBN 0006374549.
[10] Baird, Forrest E.; Walter Kaufmann (2008). From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 373•377.
ISBN 0-13-158591-6.
[11] "Ren• Descartes" (http:/ / www. famousscientists.org/ rene-descartes). FamousScientists.org. . Retrieved 15 December 2011.
[12] [12] Guy Durandin, Les Principes de la Philosophie. Introduction et notes, Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, Paris, 1970.
[13] Battle of White Mountain (http:/ / www. britannica.com/ EBchecked/ topic/ 642395/ Battle-of-White-Mountain), Britannica Online
[14] Clarke, Desmond (2006). Descartes: A biography, pp. 58•59. Cambridge U. Press. http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=W3D9KGVyz6sC
[15] A.C. Grayling, Descartes: The Life of Rene Descartes and Its Place in His Times, Simon and Schuster, 2006, pp 151•152
[16] [16] Blom, John J., Descartes. His Moral Philosophy and Psychology. New York University Press, 1978. ISBN 0-8147-0999-0
[17] Think Exist on Blaise Pascal (http:/ / thinkexist. com/ quotation/ i_cannot_forgive_descartes-in_all_his_philosophy/ 153298. html).
Retrieved 12 February 2009.
[18] The Religious Affiliation of philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes (http:/ / www. adherents. com/ people/ pd/ Rene_Descartes.
html). Webpage last modified 5 October 2005.
[19] Smith, Kurt (Fall 2010). "Descartes' Life and Works" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes-works/ ). The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy. .
[20] Emily Grosholz (1991). Cartesian method and the problem of reduction (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?hl=en& lr=&
id=2EtAVLU1eIAC& oi=fnd& pg=PA1). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-824250-6. . "But contemporary debate has tended
to...understand [Cartesian method] merely as the 'method of doubt'...I want to define Descartes's method in broader terms...to trace its impact
on the domains of mathematics and physics as well as metaphysics."
[21] Ren• Descartes; Translator John Veitch. "Letter of the Author to the French Translator of the Principles of Philosophy serving for a preface"
(http:/ / www. classicallibrary.org/ descartes/ principles/ preface. htm). . Retrieved December 2011.
[22] Rebecca, Copenhaver. "Forms of skepticism" (http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20050108095032/ http:/ / www. lclark. edu/ ~rebeccac/ forms.
html). Archived from the original (http:/ / www.lclark. edu/ ~rebeccac/ forms. html) on 8 January 2005. . Retrieved 15 August 2007.
[23] "Ten books: Chosen by Raj Persuade" (http:/ / bjp. rcpsych. org/ cgi/ content/ full/ 181/ 3/ 258). The British Journal of Psychiatry. .
[24] Descartes, Ren• (1644). The Principles of Philosophy (IX).
[25] [25] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online): Descartes and the Pineal Gland.
[26] Richard Dawkins (June 2012). "Richard Dawkins on vivisection: "But can they suffer?" (http:/ / boingboing. net/ 2011/ 06/ 30/
richard-dawkins-on-v. html). Boingboing. . Retrieved 2 July 2012.
[27] "Animal Consciousness, #2. Historical background" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ consciousness-animal/ #hist). Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Dec 1995/rev Oct 2010. . Retrieved 2 July 2012.
[28] [28] Blom, John J., Descartes. His moral philosophy and psychology. New York University Press. 1978. ISBN 0-8147-0999-0
[29] [29] Heidegger [1938] (2002) p.76 quotation:
Descartes... that which he himself founded... modern (and that means, at the same time, Western) metaphysics.
[30] Schmaltz, Tad M. Radical Cartesianism: The French Reception of Descartes (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=pIYcUBCOrNgC&
pg=PA27) p.27 quotation:
Ren• Descartes
The Descartes most familiar to twentieth-century philosophers is the Descartes of the first two Meditations,
someone proccupied with hyperbolic doubt of the material world and the certainty of knowledge of the self
that emerges from the famous cogito argument.
[31] Roy Wood Sellars (1949) Philosophy for the future: the quest of modern materialism (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=y1wNAAAAIAAJ) quotation:
Husserl has taken Descartes very seriously in a historical as well as in a systematic sense [...] [in The Crisis of
the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, Husserl] finds in the first two Meditations of
Descartes a depth which it is difficult to fathom, and which Descartes himself was so little able to appreciate
that he let go "the great discovery" he had in his hands.
[32] Martin Heidegger [1938] (2002) The Age of the World Picture quotation:
For up to Descartes...a particular sub-iectum...lies at the foundation of its own fixed qualities and changing
circumstances. The superiority of a sub-iectum...arises out of the claim of man to a...self-supported,
unshakable foundation of truth, in the sense of certainty. Why and how does this claim acquire its decisive
authority? The claim originates in that emancipation of man in which he frees himself from obligation to
Christian revelational truth and Church doctrine to a legislating for himself that takes its stand upon itself.
[33] Ingraffia, Brian D. (1995) Postmodern theory and biblical theology: vanquishing God's shadow (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=LHjZYbOLG8cC& pg=PA126) p.126
[34] Norman K. Swazo (2002) Crisis theory and world order: Heideggerian reflections (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=INP_cy6Mu7EC& pg=PA97) pp.97-9
[35] Lovitt, Tom (1977) introduction to Martin Heidegger's The question concerning technology, and other essays, pp.xxv-xxvi
[36] Briton, Derek The modern practice of adult education: a postmodern critique (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=Hd_xwb6EolMC&
pg=PA76) p.76
[37] Martin Heidegger The Word of Nietzsche: God is Dead pp.88-90
[38] [38] Heidegger [1938] (2002) p.75 quotation:
With the interpretation of man as subiectum, Descartes creates the metaphysical presupposition for future
anthropology of every kind and tendency.
[39] Benjamin Isadore Schwart China and Other Matters (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=Wt4XDLEpjWYC& pg=PA95) p.95 quotation:
... the kind of anthropocentric subjectivism which has emerged from the Cartesian revolution.
[40] Charles B. Guignon Heidegger and the problem of knowledge (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=5vFCfdWD5QEC& pg=PA23) p.23
[41] Husserl, Edmund (1931) Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology quotation:
When, with the beginning of modern times, religious belief was becoming more and more externalized as a
lifeless convention, men of intellect were lifted by a new belief, their great belief in an autonomous philosophy
and science. [...] in philosophy, the Meditations were epoch-making in a quite unique sense, and precisely
because of their going back to the pure ego cogito. Descartes, in fact, inaugurates an entirely new kind of
philosophy. Changing its total style, philosophy takes a radical turn: from na¿ve Objectivism to transcendental
[42] Tom Sorelli, Descartes: A Very Short Introduction, (2000). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 19.
[43] Morris Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, (1972). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 280-281
[44] Gullberg, Jan (1997). Mathematics From The Birth Of Numbers. W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04002-X.
[45] Tipler, P. A. and G. Mosca (2004). Physics For Scientists And Engineers. W. H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-4389-2.
[46] "Ren• Descartes" (http:/ / encarta. msn.com/ encyclopedia_761555262/ Rene_Descartes. html#s3). Encarta. Microsoft. 2008. . Retrieved 15
August 2007.
[47] Cottingham, John, Dugald Murdoch, and Robert Stoothof. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes.Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press. 1985. 293.
[48] Vlasblom, Dirk (25 February 2010). "Unknown letter from Descartes found" (http:/ / www. nrc. nl/ international/ article2492445. ece/
Unknown_letter_from_Descartes_found). Nrc.nl. . Retrieved 30 May 2012.
[49] (Dutch) " Hoe Descartes in 1641 op andere gedachten kwam • Onbekende brief van Franse filosoof gevonden" (http:/ / www. nrc.nl/
wetenschap/ article2491995. ece/ Hoe_Descartes_in_1641_op_andere_gedachten_kwam)
Ren• Descartes
Collected works
€ Oeuvres de Descartes edited by Charles Adam and Paul Tannery, Paris: L•opold Cerf, 1897•1913, 13 volumes;
new revised edition, Paris: Vrin-CNRS, 1964•1974, 11 vol.
This work is traditionally cited with the initials AT (for Adam and Tannery) followed by a volume number in Roman
numerals; thus AT VII refers to Oeuvres de Descartes volume 7.
€ Oeuvres de jeunesse (1616-1631) edited by Vincent Carraud, Paris: PUF, 2012.
Collected English translations
€ 1955. The Philosophical Works, E.S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross, trans. Dover Publications. This work is
traditionally cited with the initials HR (for Haldane and Ross) followed by a volume number in Roman numerals;
thus HRII refers to volume 2 of this edition.
€ 1988. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes in 3 vols. Cottingham, J., Stoothoff, R., Kenny, A., and Murdoch,
D., trans. Cambridge University Press.
Single works
€ 1618. Compendium Musicae.
€ 1628. Rules for the Direction of the Mind.
€ 1637. Discourse on the Method ("Discours de la Methode"). An introduction to Dioptrique, Des Mƒtƒores and La
Gƒomƒtrie. Original in French, because intended for a wider public.
€ 1637. La Gƒomƒtrie. Smith, David E., and Lantham, M. L., trans., 1954. The Geometry of Renƒ Descartes. Dover.
€ 1641. Meditations on First Philosophy. Cottingham, J., trans., 1996. Cambridge University Press. Latin original.
Alternative English title: Metaphysical Meditations. Includes six Objections and Replies. A second edition
published the following year, includes an additional Objection and Reply and a Letter to Dinet. HTML Online
Latin-French-English Edition (http:/ / www. wright. edu/ cola/ descartes/ intro. html)
€ 1644. Les Principes de la philosophie. Miller, V. R. and R. P., trans., 1983. Principles of Philosophy. Reidel.
€ 1647. Comments on a Certain Broadsheet.
€ 1647. The Description of the Human Body.
€ 1648. Conversation with Burman.
€ 1649. Passions of the Soul. Voss, S. H., trans., 1989. Indianapolis: Hackett. Dedicated to Princess Elizabeth of
Secondary literature
€ Boyer, Carl (1985). A History of Mathematics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02391-3.
€ Carriero, John (2008). Between Two Worlds. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13561-8.
€ Clarke, Desmond (2006). Descartes: A Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
ISBN 0-521-82301-3.
€ Costabel, Pierre (1987). Renƒ Descartes € Exercices pour les ƒlƒments des solides. Paris: Presses Universitaires
de France. ISBN 2-13-040099-X.
€ Cottingham, John (1992). The Cambridge Companion to Descartes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
ISBN 0-521-36696-8.
€ Duncan, Steven M. (2008). The Proof of the External World: Cartesian Theism and the Possibility of Knowledge.
Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. ISBN 978-02271-7267-4 http:/ / www. lutterworth. com/ jamesclarke/ jc/ titles/
Ren• Descartes
proofew. htm.
€ Farrell, John. "Demons of Descartes and Hobbes." Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau (Cornell UP,
2006), chapter 7.
€ Garber, Daniel (1992). Descartes' Metaphysical Physics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
ISBN 0-226-28219-8.
€ Garber, Daniel; Michael Ayers (1998). The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-53721-5.
€ Gaukroger, Stephen (1995). Descartes: An Intellectual Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-823994-7.
€ Grayling, A.C. (2005). Descartes: The Life and times of a Genius. New York: Walker Publishing Co., Inc..
ISBN 0-8027-1501-X.
€ Gillespie, A. (2006). Descartes' demon: A dialogical analysis of 'Meditations on First Philosophy.' (http:/ / stir.
academia. edu/ documents/ 0011/ 0112/
Gillespie_Descartes_demon_a_dialogical_analysis_of_meditations_on_first_philosophy. pdf) Theory &
Psychology, 16, 761•781.
€ Martin Heidegger [1938] (2002) The Age of the World Picture in Off the beaten track (http:/ / books. google.
com/ books?id=QImd2ARqQPMC& pg=PA66)
€ Keeling, S. V. (1968). Descartes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN.
€ Melchert, Norman (2002). The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. New York:
McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-19-517510-7.
€ Moreno Romo, Juan Carlos (Coord.), Descartes vivo. Ejercicios de hermenƒutica cartesiana, Anthropos,
Barcelona, 2007'
€ Ozaki, Makoto (1991). Kartenspiel, oder Kommentar zu den Meditationen des Herrn Descartes. Berlin: Klein
Verlag.. ISBN 3-927199-01-X.
€ Moreno Romo, Juan Carlos, Vindicaci†n del cartesianismo radical, Anthropos, Barcelona, 2010.
€ Sch¤fer, Rainer (2006). Zweifel und Sein € Der Ursprung des modernen Selbstbewusstseins in Descartes' cogito.
Wuerzburg: Koenigshausen&Neumann. ISBN 3-8260-3202-0.
€ Serfati, M., 2005, "Geometria" in Ivor Grattan-Guinness, ed., Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics.
Elsevier: 1•22.
€ Sorrell, Tom (1987). Descartes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.. ISBN 0-19-287636-8.
€ Vrooman, Jack Rochford (1970). Renƒ Descartes: A Biography. Putnam Press.
€ Watson, Richard A. (31 March 2012). "Ren• Descartes" (http:/ / www. britannica. com/ EBchecked/ topic/
158787/ Rene-Descartes). Encyclop„dia Britannica (Encyclop¾dia Britannica Online. Encyclop¾dia Britannica
Inc). Retrieved 31 March 2012.
€ Naaman-Zauderer, Noa (2010). Descartes' Deontological Turn: Reason, Will and Virtue in the Later Writings.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76330-1.
External links
€ Bernard Williams interviewed about Descartes on "Men of ideas" (http:/ / www. youtube. com/
€ Ren• Descartes (http:/ / www. findagrave. com/ cgi-bin/ fg. cgi?page=gr& GRid=8404) at Find a Grave
€ Detailed biography of Descartes (http:/ / www-groups. dcs. st-and. ac. uk/ ~history/ Mathematicians/ Descartes.
€ "Ren• Descartes" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
Ren• Descartes
€ Descartes featured on the 100 French Franc banknote from 1942. (http:/ / www-personal. umich. edu/ ~jbourj/
money5. htm)
€ More easily readable versions of Meditations, Objections and Replies, Principles of Philosophy, Discourse on the
Method, Correspondence with Princess Elisabeth, and Passions of the Soul. (http:/ / www. earlymoderntexts. com)
€ 1984 John Cottingham translation of Meditations and Objections and Replies. (http:/ / www. freewebs. com/
dqsdnlj/ d. html)
€ Ren• Descartes (1596•1650) (http:/ / digitalcommons. unl. edu/ modlangfrench/ 20/ ) Published in Encyclopedia
of Rhetoric and Composition (1996)
€ Original texts of Ren• Descartes in French (http:/ / www. laphilosophie. fr/ livres-de-Descartes-texte-integral.
html) at La Philosophie
€ Descartes Philosophical Writings tr. by Norman Kemp Smith (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/
descartesphiloso010838mbp) at archive.org
€ Studies in the Cartesian philosophy (1902) by Norman Kemp Smith (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/
studiesincartes00smitgoog) at archive.org
€ The Philosophical Works Of Descartes Volume II (1934) (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/
philosophicalwor005524mbp) at archive.org
€ Works by or about Ren• Descartes (http:/ / worldcat. org/ identities/ lccn-n79-61201) in libraries (WorldCat
€ Free scores by Ren• Descartes at the International Music Score Library Project
€ Ren• Descartes (1596ˆ1650): Overview(IEP) (http:/ / www. iep. utm. edu/ descarte/ )
€ Ren• Descartes:The Mind-Body Distinction(IEP) (http:/ / www. iep. utm. edu/ descmind/ )
€ Cartesian skepticism(DEP) (http:/ / philosophy. uwaterloo. ca/ MindDict/ cartesianskepticism. html)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
€ Ren• Descartes (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes/ )
€ Descartes' Epistemology (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes-epistemology/ )
€ Descartes' Ethics (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes-ethics/ )
€ Descartes' Life and Works (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes-works/ )
€ Descartes' Modal Metaphysics (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes-modal/ )
€ Descartes' Ontological Argument (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes-ontological/ )
€ Descartes and the Pineal Gland (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ pineal-gland/ )
€ Descartes' Physics (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes-physics/ )
€ Descartes' Theory of Ideas (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ descartes-ideas/ )
Pierre de Fermat
Pierre de Fermat
Pierre de Fermat
Pierre de Fermat
Born 1601 or 1607/8
Beaumont-de-Lomagne, France
Died 1665 Jan 12
Castres, France
Residence France
Nationality French
Fields Mathematics and Law
Known for Number theory
Analytic geometry
Fermat's principle
Fermat's Last Theorem
Influences FranÀois Vi½te
Pierre de Fermat (French: [pj†ƒŒ d…f†Œma]; 17
August 1601 or 1607/8
• 12 January 1665) was a French lawyer
at the Parlement of Toulouse, France, and an amateur mathematician who is given credit for early developments that
led to infinitesimal calculus, including his technique of adequality. In particular, he is recognized for his discovery of
an original method of finding the greatest and the smallest ordinates of curved lines, which is analogous to that of the
differential calculus, then unknown, and his research into number theory. He made notable contributions to analytic
geometry, probability, and optics. He is best known for Fermat's Last Theorem, which he described in a note at the
margin of a copy of Diophantus' Arithmetica.
Pierre de Fermat
Life and work
Fermat was born in Beaumont-de-Lomagne, Tarn-et-Garonne, France; the late 15th century mansion where Fermat
was born is now a museum. He was of Basque origin. Fermat's father was a wealthy leather merchant and second
consul of Beaumont-de-Lomagne. Pierre had a brother and two sisters and was almost certainly brought up in the
town of his birth. There is little evidence concerning his school education, but it may have been at the local
Franciscan monastery.
Bust in the Salle des Illustres in Capitole de
He attended the University of Toulouse before moving to Bordeaux in
the second half of the 1620s. In Bordeaux he began his first serious
mathematical researches and in 1629 he gave a copy of his restoration
of Apollonius's De Locis Planis to one of the mathematicians there.
Certainly in Bordeaux he was in contact with Beaugrand and during
this time he produced important work on maxima and minima which
he gave to Átienne d'Espagnet who clearly shared mathematical
interests with Fermat. There he became much influenced by the work
of FranÀois Vi½te.
From Bordeaux, Fermat went to Orl•ans where he studied law at the
University. He received a degree in civil law before, in 1631, receiving
the title of councillor at the High Court of Judicature in Toulouse,
which he held for the rest of his life. Due to the office he now held he
became entitled to change his name from Pierre Fermat to Pierre de
Fermat. Fluent in Latin, Basque, classical Greek, Italian, and Spanish, Fermat was praised for his written verse in
several languages, and his advice was eagerly sought regarding the emendation of Greek texts.
He communicated most of his work in letters to friends, often with little or no proof of his theorems. This allowed
him to preserve his status as an "amateur" while gaining the recognition he desired. This naturally led to priority
disputes with contemporaries such as Descartes and Wallis. He developed a close relationship with Blaise Pascal.
Anders Hald writes that, "The basis of Fermat's mathematics was the classical Greek treatises combined with Vieta's
new algebraic methods."
Fermat's pioneering work in analytic geometry was circulated in manuscript form in 1636, predating the publication
of Descartes' famous La gƒomƒtrie. This manuscript was published posthumously in 1679 in "Varia opera
mathematica", as Ad Locos Planos et Solidos Isagoge, ("Introduction to Plane and Solid Loci").
In Methodus ad disquirendam maximam et minima and in De tangentibus linearum curvarum, Fermat developed a
method for determining maxima, minima, and tangents to various curves that was equivalent to differentiation.
these works, Fermat obtained a technique for finding the centers of gravity of various plane and solid figures, which
led to his further work in quadrature.
Pierre de Fermat
Pierre de Fermat
Fermat was the first person known to have evaluated the integral of general
power functions. Using an ingenious trick, he was able to reduce this evaluation
to the sum of geometric series.
The resulting formula was helpful to Newton,
and then Leibniz, when they independently developed the fundamental theorem
of calculus.
In number theory, Fermat studied Pell's equation, perfect numbers, amicable
numbers and what would later become Fermat numbers. It was while researching
perfect numbers that he discovered the little theorem. He invented a factorization
methodˆFermat's factorization methodˆas well as the proof technique of
infinite descent, which he used to prove Fermat's Last Theorem for the case n =
4. Fermat developed the two-square theorem, and the polygonal number theorem,
which states that each number is a sum of three triangular numbers, four square
numbers, five pentagonal numbers, and so on.
Although Fermat claimed to have proved all his arithmetic theorems, few records
of his proofs have survived. Many mathematicians, including Gauss, doubted
several of his claims, especially given the difficulty of some of the problems and
the limited mathematical tools available to Fermat. His famous Last Theorem was first discovered by his son in the
margin on his father's copy of an edition of Diophantus, and included the statement that the margin was too small to
include the proof. He had not bothered to inform even Marin Mersenne of it. It was not proved until 1994 by Sir
Andrew Wiles, using techniques unavailable to Fermat.
Although he carefully studied, and drew inspiration from Diophantus, Fermat began a different tradition. Diophantus
was content to find a single solution to his equations, even if it were an undesired fractional one. Fermat was
interested only in integer solutions to his Diophantine equations, and he looked for all possible general solutions. He
often proved that certain equations had no solution, which usually baffled his contemporaries.
Through his correspondence with Pascal in 1654, Fermat and Pascal helped lay the fundamental groundwork for the
theory of probability. From this brief but productive collaboration on the problem of points, they are now regarded as
joint founders of probability theory.
Fermat is credited with carrying out the first ever rigorous probability
calculation. In it, he was asked by a professional gambler why if he bet on rolling at least one six in four throws of a
die he won in the long term, whereas betting on throwing at least one double-six in 24 throws of two dice resulted in
his losing. Fermat subsequently proved why this was the case mathematically.
Fermat's principle of least time (which he used to derive Snell's law in 1657) was the first variational principle
enunciated in physics since Hero of Alexandria described a principle of least distance in the first century CE. In this
way, Fermat is recognized as a key figure in the historical development of the fundamental principle of least action
in physics. The terms Fermat's principle and Fermat functional were named in recognition of this role.
Pierre de Fermat
Place of burial of Pierre de Fermat in Place Jean
Jaur•s, Castres, France. Translation of the plaque:
in this place was buried on January 13, 1665,
Pierre de Fermat, councilor of the chamber of
Edit and mathematician of great renown,
celebrated for his theorem (sic),
+ b
• c
for n>2
Pierre de Fermat died at Castres, Tarn.
The oldest and most
prestigious high school in Toulouse is named after him: the Lyc•e
Pierre de Fermat. French sculptor Th•ophile Barrau made a marble
statue named Hommage ‡ Pierre Fermat as tribute to Fermat, now at
the Capitole of Toulouse.
Assessment of his work
Holographic will handwritten by
Fermat on 4 March 1660 ˆ kept at
the Departmental Archives of
Haute-Garonne, in Toulouse
Together with Ren• Descartes, Fermat was one of the two leading
mathematicians of the first half of the 17th century. According to Peter L.
Bernstein, in his book Against the Gods, Fermat "was a mathematician of rare
power. He was an independent inventor of analytic geometry, he contributed to
the early development of calculus, he did research on the weight of the earth, and
he worked on light refraction and optics. In the course of what turned out to be
an extended correspondence with Pascal, he made a significant contribution to
the theory of probability. But Fermat's crowning achievement was in the theory
of numbers."
Regarding Fermat's work in analysis, Isaac Newton wrote that his own early
ideas about calculus came directly from "Fermat's way of drawing tangents."
Of Fermat's number theoretic work, the great 20th-century mathematician Andr•
Weil wrote that "... what we possess of his methods for dealing with curves of
genus 1 is remarkably coherent; it is still the foundation for the modern theory of
such curves. It naturally falls into two parts; the first one ... may conveniently be
termed a method of ascent, in contrast with the descent which is rightly regarded
as Fermat's own."
Regarding Fermat's use of ascent, Weil continued "The novelty consisted in the vastly extended
use which Fermat made of it, giving him at least a partial equivalent of what we would obtain by the systematic use
of the group theoretical properties of the rational points on a standard cubic."
With his gift for number relations
and his ability to find proofs for many of his theorems, Fermat essentially created the modern theory of numbers.
Pierre de Fermat
[1] KÂÃÄek, M.; Luca, Florian; Somer, Lawrence (2001). 17 lectures on Fermat numbers: from number theory to geometry. CMS books in
mathematics. Springer. p. v. ISBN 978-0-387-95332-8.
[2] Klaus Barner (2001): How old did Fermat become? (http:/ / cat. inist. fr/ ?aModele=afficheN& cpsidt=14213014) Internationale Zeitschrift
f·r Geschichte und Ethik der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin. ISSN 0036-6978. Vol 9, No 4, pp. 209-228.
[3] Ball, Walter William Rouse (1888). A short account of the history of mathematics. General Books LLC. ISBN 978-1-4432-9487-4.
[4] http:/ / www. ams. org/ notices/ 199507/ faltings. pdf
[5] Gullberg, Jan. Mathematics from the birth of numbers, W. W. Norton & Company; p. 548. ISBN 0-393-04002-X ISBN 978-0393040029
[6] Pellegrino, Dana. "Pierre de Fermat" (http:/ / www.math. rutgers. edu/ ~cherlin/ History/ Papers2000/ pellegrino. html). . Retrieved
[7] ParadÃs, Jaume; Pla, Josep; Viader, PelagrÃ. "Fermat€s Treatise On Quadrature: A New Reading" (http:/ / papers. ssrn. com/ sol3/ Delivery.
cfm/ SSRN_ID848544_code386779.pdf?abstractid=848544& mirid=5). . Retrieved 2008-02-24
[8] O'Connor, J. J.; Robertson, E. F.. "The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive: Pierre de Fermat" (http:/ / www-groups. dcs. st-and. ac. uk/
~history/ Biographies/ Fermat.html). . Retrieved 2008-02-24
[9] Eves, Howard. An Introduction to the History of Mathematics, Saunders College Publishing, Fort Worth, Texas, 1990.
[10] "Fermat€s principle for light rays" (http:/ / relativity. livingreviews. org/ open?pubNo=lrr-2004-9& page=articlesu9. html). . Retrieved
[11] ÅervenÆ, V. (July 2002). "Fermat's Variational Principle for Anisotropic Inhomogeneous Media" (http:/ / www. ingentaconnect. com/
content/ klu/ sgeg/ 2002/ 00000046/ 00000003/ 00450806). Studia Geophysica et Geodaetica 46 (3): 567. doi:10.1023/A:1019599204028. .
[12] Bernstein, Peter L. (1996). Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 61•62. ISBN 978-0-471-12104-6.
[13] Simmons, George F. (2007). Calculus Gems: Brief Lives and Memorable Mathematics. Mathematical Association of America. p. 98.
ISBN 0-88385-561-5.
[14] [14] Weil 1984, p.104
[15] [15] Weil 1984, p.105
Books referenced
€ Weil, Andr• (1984). Number Theory: An approach through history From Hammurapi to Legendre. Birkh¤user.
ISBN 0-8176-3141-0.
Further reading
€ Mahoney, Michael Sean (1994). The mathematical career of Pierre de Fermat, 1601 - 1665. Princeton Univ.
Press. ISBN 0-691-03666-7.
€ Singh, Simon (2002). Fermat's Last Theorem. Fourth Estate Ltd. ISBN 1-84115-791-0.
External links
€ Fermat's Achievements (http:/ / fermatslasttheorem. blogspot. com/ 2005/ 05/ fermats-achievements. html)
€ Fermat's Fallibility (http:/ / www. mathpages. com/ home/ kmath195/ kmath195. htm) at MathPages
€ History of Fermat's Last Theorem (French) (http:/ / ns33717. ovh. net/ spokus/ default/ EN/ all/ tpe_felix/ )
€ The Life and times of Pierre de Fermat (1601 - 1665) (http:/ / www. maths. tcd. ie/ pub/ HistMath/ People/
Fermat/ RouseBall/ RB_Fermat. html) from W. W. Rouse Ball's History of Mathematics
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Pierre de Fermat" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Fermat. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
zj:Pierre de Fermat
List of things named after Pierre de Fermat
List of things named after Pierre de Fermat
This is a list of things named after Pierre de Fermat, a French amateur mathematician.
This list is incomplete.
€€ Fermat cubic
€€ Fermat number
€€ Fermat polygonal number theorem
€€ Fermat Prize
€€ Fermat pseudoprime
€€ Fermat quotient
€€ Fermat's factorization method
€€ Fermat's principle
€€ Fermat's spiral
€€ Fermat's last theorem
€€ Fermat's little theorem
€€ Fermat's theorem (stationary points)
€€ Fermat's theorem on sums of two squares
Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal
Born 19 June 1623
Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne, France
Died 19 August 1662 (aged 39)
Paris, France
Residence France
Nationality French
Era 17th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Religion Roman Catholic
School Jansenism, precursor to existentialism
Main interests Theology, mathematics, philosophy, physics
Notable ideas Pascal's Wager
Pascal's triangle
Pascal's law
Pascal's theorem
Blaise Pascal (French: [bl†z paskal]; 19 June 1623 • 19 August 1662), was a French mathematician, physicist,
inventor, writer and Christian philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in
Rouen. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the
study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli.
Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method.
In 1642, while still a teenager, he started some pioneering work on calculating machines, and after three years of
effort and 50 prototypes
he invented the mechanical calculator.
He built 20 of these machines (called pascal's
calculator and later pascaline) in the following ten years.
Pascal was an important mathematician, helping create
two major new areas of research: he wrote a significant treatise on the subject of projective geometry at the age of
16, and later corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of
modern economics and social science. Following Galileo and Torricelli, in 1646 he refuted Aristotle's followers who
insisted that nature abhors a vacuum. Pascal's results caused many disputes before being accepted.
Blaise Pascal
In 1646, he and his sister Jacqueline identified with the religious movement within Catholicism known by its
detractors as Jansenism.
His father died in 1651. Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he had his "second
conversion", abandoned his scientific work, and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. His two most famous
works date from this period: the Lettres provinciales and the Pensƒes, the former set in the conflict between
Jansenists and Jesuits. In this year, he also wrote an important treatise on the arithmetical triangle. Between 1658 and
1659 he wrote on the cycloid and its use in calculating the volume of solids.
Pascal had poor health especially after his 18th year and his death came just two months after his 39th birthday.
Early life and education
Pascal was born in Clermont-Ferrand; he lost his mother, Antoinette Begon, at the age of three.
His father, Átienne
Pascal (1588•1651), who also had an interest in science and mathematics, was a local judge and member of the
"Noblesse de Robe". Pascal had two sisters, the younger Jacqueline and the elder Gilberte.
In 1631, five years after the death of his wife,
Átienne Pascal moved with his children to Paris. The newly arrived
family soon hired Louise Delfault, a maid who eventually became an instrumental member of the family. Átienne,
who never remarried, decided that he alone would educate his children, for they all showed extraordinary intellectual
ability, particularly his son Blaise. The young Pascal showed an amazing aptitude for mathematics and science.
Particularly of interest to Pascal was a work of Desargues on conic sections. Following Desargues' thinking, the
16-year-old Pascal produced, as a means of proof, a short treatise on what was called the "Mystic Hexagram", Essai
pour les coniques ("Essay on Conics") and sent itˆhis first serious work of mathematicsˆto P½re Mersenne in
Paris; it is known still today as Pascal's theorem. It states that if a hexagon is inscribed in a circle (or conic) then the
three intersection points of opposite sides lie on a line (called the Pascal line).
Pascal's work was so precocious that Descartes was convinced that Pascal's father had written it. When assured by
Mersenne that it was, indeed, the product of the son not the father, Descartes dismissed it with a sniff: "I do not find
it strange that he has offered demonstrations about conics more appropriate than those of the ancients," adding, "but
other matters related to this subject can be proposed that would scarcely occur to a 16-year-old child."
In France at that time offices and positions could beˆand wereˆbought and sold. In 1631 Átienne sold his position
as second president of the Cour des Aides for 65,665 livres.
The money was invested in a government bond which
provided if not a lavish then certainly a comfortable income which allowed the Pascal family to move to, and enjoy,
Paris. But in 1638 Richelieu, desperate for money to carry on the Thirty Years' War, defaulted on the government's
bonds. Suddenly Átienne Pascal's worth had dropped from nearly 66,000 livres to less than 7,300.
An early Pascaline on display at the Mus•e des
Arts et M•tiers, Paris
Like so many others, Átienne was eventually forced to flee Paris
because of his opposition to the fiscal policies of Cardinal Richelieu,
leaving his three children in the care of his neighbor Madame Sainctot,
a great beauty with an infamous past who kept one of the most
glittering and intellectual salons in all France. It was only when
Jacqueline performed well in a children's play with Richelieu in
attendance that Átienne was pardoned. In time Átienne was back in
good graces with the cardinal, and in 1639 had been appointed the
king's commissioner of taxes in the city of Rouen ˆ a city whose tax
records, thanks to uprisings, were in utter chaos.
In 1642, in an effort to ease his father's endless, exhausting calculations, and recalculations, of taxes owed and paid,
Pascal, not yet 19, constructed a mechanical calculator capable of addition and subtraction, called Pascal's calculator
or the Pascaline. The Mus•e des Arts et M•tiers in Paris and the Zwinger museum in Dresden, Germany, exhibit two
of his original mechanical calculators. Though these machines are early forerunners to computer engineering, the
calculator failed to be a great commercial success. Because it was extraordinarily expensive the Pascaline became
Blaise Pascal
little more than a toy, and status symbol, for the very rich both in France and throughout Europe. However, Pascal
continued to make improvements to his design through the next decade and built 20 machines in total.
Contributions to mathematics
Pascal's triangle. Each number is the sum of the
two directly above it. The triangle demonstrates
many mathematical properties in addition to
showing binomial coefficients.
Pascal continued to influence mathematics throughout his life. His
Traitƒ du triangle arithmƒtique ("Treatise on the Arithmetical
Triangle") of 1653 described a convenient tabular presentation for
binomial coefficients, now called Pascal's triangle. The triangle can
also be represented:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
1 1 2 3 4 5 6
2 1 3 6 10 15
3 1 4 10 20
4 1 5 15
5 1 6
6 1
He defines the numbers in the triangle by recursion: Call the number in the (m+1)st row and (n+1)st column t
Then t
= t
+ t
, for m = 0, 1, 2... and n = 0, 1, 2... The boundary conditions are t
m, ‰1
= 0, t
‰1, n
for m = 1,
2, 3... and n = 1, 2, 3... The generator t
= 1. Pascal concludes with the proof,
In 1654, prompted by a friend interested in gambling problems, he corresponded with Fermat on the subject, and
from that collaboration was born the mathematical theory of probabilities. The friend was the Chevalier de M•r•, and
the specific problem was that of two players who want to finish a game early and, given the current circumstances of
the game, want to divide the stakes fairly, based on the chance each has of winning the game from that point. From
this discussion, the notion of expected value was introduced. Pascal later (in the Pensƒes) used a probabilistic
argument, Pascal's Wager, to justify belief in God and a virtuous life. The work done by Fermat and Pascal into the
calculus of probabilities laid important groundwork for Leibniz' formulation of the infinitesimal calculus.
After a religious experience in 1654, Pascal mostly gave up work in mathematics.
Blaise Pascal
Philosophy of mathematics
Pascal's major contribution to the philosophy of mathematics came with his De l'Esprit gƒomƒtrique ("Of the
Geometrical Spirit"), originally written as a preface to a geometry textbook for one of the famous "Petites-Ecoles de
Port-Royal" ("Little Schools of Port-Royal"). The work was unpublished until over a century after his death. Here,
Pascal looked into the issue of discovering truths, arguing that the ideal of such a method would be to found all
propositions on already established truths. At the same time, however, he claimed this was impossible because such
established truths would require other truths to back them upˆfirst principles, therefore, cannot be reached. Based
on this, Pascal argued that the procedure used in geometry was as perfect as possible, with certain principles
assumed and other propositions developed from them. Nevertheless, there was no way to know the assumed
principles to be true.
Pascal also used De l'Esprit gƒomƒtrique to develop a theory of definition. He distinguished between definitions
which are conventional labels defined by the writer and definitions which are within the language and understood by
everyone because they naturally designate their referent. The second type would be characteristic of the philosophy
of essentialism. Pascal claimed that only definitions of the first type were important to science and mathematics,
arguing that those fields should adopt the philosophy of formalism as formulated by Descartes.
In De l'Art de persuader ("On the Art of Persuasion"), Pascal looked deeper into geometry's axiomatic method,
specifically the question of how people come to be convinced of the axioms upon which later conclusions are based.
Pascal agreed with Montaigne that achieving certainty in these axioms and conclusions through human methods is
impossible. He asserted that these principles can be grasped only through intuition, and that this fact underscored the
necessity for submission to God in searching out truths.
Contributions to the physical sciences
Portrait of Pascal
Pascal's work in the fields of the study of hydrodynamics and
hydrostatics centered on the principles of hydraulic fluids. His
inventions include the hydraulic press (using hydraulic pressure to
multiply force) and the syringe. He proved that hydrostatic pressure
depends not on the weight of the fluid but on the elevation difference.
He demonstrated this principle by attaching a thin tube to a barrel full
of water and filling the tube with water up to the level of the third floor
of a building. This caused the barrel to leak, in what became known as
Pascal's barrel experiment. By 1646, Pascal had learned of Evangelista
Torricelli's experimentation with barometers. Having replicated an
experiment that involved placing a tube filled with mercury upside
down in a bowl of mercury, Pascal questioned what force kept some
mercury in the tube and what filled the space above the mercury in the
tube. At the time, most scientists contended that, rather than a vacuum,
some invisible matter was present. This was based on the Aristotelian
notion that creation was a thing of substance, whether visible or invisible; and that this substance was forever in
motion. Furthermore, "Everything that is in motion must be moved by something," Aristotle declared.
to the Aristotelian trained scientists of Pascal's time, a vacuum was an impossibility. How so? As proof it was
pointed out:
€€ Light passed through the so-called "vacuum" in the glass tube.
Blaise Pascal
An illustration of Pascal's barrel experiment of
€€ Aristotle wrote how everything moved, and must be moved by
€ Therefore, since there had to be an invisible "something" to move
the light through the glass tube, there was no vacuum in the tube.
Not in the glass tube or anywhere else. Vacuums ˆ the absence of
any and everything ˆ were simply an impossibility.
Following more experimentation in this vein, in 1647 Pascal produced
Experiences nouvelles touchant le vide ("New Experiments with the
Vacuum"), which detailed basic rules describing to what degree
various liquids could be supported by air pressure. It also provided
reasons why it was indeed a vacuum above the column of liquid in a
barometer tube.
On 19 September 1648, after many months of Pascal's friendly but
insistent prodding, Florin P•rier, husband of Pascal's elder sister
Gilberte, was finally able to carry out the fact-finding mission vital to
Pascal's theory. The account, written by P•rier, reads:
"The weather was chancy last Saturday...[but] around five
o'clock that morning...the Puy-de-D˜me was visible...so I
decided to give it a try. Several important people of the city of
Clermont had asked me to let them know when I would make the
ascent...I was delighted to have them with me in this great
"...at eight o'clock we met in the gardens of the Minim Fathers, which has the lowest elevation in town....First I
poured 16 pounds of quicksilver...into a vessel...then took several glass tubes...each four feet long and
hermetically sealed at one end and opened at the other...then placed them in the vessel [of quicksilver]...I
found the quick silver stood at 26" and 3Ç lines above the quicksilver in the vessel...I repeated the experiment
two more times while standing in the same spot...[they] produced the same result each time...
"I attached one of the tubes to the vessel and marked the height of the quicksilver and...asked Father Chastin,
one of the Minim Brothers...to watch if any changes should occur through the day...Taking the other tube and
a portion of the quick silver...I walked to the top of Puy-de-D˜me, about 500 fathoms higher than the
monastery, where upon experiment...found that the quicksilver reached a height of only 23" and 2 lines...I
repeated the experiment five times with care...each at different points on the summit...found the same height of
quicksilver...in each case..."
Pascal replicated the experiment in Paris by carrying a barometer up to the top of the bell tower at the church of
Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, a height of about fifty meters. The mercury dropped two lines.
In the face of criticism that some invisible matter must exist in Pascal's empty space, Pascal, in his reply to Estienne
Noel, gave one of the 17th century's major statements on the scientific method, which is a striking anticipation of the
idea popularised by Karl Popper that scientific theories are characterised by their falsifiability: "In order to show that
a hypothesis is evident, it does not suffice that all the phenomena follow from it; instead, if it leads to something
contrary to a single one of the phenomena, that suffices to establish its falsity."
His insistence on the existence of
the vacuum also led to conflict with other prominent scientists, including Descartes.
Pascal introduced a primitive form of roulette and the roulette wheel in the 17th century in his search for a perpetual
motion machine.
Blaise Pascal
Adult life, religion, philosophy, and literature
For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point
between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either. The ends of things and their beginnings
are impregnably concealed from him in an impenetrable secret. He is equally incapable of seeing the
nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed.
Blaise Pascal, Pensƒes #72
Religious conversion
Pascal studying the cycloid, by
Augustin Pajou, 1785, Louvre
In the winter of 1646, Pascal's 58 year-old father broke his hip when he slipped
and fell on an icy street of Rouen; given the man's age and the state of medicine
in the 17th century, a broken hip could be a very serious condition, perhaps even
fatal. Rouen was home to two of the finest doctors in France: Monsieur Doctor
Deslandes and Monsieur Doctor de La Bouteillerie. The elder Pascal "would not
let anyone other than these men attend him...It was a good choice, for the old
man survived and was able to walk again..."
But treatment and rehabilitation
took three months, during which time La Bouteillerie and Deslandes had become
household guests.
Both men were followers of Jean Guillebert, proponent of a splinter group from
the main body of Catholic teaching known as Jansenism. This still fairly small
sect was making surprising inroads into the French Catholic community at that
time. It espoused rigorous Augustinism. Blaise spoke with the doctors frequently,
and upon his successful treatment of Átienne, borrowed works by Jansenist
authors from them. In this period, Pascal experienced a sort of "first conversion"
and began to write on theological subjects in the course of the following year.
Pascal fell away from this initial religious engagement and experienced a few years of what some biographers have
called his "worldly period" (1648•54). His father died in 1651 and left his inheritance to Pascal and Jacqueline, of
which Pascal acted as her conservator. Jacqueline announced that she would soon become a postulant in the
Jansenist convent of Port-Royal. Pascal was deeply affected and very sad, not because of her choice, but because of
his chronic poor health; he too needed her.
"Suddenly there was war in the Pascal household. Blaise pleaded with Jacqueline not to leave, but she was
adamant. He commanded her to stay, but that didn't work, either. At the heart of this was...Blaise's fear of
abandonment...if Jacqueline entered Port-Royal, she would have to leave her inheritance behind...[but] nothing
would change her mind."
By the end of October in 1651, a truce had been reached between brother and sister. In return for a healthy annual
stipend, Jacqueline signed over her part of the inheritance to her brother. Gilberte had already been given her
inheritance in the form of a dowry. In early January, Jacqueline left for Port-Royal. On that day, according to
Gilberte concerning her brother, "He retired very sadly to his rooms without seeing Jacqueline, who was waiting in
the little parlor..."
In early June 1653, after what must have seemed like endless badgering from Jacqueline,
Pascal formally signed over the whole of his sister's inheritance to Port-Royal, which, to him, "had begun to smell
like a cult."
With two-thirds of his father's estate now gone, the 29 year old Pascal was now consigned to genteel
For a while, Pascal pursued the life of a bachelor. During visits to his sister at Port-Royal in 1654, he displayed
contempt for affairs of the world but was not drawn to God.
Blaise Pascal
Brush with death
On 23 November 1654, between 10:30 and 12:30 at night, Pascal had an intense religious vision and immediately
recorded the experience in a brief note to himself which began: "Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,
not of the philosophers and the scholars..." and concluded by quoting Psalm 119:16: "I will not forget thy word.
Amen." He seems to have carefully sewn this document into his coat and always transferred it when he changed
clothes; a servant discovered it only by chance after his death.
This piece is now known as the Memorial. The
story of the carriage accident as having led to the experience described in the Memorial is disputed by some
His belief and religious commitment revitalized, Pascal visited the older of two convents at Port-Royal
for a two-week retreat in January 1655. For the next four years, he regularly travelled between Port-Royal and Paris.
It was at this point immediately after his conversion when he began writing his first major literary work on religion,
the Provincial Letters.
The Provincial Letters
Beginning in 1656, Pascal published his memorable attack on casuistry, a popular ethical method used by Catholic
thinkers in the early modern period (especially the Jesuits, and in particular Antonio Escobar). Pascal denounced
casuistry as the mere use of complex reasoning to justify moral laxity and all sorts of sins. The 18-letter series was
published between 1656 and 1657 under the pseudonym Louis de Montalte and incensed Louis XIV. The king
ordered that the book be shredded and burnt in 1660. In 1661, in the midsts of the formulary controversy, the
Jansenist school at Port-Royal was condemned and closed down; those involved with the school had to sign a 1656
papal bull condemning the teachings of Jansen as heretical. The final letter from Pascal, in 1657, had defied
Alexander VII himself. Even Pope Alexander, while publicly opposing them, nonetheless was persuaded by Pascal's
Aside from their religious influence, the Provincial Letters were popular as a literary work. Pascal's use of humor,
mockery, and vicious satire in his arguments made the letters ripe for public consumption, and influenced the prose
of later French writers like Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Wide praise has been given to the Provincial Letters.
The Pens€es
Pascal's most influential theological work, referred to posthumously as the Pensƒes ("Thoughts"), was not completed
before his death. It was to have been a sustained and coherent examination and defense of the Christian faith, with
the original title Apologie de la religion Chrƒtienne ("Defense of the Christian Religion"). The first version of the
numerous scraps of paper found after his death appeared in print as a book in 1669 titled Pensƒes de M. Pascal sur la
religion, et sur quelques autres sujets ("Thoughts of M. Pascal on religion, and on some other subjects") and soon
thereafter became a classic. One of the Apologie's main strategies was to use the contradictory philosophies of
skepticism and stoicism, personalized by Montaigne on one hand, and Epictetus on the other, in order to bring the
unbeliever to such despair and confusion that he would embrace God.
Pascal's Pensƒes is widely considered to be a masterpiece, and a landmark in French prose. When commenting on
one particular section (Thought #72), Sainte-Beuve praised it as the finest pages in the French language.
Durant hailed it as "the most eloquent book in French prose."
In Pensƒes, Pascal surveys several philosophical
paradoxes: infinity and nothing, faith and reason, soul and matter, death and life, meaning and vanityˆseemingly
arriving at no definitive conclusions besides humility, ignorance, and grace. Rolling these into one he develops
Pascal's Wager.
Blaise Pascal
Last works and death
Pascal's epitaph in Saint-Átienne-du-Mont, where
he was buried
T. S. Eliot described him during this phase of his life as "a man of the
world among ascetics, and an ascetic among men of the world."
Pascal's ascetic lifestyle derived from a belief that it was natural and
necessary for a person to suffer. In 1659, Pascal fell seriously ill.
During his last years, he frequently tried to reject the ministrations of
his doctors, saying, "Sickness is the natural state of Christians."
Louis XIV suppressed the Jansenist movement at Port-Royal in 1661.
In response, Pascal wrote one of his final works, ˆcrit sur la signature
du formulaire ("Writ on the Signing of the Form"), exhorting the
Jansenists not to give in. Later that year, his sister Jacqueline died,
which convinced Pascal to cease his polemics on Jansenism. Pascal's
last major achievement, returning to his mechanical genius, was
inaugurating perhaps the first bus line, moving passengers within Paris
in a carriage with many seats.
In 1662, Pascal's illness became more violent, and his emotional
condition had severely worsened since his sister's death, which
happened the previous year. Aware that his health was fading quickly,
he sought a move to the hospital for incurable diseases, but his doctors
declared that he was too unstable to be carried. In Paris on 18 August 1662, Pascal went into convulsions and
received extreme unction. He died the next morning, his last words being "May God never abandon me," and was
buried in the cemetery of Saint-Átienne-du-Mont.
An autopsy performed after his death revealed grave problems with his stomach and other organs of his abdomen,
along with damage to his brain. Despite the autopsy, the cause of his poor health was never precisely determined,
though speculation focuses on tuberculosis, stomach cancer, or a combination of the two.
The headaches which
afflicted Pascal are generally attributed to his brain lesion.
Death mask of Blaise Pascal.
In honor of his scientific contributions, the name Pascal has been
given to the SI unit of pressure, to a programming language, and
Pascal's law (an important principle of hydrostatics), and as mentioned
above, Pascal's triangle and Pascal's wager still bear his name.
Pascal's development of probability theory was his most influential
contribution to mathematics.
Originally applied to gambling, today
it is extremely important in economics, especially in actuarial science.
John Ross writes, "Probability theory and the discoveries following it
changed the way we regard uncertainty, risk, decision-making, and an
individual's and society's ability to influence the course of future
However, it should be noted that Pascal and Fermat,
though doing important early work in probability theory, did not
develop the field very far. Christiaan Huygens, learning of the subject
from the correspondence of Pascal and Fermat, wrote the first book on
the subject. Later figures who continued the development of the theory include Abraham de Moivre and
Pierre-Simon Laplace.
Blaise Pascal
In literature, Pascal is regarded as one of the most important authors of the French Classical Period and is read today
as one of the greatest masters of French prose. His use of satire and wit influenced later polemicists. The content of
his literary work is best remembered for its strong opposition to the rationalism of Ren• Descartes and simultaneous
assertion that the main countervailing philosophy, empiricism, was also insufficient for determining major truths.
In France, prestigious annual awards, Blaise Pascal Chairs are given to outstanding international scientists to conduct
their research in the Ile de France region.
One of the Universities of Clermont-Ferrand, France • Universit•
Blaise Pascal • is named after him. The University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, holds an annual math contest
named in his honour.
Roberto Rossellini directed a filmed biopic (entitled Blaise Pascal) which originally aired on Italian television in
1971. Pascal was a subject of the first edition of the 1984 BBC Two documentary, Sea of Faith, presented by Don
€ Essai pour les coniques (1639)
€ Experiences nouvelles touchant le vide (1647)
€ Traitƒ du triangle arithmƒtique (1653)
€ Lettres provinciales (1656•57)
€ De l'Esprit gƒomƒtrique (1657 or 1658)
€ ˆcrit sur la signature du formulaire (1661)
€ Pensƒes (incomplete at death)
[1] (fr) La Machine d€arithm•tique, Blaise Pascal (http:/ / fr. wikisource. org/ wiki/ La_Machine_dÈÉÊarithmËÌtique), Wikisource
[2] Marguin, Jean (1994) (in fr). Histoire des instruments et machines ‡ calculer, trois si‰cles de mƒcanique pensante 1642€1942. Hermann.
p. 48. ISBN 978-2-7056-6166-3.
[3] d'Ocagne, Maurice (1893) (in fr). Le calcul simplifiƒ (http:/ / cnum. cnam. fr/ CGI/ fpage. cgi?8KU54-2. 5/ 248/ 150/ 369/ 363/ 369).
Gauthier-Villars et fils. p. 245. .
[4] Mourlevat, Guy (1988) (in fr). Les machines arithmƒtiques de Blaise Pascal. Clermont-Ferrand: La FranÀaise d'Edition et d'Imprimerie. p. 12.
[5] "Blaise Pascal" (http:/ / www. newadvent. org/ cathen/ 11511a. htm). Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved 2009-02-23.
[6] Hald, Anders A History of Probability and Statistics and Its Applications before 1750, (Wiley Publications, 1990) pp.44
[7] Devlin, Keith, The Unfinished Game: Pascal, Fermat, and the Seventeenth-Century Letter that Made the World Modern, Basic Books; 1
edition (2008), ISBN 978-0-465-00910-7, p. 20.
[8] O'Connor, J.J.; Robertson, E.F. (August 2006). "Átienne Pascal" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Pascal_Etienne.
html). University of St. Andrews, Scotland. . Retrieved 5 February 2010.
[9] The Story of Civilization: Volume 8, "The Age of Louis XIV" by Will & Ariel Durant; chapter II, subsection 4.1 p.56)
[10] Connor, James A., Pascal's wager: the man who played dice with God (HarperCollins, NY, 2006) ISBN 0-06-076691-3 p. 42
[11] "The Mathematical Leibniz" (http:/ / www.math.rutgers. edu/ courses/ 436/ Honors02/ leibniz. html). Math.rutgers.edu. . Retrieved
[12] Aristotle, Physics, VII, 1.
[13] P•rier to Pascal, 22 September 1648, Pascal, Blaise. Oeuvres compl‰tes. (Paris: Seuil, 1960), 2:682.
[14] Pour faire qu'une hypoth‰se soit ƒvidente, il ne suffit pas que tous les phƒnom‰nes s'en ensuivent, au lieu que, s'il s'ensuit quelque chose de
contraire ‡ un seul des phƒnom‰nes, cela suffit pour assurer de sa faussetƒ, in Les Lettres de Blaise Pascal: Accompagnƒes de Lettres de ses
Correspondants Publiƒes, ed. Maurice Beaufreton, 6th edition (Paris: G. Cr½s, 1922), 25•26, available at http:/ / gallica. bnf. fr and translated
in Saul Fisher, Pierre Gassendi's Philosophy and Science: Atomism for Empiricists Brill's Studies in Intellectual History 131 (Leiden: E. J.
Brill, 2005), 126 n.7
[15] MIT, "Inventor of the Week Archive: Pascal : Mechanical Calculator" (http:/ / web. mit. edu/ invent/ iow/ pascal. html), May 2003. "Pascal
worked on many versions of the devices, leading to his attempt to create a perpetual motion machine. He has been credited with introducing
the roulette machine, which was a by-product of these experiments."
[16] Connor, James A., Pascal's wager: the man who played dice with God (HarperCollins, NY, 2006) ISBN 0-06-076691-3 p. 70
[17] Miel, Jan. Pascal and Theology. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969), p. 122
[18] Jacqueline Pascal, "Memoir" p. 87
[19] Miel, Jan. Pascal and Theology. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969), p. 124
Blaise Pascal
[20] Richard H. Popkin, Paul Edwards (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1967 edition, s.v. "Pascal, Blaise.", vol. 6, p. 52•55, New York:
[21] Pascal, Blaise. Oeuvres compl‰tes. (Paris: Seuil, 1960), p. 618
[22] MathPages, Hold Your Horses (http:/ / www.mathpages. com/ home/ kmath558/ kmath558. htm)
[23] Sainte-Beuve, Seventeenth Century (http:/ / books.google. com/ books?id=I0P0A8XK29QC& pg=PA167) ISBN 1-113-16675-4 p. 174
(2009 reprint).
[24] The Story of Civilization: Volume 8, "The Age of Louis XIV" by Will & Ariel Durant, chapter II, Subsection 4.4, p. 66 ISBN 1-56731-019-2
[25] Muir, Jane. Of Men and Numbers (http:/ / books.google. com/ books?id=uV3rJkmnQhsC& printsec=frontcover). (New York: Dover
Publications, Inc, 1996). ISBN 0-486-28973-7, p. 104.
[26] Muir, Jane. Of Men and Numbers (http:/ / books.google. com/ books?id=uV3rJkmnQhsC& printsec=frontcover). (New York: Dover
Publications, Inc, 1996). ISBN 0-486-28973-7, p. 103.
[27] "Blaise Pascal" (http:/ / www. famousscientists. org/ blaise-pascal). FamousScientists.org. . Retrieved 2011-12-15.
[28] Ross, John F. (2004). "Pascal's legacy". EMBO Reports 5 (Suppl 1): S7•S10. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7400229. PMC 1299210.
PMID 15459727.
[29] "Chaires Blaise Pascal" (http:/ / www.chaires-blaise-pascal. org/ uk/ index. html). Chaires Blaise Pascal. . Retrieved 2009-08-16.
[30] "CEMC • Pascal, Cayley and Fermat • Mathematics Contests • University of Waterloo" (http:/ / www. cemc. uwaterloo. ca/ contests/ pcf.
html). Cemc.uwaterloo.ca. 2008-06-23. . Retrieved 2009-08-16.
Further reading
€ Adamson, Donald. Blaise Pascal: Mathematician, Physicist, and Thinker about God (1995) ISBN 0-333-55036-6
€ Adamson, Donald. "Pascal's Views on Mathematics and the Divine," (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=AMOQZfrZq-EC& pg=PA405) Mathematics and the Divine: A Historical Study (eds. T. Koetsier and
L. Bergmans. Amsterdam: Elsevier 2005), pp. 407•21.
€ Broome, J.H. Pascal. (London: E. Arnold, 1965). ISBN 0-7131-5021-1
€ Davidson, Hugh M. Blaise Pascal. (Boston: Twayne Publishers), 1983.
€ Farrell, John. "Pascal and Power". Chapter seven of Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau (Cornell
UP, 2006).
€ Goldmann, Lucien, The hidden God; a study of tragic vision in the Pensees of Pascal and the tragedies of Racine
(original ed. 1955, Trans. Philip Thody. London: Routledge, 1964).
€ Jordan, Jeff. Pascal's Wager: Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006).
€ Landkildehus, SÍren. "Kierkegaard and Pascal as kindred spirits in the Fight against Christendom" in
Kierkegaard and the Renaissance and Modern Traditions (ed. Jon Stewart. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2009).
€ Mackie, John Leslie. The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God. (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1982).
€ Saka, Paul (2001). "Pascal's Wager and the Many Gods Objection". Religious Studies 37 (3): 321•41.
€ Stephen, Leslie. "Pascal" (in English). Studies of a Biographer. 2. London: Duckworth and Co.. p. 241•284.
€€ Tobin, Paul. "The Rejection of Pascal's Wager: A Skeptic's Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus".
authorsonline.co.uk, 2009.
€ Yves Morvan, Pascal ‡ Mirefleurs ? Les dessins de la maison de Domat, Impr. Blandin, 1985.(FRBNF40378895)
Blaise Pascal
External links
€ Pascal's Memorial (http:/ / www. users. csbsju. edu/ ~eknuth/ pascal. html) in orig. French/Latin and modern
English, trans. Elizabeth T. Knuth.
€ Biography, Bibliography. (http:/ / www. biblioweb. org/ -PASCAL-Blaise-. html) (in French)
€ Works by Blaise Pascal (http:/ / www. gutenberg. org/ author/ Pascal+ Blaise) at Project Gutenberg
€ Works by Blaise Pascal on Open Library at the Internet Archive
€ Blaise Pascal featured on the 500 French Franc banknote in 1977. (http:/ / www-personal. umich. edu/ ~jbourj/
money5. htm)
€ Blaise Pascal's works (http:/ / www. intratext. com/ Catalogo/ Autori/ Aut852. htm): text, concordances and
frequency lists
€  "Blaise Pascal". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
€ Etext of Pascal's Pensƒes (http:/ / www. ccel. org/ ccel/ pascal/ pensees. html) (English, in various formats)
€ Etext of Pascal's Lettres Provinciales (http:/ / oregonstate. edu/ instruct/ phl302/ texts/ pascal/ letters-a. html)
€ Etext of a number of Pascal's minor works (http:/ / www. bartleby. com/ 48/ 3/ ) (English translation) including,
De l'Esprit gƒomƒtrique and De l'Art de persuader.
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Blaise Pascal" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Pascal. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton
Godfrey Kneller's 1689 portrait of Isaac Newton (age 46).
25 December 1642
[NS: 4 January 1643]
Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, England
20 March 1726 (aged 83)
[OS: 20 March 1726
NS: 31 March 1727]
Kensington, Middlesex, England
Resting place Westminster Abbey
Residence England
Nationality English (later British)
€€ Physics
€€ Natural philosophy
€€ Mathematics
€€ Astronomy
€€ Alchemy
€€ Christian theology
Institutions €€ University of Cambridge
€€ Royal Society
€€ Royal Mint
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Academic advisors
€ Isaac Barrow
€ Benjamin Pulleyn
Notable students €€ Roger Cotes
€€ William Whiston
Isaac Newton
Known for €€ Newtonian mechanics
€€ Universal gravitation
€€ Infinitesimal calculus
€€ Optics
€€ Binomial series
€€ Principia
€€ Newton's method
€ Henry More
€ Polish Brethren
€ Robert Boyle
Influenced €€ Nicolas Fatio de Duillier
€€ John Keill
Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP (25 December 1642 • 20 March 1726) was an English physicist, mathematician,
astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian, who has been considered by many to be the greatest and
most influential scientist who ever lived.
His monograph Philosophi„ Naturalis Principia Mathematica,
published in 1687, laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics. In this work, Newton described universal
gravitation and the three laws of motion, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next
three centuries. Newton showed that the motion of objects on Earth and that of celestial bodies is governed by the
same set of natural laws: by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler's laws of planetary motion and his theory
of gravitation he removed the last doubts about heliocentrism and advanced the scientific revolution. The Principia
is generally considered to be one of the most important scientific books ever written, both due to the specific
physical laws the work successfully described, and for its style, which assisted in setting standards for scientific
publication down to the present time.
Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope
and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that
a prism decomposes white light into the many colours that form the visible spectrum. He also formulated an
empirical law of cooling and studied the speed of sound. In mathematics, Newton shares the credit with Gottfried
Leibniz for the development of differential and integral calculus. He generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer
exponents, developed Newton's method for approximating the roots of a function, and contributed to the study of
power series.
Although an unorthodox Christian, Newton was deeply religious and his occult studies took up a substantial part of
his life. He secretly rejected Trinitarianism and refused holy orders.
Early life
Isaac Newton was born (according to the Julian calendar in use in England at the time) on Christmas Day, 25
December 1642, (NS 4 January 1643.
) at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the
county of Lincolnshire. He was born three months after the death of his father, a prosperous farmer also named Isaac
Newton. Born prematurely, he was a small child; his mother Hannah Ayscough reportedly said that he could have fit
inside a quart mug (Ž 1.1 litres). When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new
husband, the Reverend Barnabus Smith, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough.
The young Isaac disliked his stepfather and maintained some enmity towards his mother for marrying him, as
revealed by this entry in a list of sins committed up to the age of 19: "Threatening my father and mother Smith to
Isaac Newton
burn them and the house over them."
Although it was claimed that he was once engaged,
Newton never
Newton in a 1702 portrait by
Godfrey Kneller
Isaac Newton (Bolton, Sarah K.
Famous Men of Science. NY: Thomas
Y. Crowell & Co., 1889)
From the age of about twelve until he was seventeen, Newton was educated at
The King's School, Grantham. He was removed from school, and by October
1659, he was to be found at Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, where his mother,
widowed by now for a second time, attempted to make a farmer of him. He hated
Henry Stokes, master at the King's School, persuaded his mother to
send him back to school so that he might complete his education. Motivated
partly by a desire for revenge against a schoolyard bully, he became the
top-ranked student.
The Cambridge psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen
considers it "fairly certain" that Newton had Asperger syndrome.
In June 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge as a sizar • a sort
of work-study role.
At that time, the college's teachings were based on those
of Aristotle, whom Newton supplemented with modern philosophers, such as
Descartes, and astronomers such as Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. In 1665, he
discovered the generalised binomial theorem and began to develop a
mathematical theory that later became infinitesimal calculus. Soon after Newton
had obtained his degree in August 1665, the university temporarily closed as a
precaution against the Great Plague. Although he had been undistinguished as a
Cambridge student,
Newton's private studies at his home in Woolsthorpe over
the subsequent two years saw the development of his theories on calculus,
optics and the law of gravitation. In 1667, he returned to Cambridge as a fellow
of Trinity.
Fellows were required to become ordained priests, something
Newton desired to avoid due to his unorthodox views. Luckily for Newton, there
was no specific deadline for ordination, and it could be postponed indefinitely.
The problem became more severe later when Newton was elected for the
prestigious Lucasian Chair. For such a significant appointment, ordaining
normally could not be dodged. Nevertheless, Newton managed to avoid it by
means of a special permission from Charles II (see "Middle years" section
Middle years
Newton's work has been said "to distinctly advance every branch of mathematics then studied".
His work on the
subject usually referred to as fluxions or calculus, seen in a manuscript of October 1666, is now published among
Newton's mathematical papers.
The author of the manuscript De analysi per aequationes numero terminorum
infinitas, sent by Isaac Barrow to John Collins in June 1669, was identified by Barrow in a letter sent to Collins in
August of that year as:
Mr Newton, a fellow of our College, and very young ... but of an extraordinary genius and proficiency in these
Newton later became involved in a dispute with Leibniz over priority in the development of infinitesimal calculus
(the Leibniz•Newton calculus controversy). Most modern historians believe that Newton and Leibniz developed
infinitesimal calculus independently, although with very different notations. Occasionally it has been suggested that
Newton published almost nothing about it until 1693, and did not give a full account until 1704, while Leibniz began
publishing a full account of his methods in 1684. (Leibniz's notation and "differential Method", nowadays recognised
Isaac Newton
as much more convenient notations, were adopted by continental European mathematicians, and after 1820 or so,
also by British mathematicians.) Such a suggestion, however, fails to notice the content of calculus which critics of
Newton's time and modern times have pointed out in Book 1 of Newton's Principia itself (published 1687) and in its
forerunner manuscripts, such as De motu corporum in gyrum ("On the motion of bodies in orbit"), of 1684. The
Principia is not written in the language of calculus either as we know it or as Newton's (later) 'dot' notation would
write it. But his work extensively uses an infinitesimal calculus in geometric form, based on limiting values of the
ratios of vanishing small quantities: in the Principia itself Newton gave demonstration of this under the name of 'the
method of first and last ratios'
and explained why he put his expositions in this form,
remarking also that
'hereby the same thing is performed as by the method of indivisibles'.
Because of this, the Principia has been called "a book dense with the theory and application of the infinitesimal
calculus" in modern times
and "lequel est presque tout de ce calcul" ('nearly all of it is of this calculus') in
Newton's time.
His use of methods involving "one or more orders of the infinitesimally small" is present in his De
motu corporum in gyrum of 1684
and in his papers on motion "during the two decades preceding 1684".
Newton had been reluctant to publish his calculus because he feared controversy and criticism.
He was close to
the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier. In 1691, Duillier started to write a new version of Newton's
Principia, and corresponded with Leibniz.
In 1693 the relationship between Duillier and Newton deteriorated,
and the book was never completed.
Starting in 1699, other members of the Royal Society (of which Newton was a member) accused Leibniz of
plagiarism, and the dispute broke out in full force in 1711. The Royal Society proclaimed in a study that it was
Newton who was the true discoverer and labelled Leibniz a fraud. This study was cast into doubt when it was later
found that Newton himself wrote the study's concluding remarks on Leibniz. Thus began the bitter controversy
which marred the lives of both Newton and Leibniz until the latter's death in 1716.
Newton is generally credited with the generalised binomial theorem, valid for any exponent. He discovered Newton's
identities, Newton's method, classified cubic plane curves (polynomials of degree three in two variables), made
substantial contributions to the theory of finite differences, and was the first to use fractional indices and to employ
coordinate geometry to derive solutions to Diophantine equations. He approximated partial sums of the harmonic
series by logarithms (a precursor to Euler's summation formula), and was the first to use power series with
confidence and to revert power series. Newton's work on infinite series was inspired by Simon Stevin's decimals.
He was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669 on Barrow's recommendation. In that day, any fellow
of Cambridge or Oxford was required to become an ordained Anglican priest. However, the terms of the Lucasian
professorship required that the holder not be active in the church (presumably so as to have more time for science).
Newton argued that this should exempt him from the ordination requirement, and Charles II, whose permission was
needed, accepted this argument. Thus a conflict between Newton's religious views and Anglican orthodoxy was
Isaac Newton
A replica of Newton's second Reflecting
telescope that he presented to the Royal Society
in 1672
From 1670 to 1672, Newton lectured on optics.
During this period
he investigated the refraction of light, demonstrating that a prism could
decompose white light into a spectrum of colours, and that a lens and a
second prism could recompose the multicoloured spectrum into white
Modern scholarship has revealed that Newton's analysis and
resynthesis of white light owes a debt to corpuscular alchemy.
He also showed that the coloured light does not change its properties
by separating out a coloured beam and shining it on various objects.
Newton noted that regardless of whether it was reflected or scattered or
transmitted, it stayed the same colour. Thus, he observed that colour is
the result of objects interacting with already-coloured light rather than
objects generating the colour themselves. This is known as Newton's
theory of colour.
Illustration of a dispersive prism decomposing white light into the
colours of the spectrum, as discovered by Newton
From this work, he concluded that the lens of any
refracting telescope would suffer from the dispersion of
light into colours (chromatic aberration). As a proof of
the concept, he constructed a telescope using a mirror
as the objective to bypass that problem.
Building the
design, the first known functional reflecting telescope,
today known as a Newtonian telescope,
solving the problem of a suitable mirror material and
shaping technique. Newton ground his own mirrors out
of a custom composition of highly reflective speculum
metal, using Newton's rings to judge the quality of the
optics for his telescopes. In late 1668
he was able to
produce this first reflecting telescope. In 1671, the
Royal Society asked for a demonstration of his
reflecting telescope.
Their interest encouraged him
to publish his notes On Colour, which he later expanded into his Opticks. When Robert Hooke criticised some of
Newton's ideas, Newton was so offended that he withdrew from public debate. Newton and Hooke had brief
exchanges in 1679•80, when Hooke, appointed to manage the Royal Society's correspondence, opened up a
correspondence intended to elicit contributions from Newton to Royal Society transactions,
which had the effect
of stimulating Newton to work out a proof that the elliptical form of planetary orbits would result from a centripetal
force inversely proportional to the square of the radius vector (see Newton's law of universal gravitation • History
and De motu corporum in gyrum). But the two men remained generally on poor terms until Hooke's death.
Isaac Newton
Facsimile of a 1682 letter from Isaac Newton to
Dr William Briggs, commenting on Briggs' "A
New Theory of Vision".
Newton argued that light is composed of particles or corpuscles, which
were refracted by accelerating into a denser medium. He verged on
soundlike waves to explain the repeated pattern of reflection and
transmission by thin films (Opticks Bk.II, Props. 12), but still retained
his theory of 'fits' that disposed corpuscles to be reflected or
transmitted (Props.13). Later physicists instead favoured a purely
wavelike explanation of light to account for the interference patterns,
and the general phenomenon of diffraction. Today's quantum
mechanics, photons and the idea of wave•particle duality bear only a
minor resemblance to Newton's understanding of light.
In his Hypothesis of Light of 1675, Newton posited the existence of the
ether to transmit forces between particles. The contact with the
theosophist Henry More, revived his interest in alchemy. He replaced
the ether with occult forces based on Hermetic ideas of attraction and
repulsion between particles. John Maynard Keynes, who acquired
many of Newton's writings on alchemy, stated that "Newton was not
the first of the age of reason: He was the last of the magicians."
Newton's interest in alchemy cannot be isolated from his contributions
to science.
This was at a time when there was no clear distinction
between alchemy and science. Had he not relied on the occult idea of action at a distance, across a vacuum, he might
not have developed his theory of gravity. (See also Isaac Newton's occult studies.)
In 1704, Newton published Opticks, in which he expounded his corpuscular theory of light. He considered light to be
made up of extremely subtle corpuscles, that ordinary matter was made of grosser corpuscles and speculated that
through a kind of alchemical transmutation "Are not gross Bodies and Light convertible into one another, ...and may
not Bodies receive much of their Activity from the Particles of Light which enter their Composition?"
also constructed a primitive form of a frictional electrostatic generator, using a glass globe (Optics, 8th Query).
In an article entitled "Newton, prisms, and the 'opticks' of tunable lasers
it is indicated that Newton in his book
Opticks was the first to show a diagram using a prism as a beam expander. In the same book he describes, via
diagrams, the use of multiple-prism arrays. Some 278 years after Newton's discussion, multiple-prism beam
expanders became central to the development of narrow-linewidth tunable lasers. Also, the use of these prismatic
beam expanders led to the multiple-prism dispersion theory.
Mechanics and gravitation
Newton's own copy of his Principia, with
hand-written corrections for the second edition
In 1679, Newton returned to his work on (celestial) mechanics, i.e.,
gravitation and its effect on the orbits of planets, with reference to
Kepler's laws of planetary motion. This followed stimulation by a brief
exchange of letters in 1679•80 with Hooke, who had been appointed to
manage the Royal Society's correspondence, and who opened a
correspondence intended to elicit contributions from Newton to Royal
Society transactions.
Newton's reawakening interest in astronomical
matters received further stimulus by the appearance of a comet in the
winter of 1680•1681, on which he corresponded with John
After the exchanges with Hooke, Newton worked out a
proof that the elliptical form of planetary orbits would result from a
Isaac Newton
centripetal force inversely proportional to the square of the radius vector (see Newton's law of universal gravitation •
History and De motu corporum in gyrum). Newton communicated his results to Edmond Halley and to the Royal
Society in De motu corporum in gyrum, a tract written on about 9 sheets which was copied into the Royal Society's
Register Book in December 1684.
This tract contained the nucleus that Newton developed and expanded to form
the Principia.
The Principia was published on 5 July 1687 with encouragement and financial help from Edmond Halley. In this
work, Newton stated the three universal laws of motion that enabled many of the advances of the Industrial
Revolution which soon followed and were not to be improved upon for more than 200 years, and are still the
underpinnings of the non-relativistic technologies of the modern world. He used the Latin word gravitas (weight) for
the effect that would become known as gravity, and defined the law of universal gravitation.
In the same work, Newton presented a calculus-like method of geometrical analysis by 'first and last ratios', gave the
first analytical determination (based on Boyle's law) of the speed of sound in air, inferred the oblateness of the
spheroidal figure of the Earth, accounted for the precession of the equinoxes as a result of the Moon's gravitational
attraction on the Earth's oblateness, initiated the gravitational study of the irregularities in the motion of the moon,
provided a theory for the determination of the orbits of comets, and much more.
Newton made clear his heliocentric view of the solar system • developed in a somewhat modern way, because
already in the mid-1680s he recognised the "deviation of the Sun" from the centre of gravity of the solar system.
For Newton, it was not precisely the centre of the Sun or any other body that could be considered at rest, but rather
"the common centre of gravity of the Earth, the Sun and all the Planets is to be esteem'd the Centre of the World",
and this centre of gravity "either is at rest or moves uniformly forward in a right line" (Newton adopted the "at rest"
alternative in view of common consent that the centre, wherever it was, was at rest).
Newton's postulate of an invisible force able to act over vast distances led to him being criticised for introducing
"occult agencies" into science.
Later, in the second edition of the Principia (1713), Newton firmly rejected such
criticisms in a concluding General Scholium, writing that it was enough that the phenomena implied a gravitational
attraction, as they did; but they did not so far indicate its cause, and it was both unnecessary and improper to frame
hypotheses of things that were not implied by the phenomena. (Here Newton used what became his famous
expression "hypotheses non fingo"
With the Principia, Newton became internationally recognised.
He acquired a circle of admirers, including the
Swiss-born mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, with whom he formed an intense relationship. This abruptly
ended in 1693, and at the same time Newton suffered a nervous breakdown.
Classification of cubics
Besides the work of Newton and others on calculus, the first important demonstration of the power of analytic
geometry was Newton's classification of cubic curves in the Euclidean plane in the late 1600s. He divided them into
four types, satisfying different equations, and in 1717 Stirling, probably with Newton's help, proved that every cubic
was one of these four. Newton also claimed that the four types could be obtained by plane projection from one of
them, and this was proved in 1731.
Isaac Newton
Later life
Isaac Newton in old age in 1712,
portrait by Sir James Thornhill
In the 1690s, Newton wrote a number of religious tracts dealing with the literal
interpretation of the Bible. Henry More's belief in the Universe and rejection of
Cartesian dualism may have influenced Newton's religious ideas. A manuscript
he sent to John Locke in which he disputed the existence of the Trinity was never
published. Later works • The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728)
and Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John
(1733) • were published after his death. He also devoted a great deal of time to
alchemy (see above).
Newton was also a member of the Parliament of England from 1689 to 1690 and
in 1701, but according to some accounts his only comments were to complain
about a cold draught in the chamber and request that the window be closed.
Newton moved to London to take up the post of warden of the Royal Mint in
1696, a position that he had obtained through the patronage of Charles Montagu,
1st Earl of Halifax, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. He took charge of
England's great recoining, somewhat treading on the toes of Lord Lucas,
Governor of the Tower (and securing the job of deputy comptroller of the temporary Chester branch for Edmond
Halley). Newton became perhaps the best-known Master of the Mint upon the death of Thomas Neale in 1699, a
position Newton held for the last 30 years of his life.
These appointments were intended as sinecures, but
Newton took them seriously, retiring from his Cambridge duties in 1701, and exercising his power to reform the
currency and punish clippers and counterfeiters. As Master of the Mint in 1717 in the "Law of Queen Anne" Newton
moved the Pound Sterling de facto from the silver standard to the gold standard by setting the bimetallic relationship
between gold coins and the silver penny in favour of gold. This caused silver sterling coin to be melted and shipped
out of Britain. Newton was made President of the Royal Society in 1703 and an associate of the French Acad•mie
des Sciences. In his position at the Royal Society, Newton made an enemy of John Flamsteed, the Astronomer
Royal, by prematurely publishing Flamsteed's Historia Coelestis Britannica, which Newton had used in his
Personal coat of arms of Sir Isaac
In April 1705, Queen Anne knighted Newton during a royal visit to Trinity
College, Cambridge. The knighthood is likely to have been motivated by
political considerations connected with the Parliamentary election in May 1705,
rather than any recognition of Newton's scientific work or services as Master of
the Mint.
Newton was the second scientist to be knighted, after Sir Francis
Towards the end of his life, Newton took up residence at Cranbury Park, near
Winchester with his niece and her husband, until his death in 1726.
half-niece, Catherine Barton Conduitt,
served as his hostess in social affairs at
his house on Jermyn Street in London; he was her "very loving Uncle,"
according to his letter to her when she was recovering from smallpox.
Newton died in his sleep in London on 20 March 1726 (OS 20 March 1726; NS
31 March 1727)
and was buried in Westminster Abbey. A bachelor, he had divested much of his estate to relatives
during his last years, and died intestate. After his death, Newton's hair was examined and found to contain mercury,
probably resulting from his alchemical pursuits. Mercury poisoning could explain Newton's eccentricity in late
Isaac Newton
After death
French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange often said that Newton was the greatest genius who ever lived, and
once added that Newton was also "the most fortunate, for we cannot find more than once a system of the world to
English poet Alexander Pope was moved by Newton's accomplishments to write the famous epitaph:
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said "Let Newton be" and all was light.
Newton himself had been rather more modest of his own achievements, famously writing in a letter to Robert Hooke
in February 1676:
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
Two writers think that the above quote, written at a time when Newton and Hooke were in dispute over optical
discoveries, was an oblique attack on Hooke (said to have been short and hunchbacked), rather than • or in addition
to • a statement of modesty.
On the other hand, the widely known proverb about standing on the shoulders of
giants published among others by 17th-century poet George Herbert (a former orator of the University of Cambridge
and fellow of Trinity College) in his Jacula Prudentum (1651), had as its main point that "a dwarf on a giant's
shoulders sees farther of the two", and so its effect as an analogy would place Newton himself rather than Hooke as
the 'dwarf'.
In a later memoir, Newton wrote:
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing
on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than
ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Albert Einstein kept a picture of Newton on his study wall alongside ones of Michael Faraday and James Clerk
Newton remains influential to today's scientists, as demonstrated by a 2005 survey of members of
Britain's Royal Society (formerly headed by Newton) asking who had the greater effect on the history of science,
Newton or Einstein. Royal Society scientists deemed Newton to have made the greater overall contribution.
1999, an opinion poll of 100 of today's leading physicists voted Einstein the "greatest physicist ever;" with Newton
the runner-up, while a parallel survey of rank-and-file physicists by the site PhysicsWeb gave the top spot to
Isaac Newton
Newton statue on display at the
Oxford University Museum of
Natural History
Newton's monument (1731) can be seen in Westminster Abbey, at the north of
the entrance to the choir against the choir screen, near his tomb. It was executed
by the sculptor Michael Rysbrack (1694•1770) in white and grey marble with
design by the architect William Kent. The monument features a figure of Newton
reclining on top of a sarcophagus, his right elbow resting on several of his great
books and his left hand pointing to a scroll with a mathematical design. Above
him is a pyramid and a celestial globe showing the signs of the Zodiac and the
path of the comet of 1680. A relief panel depicts putti using instruments such as a
telescope and prism.
The Latin inscription on the base translates as:
Here is buried Isaac Newton, Knight, who by a strength of mind
almost divine, and mathematical principles peculiarly his own,
explored the course and figures of the planets, the paths of comets,
the tides of the sea, the dissimilarities in rays of light, and, what no
other scholar has previously imagined, the properties of the colours
thus produced. Diligent, sagacious and faithful, in his expositions of
nature, antiquity and the holy Scriptures, he vindicated by his philosophy the majesty of God mighty and
good, and expressed the simplicity of the Gospel in his manners. Mortals rejoice that there has existed
such and so great an ornament of the human race! He was born on 25 December 1642, and died on 20
March 1726/7. ˆ Translation from G.L. Smyth, The Monuments and Genii of St. Paul's Cathedral, and
of Westminster Abbey (1826), ii, 703•4.
From 1978 until 1988, an image of Newton designed by Harry Ecclestone appeared on Series D Î1 banknotes issued
by the Bank of England (the last Î1 notes to be issued by the Bank of England). Newton was shown on the reverse of
the notes holding a book and accompanied by a telescope, a prism and a map of the Solar System.
Eduardo Paolozzi's Newton, after William Blake
(1995), outside the British Library
A statue of Isaac Newton, looking at an apple at his feet, can be seen at
the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. A large bronze
statue, Newton, after William Blake, by Eduardo Paolozzi, dated 1995
and inspired by Blake's etching, dominates the piazza of the British
Library in London.
Personal life
Newton never married, and no evidence has been uncovered that he
had any romantic relationship. Although it is impossible to verify, it is
commonly believed that he died a virgin, as has been commented on by
such figures as mathematician Charles Hutton,
economist John
Maynard Keynes,
and physicist Carl Sagan.
French writer and philosopher Voltaire, who was in London at the time of Newton's funeral, claimed to have verified
the fact, writing that "I have had that confirmed by the doctor and the surgeon who were with him when he died"
(allegedly he stated on his deathbed that he was a virgin
). In 1733, Voltaire publicly stated that Newton "had
neither passion nor weakness; he never went near any woman".
Newton did have a close friendship with the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, whom he met in London
around 1690.
Their friendship came to an unexplained end in 1693. Some of their correspondence has survived.
Isaac Newton
Religious views
Newton's tomb in Westminster
In a minority view, T.C. Pfizenmaier argues that Newton held the Eastern
Orthodox view on the Trinity rather than the Western one held by Roman
Catholics, Anglicans and most Protestants.
However, this type of view 'has
lost support of late with the availability of Newton's theological papers',
now most scholars identify Newton as an Antitrinitarian monotheist.
Newton's eyes, worshipping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental
Historian Stephen D. Snobelen says of Newton, "Isaac Newton was a
heretic. But ... he never made a public declaration of his private faithˆwhich the
orthodox would have deemed extremely radical. He hid his faith so well that
scholars are still unravelling his personal beliefs."
Snobelen concludes that
Newton was at least a Socinian sympathiser (he owned and had thoroughly read
at least eight Socinian books), possibly an Arian and almost certainly an
In an age notable for its religious intolerance, there are few
public expressions of Newton's radical views, most notably his refusal to receive
holy orders and his refusal, on his death bed, to receive the sacrament when it was offered to him.
Although the laws of motion and universal gravitation became Newton's best-known discoveries, he warned against
using them to view the Universe as a mere machine, as if akin to a great clock. He said, "Gravity explains the
motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that
is or can be done."
Along with his scientific fame, Newton's studies of the Bible and of the early Church Fathers were also noteworthy.
Newton wrote works on textual criticism, most notably An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of
Scripture. He placed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at 3 April, AD 33, which agrees with one traditionally accepted
He also tried unsuccessfully to find hidden messages within the Bible.
Newton wrote more on religion than he did on natural science. He believed in a rationally immanent world, but he
rejected the hylozoism implicit in Leibniz and Baruch Spinoza. The ordered and dynamically informed Universe
could be understood, and must be understood, by an active reason. In his correspondence, Newton claimed that in
writing the Principia "I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a
He saw evidence of design in the system of the world: "Such a wonderful uniformity in the planetary
system must be allowed the effect of choice". But Newton insisted that divine intervention would eventually be
required to reform the system, due to the slow growth of instabilities.
For this, Leibniz lampooned him: "God
Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time: otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems,
sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion."
Newton's position was vigorously defended by his follower
Samuel Clarke in a famous correspondence. A century later, Pierre-Simon Laplace's work "Celestial Mechanics" had
a natural explanation for why the planet orbits don't require periodic divine intervention.
Effect on religious thought
Newton and Robert Boyle's mechanical philosophy was promoted by rationalist pamphleteers as a viable alternative
to the pantheists and enthusiasts, and was accepted hesitantly by orthodox preachers as well as dissident preachers
like the latitudinarians.
The clarity and simplicity of science was seen as a way to combat the emotional and
metaphysical superlatives of both superstitious enthusiasm and the threat of atheism,
and at the same time, the
second wave of English deists used Newton's discoveries to demonstrate the possibility of a "Natural Religion".
Isaac Newton
Newton, by William Blake; here, Newton is
depicted critically as a "divine geometer".
The attacks made against pre-Enlightenment "magical thinking", and
the mystical elements of Christianity, were given their foundation with
Boyle's mechanical conception of the Universe. Newton gave Boyle's
ideas their completion through mathematical proofs and, perhaps more
importantly, was very successful in popularising them.
refashioned the world governed by an interventionist God into a world
crafted by a God that designs along rational and universal
These principles were available for all people to
discover, allowed people to pursue their own aims fruitfully in this life,
not the next, and to perfect themselves with their own rational
Newton saw God as the master creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all
His spokesman, Clarke, rejected Leibniz' theodicy which cleared God from the responsibility
for l'origine du mal by making God removed from participation in his creation, since as Clarke pointed out, such a
deity would be a king in name only, and but one step away from atheism.
But the unforeseen theological
consequence of the success of Newton's system over the next century was to reinforce the deist position advocated
by Leibniz.
The understanding of the world was now brought down to the level of simple human reason, and
humans, as Odo Marquard argued, became responsible for the correction and elimination of evil.
End of the world
In a manuscript he wrote in 1704 in which he describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible,
he estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060. In predicting this he said, "This I mention not to assert
when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently
predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions
Enlightenment philosophers
Enlightenment philosophers chose a short history of scientific predecessors • Galileo, Boyle, and Newton
principally • as the guides and guarantors of their applications of the singular concept of Nature and Natural Law to
every physical and social field of the day. In this respect, the lessons of history and the social structures built upon it
could be discarded.
It was Newton's conception of the Universe based upon Natural and rationally understandable laws that became one
of the seeds for Enlightenment ideology.
Locke and Voltaire applied concepts of Natural Law to political
systems advocating intrinsic rights; the physiocrats and Adam Smith applied Natural conceptions of psychology and
self-interest to economic systems; and sociologists criticised the current social order for trying to fit history into
Natural models of progress. Monboddo and Samuel Clarke resisted elements of Newton's work, but eventually
rationalised it to conform with their strong religious views of nature.
As warden of the Royal Mint, Newton estimated that 20 percent of the coins taken in during The Great Recoinage of
1696 were counterfeit. Counterfeiting was high treason, punishable by the felon's being hanged, drawn and
quartered. Despite this, convicting the most flagrant criminals could be extremely difficult. However, Newton
proved to be equal to the task.
Disguised as a habitu• of bars and taverns, he gathered much of that evidence
For all the barriers placed to prosecution, and separating the branches of government, English law still
had ancient and formidable customs of authority. Newton had himself made a justice of the peace in all the home
Isaac Newton
countiesˆthere is a draft of a letter regarding this matter stuck into Newton's personal first edition of his
Philosophi„ Naturalis Principia Mathematica which he must have been amending at the time.
Then he
conducted more than 100 cross-examinations of witnesses, informers, and suspects between June 1698 and
Christmas 1699. Newton successfully prosecuted 28 coiners.
One of Newton's cases as the King's attorney was against William Chaloner.
Chaloner's schemes included
setting up phony conspiracies of Catholics and then turning in the hapless conspirators whom he had entrapped.
Chaloner made himself rich enough to posture as a gentleman. Petitioning Parliament, Chaloner accused the Mint of
providing tools to counterfeiters (a charge also made by others). He proposed that he be allowed to inspect the Mint's
processes in order to improve them. He petitioned Parliament to adopt his plans for a coinage that could not be
counterfeited, while at the same time striking false coins.
Newton put Chaloner on trial for counterfeiting and
had him sent to Newgate Prison in September 1697. But Chaloner had friends in high places, who helped him secure
an acquittal and his release.
Newton put him on trial a second time with conclusive evidence. Chaloner was
convicted of high treason and hanged, drawn and quartered on 23 March 1699 at Tyburn gallows.
Laws of motion
In the Principia, Newton gives the famous three laws of motion, stated here in modern form.
Newton's First Law (also known as the Law of Inertia) states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and that an
object in uniform motion tends to stay in uniform motion unless acted upon by a net external force. The meaning of
this law is the existence of reference frames (called inertial frames) where objects not acted upon by forces move in
uniform motion (in particular, they may be at rest).
Newton's Second Law states that an applied force, , on an object equals the rate of change of its momentum, ,
with time. Mathematically, this is expressed as
Since the law applies only to systems of constant mass,
m can be brought out of the derivative operator. By
substitution using the definition of acceleration, the equation can be written in the iconic form
The first and second laws represent a break with the physics of Aristotle, in which it was believed that a force was
necessary in order to maintain motion. They state that a force is only needed in order to change an object's state of
motion. The SI unit of force is the newton, named in Newton's honour.
Newton's Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that any force
exerted onto an object has a counterpart force that is exerted in the opposite direction back onto the first object. A
common example is of two ice skaters pushing against each other and sliding apart in opposite directions. Another
example is the recoil of a firearm, in which the force propelling the bullet is exerted equally back onto the gun and is
felt by the shooter. Since the objects in question do not necessarily have the same mass, the resulting acceleration of
the two objects can be different (as in the case of firearm recoil).
Unlike Aristotle's, Newton's physics is meant to be universal. For example, the second law applies both to a planet
and to a falling stone.
The vector nature of the second law addresses the geometrical relationship between the direction of the force and the
manner in which the object's momentum changes. Before Newton, it had typically been assumed that a planet
orbiting the Sun would need a forward force to keep it moving. Newton showed instead that all that was needed was
an inward attraction from the Sun. Even many decades after the publication of the Principia, this counterintuitive
idea was not universally accepted, and many scientists preferred Descartes' theory of vortices.
Isaac Newton
Apple incident
Reputed descendants of Newton's apple tree, at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and the Instituto Balseiro library garden
Newton himself often told the story that he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of
an apple from a tree.
Although it has been said that the apple story is a myth and that he did not arrive at his
theory of gravity in any single moment,
acquaintances of Newton (such as William Stukeley, whose manuscript
account of 1752 has been made available by the Royal Society)
do in fact confirm the incident, though not the
cartoon version that the apple actually hit Newton's head. Stukeley recorded in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's
Life a conversation with Newton in Kensington on 15 April 1726:
... We went into the garden, & drank tea under the shade of some appletrees, only he, & myself. amidst other
discourse, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into
his mind. "why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground," thought he to him self:
occasion'd by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a comtemplative mood: "why should it not go sideways, or
upwards? but constantly to the earths centre? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. there must be a
drawing power in matter. & the sum of the drawing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earths
centre, not in any side of the earth. therefore dos this apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the centre. if matter
thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its quantity. therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the
earth draws the apple."
John Conduitt, Newton's assistant at the Royal Mint and husband of Newton's niece, also described the event when
he wrote about Newton's life:
In the year 1666 he retired again from Cambridge to his mother in Lincolnshire. Whilst he was pensively
meandering in a garden it came into his thought that the power of gravity (which brought an apple from a tree
to the ground) was not limited to a certain distance from earth, but that this power must extend much further
than was usually thought. Why not as high as the Moon said he to himself & if so, that must influence her
motion & perhaps retain her in her orbit, whereupon he fell a calculating what would be the effect of that
In similar terms, Voltaire wrote in his Essay on Epic Poetry (1727), "Sir Isaac Newton walking in his gardens, had
the first thought of his system of gravitation, upon seeing an apple falling from a tree."
It is known from his notebooks that Newton was grappling in the late 1660s with the idea that terrestrial gravity
extends, in an inverse-square proportion, to the Moon; however it took him two decades to develop the full-fledged
The question was not whether gravity existed, but whether it extended so far from Earth that it could also
be the force holding the Moon to its orbit. Newton showed that if the force decreased as the inverse square of the
Isaac Newton
distance, one could indeed calculate the Moon's orbital period, and get good agreement. He guessed the same force
was responsible for other orbital motions, and hence named it "universal gravitation".
Various trees are claimed to be "the" apple tree which Newton describes. The King's School, Grantham, claims that
the tree was purchased by the school, uprooted and transported to the headmaster's garden some years later. The staff
of the [now] National Trust-owned Woolsthorpe Manor dispute this, and claim that a tree present in their gardens is
the one described by Newton. A descendant of the original tree
can be seen growing outside the main gate of
Trinity College, Cambridge, below the room Newton lived in when he studied there. The National Fruit Collection at
can supply grafts from their tree, which appears identical to Flower of Kent, a coarse-fleshed cooking
€ Method of Fluxions (1671)
€ Of Natures Obvious Laws & Processes in Vegetation (unpublished, c. 1671•75)
€ De motu corporum in gyrum (1684)
€ Philosophi„ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687)
€ Opticks (1704)
€ Reports as Master of the Mint
€ Arithmetica Universalis (1707)
€ The System of the World, Optical Lectures, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, (Amended) and De mundi
systemate (published posthumously in 1728)
€ Observations on Daniel and The Apocalypse of St. John (1733)
€ An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture (1754)
[1] During Newton's lifetime, two calendars were in use in Europe: the Julian ("Old Style") calendar in protestant and Orthodox regions,
including Britain; and the Gregorian ("New Style") calendar in Roman Catholic Europe. At Newton's birth, Gregorian dates were ten days
ahead of Julian dates: thus his birth is recorded as taking place on 25 December 1642 Old Style, but can be converted to a New Style (modern)
date of 4 January 1643. By the time of his death, the difference between the calendars had increased to eleven days: moreover, he died in the
period after the start of the New Style year on 1 January, but before that of the Old Style new year on 25 March. His death occurred on 20
March 1726 according to the Old Style calendar, but the year is usually adjusted to 1727. A full conversion to New Style gives the date 31
March 1727.
[2] Mordechai Feingold, Barrow, Isaac (1630•1677) (http:/ / www. oxforddnb. com/ view/ article/ 1541), Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, May 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2009; explained further in Mordechai
Feingold's " Newton, Leibniz, and Barrow Too: An Attempt at a Reinterpretation (http:/ / www. jstor. org/ stable/ 236236)" in Isis, Vol. 84,
No. 2 (June 1993), pp. 310•338.
[3] "Newton, Isaac" (http:/ / www.chlt.org/ sandbox/ lhl/ dsb/ page. 50. a. php) in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, n.4.
[4] Gjersten, Derek (1986). The Newton Handbook. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
[5] Westfall, Richard S. (1983) [1980]. Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 530•1.
ISBN 978-0-521-27435-7.
[6] Snobelen, Stephen D. (1999). "Isaac Newton, heretic: the strategies of a Nicodemite" (http:/ / www. isaac-newton. org/ heretic. pdf) (PDF).
British Journal for the History of Science 32 (4): 381•419. doi:10.1017/S0007087499003751. .
[7] Stokes, Mitch (2010). Isaac Newton (http:/ / books.google. gr/ books?id=zpsoSXCeg5gC& pg=PA97& lpg=PA97& dq=#v=onepage&
q="Boyle influenced Newton"& f=false). Thomas Nelson. p. 97. ISBN 1595553037. . Retrieved 17 October 2012.
[8] See below, under Fame.
[9] Burt, Daniel S. (2001). The biography book: a reader's guide to nonfiction, fictional, and film biographies of more than 500 of the most
fascinating individuals of all time (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=jpFrgSAaKAUC). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 315.
ISBN 1-57356-256-4. ., Extract of page 315 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=jpFrgSAaKAUC& pg=PA315)
[10] "The Early Period (1608•1672)" (http:/ / etoile. berkeley. edu/ ~jrg/ TelescopeHistory/ Early_Period. html). James R. Graham's Home Page.
. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
[11] Christianson, Gale E. (1996). Isaac Newton and the scientific revolution (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=O61ypNXvNkUC&
pg=PA74). Oxford University Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-19-509224-4. .
[12] [12] Cohen, I.B. (1970). Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 11, p.43. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
Isaac Newton
[13] [13] This claim was made Dr. Stukeley in 1727, in a letter about Newton written to Dr. Richard Mead. Charles Hutton, who in the late 18th
century collected oral traditions about earlier scientists, declares that there "do not appear to be any sufficient reason for his never marrying, if
he had an inclination so to do. It is much more likely that he had a constitutional indifference to the state, and even to the sex in general."
Charles Hutton "A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary" (1795/6) II p.100.
[14] Westfall 1994, pp 16•19
[15] [15] White 1997, p. 22
[16] James, Ioan (January 2003). "Singular scientists". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 96 (1): 36•39. doi:10.1258/jrsm.96.1.36.
PMC 539373. PMID 12519805.
[17] Michael White, Isaac Newton (1999) page 46 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=l2C3NV38tM0C& pg=PA24& dq=storer+
intitle:isaac+ intitle:newton& lr=& num=30& as_brr=0& as_pt=ALLTYPES#PPA46,M1)
[18] ed. Michael Hoskins (1997). Cambridge Illustrated History of Astronomy, p. 159. Cambridge University Press
[19] Newton, Isaac. "Waste Book" (http:/ / cudl.lib. cam.ac. uk/ view/ MS-ADD-04004/ ). Cambridge University Digital Library. . Retrieved 10
January 2012.
[20] Venn, J.; Venn, J. A., eds. (1922•1958). " Newton, Isaac (http:/ / venn. lib. cam. ac. uk/ cgi-bin/ search. pl?sur=& suro=c& fir=& firo=c&
cit=& cito=c& c=all& tex=RY644J& sye=& eye=& col=all& maxcount=50)". Alumni Cantabrigienses (10 vols) (online ed.). Cambridge
University Press.
[21] [21] W W Rouse Ball (1908), "A short account of the history of mathematics", at page 319.
[22] D T Whiteside (ed.), The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton (Volume 1), (Cambridge University Press, 1967), part 7 "The October 1666
Tract on Fluxions", at page 400, in 2008 reprint (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=1ZcYsNBptfYC& pg=PA400).
[23] D Gjertsen (1986), "The Newton handbook", (London (Routledge & Kegan Paul) 1986), at page 149.
[24] Newton, 'Principia', 1729 English translation, at page 41 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=Tm0FAAAAQAAJ& pg=PA41).
[25] Newton, 'Principia', 1729 English translation, at page 54 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=Tm0FAAAAQAAJ& pg=PA54).
[26] Clifford Truesdell, Essays in the History of Mechanics (Berlin, 1968), at p.99.
[27] In the preface to the Marquis de L'Hospital's Analyse des Infiniment Petits (Paris, 1696).
[28] Starting with De motu corporum in gyrum, see also (Latin) Theorem 1 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=uvMGAAAAcAAJ&
[29] D T Whiteside (1970), "The Mathematical principles underlying Newton's Principia Mathematica" in Journal for the History of Astronomy,
vol.1, pages 116•138, especially at pages 119•120.
[30] [30] Stewart 2009, p.107
[31] Westfall 1980, pp 538•539
[32] [32] Ball 1908, p. 356ff
[33] BÏaszczyk, Piotr; Katz, Mikhail; Sherry, David (2012), "Ten misconceptions from the history of analysis and their debunking", Foundations
of Science, arXiv:1202.4153, doi:10.1007/s10699-012-9285-8
[34] [34] White 1997, p. 151
[35] King, Henry C (2003). ''The History of the Telescope'' By Henry C. King, Page 74 (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=KAWwzHlDVksC&
dq=history+ of+ the+ telescope& printsec=frontcover). Google Books. ISBN 978-0-486-43265-6. . Retrieved 16 January 2010.
[36] Newton, Isaac. "Hydrostatics, Optics, Sound and Heat" (http:/ / cudl. lib. cam. ac. uk/ view/ MS-ADD-03970/ ). Cambridge University
Digital Library. . Retrieved 10 January 2012.
[37] [37] Ball 1908, p. 324
[38] William R. Newman, "Newton's Early Optical Theory and its Debt to Chymistry," in Danielle Jacquart and Michel Hochmann, eds.,
Lumi‰re et vision dans les sciences et dans les arts (Geneva: Droz, 2010), pp. 283-307. A free access online version of this article can be
found at the Chymistry of Isaac Newton project (http:/ / webapp1. dlib. indiana. edu/ newton/ html/ Newton_optics-alchemy_Jacquart_paper.
[39] [39] Ball 1908, p. 325
[40] [40] White 1997, p170
[41] Hall, Alfred Rupert (1996). '''Isaac Newton: adventurer in thought''', by Alfred Rupert Hall, page 67 (http:/ / books. google. com/
?id=32IDpTdthm4C& pg=PA67& lpg=PA67& dq=newton+ reflecting+ telescope+ + 1668+ letter+ 1669& q=newton reflecting telescope
1668 letter 1669). Google Books. ISBN 978-0-521-56669-8. . Retrieved 16 January 2010.
[42] [42] White 1997, p168
[43] See 'Correspondence of Isaac Newton, vol.2, 1676•1687' ed. H W Turnbull, Cambridge University Press 1960; at page 297, document No.
235, letter from Hooke to Newton dated 24 November 1679.
[44] [44] Iliffe, Robert (2007) Newton. A very short introduction, Oxford University Press 2007
[45] Keynes, John Maynard (1972). "Newton, The Man". The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes Volume X. MacMillan St. Martin's
Press. pp. 363•4.
[46] Dobbs, J.T. (December 1982). "Newton's Alchemy and His Theory of Matter". Isis 73 (4): 523. doi:10.1086/353114. quoting Opticks
[47] Duarte, F. J. (2000). "Newton, prisms, and the 'opticks' of tunable lasers" (http:/ / www. opticsjournal. com/ F. J. DuarteOPN(2000). pdf).
Optics and Photonics News 11 (5): 24•25. Bibcode 2000OptPN..11...24D. doi:10.1364/OPN.11.5.000024. .
[48] R S Westfall, 'Never at Rest', 1980, at pages 391•2.
[49] D T Whiteside (ed.), 'Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton', vol.6, 1684•1691, Cambridge University Press 1974, at page 30.
Isaac Newton
[50] See Curtis Wilson, "The Newtonian achievement in astronomy", pages 233•274 in R Taton & C Wilson (eds) (1989) The General History
of Astronomy, Volume, 2A', at page 233 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=rkQKU-wfPYMC& pg=PA233).
[51] Text quotations are from 1729 translation of Newton's Principia, Book 3 (1729 vol.2) at pages 232•233 (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=6EqxPav3vIsC& pg=PA233).
[52] Edelglass et al., Matter and Mind, ISBN 0-940262-45-2. p. 54
[53] On the meaning and origins of this expression, see Kirsten Walsh, Does Newton feign an hypothesis? (https:/ / blogs. otago. ac. nz/ emxphi/
2010/ 10/ does-newton-feign-an-hypothesis/ ), Early Modern Experimental Philosophy (https:/ / blogs. otago. ac. nz/ emxphi/ ), 18 October
[54] [54] Westfall 1980. Chapter 11.
[55] Westfall 1980. pp 493•497 on the friendship with Fatio, pp 531•540 on Newton's breakdown.
[56] Conics and Cubics, Robert Bix, Springer Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics, 2nd edition, 2006, Springer Verlag.
[57] [57] White 1997, p. 232
[58] "[ Newton: Physicist And ... Crime Fighter? (http:/ / www. npr. org/ templates/ story/ story. php?storyId=105012144|Isaac)]". Science
Friday. 5 June 2009. NPR.
[59] Thomas Levenson (2009). Newton and the counterfeiter : the unknown detective career of the world's greatest scientist. Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-15-101278-7. OCLC 276340857.
[60] [60] White 1997, p.317
[61] Gerard Michon. "Coat of arms of Isaac Newton" (http:/ / www. numericana. com/ arms/ index. htm#newton). Numericana.com. . Retrieved
16 January 2010.
[62] [62] "The Queen's 'great Assistance' to Newton's election was his knighting, an honor bestowed not for his contributions to science, nor for his
service at the Mint, but for the greater glory of party politics in the election of 1705." Westfall 1994 p.245
[63] Yonge, Charlotte M. (1898). "Cranbury and Brambridge" (http:/ / www. online-literature. com/ charlotte-yonge/ john-keble/ 6/ ). John
Keble's Parishes € Chapter 6. www.online-literature.com. . Retrieved 23 September 2009.
[64] [64] Westfall 1980, p. 44.
[65] [65] Westfall 1980, p. 595
[66] "Newton, Isaac (1642•1726)" (http:/ / scienceworld.wolfram. com/ biography/ Newton. html). Eric Weisstein's World of Biography. .
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[67] Fred L. Wilson, History of Science: Newton citing: Delambre, M. "Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. le comte J. L. Lagrange," Oeuvres
de Lagrange I. Paris, 1867, p. xx.
[68] Letter from Isaac Newton to Robert Hooke, 5 February 1676, as transcribed in Jean-Pierre Maury (1992) Newton: Understanding the
Cosmos, New Horizons
[69] John Gribbin (2002) Science: A History 1543€2001, p 164.
[70] [70] White 1997, p187.
[71] [71] Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855) by Sir David Brewster (Volume II. Ch. 27)
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terms=Newton+ beats+ Einstein+ in+ polls+ of+ scientists+ and+ the+ public). The Royal Society. .
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[85] Professor Robert A. Hatch, University of Florida. "Newton Timeline" (http:/ / web. clas. ufl. edu/ users/ ufhatch/ pages/ 13-NDFE/ newton/
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[86] Pfizenmaier, T.C. (1997). "Was Isaac Newton an Arian?". Journal of the History of Ideas 58 (1): 57•80.
[87] Snobelen, Stephen D. (1999). "Isaac Newton, heretic: the strategies of a Nicodemite" (http:/ / www. isaac-newton. org/ heretic. pdf) (PDF).
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[88] Avery Cardinal Dulles. The Deist Minimum (http:/ / www. firstthings. com/ print. php?type=article& year=2008& month=08&
title_link=the-deist-minimum--28). January 2005.
[89] Westfall, Richard S. (1994). The Life of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-47737-9.
[90] Tiner, J.H. (1975). Isaac Newton: Inventor, Scientist and Teacher. Milford, Michigan, U.S.: Mott Media. ISBN 0-915134-95-0.
[91] John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, v. 1, pp. 382•402 after narrowing the years to 30 or 33, provisionally judges 30 most likely.
[92] Newton to Richard Bentley 10 December 1692, in Turnbull et al. (1959•77), vol 3, p. 233.
[93] [93] Opticks, 2nd Ed 1706. Query 31.
[94] H. G. Alexander (ed) The Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, Manchester University Press, 1998, p. 11.
[95] Neil Degrasse Tyson (November 2005). "The Perimeter of Ignorance" (http:/ / www. haydenplanetarium. org/ tyson/ read/ 2005/ 11/ 01/
the-perimeter-of-ignorance). Natural History Magazine. .
[96] Jacob, Margaret C. (1976). The Newtonians and the English Revolution: 1689€1720. Cornell University Press. pp. 37, 44.
ISBN 0-85527-066-7.
[97] Westfall, Richard S. (1958). Science and Religion in Seventeenth-Century England. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 200.
ISBN 0-208-00843-8.
[98] Haakonssen, Knud. "The Enlightenment, politics and providence: some Scottish and English comparisons". In Martin Fitzpatrick ed..
Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in eighteenth-century Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 64.
ISBN 0-521-56060-8.
[99] Frankel, Charles (1948). The Faith of Reason: The Idea of Progress in the French Enlightenment. New York: King's Crown Press. p. 1.
[100] Germain, Gilbert G.. A Discourse on Disenchantment: Reflections on Politics and Technology. p. 28. ISBN 0-7914-1319-5.
[101] [101] Principia, Book III; cited in; Newton's Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his writings, p. 42, ed. H.S. Thayer, Hafner Library of
Classics, NY, 1953.
[102] [102] A Short Scheme of the True Religion, manuscript quoted in Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton by Sir
David Brewster, Edinburgh, 1850; cited in; ibid, p. 65.
[103] [103] Webb, R.K. ed. Knud Haakonssen. "The emergence of Rational Dissent." Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in
eighteenth-century Britain. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 1996. p19.
[104] H. G. Alexander (ed) The Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, Manchester University Press, 1998, p. 14.
[105] [105] Westfall, 1958 p201.
[106] [106] Marquard, Odo. "Burdened and Disemburdened Man and the Flight into Unindictability," in Farewell to Matters of Principle. Robert M.
Wallace trans. London: Oxford UP, 1989.
[107] "Papers Show Isaac Newton's Religious Side, Predict Date of Apocalypse" (http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20070813033620/ http:/ / www.
christianpost. com/ article/ 20070619/ 28049_Papers_Show_Isaac_Newton's_Religious_Side,_Predict_Date_of_Apocalypse. htm). Associated
Press. 19 June 2007. Archived from the original (http:/ / www. christianpost. com/ article/ 20070619/
28049_Papers_Show_Isaac_Newton's_Religious_Side,_Predict_Date_of_Apocalypse. htm) on 13 August 2007. . Retrieved 1 August 2007.
[108] [108] Cassels, Alan. Ideology and International Relations in the Modern World. p2.
[109] "Although it was just one of the many factors in the Enlightment, the success of Newtonian physics in providing a mathematical
description of an ordered world clearly played a big part in the flowering of this movement in the eighteenth century" John Gribbin (2002)
Science: A History 1543€2001, p 241
[110] [110] White 1997, p. 259
[111] [111] White 1997, p. 267
[112] Newton, Isaac. "Philosophi¾ Naturalis Principia Mathematica" (http:/ / cudl. lib. cam. ac. uk/ view/ PR-ADV-B-00039-00001/ ).
Cambridge University Digital Library. pp. 265•266. . Retrieved 10 January 2012.
[113] [113] Westfall 2007, p.73
[114] [114] White 1997, p 269
[115] [115] Westfall 1994, p 229
[116] Westfall 1980, pp. 571•5
[117] Halliday; Resnick. Physics. 1. pp. 199. ISBN 0-471-03710-9. "It is important to note that we cannot derive a general expression for
Newton's second law for variable mass systems by treating the mass in F = dP/dt = d(Mv) as a variable. [...] We can use F = dP/dt to analyze
variable mass systems only if we apply it to an entire system of constant mass having parts among which there is an interchange of mass."
Isaac Newton
[Emphasis as in the original]
[118] [118] Ball 1908, p. 337
[119] [119] White 1997, p. 86
[120] Scott Berkun (27 August 2010). The Myths of Innovation (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=kPCgnc70MSgC& pg=PA4). O'Reilly
Media, Inc.. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-4493-8962-8. . Retrieved 7 September 2011.
[121] Newton's apple: The real story (http:/ / www.newscientist. com/ blogs/ culturelab/ 2010/ 01/ newtons-apple-the-real-story. php). New
Scientist. 18 January 2010. . Retrieved 10 May 2010
[122] Hamblyn, Richard (2011). " Newtonian Apples: William Stukeley (http:/ / books. google. co. uk/ books?id=1xKFSqsDj0MC& pg=PT57)".
The Art of Science. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4472-0415-2.
[123] Conduitt, John. "Keynes Ms. 130.4:Conduitt's account of Newton's life at Cambridge" (http:/ / www. newtonproject. sussex. ac. uk/ view/
texts/ normalized/ THEM00167). Newtonproject. Imperial College London. . Retrieved 30 August 2006.
[124] I. Bernard Cohen and George E. Smith, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Newton (2002) p. 6
[125] Alberto A. Martinez Science Secrets: The Truth about Darwin's Finches, Einstein's Wife, and Other Myths, page 69 (University of
Pittsburgh Press, 2011). ISBN 978-0-8229-4407-2
[126] "Brogdale ˆ Home of the National Fruit Collection" (http:/ / www. brogdale. org/ ). Brogdale.org. . Retrieved 20 December 2008.
[127] "From the National Fruit Collection: Isaac Newton's Tree" (http:/ / www. brogdale. org. uk/ image1. php?varietyid=1089). . Retrieved 10
January 2009.
[128] Newton's alchemical works (http:/ / webapp1. dlib. indiana. edu/ newton/ index. jsp) transcribed and online at Indiana University.
Retrieved 11 January 2007.
[129] http:/ / www.pierre-marteau.com/ editions/ 1701-25-mint-reports. html
€ Ball, W.W. Rouse (1908). A Short Account of the History of Mathematics. New York: Dover.
ISBN 0-486-20630-0.
€ Christianson, Gale (1984). In the Presence of the Creator: Isaac Newton & His Times. New York: Free Press.
ISBN 0-02-905190-8. This well documented work provides, in particular, valuable information regarding
Newton's knowledge of Patristics
€ Craig, John (1958). "Isaac Newton • Crime Investigator". Nature 182 (4629): 149•152.
Bibcode 1958Natur.182..149C. doi:10.1038/182149a0.
€ Craig, John (1963). "Isaac Newton and the Counterfeiters". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 18
(2): 136•145. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1963.0017.
€ Levenson, Thomas (2010). Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest
Scientist. Mariner Books. ISBN 978-0-547-33604-6.
€ Stewart, James (2009). Calculus: Concepts and Contexts. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-55742-5.
€ Westfall, Richard S. (1980, 1998). Never at Rest. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-27435-4.
€ Westfall, Richard S. (2007). Isaac Newton. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-921355-9.
€ Westfall, Richard S. (1994). The Life of Isaac Newton. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-47737-9.
€ White, Michael (1997). Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer. Fourth Estate Limited. ISBN 1-85702-416-8.
Further reading
€ Andrade, E. N. De C. (1950). Isaac Newton. New York: Chanticleer Press. ISBN 0-8414-3014-4.
€ Bardi, Jason Socrates. The Calculus Wars: Newton, Leibniz, and the Greatest Mathematical Clash of All Time.
2006. 277 pp. excerpt and text search (http:/ / www. amazon. com/ dp/ 1560259922)
€ Bechler, Zev (1991). Newton's Physics and the Conceptual Structure of the Scientific Revolution. Springer.
ISBN 0-7923-1054-3..
€ Berlinski, David. Newton's Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World. (2000). 256 pages.
excerpt and text search (http:/ / www. amazon. com/ dp/ 0743217764) ISBN 0-684-84392-7
€ Buchwald, Jed Z. and Cohen, I. Bernard, eds. Isaac Newton's Natural Philosophy. MIT Press, 2001. 354 pages.
excerpt and text search (http:/ / www. amazon. com/ dp/ 0262524252)
Isaac Newton
€ Casini, P (1988). "Newton's Principia and the Philosophers of the Enlightenment". Notes and Records of the
Royal Society of London 42 (1): 35•52. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1988.0006. ISSN 0035•9149. JSTOR 531368.
€ Christianson, Gale E (1996). Isaac Newton and the Scientific Revolution. Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-530070-X. See this site (http:/ / www. amazon. com/ dp/ 019530070X) for excerpt and text search.
€ Christianson, Gale (1984). In the Presence of the Creator: Isaac Newton & His Times. New York: Free Press.
ISBN 0-02-905190-8.
€ Cohen, I. Bernard and Smith, George E., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Newton. (2002). 500 pp. focuses on
philosophical issues only; excerpt and text search (http:/ / www. amazon. com/ dp/ 0521656966); complete
edition online (http:/ / www. questia. com/ read/ 105054986)
€ Cohen, I. B (1980). The Newtonian Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-22964-2.
€ Craig, John (1946). Newton at the Mint. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
€ Dampier, William C; Dampier, M. (1959). Readings in the Literature of Science. New York: Harper & Row.
ISBN 0-486-42805-2.
€ de Villamil, Richard (1931). Newton, the Man. London: G.D. Knox. • Preface by Albert Einstein. Reprinted by
Johnson Reprint Corporation, New York (1972).
€ Dobbs, B. J. T (1975). The Foundations of Newton's Alchemy or "The Hunting of the Greene Lyon". Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
€ Gjertsen, Derek (1986). The Newton Handbook. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7102-0279-2.
€ Gleick, James (2003). Isaac Newton. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-42233-1.
€ Halley, E (1687). "Review of Newton's Principia". Philosophical Transactions 186: 291•297.
€ Hawking, Stephen, ed. On the Shoulders of Giants. ISBN 0-7624-1348-4 Places selections from Newton's
Principia in the context of selected writings by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Einstein
€ Herivel, J. W. (1965). The Background to Newton's Principia. A Study of Newton's Dynamical Researches in the
Years 1664€84. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
€ Keynes, John Maynard (1963). Essays in Biography. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-00189-X. Keynes took a
close interest in Newton and owned many of Newton's private papers.
€ Koyr•, A (1965). Newtonian Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
€ Newton, Isaac. Papers and Letters in Natural Philosophy, edited by I. Bernard Cohen. Harvard University Press,
1958,1978. ISBN 0-674-46853-8.
€ Newton, Isaac (1642•1726). The Principia: a new Translation, Guide by I. Bernard Cohen ISBN 0-520-08817-4
University of California (1999)
€ Pemberton, H (1728). A View of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy. London: S. Palmer.
€ Shamos, Morris H. (1959). Great Experiments in Physics. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc..
ISBN 0-486-25346-5.
€ Shapley, Harlow, S. Rapport, and H. Wright. A Treasury of Science; "Newtonia" pp. 147•9; "Discoveries"
pp. 150•4. Harper & Bros., New York, (1946).
€ Simmons, J (1996). The Giant Book of Scientists € The 100 Greatest Minds of all Time. Sydney: The Book
€ Stukeley, W. (1936). Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life. London: Taylor and Francis. (edited by A. H. White;
originally published in 1752)
€ Westfall, R. S (1971). Force in Newton's Physics: The Science of Dynamics in the Seventeenth Century. London:
Macdonald. ISBN 0-444-19611-0.
€ Dobbs, Betty Jo Tetter. The Janus Faces of Genius: The Role of Alchemy in Newton's Thought. (1991), links the
alchemy to Arianism
€ Force, James E., and Richard H. Popkin, eds. Newton and Religion: Context, Nature, and Influence. (1999),
342pp . Pp. xvii + 325. 13 papers by scholars using newly opened manuscripts
Isaac Newton
€ Ramati, Ayval. "The Hidden Truth of Creation: Newton's Method of Fluxions" British Journal for the History of
Science 34: 417•438. in JSTOR (http:/ / www. jstor. org/ stable/ 4028372), argues that his calculus had a
theological basis
€ Snobelen, Stephen "'God of Gods, and Lord of Lords': The Theology of Isaac Newton's General Scholium to the
Principia," Osiris, 2nd Series, Vol. 16, (2001), pp. 169•208 in JSTOR (http:/ / www. jstor. org/ stable/ 301985)
€ Snobelen, Stephen D. (1999). "Isaac Newton, Heretic: The Strategies of a Nicodemite". British Journal for the
History of Science 32 (4): 381•419. doi:10.1017/S0007087499003751. JSTOR 4027945.
€ Pfizenmaier, Thomas C. (January 1997). "Was Isaac Newton an Arian?". Journal of the History of Ideas 58 (1):
57•80. JSTOR 3653988.
€ Wiles, Maurice. Archetypal Heresy. Arianism through the Centuries. (1996) 214 pages, with chapter 4 on 18th
century England; pp. 77•93 on Newton, excerpt and text search (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=DGksMzk37hMC& printsec=frontcover& dq="Arianism+ through+ the+ Centuries").
Primary sources
€ Newton, Isaac. The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. University of California Press,
(1999). 974 pp.
€ Brackenridge, J. Bruce. The Key to Newton's Dynamics: The Kepler Problem and the Principia: Containing an
English Translation of Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Book One from the First (1687) Edition of Newton's
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. University of California Press, 1996. 299 pp.
€ Newton, Isaac. The Optical Papers of Isaac Newton. Vol. 1: The Optical Lectures, 1670€1672. Cambridge U.
Press, 1984. 627 pp.
€ Newton, Isaac. Opticks (4th ed. 1730) online edition (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=GnAFAAAAQAAJ& dq=newton+ opticks& pg=PP1& ots=Nnl345oqo_&
sig=0mBTaXUI_K6w-JDEu_RvVq5TNqc& prev=http:/ / www. google. com/ search?q=newton+ opticks&
rls=com. microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox& ie=UTF-8& oe=UTF-8& sourceid=ie7& rlz=1I7GGLJ& sa=X&
oi=print& ct=title& cad=one-book-with-thumbnail)
€ Newton, I. (1952). Opticks, or A Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections & Colours of Light. New
York: Dover Publications.
€ Newton, I. Sir Isaac Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and His System of the World, tr. A.
Motte, rev. Florian Cajori. Berkeley: University of California Press. (1934).
€ Whiteside, D. T (1967•82). The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
ISBN 0-521-07740-0. • 8 volumes.
€ Newton, Isaac. The correspondence of Isaac Newton, ed. H. W. Turnbull and others, 7 vols. (1959•77).
€ Newton's Philosophy of Nature: Selections from His Writings edited by H. S. Thayer, (1953), online edition (http:/
/ www. questia. com/ read/ 5876270).
€ Isaac Newton, Sir; J Edleston; Roger Cotes, Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, including
letters of other eminent men (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?as_brr=1& id=OVPJ6c9_kKgC&
vid=OCLC14437781& dq="isaac+ newton"& jtp=I), London, John W. Parker, West Strand; Cambridge, John
Deighton, 1850 (Google Books).
€€ Maclaurin, C. (1748). An Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, in Four Books. London: A.
Millar and J. Nourse.
€€ Newton, I. (1958). Isaac Newton's Papers and Letters on Natural Philosophy and Related Documents, eds. I. B.
Cohen and R. E. Schofield. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
€€ Newton, I. (1962). The Unpublished Scientific Papers of Isaac Newton: A Selection from the Portsmouth
Collection in the University Library, Cambridge, ed. A. R. Hall and M. B. Hall. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
€€ Newton, I. (1975). Isaac Newton's 'Theory of the Moon's Motion' (1702). London: Dawson.
Isaac Newton
External links
€ Newton's Scholar Google profile (http:/ / scholar. google. com. au/ citations?user=xJaxiEEAAAAJ& hl=en)
€ ScienceWorld biography (http:/ / scienceworld. wolfram. com/ biography/ Newton. html) by Eric Weisstein
€ Dictionary of Scientific Biography (http:/ / www. chlt. org/ sandbox/ lhl/ dsb/ page. 50. a. php)
€ "The Newton Project" (http:/ / www. newtonproject. sussex. ac. uk/ prism. php?id=1)
€ "The Newton Project • Canada" (http:/ / www. isaacnewton. ca/ )
€ "Rebuttal of Newton's astrology" (http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20080629021908/ http:/ / www. skepticreport.
com/ predictions/ newton. htm) (via archive.org)
€ "Newton's Religious Views Reconsidered" (http:/ / www. galilean-library. org/ snobelen. html)
€ "Newton's Royal Mint Reports" (http:/ / www. pierre-marteau. com/ editions/ 1701-25-mint-reports. html)
€ "Newton's Dark Secrets" (http:/ / www. pbs. org/ wgbh/ nova/ newton/ ) - NOVA TV programme
€ from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
€ "Isaac Newton" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ newton/ ), by George Smith
€ "Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/
newton-principia/ ), by George Smith
€ "Newton's Philosophy" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ newton-philosophy/ ), by Andrew Janiak
€ "Newton's views on space, time, and motion" (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ entries/ newton-stm/ ), by Robert
€ "Newton's Castle" (http:/ / www. tqnyc. org/ NYC051308/ index. htm) - educational material
€ "The Chymistry of Isaac Newton" (http:/ / www. dlib. indiana. edu/ collections/ newton), research on his
alchemical writings
€ "FMA Live!" (http:/ / www. fmalive. com/ ) - program for teaching Newton's laws to kids
€ Newton's religious position (http:/ / www. adherents. com/ people/ pn/ Isaac_Newton. html)
€ The "General Scholium" to Newton's Principia (http:/ / hss. fullerton. edu/ philosophy/ GeneralScholium. htm)
€ Kandaswamy, Anand M. "The Newton/Leibniz Conflict in Context" (http:/ / www. math. rutgers. edu/ courses/
436/ Honors02/ newton. html)
€ Newton's First ODE (http:/ / www. phaser. com/ modules/ historic/ newton/ index. html) • A study by on how
Newton approximated the solutions of a first-order ODE using infinite series
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Isaac Newton" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Newton. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Isaac Newton (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=74313) at the Mathematics Genealogy
€ "The Mind of Isaac Newton" (http:/ / www. ltrc. mcmaster. ca/ newton/ ) - images, audio, animations and
interactive segments
€ Enlightening Science (http:/ / www. enlighteningscience. sussex. ac. uk/ home) Videos on Newton's biography,
optics, physics, reception, and on his views on science and religion
€ Newton biography (University of St Andrews) (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ Mathematicians/
Newton. html)
€ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Newton, Sir Isaac". Encyclop„dia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University
€ and see at s:Author:Isaac Newton for the following works about him:
€ "Newton, Sir Isaac" in A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature by John William Cousin,
London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1910.
€ "Newton, Isaac," in Dictionary of National Biography, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., (1885•1900)
€€ Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's life by William Stukeley, 1752
Writings by Newton
Isaac Newton
€ Newton's works • full texts, at the Newton Project (http:/ / www. newtonproject. sussex. ac. uk/ prism.
€ The Newton Manuscripts at the National Library of Israel - the collection of all his religious writings (http:/ / web.
nli. org. il/ sites/ NLI/ English/ collections/ Humanities/ Pages/ newton. aspx)
€ Works by Isaac Newton (http:/ / www. gutenberg. org/ author/ Isaac_Newton) at Project Gutenberg
€ "Newton's Principia" (http:/ / rack1. ul. cs. cmu. edu/ is/ newton/ ) • read and search
€ Descartes, Space, and Body and A New Theory of Light and Colour (http:/ / www. earlymoderntexts. com/ ),
modernised readable versions by Jonathan Bennett
€ Opticks, or a Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light (http:/ / www. archive. org/
stream/ opticksoratreat00newtgoog#page/ n6/ mode/ 2up), full text on archive.org
€ "Newton Papers" (http:/ / cudl. lib. cam. ac. uk/ collections/ newton) - Cambridge Digital Library
€ See Wikisource at s:Author:Isaac Newton for the following works by him:
€€ Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
€€ Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours of Light
€€ Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John
€€ New Theory About Light and Colour
€€ An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture
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Newton's laws of motion
Newton's laws of motion
Newton's First and Second laws, in Latin, from the
original 1687 Principia Mathematica.
Newton's laws of motion are three physical laws that form the
basis for classical mechanics. They describe the relationship
between the forces acting on a body and its motion due to those
forces. They have been expressed in several different ways over
nearly three centuries,
and can be summarized as follows:
1. First law: If an object experiences no net force, then its
velocity is constant: the object is either at rest (if its velocity is
zero), or it moves in a straight line with constant speed (if its
velocity is nonzero).
2. Second law: The acceleration a of a body is parallel and
directly proportional to the net force F acting on the body, is in
the direction of the net force, and is inversely proportional to
the mass m of the body, i.e., F = ma.
3. Third law: When a first body exerts a force F
on a second
body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force F
 = ‰F
on the first body. This means that F
and F
are equal in
magnitude and opposite in direction.
The three laws of motion were first compiled by Sir Isaac Newton
in his work Philosophi„ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first
published in 1687.
Newton used them to explain and investigate
the motion of many physical objects and systems.
For example,
in the third volume of the text, Newton showed that these laws of motion, combined with his law of universal
gravitation, explained Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
Isaac Newton (1643-1727), the physicist
who formulated the laws
Newton's laws are applied to bodies (objects) which are considered or
idealized as a particle,
in the sense that the extent of the body is neglected
in the evaluation of its motion, i.e., the object is small compared to the
distances involved in the analysis, or the deformation and rotation of the body
is of no importance in the analysis. Therefore, a planet can be idealized as a
particle for analysis of its orbital motion around a star.
In their original form, Newton's laws of motion are not adequate to
characterize the motion of rigid bodies and deformable bodies. Leonard Euler
in 1750 introduced a generalization of Newton's laws of motion for rigid
bodies called the Euler's laws of motion, later applied as well for deformable
bodies assumed as a continuum. If a body is represented as an assemblage of
discrete particles, each governed by Newton€s laws of motion, then Euler€s
laws can be derived from Newton€s laws. Euler€s laws can, however, be taken
as axioms describing the laws of motion for extended bodies, independently
of any particle structure.
Newton's laws hold only with respect to a certain set of frames of reference called Newtonian or inertial reference
frames. Some authors interpret the first law as defining what an inertial reference frame is; from this point of view,
Newton's laws of motion
the second law only holds when the observation is made from an inertial reference frame, and therefore the first law
cannot be proved as a special case of the second. Other authors do treat the first law as a corollary of the second.
The explicit concept of an inertial frame of reference was not developed until long after Newton's death.
In the given interpretation mass, acceleration, momentum, and (most importantly) force are assumed to be externally
defined quantities. This is the most common, but not the only interpretation of the way one can consider the laws to
be a definition of these quantities.
Newtonian mechanics has been superseded by special relativity, but it is still useful as an approximation when the
speeds involved are much slower than the speed of light.
Newton's first law
The first law law states that if the net force (the vector sum of all forces acting on an object) is zero, then the velocity
of the object is constant. Velocity is a vector quantity which expresses both the object's speed and the direction of its
motion; therefore, the statement that the object's velocity is constant is a statement that both its speed and the
direction of its motion are constant.
The first law can be stated mathematically as
€€ An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.
€ An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an unbalanced force acts upon it. This is known as
uniform motion.
An object continues to do whatever it happens to be doing unless a force is exerted upon it. If it is at rest, it continues
in a state of rest (demonstrated when a tablecloth is skillfully whipped from under dishes on a tabletop and the dishes
remain in their initial state of rest). If an object is moving, it continues to move without turning or changing its
speed. This is evident in space probes that continually move in outer space. Changes in motion must be imposed
against the tendency of an object to retain its state of motion. In the absence of net forces, a moving object tends to
move along a straight line path indefinitely.
Newton placed the first law of motion to establish frames of reference for which the other laws are applicable. The
first law of motion postulates the existence of at least one frame of reference called a Newtonian or inertial reference
frame, relative to which the motion of a particle not subject to forces is a straight line at a constant speed.
Newton's first law is often referred to as the law of inertia. Thus, a condition necessary for the uniform motion of a
particle relative to an inertial reference frame is that the total net force acting on it is zero. In this sense, the first law
can be restated as:
In every material universe, the motion of a particle in a preferential reference frame Š is determined by the
action of forces whose total vanished for all times when and only when the velocity of the particle is constant
in Š. That is, a particle initially at rest or in uniform motion in the preferential frame Š continues in that state
unless compelled by forces to change it.
Newton's laws are valid only in an inertial reference frame. Any reference frame that is in uniform motion with
respect to an inertial frame is also an inertial frame, i.e. Galilean invariance or the principle of Newtonian
Newton's laws of motion
From the original Latin of Newton's Principia:

Lex I: Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum
illum mutare.

Translated to English, this reads:

Law I: Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its
state by force impressed.

Aristotle had the view that all objects have a natural place in the universe: that heavy objects (such as rocks) wanted
to be at rest on the Earth and that light objects like smoke wanted to be at rest in the sky and the stars wanted to
remain in the heavens. He thought that a body was in its natural state when it was at rest, and for the body to move in
a straight line at a constant speed an external agent was needed to continually propel it, otherwise it would stop
moving. Galileo Galilei, however, realized that a force is necessary to change the velocity of a body, i.e.,
acceleration, but no force is needed to maintain its velocity. In other words, Galileo stated that, in the absence of a
force, a moving object will continue moving. The tendency of objects to resist changes in motion was what Galileo
called inertia. This insight was refined by Newton, who made it into his first law, also known as the "law of
inertia"ˆno force means no acceleration, and hence the body will maintain its velocity. As Newton's first law is a
restatement of the law of inertia which Galileo had already described, Newton appropriately gave credit to Galileo.
The law of inertia apparently occurred to several different natural philosophers and scientists independently,
including Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan.
The 17th century philosopher Ren• Descartes also formulated the
law, although he did not perform any experiments to confirm it.
Newton's second law
The second law states that the net force on an object is equal to the rate of change (that is, the derivative) of its linear
momentum p in an inertial reference frame:
The second law can also be stated in terms of an object's acceleration. Since the law is valid only for constant-mass
the mass can be taken outside the differentiation operator by the constant factor rule in
differentiation. Thus,
where F is the net force applied, m is the mass of the body, and a is the body's acceleration. Thus, the net force
applied to a body produces a proportional acceleration. In other words, if a body is accelerating, then there is a force
on it.
Consistent with the first law, the time derivative of the momentum is non-zero when the momentum changes
direction, even if there is no change in its magnitude; such is the case with uniform circular motion. The relationship
also implies the conservation of momentum: when the net force on the body is zero, the momentum of the body is
constant. Any net force is equal to the rate of change of the momentum.
Any mass that is gained or lost by the system will cause a change in momentum that is not the result of an external
force. A different equation is necessary for variable-mass systems (see below).
Newton's laws of motion
Newton's second law requires modification if the effects of special relativity are to be taken into account, because at
high speeds the approximation that momentum is the product of rest mass and velocity is not accurate.
An impulse J occurs when a force F acts over an interval of time ¹t, and it is given by
Since force is the time derivative of momentum, it follows that
This relation between impulse and momentum is closer to Newton's wording of the second law.
Impulse is a concept frequently used in the analysis of collisions and impacts.
Variable-mass systems
Variable-mass systems, like a rocket burning fuel and ejecting spent gases, are not closed and cannot be directly
treated by making mass a function of time in the second law;
that is, the following formula is wrong:
The falsehood of this formula can be seen by noting that it does not respect Galilean invariance: a variable-mass
object with F = 0 in one frame will be seen to have F • 0 in another frame.
The correct equation of motion for a body whose mass m varies with time by either ejecting or accreting mass is
obtained by applying the second law to the entire, constant-mass system consisting of the body and its
ejected/accreted mass; the result is
where u is the relative velocity of the escaping or incoming mass as seen by the body. From this equation one can
derive the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation.
Under some conventions, the quantity u dm/dt on the left-hand side, known as the thrust, is defined as a force (the
force exerted on the body by the changing mass, such as rocket exhaust) and is included in the quantity F. Then, by
substituting the definition of acceleration, the equation becomes F = ma.
Newton's original Latin reads:

Lex II: Mutationem motus proportionalem esse vi motrici impressae, et fieri secundum lineam rectam qua vis illa imprimitur.

This was translated quite closely in Motte's 1729 translation as:

Law II: The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impress'd; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that
force is impress'd.

According to modern ideas of how Newton was using his terminology,
this is understood, in modern terms, as an
equivalent of: The change of momentum of a body is proportional to the impulse impressed on the body, and
happens along the straight line on which that impulse is impressed.
Motte's 1729 translation of Newton's Latin continued with Newton's commentary on the second law of motion,
reading: If a force generates a motion, a double force will generate double the motion, a triple force triple the
Newton's laws of motion
motion, whether that force be impressed altogether and at once, or gradually and successively. And this motion
(being always directed the same way with the generating force), if the body moved before, is added to or subtracted
from the former motion, according as they directly conspire with or are directly contrary to each other; or obliquely
joined, when they are oblique, so as to produce a new motion compounded from the determination of both.
The sense or senses in which Newton used his terminology, and how he understood the second law and intended it to
be understood, have been extensively discussed by historians of science, along with the relations between Newton's
formulation and modern formulations.
Newton's third law
An illustration of Newton's third law in which two skaters push
against each other. The skater on the left exerts a force F on the
skater on the right, and the skater on the right exerts a force ‰F on
the skater on the right.
Although the forces are equal, the accelerations are not: the less
massive skater will have a greater acceleration due to Newton's
second law.
The third law states that all forces exist in pairs: if one
object A exerts a force F
on a second object B, then B
simultaneously exerts a force F
on A, and the two
forces are equal and opposite: F
= ‰F
The third
law means that all forces are interactions between
different bodies,
and thus that there is no such
thing as a unidirectional force or a force that acts on
only one body. This law is sometimes referred to as the
action-reaction law, with F
called the "action" and F
the "reaction". The action and the reaction are
simultaneous, and it does not matter which is called the
action and which is called reaction; both forces are part
of a single interaction, and neither force exists without
the other.
The two forces in Newton's third law are of the same
type (e.g., if the road exerts a forward frictional force
on an accelerating car's tires, then it is also a frictional
force that Newton's third law predicts for the tires
pushing backward on the road).
From a conceptual standpoint, Newton's third law is seen when a person walks: they push against the floor, and the
floor pushes against the person. Similarly, the tires of a car push against the road while the road pushes back on the
tiresˆthe tires and road simultaneously push against each other. In swimming, a person interacts with the water,
pushing the water backward, while the water simultaneously pushes the person forwardˆboth the person and the
water push against each other. The reaction forces account for the motion in these examples. These forces depend on
friction; a person or car on ice, for example, may be unable to exert the action force to produce the needed reaction
Newton's laws of motion

Lex III: Actioni contrariam semper et „qualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse „quales et in partes
contrarias dirigi.

Law III: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are
directed in opposite directions.

A more direct translation than the one just given above is:
LAW III: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon
each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts. ˆ Whatever draws or presses another is as much
drawn or pressed by that other. If you press a stone with your finger, the finger is also pressed by the stone. If
a horse draws a stone tied to a rope, the horse (if I may so say) will be equally drawn back towards the stone:
for the distended rope, by the same endeavour to relax or unbend itself, will draw the horse as much towards
the stone, as it does the stone towards the horse, and will obstruct the progress of the one as much as it
advances that of the other. If a body impinges upon another, and by its force changes the motion of the other,
that body also (because of the equality of the mutual pressure) will undergo an equal change, in its own
motion, toward the contrary part. The changes made by these actions are equal, not in the velocities but in the
motions of the bodies; that is to say, if the bodies are not hindered by any other impediments. For, as the
motions are equally changed, the changes of the velocities made toward contrary parts are reciprocally
proportional to the bodies. This law takes place also in attractions, as will be proved in the next scholium.
In the above, as usual, motion is Newton's name for momentum, hence his careful distinction between motion and
Newton used the third law to derive the law of conservation of momentum;
however from a deeper perspective,
conservation of momentum is the more fundamental idea (derived via Noether's theorem from Galilean invariance),
and holds in cases where Newton's third law appears to fail, for instance when force fields as well as particles carry
momentum, and in quantum mechanics.
Importance and range of validity
Newton's laws were verified by experiment and observation for over 200 years, and they are excellent
approximations at the scales and speeds of everyday life. Newton's laws of motion, together with his law of universal
gravitation and the mathematical techniques of calculus, provided for the first time a unified quantitative explanation
for a wide range of physical phenomena.
These three laws hold to a good approximation for macroscopic objects under everyday conditions. However,
Newton's laws (combined with universal gravitation and classical electrodynamics) are inappropriate for use in
certain circumstances, most notably at very small scales, very high speeds (in special relativity, the Lorentz factor
must be included in the expression for momentum along with rest mass and velocity) or very strong gravitational
fields. Therefore, the laws cannot be used to explain phenomena such as conduction of electricity in a
semiconductor, optical properties of substances, errors in non-relativistically corrected GPS systems and
superconductivity. Explanation of these phenomena requires more sophisticated physical theories, including general
relativity and quantum field theory.
In quantum mechanics concepts such as force, momentum, and position are defined by linear operators that operate
on the quantum state; at speeds that are much lower than the speed of light, Newton's laws are just as exact for these
operators as they are for classical objects. At speeds comparable to the speed of light, the second law holds in the
original form F = dp/dt, where F and p are four-vectors.
Newton's laws of motion
Relationship to the conservation laws
In modern physics, the laws of conservation of momentum, energy, and angular momentum are of more general
validity than Newton's laws, since they apply to both light and matter, and to both classical and non-classical
This can be stated simply, "Momentum, energy and angular momentum cannot be created or destroyed."
Because force is the time derivative of momentum, the concept of force is redundant and subordinate to the
conservation of momentum, and is not used in fundamental theories (e.g., quantum mechanics, quantum
electrodynamics, general relativity, etc.). The standard model explains in detail how the three fundamental forces
known as gauge forces originate out of exchange by virtual particles. Other forces such as gravity and fermionic
degeneracy pressure also arise from the momentum conservation. Indeed, the conservation of 4-momentum in
inertial motion via curved space-time results in what we call gravitational force in general relativity theory.
Application of space derivative (which is a momentum operator in quantum mechanics) to overlapping wave
functions of pair of fermions (particles with half-integer spin) results in shifts of maxima of compound wavefunction
away from each other, which is observable as "repulsion" of fermions.
Newton stated the third law within a world-view that assumed instantaneous action at a distance between material
particles. However, he was prepared for philosophical criticism of this action at a distance, and it was in this context
that he stated the famous phrase "I feign no hypotheses". In modern physics, action at a distance has been completely
eliminated, except for subtle effects involving quantum entanglement. However in modern engineering in all
practical applications involving the motion of vehicles and satellites, the concept of action at a distance is used
The discovery of the Second Law of Thermodynamics by Carnot in the 19th century showed that every physical
quantity is not conserved over time, thus disproving the validity of inducing the opposite metaphysical view from
Newton's laws. Hence, a "steady-state" worldview based solely on Newton's laws and the conservation laws does not
take entropy into account.
References and notes
[1] For explanations of Newton's laws of motion by Newton in the early 18th century, by the physicist William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) in the
mid-19th century, and by a modern text of the early 21st century, see:-
€ Newton's "Axioms or Laws of Motion" starting on page 19 of volume 1 of the 1729 translation (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=Tm0FAAAAQAAJ& pg=PA19#v=onepage& q=& f=false) of the "Principia";
€ Section 242, Newton's laws of motion (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=wwO9X3RPt5kC& pg=PA178) in Thomson, W (Lord
Kelvin), and Tait, P G, (1867), Treatise on natural philosophy, volume 1; and
€ Benjamin Crowell (2000), Newtonian Physics.
[2] [2] Halliday
[3] Browne, Michael E. (1999-07) (Series: Schaum's Outline Series). Schaum's outline of theory and problems of physics for engineering and
science (http:/ / books. google.com/ ?id=5gURYN4vFx4C& pg=PA58& dq=newton's+ first+ law+ of+ motion& q=newton's first law of
motion). McGraw-Hill Companies. pp. 58. ISBN 978-0-07-008498-8. .
[4] See the Principia on line at Andrew Motte Translation (http:/ / ia310114. us. archive. org/ 2/ items/ newtonspmathema00newtrich/
newtonspmathema00newtrich. pdf)
[5] Andrew Motte translation of Newton's Principia (1687) Axioms or Laws of Motion (http:/ / members. tripod. com/ ~gravitee/ axioms. htm)
[6] [...]while Newton had used the word 'body' vaguely and in at least three different meanings, Euler realized that the statements of Newton are
generally correct only when applied to masses concentrated at isolated points;Truesdell, Clifford A.; Becchi, Antonio; Benvenuto, Edoardo
(2003). Essays on the history of mechanics: in memory of Clifford Ambrose Truesdell and Edoardo Benvenuto (http:/ / books. google. com/
?id=6LO_U6T-HvsC& printsec=frontcover& dq=essays+ in+ the+ History& cd=9#v=snippet& q="isolated points"). New York: Birkh¤user.
p. 207. ISBN 3-7643-1476-1. .
[7] Lubliner, Jacob (2008). Plasticity Theory (Revised Edition) (http:/ / www. ce. berkeley. edu/ ~coby/ plas/ pdf/ book. pdf). Dover Publications.
ISBN 0-486-46290-0. .
[8] Galili, I.; Tseitlin, M. (2003). "Newton's First Law: Text, Translations, Interpretations and Physics Education" (http:/ / www. springerlink.
com/ content/ j42866672t863506/ ). Science & Education 12 (1): 45•73. Bibcode 2003Sc&Ed..12...45G. doi:10.1023/A:1022632600805. .
Newton's laws of motion
[9] Benjamin Crowell. "4. Force and Motion" (http:/ / www. lightandmatter. com/ html_books/ 1np/ ch04/ ch04. html). Newtonian Physics.
ISBN 0-9704670-1-X. .
[10] In making a modern adjustment of the second law for (some of) the effects of relativity, m would be treated as the relativistic mass,
producing the relativistic expression for momentum, and the third law might be modified if possible to allow for the finite signal propagation
speed between distant interacting particles.
[11] NMJ Woodhouse (2003). Special relativity (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=ggPXQAeeRLgC& printsec=frontcover&
dq=isbn=1852334266#PPA6,M1). London/Berlin: Springer. p. 6. ISBN 1-85233-426-6. .
[12] Beatty, Millard F. (2006). Principles of engineering mechanics Volume 2 of Principles of Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics-The Analysis
of Motion, (http:/ / books. google.com/ ?id=wr2QOBqOBakC& lpg=PP1& pg=PA24#v=onepage& q). Springer. p. 24. ISBN 0-387-23704-6.
[13] Thornton, Marion (2004). Classical dynamics of particles and systems (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=HOqLQgAACAAJ& dq=classical
dynamics of particles and systems) (5th ed.). Brooks/Cole. p. 53. ISBN 0-534-40896-6. .
[14] Isaac Newton, The Principia, A new translation by I.B. Cohen and A. Whitman, University of California press, Berkeley 1999.
[15] Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan:
That when a thing lies still, unless somewhat else stir it, it will lie still forever, is a truth that no man
doubts. But [the proposition] that when a thing is in motion it will eternally be in motion unless
somewhat else stay it, though the reason be the same (namely that nothing can change itself), is not so
easily assented to. For men measure not only other men but all other things by themselves. And because
they find themselves subject after motion to pain and lassitude, [they] think every thing else grows
weary of motion and seeks repose of its own accord, little considering whether it be not some other
motion wherein that desire of rest they find in themselves, consists.
[16] Plastino, Angel R.; Muzzio, Juan C. (1992). "On the use and abuse of Newton's second law for variable mass problems". Celestial
Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy (Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers) 53 (3): 227•232. Bibcode 1992CeMDA..53..227P.
doi:10.1007/BF00052611. ISSN 0923-2958. "We may conclude emphasizing that Newton's second law is valid for constant mass only. When
the mass varies due to accretion or ablation, [an alternate equation explicitly accounting for the changing mass] should be used."
[17] Halliday; Resnick. Physics. 1. pp. 199. ISBN 0-471-03710-9. "It is important to note that we cannot derive a general expression for
Newton's second law for variable mass systems by treating the mass in F = dP/dt = d(Mv) as a variable. [...] We can use F = dP/dt to analyze
variable mass systems only if we apply it to an entire system of constant mass having parts among which there is an interchange of mass."
[Emphasis as in the original]
[18] Kleppner, Daniel; Robert Kolenkow (1973). An Introduction to Mechanics. McGraw-Hill. pp. 133•134. ISBN 0-07-035048-5. "Recall that
F = dP/dt was established for a system composed of a certain set of particles[. ... I]t is essential to deal with the same set of particles
throughout the time interval[. ...] Consequently, the mass of the system can not change during the time of interest."
[19] Hannah, J, Hillier, M J, Applied Mechanics, p221, Pitman Paperbacks, 1971
[20] Raymond A. Serway, Jerry S. Faughn (2006). College Physics (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=wDKD4IggBJ4C& pg=PA247&
dq=impulse+ momentum+ "rate+ of+ change"). Pacific Grove CA: Thompson-Brooks/Cole. p. 161. ISBN 0-534-99724-4. .
[21] I Bernard Cohen (Peter M. Harman & Alan E. Shapiro, Eds) (2002). The investigation of difficult things: essays on Newton and the history
of the exact sciences in honour of D.T. Whiteside (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=oYZ-0PUrjBcC& pg=PA353& dq=impulse+ momentum+
"rate+ of+ change"+ -angular+ date:2000-2009). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 353. ISBN 0-521-89266-X. .
[22] WJ Stronge (2004). Impact mechanics (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=nHgcS0bfZ28C& pg=PA12& dq=impulse+ momentum+ "rate+ of+
change"+ -angular+ date:2000-2009). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 12 ff. ISBN 0-521-60289-0. .
[23] According to Maxwell in Matter and Motion, Newton meant by motion "the quantity of matter moved as well as the rate at which it travels"
and by impressed force he meant "the time during which the force acts as well as the intensity of the force". See Harman and Shapiro, cited
[24] See for example (1) I Bernard Cohen, "Newton€s Second Law and the Concept of Force in the Principia", in "The Annus Mirabilis of Sir
Isaac Newton 1666•1966" (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1967), pages 143•185; (2) Stuart Pierson, "'Corpore cadente. . .':
Historians Discuss Newton€s Second Law", Perspectives on Science, 1 (1993), pages 627•658; and (3) Bruce Pourciau, "Newton's
Interpretation of Newton's Second Law", Archive for History of Exact Sciences, vol.60 (2006), pages 157•207; also an online discussion by G
E Smith, in 5. Newton's Laws of Motion (http:/ / plato.stanford. edu/ entries/ newton-principia/ index. html#NewLawMot), s.5 of "Newton's
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" in (online) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007.
[25] Resnick; Halliday; Krane (1992). Physics, Volume 1 (4th ed.). p. 83.
[26] C Hellingman (1992). "Newton€s third law revisited". Phys. Educ. 27 (2): 112•115. Bibcode 1992PhyEd..27..112H.
doi:10.1088/0031-9120/27/2/011. "Quoting Newton in the Principia: It is not one action by which the Sun attracts Jupiter, and another by
which Jupiter attracts the Sun; but it is one action by which the Sun and Jupiter mutually endeavour to come nearer together."
[27] Resnick and Halliday (1977). "Physics". John Wiley & Sons. pp. 78•79. "Any single force is only one aspect of a mutual interaction
between two bodies."
[28] [28] Hewitt (2006), p. 75
Newton's laws of motion
[29] This translation of the third law and the commentary following it can be found in the "Principia" on page 20 of volume 1 of the 1729
translation (http:/ / books.google. com/ books?id=Tm0FAAAAQAAJ& pg=PA20#v=onepage& q=& f=false).
[30] Newton, Principia, Corollary III to the laws of motion
Further reading and works referred to
€ Crowell, Benjamin, (2011), Light and Matter (http:/ / www. lightandmatter. com/ lm/ ), (2011, Light and Matter),
especially at Section 4.2, Newton's First Law (http:/ / www. lightandmatter. com/ html_books/ lm/ ch04/ ch04.
html#Section4. 2), Section 4.3, Newton's Second Law (http:/ / www. lightandmatter. com/ html_books/ lm/
ch04/ ch04. html#Section4. 3), and Section 5.1, Newton's Third Law (http:/ / www. lightandmatter. com/
html_books/ lm/ ch05/ ch05. html#Section5. 1).
€ Feynman, R. P.; Leighton, R. B.; Sands, M. (2005). The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Vol. 1 (2nd ed.).
Pearson/Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-8053-9049-9.
€ Fowles, G. R.; Cassiday, G. L. (1999). Analytical Mechanics (6th ed.). Saunders College Publishing.
ISBN 0-03-022317-2.
€ Likins, Peter W. (1973). Elements of Engineering Mechanics. McGraw-Hill Book Company.
ISBN 0-07-037852-5.
€ Marion, Jerry; Thornton, Stephen (1995). Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems. Harcourt College
Publishers. ISBN 0-03-097302-3.
€ Newton, Isaac, "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", 1729 English translation based on 3rd Latin
edition (1726), volume 1, containing Book 1 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=Tm0FAAAAQAAJ),
especially at the section Axioms or Laws of Motion starting page 19 (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=Tm0FAAAAQAAJ& pg=PA19).
€ Newton, Isaac, "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", 1729 English translation based on 3rd Latin
edition (1726), volume 2, containing Books 2 & 3 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=6EqxPav3vIsC).
€ Thomson, W (Lord Kelvin), and Tait, P G, (1867), Treatise on natural philosophy (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=wwO9X3RPt5kC), volume 1, especially at Section 242, Newton's laws of motion (http:/ / books.
google. com/ books?id=wwO9X3RPt5kC& pg=PA178).
€ NMJ Woodhouse (2003). Special relativity (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=ggPXQAeeRLgC&
printsec=frontcover& dq=isbn=1852334266#PPA6,M1). London/Berlin: Springer. p. 6. ISBN 1-85233-426-6.
External links
€ MIT Physics video lecture (http:/ / ocw. mit. edu/ OcwWeb/ Physics/ 8-01Physics-IFall1999/ VideoLectures/
detail/ Video-Segment-Index-for-L-6. htm) on Newton's three laws
€ Light and Matter (http:/ / www. lightandmatter. com/ lm/ ) • an on-line textbook
€ Motion Mountain (http:/ / www. motionmountain. net) • an on-line textbook
€ Simulation on Newton's first law of motion (http:/ / phy. hk/ wiki/ englishhtm/ firstlaw. htm)
€ " Newton's Second Law (http:/ / demonstrations. wolfram. com/ NewtonsSecondLaw/ )" by Enrique Zeleny,
Wolfram Demonstrations Project.
€ Newton's 3rd Law demonstrated in a vacuum (http:/ / www. youtube. com/ watch?v=9gFMObYCccU)
Writing of Principia Mathematica
Writing of Principia Mathematica
Isaac Newton composed Principia Mathematica during 1685 and 1686,
and it was published in a first edition on
July 5, 1687 and began changing the world. Widely regarded as one of the most important works in both the science
of physics and in applied mathematics during the Scientific revolution, the work underlies much of the technological
and scientific advances from the Industrial Revolution (usually dated from 1750) which its tools helped to create.
Authoring Principia
Work begins
Newton's own copy of his Principia, with hand written corrections
for the second edition.
In the other letters written in 1685 and 1686, he asks
Flamsteed for information about the orbits of the
moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the rise and fall of the
spring and neap tides at the solstices and the equinoxes,
about the flattening of Jupiter at the poles (which, if
certain, he says, would conduce much to the stating the
reasons of the precession of the equinoxes), and about
the universal application of Kepler's third law. "Your
information for Jupiter and Saturn has eased me of
several scruples. I was apt to suspect there might be
some cause or other unknown to me which might
disturb the sesquialtera proportion. For the influences
of the planets one upon another seemed not great
enough, though I imagined Jupiter's influence greater than your numbers determine it. It would add to my
satisfaction if you would be pleased to let me know the long diameters of the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, assigned
by yourself and Mr Halley in your new tables, that I may see how the sesquiplicate proportion fills the heavens,
together with another small proportion which must be allowed for."
Upon Newton's return from Lincolnshire in the beginning of April 1685, he seems to have devoted himself to the
preparation of his work. In the spring he had determined the attractions of masses, and thus completed the law of
universal gravitation. In the summer he had finished the second book of the Principia, the first book being the
treatise De motu corporum in gyrum, which he had enlarged and completed. Except for correspondence with
Flamsteed we hear nothing more of the preparation of the Principia until April 21, 1686, when Halley read to the
Royal Society his Discourse concerning Gravity and its Properties, in which he states "that his worthy countryman
Mr Isaac Newton has an incomparable treatise of motion almost ready for the press," and that the law of the inverse
square "is the principle on which Mr Newton has made out all the phenomena of the celestial motions so easily and
naturally, that its truth is past dispute."
At the next meeting of the Society, on April 28, 1686, "Dr Vincent presented to the Society a manuscript treatise
entitled Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, and dedicated to the Society by Mr Isaac Newton." Although
this manuscript contained only the first book, yet such was the confidence the Society placed in the author that an
order was given "that a letter of thanks be written to Mr Newton; and that the printing of his book be referred to the
consideration of the council; and that in the meantime the book be put into the hands of Mr Halley, to make a report
thereof to the council."
Although there could be no doubt as to the intention of this report, no step was taken towards the publication of the
work. At the next meeting of the Society, on May 19, 1686, some dissatisfaction seems to have been expressed at the
delay, as it was ordered "that Mr Newton's work should be printed forthwith in quarto, and that a letter should be
Writing of Principia Mathematica
written to him to signify the Society's resolutions, and to desire his opinion as to the print, volume, cuts and so
forth." Three days afterwards Halley communicated the resolution to Newton, and stated to him that the printing was
to be at the charge of the Society. At the next meeting of the council, on June 2, 1686, it was again ordered "that Mr
Newton's book be printed," but, instead of sanctioning the resolution of the general meeting to print it at their charge,
they added "that Mr Halley undertake the business of looking after it, and printing it at his own charge, which he
engaged to do."
In order to explain to Newton the cause of the delay, Halley in his letter of May 22, 1686 alleges that it arose from
"the president's attendance on the king, and the absence of the vice-president's, whom the good weather had drawn
out of town"; but there is reason to believe that this was not the true cause, and that the unwillingness of the council
to undertake the publication arose from the state of the finances of the Society. Halley certainly deserves the
gratitude of posterity for undertaking the publication of the work at a very considerable financial risk to himself.
In the same letter Halley found it necessary to inform Newton of Hooke's conduct when the manuscript of the
Principia was presented to the Society. Sir John Hoskyns was in the chair when Dr Vincent presented the
manuscript, and praised the novelty and dignity of the subject. Hooke was offended because Sir John did not
mention what he had told him of his own discovery. Halley only communicated to Newton the fact "that Hooke had
some pretensions to the invention of the rule for the decrease of gravity being reciprocally as the squares of the
distances from the centre," acknowledging at the same time that, though Newton had the notion from him, "yet the
demonstration of the curves generated thereby belonged wholly to Newton." "How much of this," Halley adds, "is
so, you know best, so likewise what you have to do in this matter; only Mr Hooke seems to expect you should make
some mention of him in the preface, which 'tis possible you may see reason to prefix. I must beg your pardon that 'tis
I that send you this ungrateful account; but I thought it my duty to let you know it, so that you might act accordingly,
being in myself fully satisfied that nothing but the greatest candour imaginable is to be expected from a person who
has of all men the least need to borrow reputation."
A page from the Principia
In thus appealing to Newton's honesty, Halley obviously wished that
Newton should acknowledge Hooke in some way. Indeed, he knew
that before Newton had announced the inverse law, Hooke and Wren
and himself had spoken of it and discussed it, and therefore justice
demanded that Hooke especially should receive credit for having
maintained it as a truth of which he was seeking the demonstration,
even though none of them had given a demonstration of the law. On
June 20, 1686 Newton wrote to Halley the following letter:
"Sir, In order to let you know the case between Mr Hooke
and me, I give you an account of what passed between us
in our letters, so far as I could remember; for 'tis long since
they were writ, and I do not know that I have seen them
since. I am almost confident by circumstances, that Sir
Chr. Wren knew the duplicate proportion when I gave him
a visit; and then Mr Hooke (by his book Cometa written
afterwards) will prove the last of us three that knew it. I
intended in this letter to let you understand the case fully;
but it being a frivolous business, I shall content myself to
give you, the heads of it in short, viz, that I never extended the duplicate proportion lower than to the
superficies of the earth, and before a certain demonstration I found the last year, have suspected it did
not reach accurately enough down so low; and therefore in the doctrine of projectiles never used it nor
considered the motions of the heavens; and consequently Mr Hooke could not from my letters, which
were about projectiles and the regions descending hence to the centre, conclude me ignorant of the
Writing of Principia Mathematica
theory of the heavens. That what he told me of the duplicate proportion was erroneous, namely, that it
reached down from hence to the centre of the earth.
"That it is not candid to require me now to confess myself, in print, then ignorant of the duplicate
proportion in the heavens; for no other reason but because he had told it me in the case of projectiles,
and so upon mistaken grounds, accused me of that ignorance. That in my answer to his first letter I
refused his correspondence, told him I had laid philosophy aside, sent him, only the experiment of
projectiles (rather shortly hinted than carefully described), in compliment to sweeten my answer,
expected to hear no further from him; could scarce persuade myself to answer his second letter; did not
answer his third, was upon other things; thought no further of philosophical matters than, his letters put
me upon it, and therefore may be allowed not to have had my thoughts of that kind about me so well at
that time.
That by the same reason he concludes me then ignorant of the rest of the duplicate proportion, he may as
well conclude me ignorant of the rest of that theory I had read before in his books. That in one of my
papers writ (I cannot say in what year, but I am sure some time before I had any correspondence with
Mr Oldenburg, and that's above fifteen years ago), the proportion of the forces of the planets from the
sun, reciprocally duplicate of their distances from him, is expressed, and the proportion of our gravit to
the moon's conatus recedendi a centro terrae is calculated, though not accurately enough. That when
Hugenius put out his Horol. Oscill., a copy being presented to me, in my letter of thanks to him I gave
those rules in the end thereof a particular commendation for their usefulness in Philosophy, and added
out of my aforesaid paper an instance of their usefulness, in comparing the forces of the moon from the
earth, and earth from the sun; in determining a problem about the moon's phase, and putting a limit to
the sun's parallax, which shows that I had then my eye upon comparing the forces of the planets arising
from their circular motion, and understood it; so that a while after, when Mr Hooke propounded the
problem solemnly, in the end of his attempt to prove the motion of the earth, if I had not known the
duplicate proportion before, I could not but have found it now.
Between ten and eleven years ago there was an hypothesis of mine registered in your books, wherein I
hinted a cause of gravity towards the earth, sun and planets, with the dependence of the celestial motions
thereon; in which the proportion of the decrease of gravity from the superficies of the planet (though for
brevity's sake not there expressed) can be no other than reciprocally duplicate of the distance from the
centre. And I hope I shall not be urged to declare, in print, that I understood not the obvious
mathematical condition of my own hypothesis. But, grant I received it afterwards from Mr Hooke, yet
have I as great a right to it as to the ellipse. For as Kepler knew the orb to be not circular but oval, and
guessed it to be elliptical, so Mr Hooke, without knowing what I have found out since his letters to me,
can know no more, but that the proportion was duplicate quam proxim‰ at great distances from the
centre, and only guessed it to be so accurately, and guessed amiss in extending that proportion down to
the very centre, whereas Kepler guessed right at the ellipse. And so, Mr Hooke found less of the
proportion than Kepler of the ellipse.
"There is so strong an objection against the accurateness of this proportion, that without my
demonstrations, to which Mr Hooke is yet a stranger, it cannot be believed by a judicious philosopher to
be any where accurate. And so, in stating this business, I do pretend to have done as much for the
proportion as for the ellipsis, and to have as much right to the one from Mr Hooke and all men, as to the
other from Kepler; and therefore on this account also he must at least moderate his pretences.
"The proof you sent me I like very well. I designed the whole to consist of three books; the second was
finished last summer being short, and only wants transcribing, and drawing the cuts fairly. Some new
propositions I have since thought on, which I can as well let alone. The third wants the theory of comets.
In autumn last I spent two months in calculations to no purpose for want of a good method, which made
Writing of Principia Mathematica
me afterwards return to the first book, and enlarge it with diverse propositions some relating to comets
others to other things, found out last winter. The third I now design to suppress. Philosophy is such an
impertinently litigious lady, that a man has as good be engaged in lawsuits, as have to do, with her. I
found it so formerly, and now I am no sooner come near her again, but she gives me warning. The two
first books, without the third, will not so well bear the title of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia
Mathematica; and therefore I had altered it to this, De Motu Corporum libri duo.
"But, upon second thoughts, I retain the former title. It will help the sale of the book, which I ought not
to diminish now it's yours. The articles are with the largest to be called by that name.
"If you please you may change the word to sections, though it be not material. In the first page, I have
struck out the words uti posthac docebitur as referring to the third book; which is all at present, from
your affectionate friend, and humble servant, "Is. NEWTON."
On June 20, 1686, Halley wrote to Newton:
"I am heartily sorry that in this matter, wherein all mankind ought to acknowledge their obligations to
you, you should meet with anything that should give you unquiet"; and then, after an account of Hooke's
claim to the discovery as made at a meeting of the Royal Society, he concludes: "But I found that they
were all of opinion that nothing thereof appearing in print, nor on the books of the Society, you ought to
be considered as the inventor. And if in truth he knew it before you, he ought not to blame any but
himself for having taken no more care to secure a discovery, which he puts so much value on. What
application he has made in private, I know not; but I am sure that the Society have a very great
satisfaction, in the honour you do them, by the dedication of so worthy a treatise.
Sir, I must now again beg you, not to let your resentments run so high, as to deprive us of your third
book, wherein the application of your mathematical doctrine to the theory of comets and several curious
experiments, which, as I guess by what you write, ought to compose it, will undoubtedly render it
acceptable to those, who will call themselves Philosophers without Mathematics, which are much the
greater number. Now you approve of the character and paper, I will push on the edition vigorously. I
have sometimes had thoughts of having the cuts neatly done in wood, so as to stand in the page with the
demonstrations. It will be more convenient, and not much more charge. If it please you to have it so, I
will try how well it can be done; otherwise I will have them in somewhat a larger size than those you
have sent up.
I am, Sir, your most affectionate humble servant, E. HALLEY."
On June 30, 1686 the council resolved to license Newton's book, entitled Philosophiae Naturalis Principia
On July 14, 1686, Newton wrote to Halley approving of his proposal to introduce woodcuts among the letterpress,
stating clearly the differences which he had from Hooke, and adding, "And now having sincerely told you the case
between Mr Hooke and me, I hope I shall be free for the future from the prejudice of his letters. I have considered
how best to compose the present dispute, and I think it may be done by the inclosed scholium to the fourth
proposition." This scholium was "The inverse law of gravity holds in all the celestial motions, as was discovered also
independently by my countrymen Wren, Hooke and Halley." After this letter of Newton's the printing of the
Principia was begun. The second book, though ready for the press in the autumn of 1686, was not sent to the printers
until March 1687. The third book was presented to the Society, on April 6, and the whole work published about
midsummer in that year, July 5, 1687.
It was dedicated to the Royal Society, and to it was prefixed a set of Latin
hexameters addressed by Halley to the author. The work, as might have been expected, caused a great deal of
excitement throughout Europe, and the whole of the impression was very soon sold. In 1691 a copy of the Principia
was hard to obtain.
Writing of Principia Mathematica
Conflict between the University and James II
While Newton was writing the second and third books of the Principia, an event occurred at Cambridge which had
the effect of bringing him before the public. James II had in 1686 conferred the deanery of Christ Church at Oxford
on John Massey, a person whose sole qualification was that he was a member of the Church of Rome; and the king
had boasted to the pope's legate that "what he had done at Oxford would very soon be done at Cambridge." In
February 1687 James issued a mandate directing that Father Alban Francis, a Benedictine monk, should be admitted
a master of arts of the University of Cambridge, without taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy.
Upon receiving the mandamus John Pechell, the master of Magdalene College, who was vice-chancellor, sent a
messenger to the Duke of Albemarle, the chancellor, to request him to get the mandamus recalled; and the registrary
and the bedell waited upon Francis to offer him instant admission to the degree if only he would take the necessary
oaths. A menacing letter was despatched by Sunderlandˆrespectful explanations were returned, but the university
showed no sign of compliance, nor suggested a compromise. The vice-chancellor and deputies from the senate were
summoned to appear before the High commission court at Westminster. Newton was one of the eight deputies
appointed by the senate for this purpose.
The deputies, before starting for London, held a meeting to prepare their case for the court. A compromise which
was put forward by one of them was resisted by Newton. On April 21 the deputation, with their case carefully
prepared, appeared before the court. Lord Jeffreys presided at the board. The deputation appeared as a matter of
course before the commissioners, and was dismissed. On April 27 they gave their plea. On May 7 it was discussed,
and feebly defended by the vice-chancellor. The deputies maintained that in the late reign several royal mandates had
been withdrawn, and that no degree had ever been conferred without the oaths having been previously taken. Jeffreys
spoke with his accustomed insolence to the vice-chancellor, silenced the other deputies when they offered to speak,
and ordered them out of court. When recalled the deputies were reprimanded, and Pechell was deprived of his office
as vice-chancellor, and of his salary as master of Magdalene.
Newton returned to Trinity College to complete the Principia. While thus occupied he had an extensive
correspondence with Halley, a very great part of which is extant. The following letter from Halley, dated London,
July 5, 1687, announcing the completion of the Principia, is of particular interest:
"I have at length brought your book to an end, and hope it will please you. The last errata came just in time to be
inserted. I will present from you the book you desire to the Royal Society, Mr Boyle, Mr Paget, Mr Flamsteed, and if
there be any else in town that you design to gratify that way; and I have sent you to bestow on your friends in the
University 20 copies, which I entreat you to accept. In the same parcel you will receive 40 more, which having no
acquaintance in Cambridge, I must entreat you to put into the hands of one or more of your ablest booksellers to
dispose of them. I intend the price of them, bound in calves' leather, and lettered, to be [OCR error] shillings here.
Those I send you I value in quires at 6 shillings, to take my money as they are sold, or at 5 sh. for ready, or else at
some short time; for I am satisfied there is no dealing in books without interesting the booksellers; and I am
contented to let them go halves with me, rather than have your excellent work smothered by their combinations. I
hope you will not repent you of the pains you have taken in so laudable a piece, so much to your own and the
nation's credit, but rather, after you shall have a little diverted yourself with other studies, that you will resume those
contemplations wherein you had so great success, and attempt the perfection of the lunar theory, which will be of
prodigious use in navigation, as well as of profound and public speculation. You will receive a box from me on
Thursday next by the wagon, that starts from town tomorrow."
Writing of Principia Mathematica
Illness in 1693
In 1692 and 1693 Newton seems to have had a serious illness, the nature of which has given rise to very considerable
dispute. In a letter dated the September 13, 1693, addressed to Samuel Pepys, he writes: "Some time after Mr
Millington had delivered your message, he pressed me to see you the next time I went to London. I was averse, but
upon his pressing consented, before I considered what I did, for I am extremely troubled at the embroilment I am in,
and have neither ate nor slept well this twelvemonth, nor have my former consistency of mind. I never designed to
get any thing by your interest, nor by icing James's favour, but am now sensible that I must withdraw from your
acquaintance, and see neither you nor the rest of my friends any more, if I may but have them quietly. I beg your
pardon for saying I would see you again, and rest your most humble and obedient servant." And in a letter written to
John Locke in reply to one of his about the second edition of his book, and dated the 15th of October 1693, Newton
wrote: "The last, winter, by sleeping too often by my fire, I got an ill habit of sleeping; and a distemper, which this
summer has been epidemical, put me farther out of order, so that when I wrote to you, I had not slept an hour a night
for a fortnight together, and for five days together not a wink. I remember I wrote to you, but what I said of your
book I remember not. If you please to send me a transcript of that passage, I will give you an account of it if I can."
The loss of sleep to a person of Newton's temperament, whose mind was never at rest, and at times so wholly
engrossed in his scientific pursuits that he even neglected to take food, must necessarily have led to a very great deal
of nervous excitability. It is not astonishing that rumours got abroad that there was a danger of his mind giving way,
or, according to a report which was believed at the time, that it had actually done so. Pepys must have heard such
rumours, as in a letter to his friend Millington, the tutor of Magdalene College at Cambridge, dated September 26,
1693, he wrote: "I must acknowledge myself not at the ease I would be glad to be at in reference to excellent Mr
Newton; concerning whom (methinks) your answer labours under the same kind of restraint which (to tell you the
truth) my asking did. For I was 10th at first dash to tell you that I had lately received a letter from him so surprising
to me for the inconsistency of every part of it, as to be put into great disorder by it, from the concern I have for him,
lest it should arise from that which of all mankind I should least dread from him and most lament for I mean a
discomposure in head, or mind, or both. Let me, therefore, beg you, Sir, having now told you the true ground of the
trouble I lately gave you, to let me know the very truth of the matter, as far at least as comes within your
On September 20, 1693, Millington wrote to Pepys that he had been to look for Newton some time before, but that
"he was out of town, and since," he says, "I have not seen him, till upon the 28th I met him at Huntingdon, where,
upon his own accord, and before I had time to ask him any question, he told me that he had written to you a very odd
letter, at which he was much concerned; added, that it was in a distemper that much seized his head, and that kept
him awake for above five nights together, which upon occasion he desired I would represent to you, and beg your
pardon, he being very much ashamed he should be so rude to a person for whom he hath so great an honour. He is
now very well, and though I fear he is under some small degree of melancholy, yet I think there is no reason to
suspect it hath at all touched his understanding, and I hope never will; and so I am sure all ought to wish that love
learning or the honour of our nation, which it is a sign how much it is looked after, when such a person as Mr
Newton lies so neglected by those in power."
The illness of Newton was very much exaggerated by foreign contemporary writers. Christiaan Huygens, in a letter
dated June 8, 1694, wrote to Leibniz, "I do not know if you are acquainted with the accident which has happened to
the good Mr Newton, namely, that he has had an attack of phrenitis, which lasted eighteen months, and of which
they say his friends have cured him by means of remedies, and keeping him shut up." To which Leibniz, in a letter
dated the 22nd of June, replied, "I am very glad that I received information of the cure of Mr Newton at the same
time that I first heard of his illness, which doubtless must have been very alarming."
Writing of Principia Mathematica
Initial election to Parliament
The active part which Newton had taken in defending the legal privileges of the university against the encroachments
of the crown had probably at least equal weight with his scientific reputation when his friends chose him as a
candidate for a seat in parliament as one of the representatives of the university. The other candidates were Sir
Robert Sawyer and Mr Finch. Sir Robert headed the poll with 125 votes, Newton next with 122 and Mr Finch was
last with 117 votes. Newton retained his seat only about a year, from January 1689 till the dissolution of the
Coventry Parliament in February 1690. During this time Newton does not appear to have taken part in any of the
debates in the House, but he was not neglectful of his duties as a member. On April 30, 1689 he moved for leave to
bring in a bill to settle the charters and privileges of the University of Cambridge, just as Sir Thomas Clarges did for
Oxford at the same time, and he wrote a series of letters to Dr Lovel, the vice-chancellor of the university, on points
which affected the interests of the university and its members.
Some of the members of the university who had sworn allegiance to James had some difficulty in swearing
allegiance to his successor. On February 12, 1689, the day of the coronation of William and Mary, Newton intimated
to the vice-chancellor that he would soon receive an order to proclaim them at Cambridge. He enclosed a form of the
proclamation, and expressed a hearty "wish that the university would so compose themselves as to perform the
solemnity with a reasonable decorum."
[1] For information on Newton's later life and post-Principia work, see Isaac Newton's later life.
[2] [2] (Letter of mid-January (before 14th) 1684|1685 (Old Style), published as #537 in Vol.2 of "The Correspondence of John Flamsteed", ed. E.G.
Forbes et al., 1997. (This reference was supplied after original compilation of the present article, and gives original spellings; but most
spellings and punctuations in the text above have been modernised. The words 'sesquialtera' and 'sesquiplicate', now archaic, refer to the
relation between a given number and the same multiplied by its own square root: or to the square root of its cube, which comes to the same
thing: the 'one-and-a-half-th' power, as it were.)
[3] Richard S. Westfall, Never at Rest, ISBN 0-521-27435-4 (paperback) Cambridge 1980..1998.
Method of Fluxions
Method of Fluxions
Method of Fluxions is a book by Isaac Newton. The book was completed in 1671, and published in 1736. Fluxions
is Newton's term for differential calculus (fluents was his term for integral calculus). He originally developed the
method at Woolsthorpe Manor during the closing of Cambridge during the Great Plague of London from 1665 to
1667, but did not choose to make his findings known (similarly, his findings which eventually became the
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica were developed at this time and hidden from the world in Newton's
notes for many years). Gottfried Leibniz developed his calculus around 1673, and published it in 1684, fifty years
before Newton. The calculus notation we use today is mostly that of Leibniz, although Newton's dot notation for
differentiation for denoting derivatives with respect to time is still in current use throughout mechanics and circuit
Newton's Method of Fluxions was formally published posthumously, but following Leibniz's publication of the
calculus a bitter rivalry erupted between the two mathematicians over who had developed the calculus first and so
Newton no longer hid his knowledge of fluxions.
External links
€ Method of Fluxions
at the Internet Archive
[1] http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/ methodoffluxions00newt
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Born July 1, 1646
Leipzig, Electorate of Saxony, Holy Roman Empire
Died November 14, 1716 (aged 70)
Hanover, Electorate of Hanover, Holy Roman Empire
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Nationality German
Era 17th-/18th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
Main interests Mathematics, metaphysics, logic, theodicy, universal language
Notable ideas
Infinitesimal calculus
Best of all possible worlds
Leibniz formula for ‘
Leibniz harmonic triangle
Leibniz formula for determinants
Leibniz integral rule
Principle of sufficient reason
Diagrammatic reasoning
Notation for differentiation
Proof of Fermat's little theorem
Kinetic energy
Law of Continuity
Transcendental Law of Homogeneity
Characteristica universalis
Ars combinatoria
Calculus ratiocinator
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (German: [‚••tfŒiƒt ‚v‘lh†lm f•n ‚la‘bn‘ts]
or [‚la‘pn‘ts]
) (July 1, 1646 •
November 14, 1716) was a German mathematician and philosopher. He occupies a prominent place in the history of
mathematics and the history of philosophy.
Leibniz developed the infinitesimal calculus independently of Isaac Newton, and Leibniz's mathematical notation
has been widely used ever since it was published. His visionary Law of Continuity and Transcendental Law of
Homogeneity only found mathematical implementation in the 20th century. He became one of the most prolific
inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. While working on adding automatic multiplication and division to
Pascal's calculator, he was the first to describe a pinwheel calculator in 1685
and invented the Leibniz wheel, used
in the arithmometer, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator. He also refined the binary number system, which
is at the foundation of virtually all digital computers.
In philosophy, Leibniz is mostly noted for his optimism, e.g., his conclusion that our Universe is, in a restricted
sense, the best possible one that God could have created. Leibniz, along with Ren• Descartes and Baruch Spinoza,
was one of the three great 17th century advocates of rationalism. The work of Leibniz anticipated modern logic and
analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also looks back to the scholastic tradition, in which conclusions are produced
by applying reason to first principles or prior definitions rather than to empirical evidence. Leibniz made major
contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in philosophy, probability
theory, biology, medicine, geology, psychology, linguistics, and information science. He wrote works on philosophy,
politics, law, ethics, theology, history, and philology. Leibniz's contributions to this vast array of subjects were
scattered in various learned journals, in tens of thousands of letters, and in unpublished manuscripts. He wrote in
several languages, but primarily in Latin, French, and German.
As of 2013, there is no complete gathering of the
writings of Leibniz.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Early life
Gottfried Leibniz was born on July 1, 1646 in Leipzig, Saxony (at the end of the Thirty Years' War), to Friedrich
Leibniz and Catharina Schmuck. Friedrich noted in his family journal: "On Sunday 21 June [NS: 1 July] 1646, my
son Gottfried Wilhelm is born into the world after six in the evening, Ð to seven [ein Viertel uff sieben], Aquarius
His father (a German of Sorbian ancestry
) died when Leibniz was six years old, and from that point on
he was raised by his mother. Her teachings influenced Leibniz's philosophical thoughts in his later life.
Leibniz's father had been a Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Leipzig and Leibniz inherited his
father's personal library. He was given free access to this from the age of seven. While Leibniz's schoolwork focused
on a small canon of authorities, his father's library enabled him to study a wide variety of advanced philosophical
and theological works • ones that he would not have otherwise been able to read until his college years.
Access to
his father's library, largely written in Latin, also led to his proficiency in the Latin language. Leibniz was proficient
in Latin by the age of 12, and he composed three hundred hexameters of Latin verse in a single morning for a special
event at school at the age of 13.
He enrolled in his father's former university at age 15,
and he completed his bachelor's degree in philosophy in
December 1662. He defended his Disputatio Metaphysica de Principio Individui, which addressed the principle of
individuation, on June 9, 1663. Leibniz earned his master's degree in philosophy on February 7, 1664. He published
and defended a dissertation Specimen Quaestionum Philosophicarum ex Jure collectarum, arguing for both a
theoretical and a pedagogical relationship between philosophy and law, in December 1664. After one year of legal
studies, he was awarded his bachelor's degree in Law on September 28, 1665.
In 1666, at age 20, Leibniz published his first book, On the Art of Combinations, the first part of which was also his
habilitation thesis in philosophy. His next goal was to earn his license and doctorate in Law, which normally
required three years of study then. In 1666, the University of Leipzig turned down Leibniz's doctoral application and
refused to grant him a doctorate in law, most likely due to his relative youth (he was 21 years old at the time).
Leibniz subsequently left Leipzig.
Leibniz then enrolled in the University of Altdorf, and almost immediately he submitted a thesis, which he had
probably been working on earlier in Leipzig.
The title of his thesis was Disputatio Inauguralis De Casibus
Perplexis In Jure. Leibniz earned his license to practice law and his Doctorate in Law in November 1666. He next
declined the offer of an academic appointment at Altdorf, saying that "my thoughts were turned in an entirely
different direction.
As an adult, Leibniz often introduced himself as "Gottfried von Leibniz". Also many posthumously published
editions of his writings presented his name on the title page as "Freiherr G. W. von Leibniz." However, no document
has ever been found from any contemporary government that stated his appointment to any form of nobility.
Leibniz's first position was as a salaried alchemist in Nuremberg, though he may have only known fairly little about
the subject at that time.
He soon met Johann Christian von Boyneburg (1622•1672), the dismissed chief minister
of the Elector of Mainz, Johann Philipp von Sch»nborn.
Von Boyneburg hired Leibniz as an assistant, and shortly
thereafter reconciled with the Elector and introduced Leibniz to him. Leibniz then dedicated an essay on law to the
Elector in the hope of obtaining employment. The stratagem worked; the Elector asked Leibniz to assist with the
redrafting of the legal code for his Electorate.
In 1669, Leibniz was appointed Assessor in the Court of Appeal.
Although von Boyneburg died late in 1672, Leibniz remained under the employment of his widow until she
dismissed him in 1674.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Von Boyneburg did much to promote Leibniz's reputation, and the latter's memoranda and letters began to attract
favorable notice. Leibniz's service to the Elector soon followed a diplomatic role. He published an essay, under the
pseudonym of a fictitious Polish nobleman, arguing (unsuccessfully) for the German candidate for the Polish crown.
The main force in European geopolitics during Leibniz's adult life was the ambition of Louis XIV of France, backed
by French military and economic might. Meanwhile, the Thirty Years' War had left German-speaking Europe
exhausted, fragmented, and economically backward. Leibniz proposed to protect German-speaking Europe by
distracting Louis as follows. France would be invited to take Egypt as a stepping stone towards an eventual conquest
of the Dutch East Indies. In return, France would agree to leave Germany and the Netherlands undisturbed. This plan
obtained the Elector's cautious support. In 1672, the French government invited Leibniz to Paris for discussion,
but the plan was soon overtaken by the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War and became irrelevant. Napoleon's failed
invasion of Egypt in 1798 can be seen as an unwitting implementation of Leibniz's plan.
Thus Leibniz began several years in Paris. Soon after arriving, he met Dutch physicist and mathematician Christiaan
Huygens and realised that his own knowledge of mathematics and physics was patchy. With Huygens as mentor, he
began a program of self-study that soon pushed him to making major contributions to both subjects, including
inventing his version of the differential and integral calculus. He met Nicolas Malebranche and Antoine Arnauld, the
leading French philosophers of the day, and studied the writings of Descartes and Pascal, unpublished as well as
published. He befriended a German mathematician, Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus; they corresponded for the
rest of their lives. In 1675 he was admitted by the French Academy of Sciences as a foreign honorary member,
despite his lack of attention to the academy.
Stepped Reckoner
When it became clear that France would not implement
its part of Leibniz's Egyptian plan, the Elector sent his
nephew, escorted by Leibniz, on a related mission to
the English government in London, early in 1673.
There Leibniz came into acquaintance of Henry
Oldenburg and John Collins. He met with the Royal
Society where he demonstrated a calculating machine
that he had designed and had been building since 1670.
The machine was able to execute all four basic
operations (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and
dividing), and the Society quickly made him an
external member. The mission ended abruptly when
news reached it of the Elector's death, whereupon
Leibniz promptly returned to Paris and not, as had been
planned, to Mainz.
The sudden deaths of Leibniz's two patrons in the same winter meant that Leibniz had to find a new basis for his
career. In this regard, a 1669 invitation from the Duke of Brunswick to visit Hanover proved fateful. Leibniz
declined the invitation, but began corresponding with the Duke in 1671. In 1673, the Duke offered him the post of
Counsellor which Leibniz very reluctantly accepted two years later, only after it became clear that no employment in
Paris, whose intellectual stimulation he relished, or with the Habsburg imperial court was forthcoming.
House of Hanover, 1676ƒ1716
Leibniz managed to delay his arrival in Hanover until the end of 1676 after making one more short journey to
London, where he was later accused by Newton of being shown some of Newton's unpublished work on the
This fact was deemed evidence supporting the accusation, made decades later, that he had stolen the
calculus from Newton. On the journey from London to Hanover, Leibniz stopped in The Hague where he met
Leeuwenhoek, the discoverer of microorganisms. He also spent several days in intense discussion with Spinoza, who
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
had just completed his masterwork, the Ethics.
Leibniz respected Spinoza's powerful intellect, but was dismayed
by his conclusions that contradicted both Christian and Jewish orthodoxy.
In 1677, he was promoted, at his request, to Privy Counselor of Justice, a post he held for the rest of his life. Leibniz
served three consecutive rulers of the House of Brunswick as historian, political adviser, and most consequentially,
as librarian of the ducal library. He thenceforth employed his pen on all the various political, historical, and
theological matters involving the House of Brunswick; the resulting documents form a valuable part of the historical
record for the period.
Among the few people in north Germany to accept Leibniz were the Electress Sophia of Hanover (1630•1714), her
daughter Sophia Charlotte of Hanover (1668•1705), the Queen of Prussia and his avowed disciple, and Caroline of
Ansbach, the consort of her grandson, the future George II. To each of these women he was correspondent, adviser,
and friend. In turn, they all approved of Leibniz more than did their spouses and the future king George I of Great
The population of Hanover was only about 10,000, and its provinciality eventually grated on Leibniz. Nevertheless,
to be a major courtier to the House of Brunswick was quite an honor, especially in light of the meteoric rise in the
prestige of that House during Leibniz's association with it. In 1692, the Duke of Brunswick became a hereditary
Elector of the Holy Roman Empire. The British Act of Settlement 1701 designated the Electress Sophia and her
descent as the royal family of England, once both King William III and his sister-in-law and successor, Queen Anne,
were dead. Leibniz played a role in the initiatives and negotiations leading up to that Act, but not always an effective
one. For example, something he published anonymously in England, thinking to promote the Brunswick cause, was
formally censured by the British Parliament.
The Brunswicks tolerated the enormous effort Leibniz devoted to intellectual pursuits unrelated to his duties as a
courtier, pursuits such as perfecting the calculus, writing about other mathematics, logic, physics, and philosophy,
and keeping up a vast correspondence. He began working on the calculus in 1674; the earliest evidence of its use in
his surviving notebooks is 1675. By 1677 he had a coherent system in hand, but did not publish it until 1684.
Leibniz's most important mathematical papers were published between 1682 and 1692, usually in a journal which he
and Otto Mencke founded in 1682, the Acta Eruditorum. That journal played a key role in advancing his
mathematical and scientific reputation, which in turn enhanced his eminence in diplomacy, history, theology, and
The Elector Ernest Augustus commissioned Leibniz to write a history of the House of Brunswick, going back to the
time of Charlemagne or earlier, hoping that the resulting book would advance his dynastic ambitions. From 1687 to
1690, Leibniz traveled extensively in Germany, Austria, and Italy, seeking and finding archival materials bearing on
this project. Decades went by but no history appeared; the next Elector became quite annoyed at Leibniz's apparent
dilatoriness. Leibniz never finished the project, in part because of his huge output on many other fronts, but also
because he insisted on writing a meticulously researched and erudite book based on archival sources, when his
patrons would have been quite happy with a short popular book, one perhaps little more than a genealogy with
commentary, to be completed in three years or less. They never knew that he had in fact carried out a fair part of his
assigned task: when the material Leibniz had written and collected for his history of the House of Brunswick was
finally published in the 19th century, it filled three volumes.
In 1708, John Keill, writing in the journal of the Royal Society and with Newton's presumed blessing, accused
Leibniz of having plagiarized Newton's calculus.
Thus began the calculus priority dispute which darkened the
remainder of Leibniz's life. A formal investigation by the Royal Society (in which Newton was an unacknowledged
participant), undertaken in response to Leibniz's demand for a retraction, upheld Keill's charge. Historians of
mathematics writing since 1900 or so have tended to acquit Leibniz, pointing to important differences between
Leibniz's and Newton's versions of the calculus.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Leibniz's correspondence, papers and notes from 1669-1704,
National Library of Poland.
In 1711, while traveling in northern Europe, the
Russian Tsar Peter the Great stopped in Hanover and
met Leibniz, who then took some interest in Russian
matters for the rest of his life. In 1712, Leibniz began a
two-year residence in Vienna, where he was appointed
Imperial Court Councillor to the Habsburgs. On the
death of Queen Anne in 1714, Elector George Louis
became King George I of Great Britain, under the terms
of the 1701 Act of Settlement. Even though Leibniz
had done much to bring about this happy event, it was
not to be his hour of glory. Despite the intercession of
the Princess of Wales, Caroline of Ansbach, George I
forbade Leibniz to join him in London until he
completed at least one volume of the history of the
Brunswick family his father had commissioned nearly
30 years earlier. Moreover, for George I to include
Leibniz in his London court would have been deemed insulting to Newton, who was seen as having won the calculus
priority dispute and whose standing in British official circles could not have been higher. Finally, his dear friend and
defender, the Dowager Electress Sophia, died in 1714.
Leibniz died in Hanover in 1716: at the time, he was so out of favor that neither George I (who happened to be near
Hanover at the time) nor any fellow courtier other than his personal secretary attended the funeral. Even though
Leibniz was a life member of the Royal Society and the Berlin Academy of Sciences, neither organization saw fit to
honor his passing. His grave went unmarked for more than 50 years. Leibniz was eulogized by Fontenelle, before the
Academie des Sciences in Paris, which had admitted him as a foreign member in 1700. The eulogy was composed at
the behest of the Duchess of Orleans, a niece of the Electress Sophia.
Personal life
Leibniz never married. He complained on occasion about money, but the fair sum he left to his sole heir, his sister's
stepson, proved that the Brunswicks had, by and large, paid him well. In his diplomatic endeavors, he at times
verged on the unscrupulous, as was all too often the case with professional diplomats of his day. On several
occasions, Leibniz backdated and altered personal manuscripts, actions which put him in a bad light during the
calculus controversy. On the other hand, he was charming, well-mannered, and not without humor and
He had many friends and admirers all over Europe. On Leibniz's religious views, although he is
considered by some biographers as a deist since he did not believe in miracles and believed that Jesus Christ has no
real role in the universe, he was nonetheless a theist.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Leibniz's philosophical thinking appears fragmented, because his philosophical writings consist mainly of a
multitude of short pieces: journal articles, manuscripts published long after his death, and many letters to many
correspondents. He wrote only two book-length philosophical treatises, of which only the Thƒodicƒe of 1710 was
published in his lifetime.
Leibniz dated his beginning as a philosopher to his Discourse on Metaphysics, which he composed in 1686 as a
commentary on a running dispute between Nicolas Malebranche and Antoine Arnauld. This led to an extensive and
valuable correspondence with Arnauld;
it and the Discourse were not published until the 19th century. In 1695,
Leibniz made his public entr•e into European philosophy with a journal article titled "New System of the Nature and
Communication of Substances".
Between 1695 and 1705, he composed his New Essays on Human
Understanding, a lengthy commentary on John Locke's 1690 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, but upon
learning of Locke's 1704 death, lost the desire to publish it, so that the New Essays were not published until 1765.
The Monadologie, composed in 1714 and published posthumously, consists of 90 aphorisms.
Leibniz met Spinoza in 1676, read some of his unpublished writings, and has since been suspected of appropriating
some of Spinoza's ideas. While Leibniz admired Spinoza's powerful intellect, he was also forthrightly dismayed by
Spinoza's conclusions,
especially when these were inconsistent with Christian orthodoxy.
Unlike Descartes and Spinoza, Leibniz had a thorough university education in philosophy. He was influenced by his
Leipzig professor Jakob Thomasius, who also supervised his BA thesis in philosophy. Leibniz also eagerly read
Francisco SuÑrez, a Spanish Jesuit respected even in Lutheran universities. Leibniz was deeply interested in the new
methods and conclusions of Descartes, Huygens, Newton, and Boyle, but viewed their work through a lens heavily
tinted by scholastic notions. Yet it remains the case that Leibniz's methods and concerns often anticipate the logic,
and analytic and linguistic philosophy of the 20th century.
The Principles
Leibniz variously invoked one or another of seven fundamental philosophical Principles:
€ Identity/contradiction. If a proposition is true, then its negation is false and vice versa.
€ Identity of indiscernibles. Two distinct things cannot have all their properties in common. If every predicate
possessed by x is also possessed by y and vice versa, then entities x and y are identical; to suppose two things
indiscernible is to suppose the same thing under two names. Frequently invoked in modern logic and philosophy.
The "identity of indiscernibles" is often referred to as Leibniz's Law. It has attracted the most controversy and
criticism, especially from corpuscular philosophy and quantum mechanics.
€ Sufficient reason. "There must be a sufficient reason [often known only to God] for anything to exist, for any
event to occur, for any truth to obtain."
€ Pre-established harmony.
"[T]he appropriate nature of each substance brings it about that what happens to one
corresponds to what happens to all the others, without, however, their acting upon one another directly."
(Discourse on Metaphysics, XIV) A dropped glass shatters because it "knows" it has hit the ground, and not
because the impact with the ground "compels" the glass to split.
€ Law of Continuity. Natura non saltum facit.
€ Optimism. "God assuredly always chooses the best."
€ Plenitude. "Leibniz believed that the best of all possible worlds would actualize every genuine possibility, and
argued in Th•odic•e that this best of all possible worlds will contain all possibilities, with our finite experience of
eternity giving no reason to dispute nature's perfection."
Leibniz would on occasion give a rational defense of a specific principle, but more often took them for granted.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
The monads
Leibniz's best known contribution to metaphysics is his theory of monads, as exposited in Monadologie. According
to Leibniz, monads are elementary particles with blurred perception of each other. Monads can also be compared to
the corpuscles of the Mechanical Philosophy of Ren• Descartes and others. Monads are the ultimate elements of the
universe. The monads are "substantial forms of being" with the following properties: they are eternal,
indecomposable, individual, subject to their own laws, un-interacting, and each reflecting the entire universe in a
pre-established harmony (a historically important example of panpsychism). Monads are centers of force; substance
is force, while space, matter, and motion are merely phenomenal.
The ontological essence of a monad is its irreducible simplicity. Unlike atoms, monads possess no material or spatial
character. They also differ from atoms by their complete mutual independence, so that interactions among monads
are only apparent. Instead, by virtue of the principle of pre-established harmony, each monad follows a
preprogrammed set of "instructions" peculiar to itself, so that a monad "knows" what to do at each moment. (These
"instructions" may be seen as analogs of the scientific laws governing subatomic particles.) By virtue of these
intrinsic instructions, each monad is like a little mirror of the universe. Monads need not be "small"; e.g., each
human being constitutes a monad, in which case free will is problematic. God, too, is a monad, and the existence of
God can be inferred from the harmony prevailing among all other monads; God wills the pre-established harmony.
Monads are purported to have gotten rid of the problematic:
€ Interaction between mind and matter arising in the system of Descartes;
€ Lack of individuation inherent to the system of Spinoza, which represents individual creatures as merely
Theodicy and optimism
(Note that the word "optimism" here is used in the classic sense of optimal, not in the mood-related sense, as being
positively hopeful.)
The Theodicy
tries to justify the apparent imperfections of the world by claiming that it is optimal among all
possible worlds. It must be the best possible and most balanced world, because it was created by an all powerful and
all knowing God, who would not choose to create an imperfect world if a better world could be known to him or
possible to exist. In effect, apparent flaws that can be identified in this world must exist in every possible world,
because otherwise God would have chosen to create the world that excluded those flaws.
Leibniz asserted that the truths of theology (religion) and philosophy cannot contradict each other, since reason and
faith are both "gifts of God" so that their conflict would imply God contending against himself. The Theodicy is
Leibniz's attempt to reconcile his personal philosophical system with his interpretation of the tenets of
This project was motivated in part by Leibniz's belief, shared by many conservative philosophers
and theologians during the Enlightenment, in the rational and enlightened nature of the Christian religion, at least as
this was defined in tendentious comparisons between Christian and non Western or "primitive" religious practices
and beliefs. It was also shaped by Leibniz's belief in the perfectibility of human nature (if humanity relied on correct
philosophy and religion as a guide), and by his belief that metaphysical necessity must have a rational or logical
foundation, even if this metaphysical causality seemed inexplicable in terms of physical necessity (the natural laws
identified by science).
Because reason and faith must be entirely reconciled, any tenet of faith which could not be defended by reason must
be rejected. Leibniz then approached one of the central criticisms of Christian theism:
if God is all good, all wise
and all powerful, how did evil come into the world? The answer (according to Leibniz) is that, while God is indeed
unlimited in wisdom and power, his human creations, as creations, are limited both in their wisdom and in their will
(power to act). This predisposes humans to false beliefs, wrong decisions and ineffective actions in the exercise of
their free will. God does not arbitrarily inflict pain and suffering on humans; rather he permits both moral evil (sin)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
and physical evil (pain and suffering) as the necessary consequences of metaphysical evil (imperfection), as a means
by which humans can identify and correct their erroneous decisions, and as a contrast to true good.
Further, although human actions flow from prior causes that ultimately arise in God, and therefore are known as a
metaphysical certainty to God, an individual's free will is exercised within natural laws, where choices are merely
contingently necessary, to be decided in the event by a "wonderful spontaneity" that provides individuals an escape
from rigorous predestination.
This theory drew controversy and refutations, that are collected in the article Best of all possible worlds.
Symbolic thought
Leibniz believed that much of human reasoning could be reduced to calculations of a sort, and that such calculations
could resolve many differences of opinion:
The only way to rectify our reasonings is to make them as tangible as those of the Mathematicians, so
that we can find our error at a glance, and when there are disputes among persons, we can simply say:
Let us calculate [calculemus], without further ado, to see who is right.
Leibniz's calculus ratiocinator, which resembles symbolic logic, can be viewed as a way of making such calculations
feasible. Leibniz wrote memoranda
that can now be read as groping attempts to get symbolic logicˆand thus his
calculusˆoff the ground. But Gerhard and Couturat did not publish these writings until modern formal logic had
emerged in Frege's Begriffsschrift and in writings by Charles Sanders Peirce and his students in the 1880s, and hence
well after Boole and De Morgan began that logic in 1847.
Leibniz thought symbols were important for human understanding. He attached so much importance to the invention
of good notations that he attributed all his discoveries in mathematics to this. His notation for the infinitesimal
calculus is an example of his skill in this regard. C.S. Peirce, a 19th-century pioneer of semiotics, shared Leibniz's
passion for symbols and notation, and his belief that these are essential to a well-running logic and mathematics.
But Leibniz took his speculations much further. Defining a character as any written sign, he then defined a "real"
character as one that represents an idea directly and not simply as the word embodying the idea. Some real
characters, such as the notation of logic, serve only to facilitate reasoning. Many characters well known in his day,
including Egyptian hieroglyphics, Chinese characters, and the symbols of astronomy and chemistry, he deemed not
Instead, he proposed the creation of a characteristica universalis or "universal characteristic", built on an
alphabet of human thought in which each fundamental concept would be represented by a unique "real" character:
It is obvious that if we could find characters or signs suited for expressing all our thoughts as clearly and
as exactly as arithmetic expresses numbers or geometry expresses lines, we could do in all matters
insofar as they are subject to reasoning all that we can do in arithmetic and geometry. For all
investigations which depend on reasoning would be carried out by transposing these characters and by a
species of calculus.
Complex thoughts would be represented by combining characters for simpler thoughts. Leibniz saw that the
uniqueness of prime factorization suggests a central role for prime numbers in the universal characteristic, a striking
anticipation of G»del numbering. Granted, there is no intuitive or mnemonic way to number any set of elementary
concepts using the prime numbers. Leibniz's idea of reasoning through a universal language of symbols and
calculations however remarkably foreshadows great 20th century developments in formal systems, such as Turing
completeness, where computation was used to define equivalent universal languages (see Turing degree).
Because Leibniz was a mathematical novice when he first wrote about the characteristic, at first he did not conceive
it as an algebra but rather as a universal language or script. Only in 1676 did he conceive of a kind of "algebra of
thought", modeled on and including conventional algebra and its notation. The resulting characteristic included a
logical calculus, some combinatorics, algebra, his analysis situs (geometry of situation), a universal concept
language, and more.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
What Leibniz actually intended by his characteristica universalis and calculus ratiocinator, and the extent to which
modern formal logic does justice to the calculus, may never be established.
Formal logic
Leibniz is the most important logician between Aristotle and 1847, when George Boole and Augustus De Morgan
each published books that began modern formal logic. Leibniz enunciated the principal properties of what we now
call conjunction, disjunction, negation, identity, set inclusion, and the empty set. The principles of Leibniz's logic
and, arguably, of his whole philosophy, reduce to two:
1. All our ideas are compounded from a very small number of simple ideas, which form the alphabet of human
2. 2. Complex ideas proceed from these simple ideas by a uniform and symmetrical combination, analogous to
arithmetical multiplication.
The formal logic that emerged early in the 20th century also requires, at minimum, unary negation and quantified
variables ranging over some universe of discourse.
Leibniz published nothing on formal logic in his lifetime; most of what he wrote on the subject consists of working
drafts. In his book History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell went so far as to claim that Leibniz had
developed logic in his unpublished writings to a level which was reached only 200 years later.
Although the mathematical notion of function was implicit in trigonometric and logarithmic tables, which existed in
his day, Leibniz was the first, in 1692 and 1694, to employ it explicitly, to denote any of several geometric concepts
derived from a curve, such as abscissa, ordinate, tangent, chord, and the perpendicular.
In the 18th century,
"function" lost these geometrical associations.
Leibniz was the first to see that the coefficients of a system of linear equations could be arranged into an array, now
called a matrix, which can be manipulated to find the solution of the system, if any. This method was later called
Gaussian elimination. Leibniz's discoveries of Boolean algebra and of symbolic logic, also relevant to mathematics,
are discussed in the preceding section. The best overview of Leibniz's writings on the calculus may be found in Bos
Leibniz is credited, along with Sir Isaac Newton, with the invention of infinitesimal calculus (that comprises
differential and integral calculus). According to Leibniz's notebooks, a critical breakthrough occurred on November
11, 1675, when he employed integral calculus for the first time to find the area under the graph of a function y = ‹(x).
He introduced several notations used to this day, for instance the integral sign ’ representing an elongated S, from
the Latin word summa and the d used for differentials, from the Latin word differentia. This cleverly suggestive
notation for the calculus is probably his most enduring mathematical legacy. Leibniz did not publish anything about
his calculus until 1684.
The product rule of differential calculus is still called "Leibniz's law". In addition, the
theorem that tells how and when to differentiate under the integral sign is called the Leibniz integral rule.
Leibniz exploited infinitesimals in developing the calculus, manipulating them in ways suggesting that they had
paradoxical algebraic properties. George Berkeley, in a tract called The Analyst and also in De Motu, criticized these.
A recent study argues that Leibnizian calculus was free of contradictions, and was better grounded than Berkeley's
empiricist criticisms.
From 1711 until his death, Leibniz was engaged in a dispute with John Keill, Newton and others, over whether
Leibniz had invented the calculus independently of Newton. This subject is treated at length in the article
Leibniz-Newton controversy.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Infinitesimals were officially banned from mathematics by the followers of Karl Weierstrass, but survived in science
and engineering, and even in rigorous mathematics, via the fundamental computational device known as the
differential. Beginning in 1960, Abraham Robinson worked out a rigorous foundation for Leibniz's infinitesimals,
using model theory, in the context of a field of hyperreal numbers. The resulting non-standard analysis can be seen
as a belated vindication of Leibniz's mathematical reasoning. Robinson's transfer principle is a mathematical
implementation of Leibniz's heuristic law of continuity, while the standard part function implements the Leibnizian
transcendental law of homogeneity.
Leibniz was the first to use the term analysis situs,
later used in the 19th century to refer to what is now known as
topology. There are two takes on this situation. On the one hand, Mates, citing a 1954 paper in German by Jacob
Freudenthal, argues:
Although for Leibniz the situs of a sequence of points is completely determined by the distance between
them and is altered if those distances are altered, his admirer Euler, in the famous 1736 paper solving the
K»nigsberg Bridge Problem and its generalizations, used the term geometria situs in such a sense that
the situs remains unchanged under topological deformations. He mistakenly credits Leibniz with
originating this concept. ...it is sometimes not realized that Leibniz used the term in an entirely different
sense and hence can hardly be considered the founder of that part of mathematics.
But Hideaki Hirano argues differently, quoting Mandelbrot:
To sample Leibniz' scientific works is a sobering experience. Next to calculus, and to other thoughts that
have been carried out to completion, the number and variety of premonitory thrusts is overwhelming.
We saw examples in 'packing,'... My Leibniz mania is further reinforced by finding that for one moment
its hero attached importance to geometric scaling. In "Euclidis Prota"..., which is an attempt to tighten
Euclid's axioms, he states,...: 'I have diverse definitions for the straight line. The straight line is a curve,
any part of which is similar to the whole, and it alone has this property, not only among curves but
among sets.' This claim can be proved today.
Thus the fractal geometry promoted by Mandelbrot drew on Leibniz's notions of self-similarity and the principle of
continuity: natura non facit saltus. We also see that when Leibniz wrote, in a metaphysical vein, that "the straight
line is a curve, any part of which is similar to the whole", he was anticipating topology by more than two centuries.
As for "packing", Leibniz told to his friend and correspondent Des Bosses to imagine a circle, then to inscribe within
it three congruent circles with maximum radius; the latter smaller circles could be filled with three even smaller
circles by the same procedure. This process can be continued infinitely, from which arises a good idea of
self-similarity. Leibniz's improvement of Euclid's axiom contains the same concept.
Scientist and engineer
Leibniz's writings are currently discussed, not only for their anticipations and possible discoveries not yet
recognized, but as ways of advancing present knowledge. Much of his writing on physics is included in Gerhardt's
Mathematical Writings.
Leibniz contributed a fair amount to the statics and dynamics emerging about him, often disagreeing with Descartes
and Newton. He devised a new theory of motion (dynamics) based on kinetic energy and potential energy, which
posited space as relative, whereas Newton was thoroughly convinced that space was absolute. An important example
of Leibniz's mature physical thinking is his Specimen Dynamicum of 1695.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Until the discovery of subatomic particles and the quantum mechanics governing them, many of Leibniz's
speculative ideas about aspects of nature not reducible to statics and dynamics made little sense. For instance, he
anticipated Albert Einstein by arguing, against Newton, that space, time and motion are relative, not absolute.
Leibniz's rule is an important, if often overlooked, step in many proofs in diverse fields of physics. The principle of
sufficient reason has been invoked in recent cosmology, and his identity of indiscernibles in quantum mechanics, a
field some even credit him with having anticipated in some sense. Those who advocate digital philosophy, a recent
direction in cosmology, claim Leibniz as a precursor.
The vis viva
Leibniz's vis viva (Latin for living force) is mv
, twice the modern kinetic energy. He realized that the total energy
would be conserved in certain mechanical systems, so he considered it an innate motive characteristic of matter.
Here too his thinking gave rise to another regrettable nationalistic dispute. His vis viva was seen as rivaling the
conservation of momentum championed by Newton in England and by Descartes in France; hence academics in
those countries tended to neglect Leibniz's idea. In reality, both energy and momentum are conserved, so the two
approaches are equally valid.
Other natural science
By proposing that the earth has a molten core, he anticipated modern geology. In embryology, he was a
preformationist, but also proposed that organisms are the outcome of a combination of an infinite number of possible
microstructures and of their powers. In the life sciences and paleontology, he revealed an amazing transformist
intuition, fueled by his study of comparative anatomy and fossils. One of his principal works on this subject,
Protogaea, unpublished in his lifetime, has recently been published in English for the first time. He worked out a
primal organismic theory.
In medicine, he exhorted the physicians of his timeˆwith some resultsˆto ground
their theories in detailed comparative observations and verified experiments, and to distinguish firmly scientific and
metaphysical points of view.
Social science
In psychology,
he anticipated the distinction between conscious and unconscious states. In public health, he
advocated establishing a medical administrative authority, with powers over epidemiology and veterinary medicine.
He worked to set up a coherent medical training programme, oriented towards public health and preventive
measures. In economic policy, he proposed tax reforms and a national insurance program, and discussed the balance
of trade. He even proposed something akin to what much later emerged as game theory. In sociology he laid the
ground for communication theory.
In 1906, Garland published a volume of Leibniz's writings bearing on his many practical inventions and engineering
work. To date, few of these writings have been translated into English. Nevertheless, it is well understood that
Leibniz was a serious inventor, engineer, and applied scientist, with great respect for practical life. Following the
motto theoria cum praxis, he urged that theory be combined with practical application, and thus has been claimed as
the father of applied science. He designed wind-driven propellers and water pumps, mining machines to extract ore,
hydraulic presses, lamps, submarines, clocks, etc. With Denis Papin, he invented a steam engine. He even proposed a
method for desalinating water. From 1680 to 1685, he struggled to overcome the chronic flooding that afflicted the
ducal silver mines in the Harz Mountains, but did not succeed.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Leibniz may have been the first computer scientist and information theorist.
Early in life, he documented the
binary numeral system (base 2), then revisited that system throughout his career.
He anticipated Lagrangian
interpolation and algorithmic information theory. His calculus ratiocinator anticipated aspects of the universal Turing
machine. In 1934, Norbert Wiener claimed to have found in Leibniz's writings a mention of the concept of feedback,
central to Wiener's later cybernetic theory.
In 1671, Leibniz began to invent a machine that could execute all four arithmetical operations, gradually improving
it over a number of years. This "Stepped Reckoner" attracted fair attention and was the basis of his election to the
Royal Society in 1673. A number of such machines were made during his years in Hanover, by a craftsman working
under Leibniz's supervision. It was not an unambiguous success because it did not fully mechanize the operation of
carrying. Couturat reported finding an unpublished note by Leibniz, dated 1674, describing a machine capable of
performing some algebraic operations.
Leibniz also devised a (now reproduced) cipher machine, recovered by
Nicholas Rescher in 2010.
Leibniz was groping towards hardware and software concepts worked out much later by Charles Babbage and Ada
Lovelace. In 1679, while mulling over his binary arithmetic, Leibniz imagined a machine in which binary numbers
were represented by marbles, governed by a rudimentary sort of punched cards.
Modern electronic digital
computers replace Leibniz's marbles moving by gravity with shift registers, voltage gradients, and pulses of
electrons, but otherwise they run roughly as Leibniz envisioned in 1679.
While serving as librarian of the ducal libraries in Hanover and Wolfenbuettel, Leibniz effectively became one of the
founders of library science. The latter library was enormous for its day, as it contained more than 100,000 volumes,
and Leibniz helped design a new building for it, believed to be the first building explicitly designed to be a library.
He also designed a book indexing system in ignorance of the only other such system then extant, that of the Bodleian
Library at Oxford University. He also called on publishers to distribute abstracts of all new titles they produced each
year, in a standard form that would facilitate indexing. He hoped that this abstracting project would eventually
include everything printed from his day back to Gutenberg. Neither proposal met with success at the time, but
something like them became standard practice among English language publishers during the 20th century, under the
aegis of the Library of Congress and the British Library.
He called for the creation of an empirical database as a way to further all sciences. His characteristica universalis,
calculus ratiocinator, and a "community of minds"ˆintended, among other things, to bring political and religious
unity to Europeˆcan be seen as distant unwitting anticipations of artificial languages (e.g., Esperanto and its rivals),
symbolic logic, even the World Wide Web.
Advocate of scientific societies
Leibniz emphasized that research was a collaborative endeavor. Hence he warmly advocated the formation of
national scientific societies along the lines of the British Royal Society and the French Academie Royale des
Sciences. More specifically, in his correspondence and travels he urged the creation of such societies in Dresden,
Saint Petersburg, Vienna, and Berlin. Only one such project came to fruition; in 1700, the Berlin Academy of
Sciences was created. Leibniz drew up its first statutes, and served as its first President for the remainder of his life.
That Academy evolved into the German Academy of Sciences, the publisher of the ongoing critical edition of his
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Lawyer, moralist
With the possible exception of Marcus Aurelius, no philosopher has ever had as much experience with practical
affairs of state as Leibniz. Leibniz's writings on law, ethics, and politics
were long overlooked by
English-speaking scholars, but this has changed of late.
While Leibniz was no apologist for absolute monarchy like Hobbes, or for tyranny in any form, neither did he echo
the political and constitutional views of his contemporary John Locke, views invoked in support of democracy, in
18th-century America and later elsewhere. The following excerpt from a 1695 letter to Baron J. C. Boyneburg's son
Philipp is very revealing of Leibniz's political sentiments:
As for.. the great question of the power of sovereigns and the obedience their peoples owe them, I
usually say that it would be good for princes to be persuaded that their people have the right to resist
them, and for the people, on the other hand, to be persuaded to obey them passively. I am, however,
quite of the opinion of Grotius, that one ought to obey as a rule, the evil of revolution being greater
beyond comparison than the evils causing it. Yet I recognize that a prince can go to such excess, and
place the well-being of the state in such danger, that the obligation to endure ceases. This is most rare,
however, and the theologian who authorizes violence under this pretext should take care against excess;
excess being infinitely more dangerous than deficiency.
In 1677, Leibniz called for a European confederation, governed by a council or senate, whose members would
represent entire nations and would be free to vote their consciences;
this is sometimes tendentiously considered
an anticipation of the European Union. He believed that Europe would adopt a uniform religion. He reiterated these
proposals in 1715.
Leibniz devoted considerable intellectual and diplomatic effort to what would now be called ecumenical endeavor,
seeking to reconcile first the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches, later the Lutheran and Reformed churches. In
this respect, he followed the example of his early patrons, Baron von Boyneburg and the Duke John Frederickˆboth
cradle Lutherans who converted to Catholicism as adultsˆwho did what they could to encourage the reunion of the
two faiths, and who warmly welcomed such endeavors by others. (The House of Brunswick remained Lutheran
because the Duke's children did not follow their father.) These efforts included corresponding with the French bishop
Jacques-B•nigne Bossuet, and involved Leibniz in a fair bit of theological controversy. He evidently thought that the
thoroughgoing application of reason would suffice to heal the breach caused by the Reformation.
Leibniz the philologist was an avid student of languages, eagerly latching on to any information about vocabulary
and grammar that came his way. He refuted the belief, widely held by Christian scholars in his day, that Hebrew was
the primeval language of the human race. He also refuted the argument, advanced by Swedish scholars in his day,
that a form of proto-Swedish was the ancestor of the Germanic languages. He puzzled over the origins of the Slavic
languages, was aware of the existence of Sanskrit, and was fascinated by classical Chinese.
He published the princeps editio (first modern edition) of the late medieval Chronicon Holtzatiae, a Latin chronicle
of the County of Holstein.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Leibniz was perhaps the first major European intellect to take a close interest in Chinese civilization, which he knew
by corresponding with, and reading other works by, European Christian missionaries posted in China. Having read
Confucius Sinicus Philosophus on the first year of its publication,
he concluded that Europeans could learn much
from the Confucian ethical tradition. He mulled over the possibility that the Chinese characters were an unwitting
form of his universal characteristic. He noted with fascination how the I Ching hexagrams correspond to the binary
numbers from 0 to 111111, and concluded that this mapping was evidence of major Chinese accomplishments in the
sort of philosophical mathematics he admired.
Leibniz's attraction to Chinese philosophy originates from his perception that Chinese philosophy was similar to his
The historian E.R. Hughes suggests that Leibniz's ideas of "simple substance" and "pre-established
harmony" were directly influenced by Confucianism, pointing to the fact that they were conceived during the period
that he was reading Confucius Sinicus Philosophus.
As polymath
While making his grand tour of European archives to research the Brunswick family history that he never completed,
Leibniz stopped in Vienna between May 1688 and February 1689, where he did much legal and diplomatic work for
the Brunswicks. He visited mines, talked with mine engineers, and tried to negotiate export contracts for lead from
the ducal mines in the Harz mountains. His proposal that the streets of Vienna be lit with lamps burning rapeseed oil
was implemented. During a formal audience with the Austrian Emperor and in subsequent memoranda, he advocated
reorganizing the Austrian economy, reforming the coinage of much of central Europe, negotiating a Concordat
between the Habsburgs and the Vatican, and creating an imperial research library, official archive, and public
insurance fund. He wrote and published an important paper on mechanics.
Leibniz also wrote a short paper, first published by Louis Couturat in 1903,
summarizing his views on
metaphysics. The paper is undated; that he wrote it while in Vienna was determined only in 1999, when the ongoing
critical edition finally published Leibniz's philosophical writings for the period 1677•90. Couturat's reading of this
paper was the launching point for much 20th-century thinking about Leibniz, especially among analytic
philosophers. But after a meticulous study of all of Leibniz's philosophical writings up to 1688ˆa study the 1999
additions to the critical edition made possibleˆMercer (2001) begged to differ with Couturat's reading; the jury is
still out.
Posthumous reputation
As a mathematician and philosopher
When Leibniz died, his reputation was in decline. He was remembered for only one book, the Thƒodicƒe, whose
supposed central argument Voltaire lampooned in his Candide. Voltaire's depiction of Leibniz's ideas was so
influential that many believed it to be an accurate description. Thus Voltaire and his Candide bear some of the blame
for the lingering failure to appreciate and understand Leibniz's ideas. Leibniz had an ardent disciple, Christian Wolff,
whose dogmatic and facile outlook did Leibniz's reputation much harm. He also influenced David Hume who read
his Thƒodicƒe and used some of his ideas.
In any event, philosophical fashion was moving away from the
rationalism and system building of the 17th century, of which Leibniz had been such an ardent proponent. His work
on law, diplomacy, and history was seen as of ephemeral interest. The vastness and richness of his correspondence
went unrecognized.
Much of Europe came to doubt that Leibniz had discovered the calculus independently of Newton, and hence his
whole work in mathematics and physics was neglected. Voltaire, an admirer of Newton, also wrote Candide at least
in part to discredit Leibniz's claim to having discovered the calculus and Leibniz's charge that Newton's theory of
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
universal gravitation was incorrect. The rise of relativity and subsequent work in the history of mathematics has put
Leibniz's stance in a more favorable light.
Leibniz's long march to his present glory began with the 1765 publication of the Nouveaux Essais, which Kant read
closely. In 1768, Dutens edited the first multi-volume edition of Leibniz's writings, followed in the 19th century by a
number of editions, including those edited by Erdmann, Foucher de Careil, Gerhardt, Gerland, Klopp, and Mollat.
Publication of Leibniz's correspondence with notables such as Antoine Arnauld, Samuel Clarke, Sophia of Hanover,
and her daughter Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, began.
In 1900, Bertrand Russell published a critical study of Leibniz's metaphysics.
Shortly thereafter, Louis Couturat
published an important study of Leibniz, and edited a volume of Leibniz's heretofore unpublished writings, mainly
on logic. They made Leibniz somewhat respectable among 20th-century analytical and linguistic philosophers in the
English-speaking world (Leibniz had already been of great influence to many Germans such as Bernhard Riemann).
For example, Leibniz's phrase salva veritate, meaning interchangeability without loss of or compromising the truth,
recurs in Willard Quine's writings. Nevertheless, the secondary English-language literature on Leibniz did not really
blossom until after World War II. This is especially true of English speaking countries; in Gregory Brown's
bibliography fewer than 30 of the English language entries were published before 1946. American Leibniz studies
owe much to Leroy Loemker (1904•85) through his translations and his interpretive essays in LeClerc (1973).
Nicholas Jolley has surmised that Leibniz's reputation as a philosopher is now perhaps higher than at any time since
he was alive.
Analytic and contemporary philosophy continue to invoke his notions of identity, individuation, and
possible worlds, while the doctrinaire contempt for metaphysics, characteristic of analytic and linguistic philosophy,
has faded. Work in the history of 17th- and 18th-century ideas has revealed more clearly the 17th-century
"Intellectual Revolution" that preceded the better-known Industrial and commercial revolutions of the 18th and 19th
centuries. The 17th- and 18th-century belief that natural science, especially physics, differs from philosophy mainly
in degree and not in kind, is no longer dismissed out of hand. That modern science includes a "scholastic" as well as
a "radical empiricist" element is more accepted now than in the early 20th century. Leibniz's thought is now seen as a
major prolongation of the mighty endeavor begun by Plato and Aristotle: the universe and man's place in it are
amenable to human reason.
In 1985, the German government created the Leibniz Prize, offering an annual award of 1.55 million euros for
experimental results and 770,000 euros for theoretical ones. It is the world's largest prize for scientific achievement.
The collection of manuscript papers of Leibniz at the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek • Nieders¤chische
Landesbibliothek were inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2007.
Leibniz biscuits
Leibniz-Keks, a popular brand of biscuits, are named after Gottfried Leibniz. These biscuits honour Leibniz because
he was a resident of Hanover, where the company is based.
Writings and edition
Leibniz mainly wrote in three languages: scholastic Latin, French and German. During his lifetime, he published
many pamphlets and scholarly articles, but only two "philosophical" books, the Combinatorial Art and the
Thƒodicƒe. (He published numerous pamphlets, often anonymous, on behalf of the House of Brunswick-L·neburg,
most notably the "De jure suprematum" a major consideration of the nature of sovereignty.) One substantial book
appeared posthumously, his Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement humain, which Leibniz had withheld from
publication after the death of John Locke. Only in 1895, when Bodemann completed his catalogues of Leibniz's
manuscripts and correspondence, did the enormous extent of Leibniz's Nachlass become clear: about 15,000 letters
to more than 1000 recipients plus more than 40,000 other items. Moreover, quite a few of these letters are of essay
length. Much of his vast correspondence, especially the letters dated after 1685, remains unpublished, and much of
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
what is published has been so only in recent decades. The amount, variety, and disorder of Leibniz's writings are a
predictable result of a situation he described in a letter as follows:
I cannot tell you how extraordinarily distracted and spread out I am. I am trying to find various things in
the archives; I look at old papers and hunt up unpublished documents. From these I hope to shed some
light on the history of the [House of] Brunswick. I receive and answer a huge number of letters. At the
same time, I have so many mathematical results, philosophical thoughts, and other literary innovations
that should not be allowed to vanish that I often do not know where to begin.
The extant parts of the critical edition
of Leibniz's writings are organized as follows:
€ Series 1. Political, Historical, and General Correspondence. 21 vols., 1666•1701.
€ Series 2. Philosophical Correspondence. 1 vol., 1663•85.
€ Series 3. Mathematical, Scientific, and Technical Correspondence. 6 vols., 1672•96.
€ Series 4. Political Writings. 6 vols., 1667•98.
€ Series 5. Historical and Linguistic Writings. Inactive.
€ Series 6. Philosophical Writings. 7 vols., 1663•90, and Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement humain.
€ Series 7. Mathematical Writings. 3 vols., 1672•76.
€ Series 8. Scientific, Medical, and Technical Writings. In preparation.
The systematic cataloguing of all of Leibniz's Nachlass began in 1901. It was hampered by two world wars, the Nazi
dictatorship (with the Holocaust, which affected a Jewish employee of the project, and other personal consequences),
and decades of German division (two states with the cold war's "iron curtain" in between, separating scholars and
also scattering portions of his literary estates). The ambitious project has had to deal with seven languages contained
in some 200,000 pages of written and printed paper. In 1985 it was reorganized and included in a joint program of
German federal and state (LŒnder) academies. Since then the branches in Potsdam, M·nster, Hanover and Berlin
have jointly published 25 volumes of the critical edition, with an average of 870 pages, and prepared index and
concordance works.
Selected works
The year given is usually that in which the work was completed, not of its eventual publication.
€ 1666. De Arte Combinatoria (On the Art of Combination); partially translated in Loemker º1 and Parkinson
€ 1671. Hypothesis Physica Nova (New Physical Hypothesis); Loemker º8.I (partial).
€ 1673 Confessio philosophi (A Philosopher's Creed); an English translation is available.
€ 1684. Nova methodus pro maximis et minimis (New method for maximums and minimums); translated in Struik,
D. J., 1969. A Source Book in Mathematics, 1200€1800. Harvard University Press: 271•81.
€ 1686. Discours de mƒtaphysique; Martin and Brown (1988), Ariew and Garber 35, Loemker º35, Wiener III.3,
Woolhouse and Francks 1. An online translation
by Jonathan Bennett is available.
€ 1703. Explication de l'Arithmƒtique Binaire (Explanation of Binary Arithmetic); Gerhardt, Mathematical Writings
VII.223. An online translation
by Lloyd Strickland is available.
€ 1710. Thƒodicƒe; Farrer, A.M., and Huggard, E.M., trans., 1985 (1952). Wiener III.11 (part). An online
is available at Project Gutenberg.
€ 1714. Monadologie; translated by Nicholas Rescher, 1991. The Monadology: An Edition for Students. University
of Pittsburg Press. Ariew and Garber 213, Loemker º67, Wiener III.13, Woolhouse and Francks 19. Online
translations: Jonathan Bennett's translation
; Latta's translation
; French, Latin and Spanish edition, with
facsimile of Leibniz's manuscript.
€ 1765. Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement humain; completed in 1704. Remnant, Peter, and Bennett, Jonathan,
trans., 1996. New Essays on Human Understanding. Cambridge University Press. Wiener III.6 (part). An online
by Jonathan Bennett is available.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Five important collections of English translations are Wiener (1951), Loemker (1969), Ariew and Garber (1989),
Woolhouse and Francks (1998), and Strickland (2006). The ongoing critical edition of all of Leibniz's writings is
SŒmtliche Schriften und Briefe.
[1] The History of Philosophy, Vol. IV: Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Leibniz by Frederick C. Copleston (1958)
[2] Franz Exner, "•ber Leibnitz'ens Universal-Wissenschaft", 1843; "Universalwissenschaft" (http:/ / www. zeno. org/ Meyers-1905/ A/
Universalwissenschaft) in the Meyers GroÒes Konversations-Lexikon; Stanley Burris, "Leibniz's Influence on 19th Century Logic" (http:/ /
plato. stanford.edu/ entries/ leibniz-logic-influence/ ), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
[3] Max Mangold (ed.), ed. (2005) (in German). Duden-Aussprachew€rterbuch (Duden Pronunciation Dictionary) (7th ed.). Mannheim:
Bibliographisches Institut GmbH. ISBN 978-3-411-04066-7.
[4] Eva-Maria Krech et al. (ed.), ed. (2010) (in German). Deutsches Aussprachew€rterbuch (German Pronunciation Dictionary) (1st ed.). Berlin:
Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG. ISBN 978-3-11-018203-3.
[5] [5] David Smith, p.173-181 (1929)
[6] Roughly 40%, 30%, and 15%, respectively. www.gwlb.de (http:/ / www. gwlb. de/ Leibniz/ Leibniz-Nachlass/ index. htm). Leibniz-Nachlass
(i.e. Legacy of Leibniz), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek (one of the three Official Libraries of the German state Lower Saxony).
[7] Baird, Forrest E.; Walter Kaufmann (2008). From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
ISBN 0-13-158591-6.
[8] Leibnitiana (http:/ / www. gwleibniz.com/ friedrich_leibniz/ friedrich_leibniz. html)
[9] Johann Amos Comenius, Comenius in England, Oxford University Press, 1932, p. 6
[10] [10] Mackie (1845), 21
[11] [11] Mackie (1845), 22
[12] [12] Mackie (1845), 26
[13] Jolley, Nicholas (1995). The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz. Cambridge University Press.:20
[14] [14] Mackie (1845), 38
[15] [15] Mackie (1845), 39
[16] [16] Mackie (1845), 40
[17] [17] Aiton 1985: 312
[18] [18] Mackie (1845), 41-42
[19] [19] Mackie (1845), 43
[20] [20] Mackie (1845), 44-45
[21] [21] Mackie (1845), 58-61
[22] [22] Mackie (1845), 69-70
[23] [23] Mackie (1845), 73-74
[24] On the encounter between Newton and Leibniz and a review of the evidence, see Alfred Rupert Hall, Philosophers at War: The Quarrel
Between Newton and Leibniz (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 44•69.
[25] [25] Mackie (1845), 117-118
[26] For a recent study of Leibniz's correspondence with Sophia Charlotte, see MacDonald Ross (http:/ / www. philosophy. leeds. ac. uk/ GMR/
homepage/ sophiec.html) (1998).
[27] [27] Mackie (1845), 109
[28] See Wiener IV.6 and Loemker º 40. Also see a curious passage titled "Leibniz's Philosophical Dream," first published by Bodemann in 1895
and translated on p. 253 of Morris, Mary, ed. and trans., 1934. Philosophical Writings. Dent & Sons Ltd.
[29] Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (2012). Peter Loptson. ed. Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Writings. Broadview Press. pp. 23•24.
ISBN 9781554810116. "The answer is unknowable, but it may not be unreasonable to see him, at least in theological terms, as essentially a
deist. He is a determinist: there are no miracles (the events so called being merely instances of infrequently occurring natural laws); Christ has
no real role in the system; we live forever, and hence we carry on after our deaths, but then everything ˆ every individual substance ˆ
carries on forever. Nonetheless, Leibniz is a theist. His system is generated from, and needs, the postulate of a creative god. In fact, though,
despite Leibniz's protestations, his God is more the architect and engineer of the vast complex world-system than the embodiment of love of
Christian orthodoxy."
[30] Christopher Ernest Cosans (2009). Owen's Ape & Darwin's Bulldog: Beyond Darwinism and Creationism. Indiana University Press.
pp. 102•103. ISBN 9780253220516. "In advancing his system of mechanics, Newton claimed that collisions of celestial objects would cause a
loss of energy that would require God to intervene from time to time to maintain order in the solar system (Vailati 1997, 37•42). In criticizing
this implication, Leibniz remarks: "Sir Isaac Newton and his followers have also a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According
to their doctrine, God Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time; otherwise it would cease to move." (Leibniz 1715, 675) Leibniz
argues that any scientific theory that relies on God to perform miracles after He had first made the universe indicates that God lacked
sufficient foresight or power to establish adequate natural laws in the first place. In defense of Newton's theism, Clarke is unapologetic: "'tis
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
not a diminution but the true glory of his workmanship that nothing is done without his continual government and inspection"' (Leibniz 1715,
676•677). Clarke is believed to have consulted closely with Newton on how to respond to Leibniz. He asserts that Leibniz's deism leads to
"the notion of materialism and fate" (1715, 677), because it excludes God from the daily workings of nature."
[31] Andreas Sofroniou (2007). Moral Philosophy, from Hippocrates to the 21st Aeon. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781847534637. "In a commentary on
Shaftesbury published in 1720, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a Rationalist philosopher and mathematician, accepted the Deist conception of
God as an intelligent Creator but refused the contention that a god who metes out punishments is evil."
[32] Shelby D. Hunt (2003). Controversy in Marketing Theory: For Reason, Realism, Truth, and Objectivity. M.E. Sharpe. p. 33.
ISBN 9780765609311. "Consistent with the liberal views of the Enlightenment, Leibniz was an optimist with respect to human reasoning and
scientific progress (Popper 1963, p.69). Although he was a great reader and admirer of Spinoza, Leibniz, being a confirmed deist, rejected
emphatically Spinoza's pantheism: God and nature, for Leibniz, were not simply two different "labels" for the same "thing"."
[33] Ariew & Garber, 69; Loemker, ºº36, 38
[34] Ariew & Garber, 138; Loemker, º47; Wiener, II.4
[35] Ariew & Garber, 272•84; Loemker, ºº14, 20, 21; Wiener, III.8
[36] [36] Mates (1986), chpts. 7.3, 9
[37] [37] Loemker 717
[38] See Jolley (1995: 129•31), Woolhouse and Francks (1998), and Mercer (2001).
[39] [39] Loemker 311
[40] For a precis of what Leibniz meant by these and other Principles, see Mercer (2001: 473•84). For a classic discussion of Sufficient Reason
and Plenitude, see Lovejoy (1957).
[41] Rutherford (1998) is a detailed scholarly study of Leibniz's theodicy.
[42] Magill, Frank (ed.). Masterpieces of World Philosophy. New York: Harper Collins (1990).
[43] [43] Magill, Frank (ed.) (1990)
[44] The Art of Discovery 1685, Wiener 51
[45] [45] Many of his memoranda are translated in Parkinson 1966.
[46] [46] Loemker, however, who translated some of Leibniz's works into English, said that the symbols of chemistry were real characters, so there is
disagreement among Leibniz scholars on this point.
[47] Preface to the General Science, 1677. Revision of Rutherford's translation in Jolley 1995: 234. Also Wiener I.4
[48] A good introductory discussion of the "characteristic" is Jolley (1995: 226•40). An early, yet still classic, discussion of the "characteristic"
and "calculus" is Couturat (1901: chpts. 3,4).
[49] [49] Struik (1969), 367
[50] Jesseph, Douglas M. (1998). "Leibniz on the Foundations of the Calculus: The Question of the Reality of Infinitesimal Magnitudes" (http:/ /
muse.jhu. edu/ journals/ perspectives_on_science/ v006/ 6. 1jesseph. html). Perspectives on Science 6.1&2: 6•40. . Retrieved 31 December
[51] For an English translation of this paper, see Struik (1969: 271•84), who also translates parts of two other key papers by Leibniz on the
[52] Katz, Mikhail; Sherry, David (2012), "Leibniz's Infinitesimals: Their Fictionality, Their Modern Implementations, and Their Foes from
Berkeley to Russell and Beyond", Erkenntnis, arXiv:1205.0174, doi:10.1007/s10670-012-9370-y
[53] [53] Loemker º27
[54] [54] Mates (1986), 240
[55] HIRANO, Hideaki. "Leibniz's Cultural Pluralism And Natural Law" (http:/ / www. t. hosei. ac. jp/ ~hhirano/ academia/ leibniz. htm). .
Retrieved March 10, 2010.
[56] [56] Mandelbrot (1977), 419. Quoted in Hirano (1997).
[57] [57] Ariew and Garber 117, Loemker º46, W II.5. On Leibniz and physics, see the chapter by Garber in Jolley (1995) and Wilson (1989).
[58] See Ariew and Garber 155•86, Loemker ºº53•55, W II.6•7a
[59] [59] On Leibniz and biology, see Loemker (1969a: VIII).
[60] [60] On Leibniz and psychology, see Loemker (1969a: IX).
[61] Aiton (1985), 107•114, 136
[62] [62] Davis (2000) discusses Leibniz's prophetic role in the emergence of calculating machines and of formal languages.
[63] See Couturat (1901): 473•78.
[64] [64] Couturat (1901), 115
[65] See N. Rescher, Leibniz and Cryptography (Pittsburgh, University Library Systems, University of Pittsburgh, 2012).
[66] The Reality Club: Wake Up Call for Europe Tech (http:/ / www. edge. org/ discourse/ schirrmacher_eurotech. html)
[67] [67] On Leibniz's projects for scientific societies, see Couturat (1901), App. IV.
[68] See, for example, Ariew and Garber 19, 94, 111, 193; Riley 1988; Loemker ºº2, 7, 20, 29, 44, 59, 62, 65; W I.1, IV.1•3
[69] [69] See (in order of difficulty) Jolley (2005: chpt. 7), Gregory Brown's chapter in Jolley (1995), Hostler (1975), and Riley (1996).
[70] [70] Loemker: 59, fn 16. Translation revised.
[71] [71] Loemker: 58, fn 9
[72] Mungello, David E. (1971). "Leibniz's Interpretation of Neo-Confucianism". Philosophy East and West 21 (1): 3•22. doi:10.2307/1397760.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
[73] On Leibniz, the I Ching, and binary numbers, see Aiton (1985: 245•48). Leibniz's writings on Chinese civilization are collected and
translated in Cook and Rosemont (1994), and discussed in Perkins (2004).
[74] [74] Later translated as Loemker 267 and Woolhouse and Francks 30
[75] Vasilyev, 1993 (http:/ / www. humesociety.org/ hs/ issues/ v19n1/ vasilyeu/ vasilyeu-v19n1. pdf)
[76] [76] Russell, 1900
[77] Jolley, 217•19
[78] "Letters from and to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz within the collection of manuscript papers of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz" (http:/ / portal.
unesco. org/ ci/ en/ ev. php-URL_ID=22464& URL_DO=DO_TOPIC& URL_SECTION=201. html). UNESCO Memory of the World
Programme. 2008-05-16. . Retrieved 2009-12-15.
[79] "Bahlsen products FAQ" (http:/ / www.bahlsen. de/ root_bahlsen_anim/ index. php). .
[80] 1695 letter to Vincent Placcius in Gerhardt.
[81] www.leibniz-edition.de (http:/ / www. leibniz-edition. de/ ). See photograph there.
[82] http:/ / www.earlymoderntexts.com
[83] http:/ / www.leibniz-translations.com/ binary.htm
[84] http:/ / www.gutenberg. org/ etext/ 17147
[85] http:/ / www.rbjones.com/ rbjpub/ philos/ classics/ leibniz/ monad. htm
[86] http:/ / www.helicon. es/ dig/ 8542205. pdf
[87] http:/ / www.earlymoderntexts.com/ f_leibniz. html
Primary literature
€ Alexander, H G (ed) The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1956.
€ Ariew, R & D Garber, 1989. Leibniz: Philosophical Essays. Hackett.
€ Arthur, Richard, 2001. The Labyrinth of the Continuum: Writings on the Continuum Problem, 1672€1686. Yale
University Press.
€ Cohen, Claudine and Wakefield, Andre, 2008. Protogaea. University of Chicago Press.
€ Cook, Daniel, and Rosemont, Henry Jr., 1994. Leibniz: Writings on China. Open Court.
€ Loemker, Leroy, 1969 (1956). Leibniz: Philosophical Papers and Letters. Reidel.
€ Remnant, Peter, and Bennett, Jonathan, 1996 (1981). Leibniz: New Essays on Human Understanding. Cambridge
University Press.
€ Riley, Patrick, 1988. Leibniz: Political Writings. Cambridge University Press.
€ Sleigh, Robert C., Look, Brandon, and Stam, James, 2005. Confessio Philosophi: Papers Concerning the Problem
of Evil, 1671€1678. Yale University Press.
€ Strickland, Lloyd, 2006. The Shorter Leibniz Texts: A Collection of New Translations. Continuum.
€ Ward, A. W. Leibniz as a Politician (lecture, 1911)
€ Wiener, Philip, 1951. Leibniz: Selections. Scribner.
€ Woolhouse, R.S., and Francks, R., 1998. Leibniz: Philosophical Texts. Oxford University Press.
Secondary literature
€ Adams, Robert Merrihew. Lebniz: Determinist, Theist, Idealist. New York: Oxford, Oxford University Press,
€ Aiton, Eric J., 1985. Leibniz: A Biography. Hilger (UK).
€ Antognazza, M.R.(2008) Leibniz: An Intellectual Biography. Cambridge Univ. Press.

[ Edit this reference
(http:/ / en. wikipedia. org/ w/ index. php?title=Template:BarrowTipler1986& action=edit)
Barrow, John D.; Tipler, Frank J. (19 May 1988). The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (http:/ / books. google.
com/ books?id=uSykSbXklWEC& printsec=frontcover). foreword by John A. Wheeler. Oxford: Oxford University
Press. ISBN 9780192821478. LC 87-28148 (http:/ / lccn. loc. gov/ 87028148). Retrieved 31 December 2009.
€ Albeck-Gidron, Rachel, The Century of the Monads: Leibniz's Metaphysics and 20th-Century Modernity, Bar-Ilan
University Press.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
€ Bos, H. J. M. (1974) "Differentials, higher-order differentials and the derivative in the Leibnizian calculus," Arch.
History Exact Sci. 14: 1ˆ90.
€ Couturat, Louis, 1901. La Logique de Leibniz. Paris: Felix Alcan.
€ Davis, Martin, 2000. The Universal Computer: The Road from Leibniz to Turing. WW Norton.
€ Deleuze, Gilles, 1993. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. University of Minnesota Press.
€ Du Bois-Reymond, Paul, 18nn. "Leibnizian Thoughts in Modern Science".
€ Finster, Reinhard & Gerd van den Heuvel. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten.
4. Auflage. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2000 (Rowohlts Monographien, 50481), ISBN 3-499-50481-2.
€ Grattan-Guinness, Ivor, 1997. The Norton History of the Mathematical Sciences. W W Norton.
€ Hall, A. R., 1980. Philosophers at War: The Quarrel between Newton and Leibniz. Cambridge University Press.
€ Heidegger, Martin, 1983. The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic. Indiana University Press.
€€ Hirano, Hideaki, 1997. "Cultural Pluralism And Natural Law." Unpublished.
€ Hostler, J., 1975. Leibniz's Moral Philosophy. UK: Duckworth.
€ Jolley, Nicholas, ed., 1995. The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz. Cambridge University Press.
€ LeClerc, Ivor, ed., 1973. The Philosophy of Leibniz and the Modern World. Vanderbilt University Press.
€ Lovejoy, Arthur O., 1957 (1936) "Plenitude and Sufficient Reason in Leibniz and Spinoza" in his The Great
Chain of Being. Harvard University Press: 144•82. Reprinted in Frankfurt, H. G., ed., 1972. Leibniz: A
Collection of Critical Essays. Anchor Books.
€ Mandelbrot, BenoÓt, 1977. The Fractal Geometry of Nature. Freeman.
€ Mackie, John Milton; Guhrauer, Gottschalk Eduard, 1845. Life of Godfrey William von Leibnitz. Gould, Kendall
and Lincoln.
€ Mates, Benson, 1986. The Philosophy of Leibniz: Metaphysics and Language. Oxford University Press.
€ Mercer, Christia, 2001. Leibniz's metaphysics: Its Origins and Development. Cambridge University Press.
€ Morris, Simon Conway, 2003. Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. Cambridge University
€ Perkins, Franklin, 2004. Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light. Cambridge University Press.
€ Rensoli, Lourdes, 2002. El problema antropologico en la concepcion filosofica de G. W. Leibniz. Leibnitius
Politechnicus. Universidad Politecnica de Valencia.
€ Riley, Patrick, 1996. Leibniz's Universal Jurisprudence: Justice as the Charity of the Wise. Harvard University
€ Rutherford, Donald, 1998. Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature. Cambridge University Press.
€ Struik, D. J., 1969. A Source Book in Mathematics, 1200€1800. Harvard University Press.
€ Ward, P. D., and Brownlee, D., 2000. Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. Springer
€ Wilson, Catherine, 1989. 'Leibniz's Metaphysics. Princeton University Press.
€ Zalta, E. N., 2000. " A (Leibnizian) Theory of Concepts (http:/ / mally. stanford. edu/ Papers/ leibniz. pdf)",
Philosophiegeschichte und logische Analyse / Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 3: 137•183.
€ Smith, David Eugene (1929). A Source Book in Mathematics. New York and London: McGraw-Hill Book
Company, Inc..
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
External links
€ An extensive bibliography (http:/ / www. worldcat. org/ profiles/ mciocchi/ lists/ 1786513)
€ Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: " Leibniz (http:/ / www. utm. edu/ research/ iep/ l/ leib-met. htm)" •
Douglas Burnham.
€ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Articles on Leibniz (http:/ / plato. stanford. edu/ search/ searcher.
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews.
ac. uk/ Biographies/ Leibniz. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ George MacDonald Ross, Leibniz (http:/ / etext. leeds. ac. uk/ leibniz/ leibniz. htm), Originally published: Oxford
University Press (Past Masters) 1984; Electronic edition: Leeds Electronic Text Centre July 2000
€ Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=60985) at the Mathematics
Genealogy Project
€ Works by Gottfried Leibniz (http:/ / www. gutenberg. org/ author/ Leibniz+ Gottfried+ Wilhelm+ Freiherr+ von)
at Project Gutenberg
€ Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (http:/ / www. dmoz. org/ Society/ Philosophy/ Philosophers/ L/
Leibniz,_Gottfried_Wilhelm/ ) at the Open Directory Project
€ translations (http:/ / www. earlymoderntexts. com) by Jonathan Bennett, of the New Essays, the exchanges with
Bayle, Arnauld and Clarke, and about 15 shorter works.
€ Leibnitiana (http:/ / www. gwleibniz. com/ ) • Gregory Brown.
€ Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Texts and Translations (http:/ / philosophyfaculty. ucsd. edu/ faculty/ rutherford/
Leibniz/ index. html), compiled by Donald Rutherford, UCSD
€ Leibniz-translations.com (http:/ / www. leibniz-translations. com/ ) Scroll down for many Leibniz links.
€ Leibniz Prize. (http:/ / www. dfg. de/ en/ news/ scientific_prizes/ leibniz_preis/ index. html)
€ Philosophical Works of Leibniz translated by G.M. Duncan (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/
€ Leibnitiana (http:/ / www. gwleibniz. com/ ), links and resources compiled by Gregory Brown, University of
€ Leibnizian Resources (http:/ / www. helsinki. fi/ ~mroinila/ leibniz1. htm), many links organized by Markku
Roinila, University of Helsinki.
€ Leibniz Bibliography (http:/ / www. leibniz-bibliographie. de/ DB=1. 95/ LNG=EN/
?COOKIE=U8000,K8000,I0,B1999+ + + + + + ,SY,NVZG,D1. 95,E0ed05df2-2e89,A,H,R194. 95. 154. 1,FY) at
the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library.
Bernoulli family
Bernoulli family
The Bernoullis (German: [b†Œ‚n„li]
; (English: pron.: /b…r‚nuƒli/)) were a patrician family of merchants and scholars,
originally from Antwerp, who settled in Basel, Switzerland. The name is sometimes misspelled Bernou-ill-i and
mispronounced accordingly.
Leon Bernoulli was a doctor in Antwerp, which at that time was in the Spanish Netherlands. He died in 1561 and in
1570 his son, Jacob, emigrated to Frankfurt am Main to escape from the Spanish persecution of the Huguenots.
Jacob€s grandson, a spice trader also named Jacob, moved in 1620 to Basel, Switzerland, and was granted Swiss
citizenship. His son Niklaus (1623-1708), Leon€s great-great-grandson, married Margarethe Sch»nauer.
Niklaus had three sons:
€ Jacob Bernoulli (1654•1705; also known as James or Jacques) Mathematician after whom Bernoulli numbers are
€ Nicolaus Bernoulli (1662•1716) Painter and alderman of Basel.
€ Johann Bernoulli (1667•1748; also known as Jean) Mathematician and early adopter of infinitesimal calculus.
In addition to those mentioned above, the Bernoulli family produced many notable artists and scientists, in particular
a number of famous mathematicians in the 18th century:
€ Nicolaus I Bernoulli (1687•1759) Mathematician.
€ Nicolaus II Bernoulli (1695•1726) Mathematician; worked on curves, differential equations, and probability.
€ Daniel Bernoulli (1700•1782) Developer of Bernoulli's principle and St. Petersburg paradox.
€ Johann II Bernoulli (1710•1790; also known as Jean) Mathematician and physicist.
€ Johann III Bernoulli (1744•1807; also known as Jean) Astronomer, geographer, and mathematician.
€ Jacob II Bernoulli (1759•1789; also known as Jacques) Physicist and mathematician.
Devices and ideas named for members of the family
€€ Bernoulli differential equation
€€ Bernoulli distribution
€€ Bernoulli number
€€ Bernoulli polynomials
€€ Bernoulli process
€€ Bernoulli trial
€€ Bernoulli's principle
[1] Mangold, Max (1990) Duden - Das Aussprachew€rterbuch. 3. Auflage. Mannheim/Wien/Z·rich, Dudenverlag.
[2] [2] Talk page, section Pronunciation
[3] Historic Lexicon of the Swiss, Bernoulli (http:/ / www. hls-dhs-dss. ch/ textes/ f/ F20951. php)
€ Family tree (http:/ / www-groups. dcs. st-and. ac. uk/ ~history/ Diagrams/ Bernoulli_family. gif) at the MacTutor
History of Mathematics archive.
€ Bernoulli family in German (http:/ / www. hls-dhs-dss. ch/ textes/ d/ D20951. php), French (http:/ / www.
hls-dhs-dss. ch/ textes/ f/ F20951. php) and Italian (http:/ / www. hls-dhs-dss. ch/ textes/ i/ I20951. php) in the
online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
Jacob Bernoulli
Jacob Bernoulli
For other family members named Jacob, see Bernoulli family.
Jacob Bernoulli
Jakob Bernoulli
Born 6 January 1655
Basel, Switzerland
Died 16 August 1705 (aged 50)
Basel, Switzerland
Residence Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Fields Mathematician
Institutions University of Basel
Alma mater University of Basel
Doctoral students Johann Bernoulli
Jacob Hermann
Nicolaus I Bernoulli
Known for Bernoulli differential
Bernoulli numbers
(Bernoulli's formula
Bernoulli polynomials
Bernoulli map)
Bernoulli trial
(Bernoulli process
Bernoulli scheme
Bernoulli operator
Hidden Bernoulli model
Bernoulli sampling
Bernoulli distribution
Bernoulli random variable
Bernoulli's Golden Theorem)
Bernoulli's inequality
Lemniscate of Bernoulli
Brother of Johann Bernoulli.
Jacob Bernoulli (also known as James or Jacques) (27 December 1654/6 January 1655 • 16 August 1705) was one
of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family.
Jacob Bernoulli
Jacob Bernoulli was born in Basel, Switzerland. Following his father's wish, he studied theology and entered the
ministry. But contrary to the desires of his parents, he also studied mathematics and astronomy. He traveled
throughout Europe from 1676 to 1682, learning about the latest discoveries in mathematics and the sciences. This
included the work of Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke.
Jacob Bernoulli's grave.
He became familiar with calculus through a correspondence with
Gottfried Leibniz, then collaborated with his brother Johann on various
applications, notably publishing papers on transcendental curves
(1696) and isoperimetry (1700, 1701). In 1690, Jacob Bernoulli
became the first person to develop the technique for solving separable
differential equations.
Upon returning to Basel in 1682, he founded a school for mathematics
and the sciences. He was appointed professor of mathematics at the
University of Basel in 1687, remaining in this position for the rest of
his life.
Important works
Jacob Bernoulli is best known for the work Ars Conjectandi (The Art
of Conjecture), published eight years after his death in 1713 by his
nephew Nicholas. In this work, he described the known results in
probability theory and in enumeration, often providing alternative
proofs of known results. This work also includes the application of probability theory to games of chance and his
introduction of the theorem known as the law of large numbers. The terms Bernoulli trial and Bernoulli numbers
result from this work. The lunar crater Bernoulli is also named after him jointly with his brother Johann.
Discovery of the mathematical constant e
Bernoulli discovered the constant e by studying a question about compound interest which required him to find the
value of the following expression (which is in fact e):
One example is an account that starts with $1.00 and pays 100 percent interest per year. If the interest is credited
once, at the end of the year, the value is $2.00; but if the interest is computed and added twice in the year, the $1 is
multiplied by 1.5 twice, yielding $1.00±1.5Ô = $2.25. Compounding quarterly yields $1.00±1.25
 = $2.4414..., and
compounding monthly yields $1.00±(1.0833...)
 = $2.613035....
Bernoulli noticed that this sequence approaches a limit (the force of interest) for more and smaller compounding
intervals. Compounding weekly yields $2.692597..., while compounding daily yields $2.714567..., just two cents
more. Using n as the number of compounding intervals, with interest of 100%/n in each interval, the limit for large n
is the number that came to be known as e; with continuous compounding, the account value will reach $2.7182818....
More generally, an account that starts at $1, and yields (1+R) dollars at simple interest, will yield e
dollars with
continuous compounding.
Jacob Bernoulli
Personal life
Bernoulli chose a figure of a logarithmic spiral and the motto Eadem mutata resurgo ("Changed and yet the same, I
rise again") for his gravestone; the spiral executed by the stonemasons was, however, an Archimedean spiral.,
“[Jacques Bernoulli] wrote that the logarithmic spiral ”may be used as a symbol, either of fortitude and constancy in
adversity, or of the human body, which after all its changes, even after death, will be restored to its exact and perfect
self€.• (Livio 2002: 116).
Jacob had a daughter and a son.
[1] Jacob (Jacques) Bernoulli (http:/ / www-gap.dcs.st-and. ac. uk/ ~history/ Biographies/ Bernoulli_Jacob. html), The MacTutor History of
Mathematics archive (http:/ / www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/ ~history/ ), School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, UK.
Further reading
€ Hoffman, J.E. (1970•80). "Bernoulli, Jakob (Jacques) I". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 2. New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 46•51. ISBN 0684101149.
€ Schneider, I., 2005, "Ars conjectandi" in Grattan-Guinness, I., ed., Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics.
Elsevier: 88•104.
€€ Livio, Mario, 2002, The golden ratio: the story of Phi, the extraordinary number of nature, art, and beauty.
External links
€ Jacob Bernoulli (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=54440) at the Mathematics Genealogy
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Jacob Bernoulli" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Bernoulli_Jacob. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Jakob Bernoulli: Tractatus de Seriebus Infinitis (http:/ / www. kubkou. se/ pdf/ mh/ jacobB. pdf) (pdf)
€ Weisstein, Eric W., Bernoulli, Jakob (1654€1705) (http:/ / scienceworld. wolfram. com/ biography/
BernoulliJakob. html) from ScienceWorld.
Johann Bernoulli
Johann Bernoulli
Johann Bernoulli
Johann Bernoulli (portrait by Johann Rudolf Huber, circa 1740)
Born 27 July 1667
Basel, Switzerland
Died 1 January 1748 (aged 80)
Basel, Switzerland
Residence Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Fields Mathematician
Institutions University of Groningen
University of Basel
Alma mater University of Basel
Doctoral advisor Jacob Bernoulli
Other academic advisors Nikolaus Eglinger
Doctoral students Daniel Bernoulli
Leonhard Euler
Johann Samuel K»nig
Pierre Louis Maupertuis
Other notable students Guillaume de l'H˜pital
Known for Development of infinitesimal
Catenary solution
Bernoulli's rule
Bernoulli's identity
Brother of Jakob Bernoulli, and the father of Daniel Bernoulli.
Johann Bernoulli (27 July 1667 • 1 January 1748; also known as Jean or John) was a Swiss mathematician and
was one of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family. He is known for his contributions to
infinitesimal calculus and educated Leonhard Euler in his youth.
Johann Bernoulli
Early life and education
Johann was born in Basel, the son of Nikolaus Bernoulli, an apothecary, and his wife, Margaretha Schonauer and
began studying medicine at Basel University. His father desired that he study business so that he might take over the
family spice trade, but Johann Bernoulli disliked business and convinced his father to allow him to study medicine
instead. However, Johann Bernoulli did not enjoy medicine either and began studying mathematics on the side with
his older brother Jacob.
Throughout Johann Bernoulli€s education at Basel University the Bernoulli brothers
worked together spending much of their time studying the newly discovered infinitesimal calculus. They were
among the first mathematicians to not only study and understand calculus but to apply it to various problems.
Adult life
After graduating from Basel University Johann Bernoulli moved to teach differential equations. Later, in 1694,
Johann Bernoulli married Dorothea Falkner and soon after accepted a position as the professor of mathematics at the
University of Groningen. At the request of Johann Bernoulli€s father-in-law, Johann Bernoulli began the voyage back
to his home town of Basel in 1705. Just after setting out on the journey he learned of his brother€s death to
tuberculosis. Johann Bernoulli had planned on becoming the professor of Greek at Basel University upon returning
but instead was able to take over as professor of mathematics, his older brother€s former position. As a student of
Leibniz€s calculus, Johann Bernoulli sided with him in 1713 in the Newton•Leibniz debate over who deserved credit
for the discovery of calculus. Johann Bernoulli defended Leibniz by showing that he had solved certain problems
with his methods that Newton had failed to solve. However, due to his opposition to Newton and the study that
vortex theory over Newton€s theory of gravitation which ultimately delayed acceptance of Newton€s theory in
continental Europe.
In 1724 he entered a competition sponsored by the French Acad•mie Royale des Sciences, which posed the question:
What are the laws according to which a perfectly hard body, put into motion, moves another body of the same
nature either at rest or in motion, and which it encounters either in a vacuum or in a plenum?
In defending a view previously espoused by Leibniz he found himself postulating an infinite external force required
to make the body elastic by overcoming the infinite internal force making the body hard. In consequence he was
disqualified for the prize, which was won by Maclaurin. However, Bernoulli's paper was subsequently accepted in
1726 when the Acad•mie considered papers regarding elastic bodies, for which the prize was awarded to Mazi½re.
Bernoulli received an honourable mention in both competitions.
Private life
Although Jakob and Johann worked together before Johann graduated from Basel University, shortly after this, the
two developed a jealous and competitive relationship. Johann was jealous of Jakob's position and the two often
attempted to outdo each other. After Jakob's death Johann's jealousy shifted toward his own talented son, Daniel. In
1738 the father•son duo nearly simultaneously published separate works on hydrodynamics. Johann Bernoulli
attempted to take precedence over his son by purposely predating his work two years prior to his son€s.
Johann married Dorothea Falkner, daughter of an Alderman of Basel. He was the father of Nicolaus II Bernoulli,
Daniel Bernoulli and Johann II Bernoulli and uncle of Nicolaus I Bernoulli.
The Bernoulli brothers often worked on the same problems, but not without friction. Their most bitter dispute
concerned finding the equation for the path followed by a particle from one point to another in the shortest time, if
the particle is acted upon by gravity alone, a problem originally discussed by Galileo. In 1697 Jakob offered a reward
for its solution. Accepting the challenge, Johann proposed the cycloid, the path of a point on a moving wheel,
pointing out at the same time the relation this curve bears to the path described by a ray of light passing through
strata of variable density. A protracted, bitter dispute then arose when Jakob challenged the solution and proposed
his own. The dispute marked the origin of a new discipline, the calculus of variations.
Johann Bernoulli
L'H‹pital controversy
Bernoulli was hired by Guillaume de L'H˜pital to tutor him in mathematics. Bernoulli and L'H˜pital signed a
contract which gave l'H˜pital the right to use Bernoulli€s discoveries as he pleased. L'H˜pital authored the first
textbook on infinitesimal calculus, "Analyse des Infiniment Petits pour l'Intelligence des Lignes Courbes" in 1696,
which mainly consisted of the work of Bernoulli, including what is now known as L'H˜pital's rule.
Subsequently, in letters to Leibniz, Varignon and others, Bernoulli complained that he had not received enough
credit for his contributions, in spite of the fact that l'H˜pital acknowledged fully his debt in the preface of his book:
"Je reconnais devoir beaucoup aux lumi½res de MM. Bernoulli, surtout Õ celles du jeune (Jean)
pr•sentement professeur Õ Groningue. Je me suis servi sans faÀon de leurs d•couvertes et de celles de M.
Leibniz. C'est pourquoi je consens qu'ils en revendiquent tout ce qu'il leur plaira, me contentant de ce
qu'ils voudront bien me laisser."
"I recognize I owe much to Messrs. Bernoulli's insights, above all to the young (John), currently a
professor in Groningue. I did unceremoniously use their discoveries, as well as those of Mr. Leibniz. For
this reason I consent that they claim as much credit as they please, and will content myself with what
they will agree to leave me."
[1] A Short History of Mathematics, by V. Sanford, Houghton, Mifflin Company, (1958)
[2] The Bernoulli Family, by H. Bernhard, Doubleday, Page & Company, (1938)
[3] Johann and Jacob Bernoulli, by J.O. Fleckstein, Mathematical Association of America, (1949)
[4] The Story of a Number, by Eli Maor, Princeton University Press, Princeton, (1998) p. 116, ISBN 0-691-05854-7
[5] The Mathematics of Great Amateurs, by Julian Lowell Coolidge, Dover, New York, (1963), pp. 154•163
[6] A Source Book in Mathematics, 1200€1800, ed. D. J. Struck, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, (1969), pp.312•316
External links
€ Johann Bernoulli (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=53410) at the Mathematics Genealogy
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Johann Bernoulli" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Bernoulli_Johann. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Golba, Paul, " Bernoulli, Johan (http:/ / www. shu. edu/ projects/ reals/ history/ bernoull. html)'"
€ " Johann Bernoulli (http:/ / www. bernoulli. ag. vu/ )"
€ Weisstein, Eric W., Bernoulli, Johann (1667€1748) (http:/ / scienceworld. wolfram. com/ biography/
BernoulliJohann. html) from ScienceWorld.
€ C. Truesdell The New Bernoulli Edition (http:/ / links. jstor. org/ sici?sici=0021-1753(195803)49:1<54:TNBE>2.
0. CO;2-1) Isis, Vol. 49, No. 1. (Mar., 1958), pp. 54•62, discusses the strange agreement between Bernoulli and
de l'H˜pital on pages 59•62.
Bernoulli differential equation
Bernoulli differential equation
In mathematics, an ordinary differential equation of the form
is called a Bernoulli equation when n•1, 0, which is named after Jakob Bernoulli, who discussed it in 1695
(Bernoulli 1695). Bernoulli equations are special because they are nonlinear differential equations with known exact
Dividing by yields
A change of variables is made to transform into a linear first-order differential equation.
The substituted equation can be solved using the integrating factor
Consider the Bernoulli equation
We first notice that is a solution. Division by yields
Changing variables gives the equations
which can be solved using the integrating factor
Multiplying by ,
Note that left side is the derivative of . Integrating both sides results in the equations
Bernoulli differential equation
The solution for is
as well as .
Verifying using MATLAB symbolic toolbox by running
x = dsolve('Dy-2*y/x=-x^2*y^2','x')
gives both solutions:
x^2/(x^5/5 + C1)
also see a solution
by WolframAlpha, where the trivial solution is missing.
€ Bernoulli, Jacob (1695), "Explicationes, Annotationes & Additiones ad ea, quae in Actis sup. anni de Curva
Elastica, Isochrona Paracentrica, & Velaria, hinc inde memorata, & paratim controversa legundur; ubi de Linea
mediarum directionum, alliisque novis", Acta Eruditorum. Cited in Hairer, NÍrsett & Wanner (1993).
€ Hairer, Ernst; NÍrsett, Syvert Paul; Wanner, Gerhard (1993), Solving ordinary differential equations I: Nonstiff
problems, Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-540-56670-0.
External links
€ Bernoulli equation
, PlanetMath.org.
€ Differential equation
, PlanetMath.org.
€ Index of differential equations
, PlanetMath.org.
[1] http:/ / www. wolframalpha. com/ input/ ?i=y%27-2*y%2Fx%3D-x^2*y^2
[2] http:/ / planetmath.org/ ?op=getobj& amp;from=objects& amp;id=7032
[3] http:/ / planetmath.org/ ?op=getobj& amp;from=objects& amp;id=2629
[4] http:/ / planetmath.org/ ?op=getobj& amp;from=objects& amp;id=7023
Bernoulli distribution
Bernoulli distribution
Ex. kurtosis
Fisher information
In probability theory and statistics, the Bernoulli distribution, named after Swiss scientist Jacob Bernoulli, is a
discrete probability distribution, which takes value 1 with success probability and value 0 with failure probability
. So if X is a random variable with this distribution, we have:
A classical example of a Bernoulli experiment is a single toss of a coin. The coin might come up heads with
probability p and tails with probability 1-p. The experiment is called fair if p=0.5, indicating the origin of the
terminology in betting (the bet is fair if both possible outcomes have the same probability).
The probability mass function f of this distribution is
This can also be expressed as
Bernoulli distribution
The expected value of a Bernoulli random variable X is , and its variance is
Bernoulli distribution is a special case of the Binomial distribution with n = 1.
The kurtosis goes to infinity for high and low values of p, but for the Bernoulli distribution has a lower
kurtosis than any other probability distribution, namely -2.
The Bernoulli distributions for 0•p•1 form an exponential family.
The maximum likelihood estimator of p based on a random sample is the sample mean.
Related distributions
€ If are independent, identically distributed (i.i.d.) random variables, all Bernoulli distributed with
success probability p, then (binomial distribution). The Bernoulli
distribution is simply .
€ The categorical distribution is the generalization of the Bernoulli distribution for variables with any constant
number of discrete values.
€ The Beta distribution is the conjugate prior of the Bernoulli distribution.
€ The geometric distribution is the number of Bernoulli trials needed to get one success.
[1] [1] McCullagh and Nelder (1989), Section 4.2.2.
€ McCullagh, Peter; Nelder, John (1989). Generalized Linear Models, Second Edition. Boca Raton: Chapman and
Hall/CRC. ISBN 0-412-31760-5.
€€ Johnson, N.L., Kotz, S., Kemp A. (1993) Univariate Discrete Distributions (2nd Edition). Wiley. ISBN
External links
€ Hazewinkel, Michiel, ed. (2001), "Binomial distribution" (http:/ / www. encyclopediaofmath. org/ index.
php?title=p/ b016420), Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4
€ Weisstein, Eric W., " Bernoulli Distribution (http:/ / mathworld. wolfram. com/ BernoulliDistribution. html)"
from MathWorld.
Bernoulli number
Bernoulli number
In mathematics, the Bernoulli numbers B
are a sequence of rational numbers with deep connections to number
theory. The values of the first few Bernoulli numbers are
 = 1, B
 = Ö
, B
, B
 = 0, B
 = ‰
, B
 = 0, B
, B
 = 0, B
 = ‰
If the convention B
is used, this sequence is also known as the first Bernoulli numbers (A027641 / A027642
in OEIS); with the convention B
is known as the second Bernoulli numbers (A164555 / A027642 in OEIS).
Except for this one difference, the first and second Bernoulli numbers agree. Since B
=0 for all odd n>1, and many
formulas only involve even-index Bernoulli numbers, some authors write B
instead of B
The Bernoulli numbers appear in the Taylor series expansions of the tangent and hyperbolic tangent functions, in
formulas for the sum of powers of the first positive integers, in the Euler•Maclaurin formula, and in expressions for
certain values of the Riemann zeta function.
The Bernoulli numbers were discovered around the same time by the Swiss mathematician Jakob Bernoulli, after
whom they are named, and independently by Japanese mathematician Seki K×wa. Seki's discovery was
posthumously published in 1712
in his work Katsuyo Sampo; Bernoulli's, also posthumously, in his Ars
Conjectandi of 1713. Ada Lovelace's note G on the analytical engine from 1842 describes an algorithm for
generating Bernoulli numbers with Babbage's machine.
As a result, the Bernoulli numbers have the distinction of
being the subject of the first computer program.
Sum of powers
Bernoulli numbers feature prominently in the closed form expression of the sum of the m-th powers of the first n
positive integers. For m, n – 0 define
This expression can always be rewritten as a polynomial in n of degree m + 1. The coefficients of these polynomials
are related to the Bernoulli numbers by Bernoulli's formula:
where the convention B
 = +1/2 is used. ( denotes the binomial coefficient, m+1 choose k.)
For example, taking m to be 1 gives the triangular numbers 0, 1, 3, 6, ... (sequence A000217 in OEIS).
Taking m to be 2 gives the square pyramidal numbers 0, 1, 5, 14, ... (sequence A000330 in OEIS).
Some authors use the convention B
 = ‰1/2 and state Bernoulli's formula in this way:
Bernoulli's formula is sometimes called Faulhaber's formula after Johann Faulhaber who also found remarkable ways
to calculate sum of powers.
Faulhaber's formula was generalized by V. Guo and J. Zeng to a q-analog (Guo & Zeng 2005).
Bernoulli number
Many characterizations of the Bernoulli numbers have been found in the last 300 years, and each could be used to
introduce these numbers. Here only four of the most useful ones are mentioned:
€€ a recursive equation,
€€ an explicit formula,
€€ a generating function,
€€ an algorithmic description.
For the proof of the equivalence of the four approaches the reader is referred to mathematical expositions like
(Ireland & Rosen 1990) or (Conway & Guy 1996).
Unfortunately in the literature the definition is given in two variants: Despite the fact that Bernoulli defined B
 = 1/2
(now known as "second Bernoulli numbers"), some authors set B
 = ‰1/2 ("first Bernoulli numbers"). In order to
prevent potential confusions both variants will be described here, side by side. Because these two definitions can be
transformed simply by into the other, some formulae have this alternatingly (-1)
-term and others
not depending on the context, but it is not possible to decide in favor of one of these definitions to be the correct or
appropriate or natural one (for the abstract Bernoulli numbers).
Recursive definition
The recursive equation is best introduced in a slightly more general form
This defines polynomials B
in the variable n known as the Bernoulli polynomials. The recursion can also be viewed
as defining rational numbers B
(n) for all integers n – 0, m – 0. The expression 0
has to be interpreted as 1. The
first and second Bernoulli numbers now follow by setting n = 0 (resulting in B
, "first Bernoulli numbers")
respectively n = 1 (resulting in B
, "second Bernoulli numbers").
Here the expression [m = 0] has the value 1 if m = 0 and 0 otherwise (Iverson bracket). Whenever a confusion
between the two kinds of definitions might arise it can be avoided by referring to the more general definition and by
reintroducing the erased parameter: writing B
(0) in the first case and B
(1) in the second will unambiguously
denote the value in question.
Bernoulli number
Explicit definition
Starting again with a slightly more general formula
the choices n = 0 and n = 1 lead to
There is a widespread misinformation that no simple closed formulas for the Bernoulli numbers exist (Gould 1972).
The last two equations show that this is not true. Moreover, already in 1893 Louis Saalsch·tz listed a total of 38
explicit formulas for the Bernoulli numbers (Saalsch·tz 1893), usually giving some reference in the older literature.
Generating function
The general formula for the generating function is
The choices n = 0 and n = 1 lead to
Algorithmic description
Although the above recursive formula can be used for computation it is mainly used to establish the connection with
the sum of powers because it is computationally expensive. However, both simple and high-end algorithms for
computing Bernoulli numbers exist. Pointers to high-end algorithms are given the next section. A simple one is given
in pseudocode below.
Algorithm Akiyama•Tanigawa algorithm for second Bernoulli numbers B
Input: Integer n–0.
Output: Second Bernoulli number B
for m from 0 by 1 to n do
A[m] — 1/(m+1)
for j from m by -1 to 1 do
A[j-1] — j€(A[j-1] - A[j])
return A[0] (which is B
€ "—" is a shorthand for "changes to". For instance, "largest — item" means that the value of largest changes to the value of item.
€ "return" terminates the algorithm and outputs the value that follows.
Bernoulli number
Efficient computation of Bernoulli numbers
In some applications it is useful to be able to compute the Bernoulli numbers B
through B
p ‰ 3
modulo p, where p is
a prime; for example to test whether Vandiver's conjecture holds for p, or even just to determine whether p is an
irregular prime. It is not feasible to carry out such a computation using the above recursive formulae, since at least (a
constant multiple of) p
arithmetic operations would be required. Fortunately, faster methods have been developed
(Buhler et al. 2001) which require only O(p (log p)
) operations (see big-O notation).
David Harvey (Harvey 2008) describes an algorithm for computing Bernoulli numbers by computing B
modulo p
for many small primes p, and then reconstructing B
via the Chinese Remainder Theorem. Harvey writes that the
asymptotic time complexity of this algorithm is O(n
) and claims that this implementation is significantly
faster than implementations based on other methods. Using this implementation Harvey computed B
for n = 10
Harvey's implementation is included in Sage since version 3.1. Pavel Holoborodko (Holoborodko 2012) computed
for n = 2*10
using Harvey's implementation, which is a new record. Prior to that Bernd Kellner (Kellner 2002)
computed B
to full precision for n = 10
in December 2002 and Oleksandr Pavlyk (Pavlyk 2008) for n = 10
'Mathematica' in April 2008.
Computer Year n Digits*
J. Bernoulli ~1689 10 1
L. Euler 1748 30 8
J.C. Adams 1878 62 36
D.E. Knuth, T.J. Buckholtz 1967 1672 3330
G. Fee, S. Plouffe 1996 10000 27677
G. Fee, S. Plouffe 1996 100000 376755
B.C. Kellner 2002 1000000 4767529
O. Pavlyk 2008 10000000 57675260
D. Harvey 2008 100000000 676752569
P. Holoborodko 2012 200000000
€ Digits is to be understood as the exponent of 10 when B(n) is written as a real in normalized scientific notation.
Different viewpoints and conventions
The Bernoulli numbers can be regarded from four main viewpoints:
€€ as standalone arithmetical objects,
€€ as combinatorial objects,
€€ as values of a sequence of certain polynomials,
€€ as values of the Riemann zeta function.
Each of these viewpoints leads to a set of more or less different conventions.
Bernoulli numbers as standalone arithmetical objects.
Associated sequence: 1/6, ‰1/30, 1/42, ‰1/30, ‡
This is the viewpoint of Jakob Bernoulli. (See the cutout from his Ars Conjectandi, first edition, 1713). The
Bernoulli numbers are understood as numbers, recursive in nature, invented to solve a certain arithmetical problem,
the summation of powers, which is the paradigmatic application of the Bernoulli numbers. These are also the
numbers appearing in the Taylor series expansion of tan(x) and tanh(x). It is misleading to call this viewpoint
'archaic'. For example Jean-Pierre Serre uses it in his highly acclaimed book A Course in Arithmetic which is a
standard textbook used at many universities today.
Bernoulli number
Bernoulli numbers as combinatorial objects.
Associated sequence: 1, +1/2, 1/6, 0, ‡
This view focuses on the connection between Stirling numbers and Bernoulli numbers and arises naturally in the
calculus of finite differences. In its most general and compact form this connection is summarized by the definition
of the Stirling polynomials -
(x), formula (6.52) in Concrete Mathematics by Graham, Knuth and Patashnik.
In consequence B
 = n! -
(1) for n – 0.
Bernoulli numbers as values of a sequence of certain polynomials.
Assuming the Bernoulli polynomials as already introduced the Bernoulli numbers can be defined in two different
€ B
 = B
(0). Associated sequence: 1, ‰1/2, 1/6, 0, ‡
€ B
 = B
(1). Associated sequence: 1, +1/2, 1/6, 0, ‡
The two definitions differ only in the sign of B
. The choice B
 = B
(0) is the convention used in the Handbook of
Mathematical Functions.
The Bernoulli numbers as given by the Riemann zeta function.
Bernoulli numbers as values of the Riemann zeta
Associated sequence: 1, +1/2, 1/6, 0, ‡
Using this convention, the values of the Riemann zeta
function satisfy nØ(1 ‰ n) = ‰B
for all integers n–0.
(See the paper of S. C. Woon; the expression nØ(1 ‰ n)
for n = 0 is to be understood as lim
x ˜ 0
 xØ(1 ‰ x).)
Applications of the Bernoulli
Asymptotic analysis
Arguably the most important application of the Bernoulli number in mathematics is their use in the
Euler•MacLaurin formula. Assuming that ‹ is a sufficiently often differentiable function the Euler•MacLaurin
formula can be written as
This formulation assumes the convention B
= ‰1/2. Using the convention B
= 1/2 the formula becomes
Here ‹
= ‹ which is a commonly used notation identifying the zero-th derivative of ‹ with ‹. Moreover, let ‹
denote an antiderivative of ‹. By the fundamental theorem of calculus,
Thus the last formula can be further simplified to the following succinct form of the Euler•Maclaurin formula
Bernoulli number
This form is for example the source for the important Euler•MacLaurin expansion of the zeta function (B
Here denotes the rising factorial power.
Bernoulli numbers are also frequently used in other kinds of asymptotic expansions. The following example is the
classical Poincar•-type asymptotic expansion of the digamma function (again B
Taylor series of tan and tanh
The Bernoulli numbers appear in the Taylor series expansion of the tangent and the hyperbolic tangent functions:
Use in topology
The Kervaire•Milnor formula for the order of the cyclic group of diffeomorphism classes of exotic (4n ‰ 1)-spheres
which bound parallelizable manifolds involves Bernoulli numbers. Let ES
be the number of such exotic spheres for
n – 2, then
The Hirzebruch signature theorem for the L genus of a smooth oriented closed manifold of dimension 4n also
involves Bernoulli numbers.
Combinatorial definitions
The connection of the Bernoulli number to various kinds of combinatorial numbers is based on the classical theory
of finite differences and on the combinatorial interpretation of the Bernoulli numbers as an instance of a fundamental
combinatorial principle, the inclusion-exclusion principle.
Connection with Worpitzky numbers
The definition to proceed with was developed by Julius Worpitzky in 1883. Besides elementary arithmetic only the
factorial function n! and the power function k
is employed. The signless Worpitzky numbers are defined as
They can also be expressed through the Stirling numbers of the second kind
Bernoulli number
A Bernoulli number is then introduced as an inclusion-exclusion sum of Worpitzky numbers weighted by the
sequence 1, 1/2, 1/3, ‡
This representation has B
 = 1/2.
Worpitzky's representation of the Bernoulli number
= 1/1
= 1/1 ‰ 1/2
= 1/1 ‰ 3/2 + 2/3
= 1/1 ‰ 7/2 + 12/3 ‰ 6/4
= 1/1 ‰ 15/2 + 50/3 ‰ 60/4 + 24/5
= 1/1 ‰ 31/2 + 180/3 ‰ 390/4 + 360/5 ‰ 120/6
= 1/1 ‰ 63/2 + 602/3 ‰ 2100/4 + 3360/5 ‰ 2520/6 + 720/7
A second formula representing the Bernoulli numbers by the Worpitzky numbers is for n – 1
Connection with Stirling numbers of the second kind
If denotes Stirling numbers of the second kind
then one has:
where denotes the falling factorial.
If one defines the Bernoulli polynomials as
where for are the Bernoulli numbers.
Then after the following property of binomial coefficient:
one has,
One also has following for Bernoulli polynomials,
The coefficient of j in is
Comparing the coefficient of j in the two expressions of Bernoulli polynomials, one has:
Bernoulli number
(resulting in B
=1/2) which is an explicit formula for Bernoulli numbers and can be used to prove Von-Staudt
Clausen theorem.
Connection with Stirling numbers of the first kind
The two main formulas relating the unsigned Stirling numbers of the first kind to the Bernoulli numbers (with
 = 1/2) are
and the inversion of this sum (for n – 0, m – 0)
Here the number A
are the rational Akiyama•Tanigawa numbers, the first few of which are displayed in the
following table.
Akiyama•Tanigawa number
n \ m 0 1 2 3 4
0 1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5
1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 ...
2 1/6 1/6 3/20 ... ...
3 0 1/30 ... ... ...
4 ‰1/30 ... ... ... ...
The Akiyama•Tanigawa numbers satisfy a simple recurrence relation which can be exploited to iteratively compute
the Bernoulli numbers. This leads to the algorithm shown in the section 'algorithmic description' above.
Connection with Eulerian numbers
There are formulas connecting Eulerian numbers to Bernoulli numbers:
Both formulas are valid for n – 0 if B
is set to Ç. If B
is set to ‰Ç they are valid only for n – 1 and n – 2
Bernoulli number
Connection with Balmer series
A link between Bernoulli numbers and Balmer series could be seen in sequence A191567 in OEIS.
Representation of the second Bernoulli numbers
See A191302 in OEIS. The number are not reduced. Then the columns are easy to find, the denominators being
Representation of the second Bernoulli numbers
= 1 = 2/2
= 1/2
= 1/2 ‰ 2/6
= 1/2 ‰ 3/6
= 1/2 ‰ 4/6 +  2/15
= 1/2 ‰ 5/6 +  5/15
= 1/2 ‰ 6/6 +  9/15 ‰   8/105
= 1/2 ‰ 7/6 + 14/15 ‰ 28/105
A binary tree representation
The Stirling polynomials -
(x) are related to the Bernoulli numbers by B
 = n!-
(1). S. C. Woon (Woon 1997)
described an algorithm to compute -
(1) as a binary tree.
Woon's tree for -
Woon's recursive algorithm (for n – 1) starts by assigning to the root node N = [1,2]. Given a node N = [a
,..., a
of the tree, the left child of the node is L(N) = [‰a
 + 1, a
, ..., a
] and the right child R(N) = [a
,2, a
, ..., a
]. A
node N = [a
,..., a
] is written as Ö[a
,..., a
] in the initial part of the tree represented above with Ö denoting the
sign of a
Given a node N the factorial


N is defined as
Restricted to the nodes N of a fixed tree-level n the sum of 1/N! is -
n(1), thus
Bernoulli number
For example B
= 1!(1/2!), B
= 2!(‰1/3! + 1/(2!2!)), B
= 3!(1/4! ‰ 1/(2!3!) ‰ 1/(3!2!) + 1/(2!2!2!)).
Asymptotic approximation
Leonhard Euler expressed the Bernoulli numbers in terms of the Riemann zeta function as
It then follows from the Stirling formula that, as n goes to infinity,
Including more terms from the zeta series yields a better approximation, as does factoring in the asymptotic series in
Stirling's approximation.
Integral representation and continuation
The integral
has as special values b(2n) = B
for n > 0. The integral might be considered as a continuation of the Bernoulli
numbers to the complex plane and this was indeed suggested by Peter Luschny in 2004.
For example b(3) = (3/2)Ø(3)Ù
Ú and b(5) = ‰(15/2) Ž(5) Ù
Ú. Here Ž(n) denotes the Riemann zeta function and Ú
the imaginary unit. It is remarkable that already Leonhard Euler (Opera Omnia, Ser. 1, Vol. 10, p. 351) considered
these numbers and calculated
Euler's values are unsigned and real, but obviously his aim was to find a meaningful way to define the Bernoulli
numbers at the odd integers n > 1.
The relation to the Euler numbers and •
The Euler numbers are a sequence of integers intimately connected with the Bernoulli numbers. Comparing the
asymptotic expansions of the Bernoulli and the Euler numbers shows that the Euler numbers E
are in magnitude
approximately (2/‘)(4
 ‰ 2
) times larger than the Bernoulli numbers B
. In consequence:
This asymptotic equation reveals that • lies in the common root of both the Bernoulli and the Euler numbers. In fact
• could be computed from these rational approximations.
Bernoulli numbers can be expressed through the Euler numbers and vice versa. Since for n odd B
= E
= 0 (with the
exception B
), it suffices to consider the case when n is even.
Bernoulli number
These conversion formulas express an inverse relation between the Bernoulli and the Euler numbers. But more
important, there is a deep arithmetic root common to both kinds of numbers, which can be expressed through a more
fundamental sequence of numbers, also closely tied to •. These numbers are defined for n > 1 as
and S
= 1 by convention (Elkies 2003). The magic of these numbers lies in the fact that they turn out to be rational
numbers. This was first proved by Leonhard Euler in a landmark paper (Euler 1735) ‚De summis serierum
reciprocarumƒ (On the sums of series of reciprocals) and has fascinated mathematicians ever since. The first few of
these numbers are
The Bernoulli numbers and Euler numbers are best understood as special views of these numbers, selected from the
sequence S
and scaled for use in special applications.
The expression [n even] has the value 1 if n is even and 0 otherwise (Iverson bracket).
These identities show that the quotient of Bernoulli and Euler numbers at the beginning of this section is just the
special case of R
 = 2S
 / S
when n is even. The R
are rational approximations to • and two successive terms
always enclose the true value of •. Beginning with n = 1 the sequence starts
These rational numbers also appear in the last paragraph of Euler's paper cited above.
An algorithmic view: the Seidel triangle
The sequence S
has another unexpected yet important property: The denominators of S
divide the factorial (n ‰ 1)!.
In other words: the numbers T
 = S
(n ‰ 1)! are integers.
Thus the above representations of the Bernoulli and Euler numbers can be rewritten in terms of this sequence as
These identities make it easy to compute the Bernoulli and Euler numbers: the Euler numbers E
are given
immediately by T
2n + 1
and the Bernoulli numbers B
are obtained from T
by some easy shifting, avoiding rational
What remains is to find a convenient way to compute the numbers T
. However, already in 1877 Philipp Ludwig von
Seidel (Seidel 1877) published an ingenious algorithm which makes it extremely simple to calculate T
Bernoulli number
Seidel's algorithm for T
[begin] Start by putting 1 in row 0 and let k denote the number of the row currently being filled. If k is odd, then put
the number on the left end of the row k ‰ 1 in the first position of the row k, and fill the row from the left to the right,
with every entry being the sum of the number to the left and the number to the upper. At the end of the row duplicate
the last number. If k is even, proceed similar in the other direction. [end]
Seidel's algorithm is in fact much more general (see the exposition of Dominique Dumont (Dumont 1981)) and was
rediscovered several times thereafter.
Similar to Seidel's approach D. E. Knuth and T. J. Buckholtz (Knuth & Buckholtz 1967) gave a recurrence equation
for the numbers T
and recommended this method for computing B
and E
”on electronic computers using only
simple operations on integers€.
V. I. Arnold rediscovered Seidel's algorithm in (Arnold 1991) and later Millar, Sloane and Young popularized
Seidel's algorithm under the name boustrophedon transform.
A combinatorial view: alternating permutations
Around 1880, three years after the publication of Seidel's algorithm, D•sir• Andr• proved a now classic result of
combinatorial analysis (Andr• 1879) & (Andr• 1881). Looking at the first terms of the Taylor expansion of the
trigonometric functions tan x and sec x Andr• made a startling discovery.
The coefficients are the Euler numbers of odd and even index, respectively. In consequence the ordinary expansion
of tan x + sec x has as coefficients the rational numbers S
Andr• then succeeded by means of a recurrence argument to show that the alternating permutations of odd size are
enumerated by the Euler numbers of odd index (also called tangent numbers) and the alternating permutations of
even size by the Euler numbers of even index (also called secant numbers).
Bernoulli number
Related sequences
The arithmetic mean of the first and the second Bernoulli numbers are the associate Bernoulli numbers: B
= 1, B
0, B
= 1/6, B
= 0, B
= -1/30, A176327 / A027642 in OEIS. Via the second row of its inverse Akiyama-Tanigawa
transform (sequence A177427 in OEIS), they lead to Balmer series A061037 / A061038.
A companion to the second Bernoulli numbers
See A190339. These numbers are the eigensequence of the first kind. A191754 / A192366 = 0, 1/2, 1/2, 1/3, 1/6,
1/15, 1/30, 1/35, 1/70, -1/105, -1/210, 41/1155, 41/2310, -589/5005, -589/10010 ...
Arithmetical properties of the Bernoulli numbers
The Bernoulli numbers can be expressed in terms of the Riemann zeta function as B
= ‰ nØ(1 ‰ n) for integers n – 0
provided for n = 0 and n = 1 the expression ‰ nØ(1 ‰ n) is understood as the limiting value and the convention B
1/2 is used. This intimately relates them to the values of the zeta function at negative integers. As such, they could be
expected to have and do have deep arithmetical properties. For example, the Agoh•Giuga conjecture postulates that
p is a prime number if and only if pB
is congruent to ‰1 modulo p. Divisibility properties of the Bernoulli
numbers are related to the ideal class groups of cyclotomic fields by a theorem of Kummer and its strengthening in
the Herbrand-Ribet theorem, and to class numbers of real quadratic fields by Ankeny•Artin•Chowla.
The Kummer theorems
The Bernoulli numbers are related to Fermat's last theorem (FLT) by Kummer's theorem (Kummer 1850), which
If the odd prime p does not divide any of the numerators of the Bernoulli numbers B
, B
, ..., B
 + y
 + z
 = 0 has no solutions in non-zero integers.
Prime numbers with this property are called regular primes. Another classical result of Kummer (Kummer 1851) are
the following congruences.
Let p be an odd prime and b an even number such that p ‰ 1 does not divide b. Then for any non-negative integer k
A generalization of these congruences goes by the name of p-adic continuity.
p-adic continuity
If b, m and n are positive integers such that m and n are not divisible by p ‰ 1 and , then
Since B
= ˆn Ø(1 ˆ n), this can also be written
where u = 1 ‰ m and v = 1 ‰ n, so that u and v are nonpositive and not congruent to 1 modulo p ‰ 1. This tells us that
the Riemann zeta function, with 1 ‰ p
taken out of the Euler product formula, is continuous in the p-adic numbers
on odd negative integers congruent modulo p ‰ 1 to a particular , and so can be extended to a
continuous function Ø
(s) for all p-adic integers , the p-adic zeta function.
Bernoulli number
Ramanujan's congruences
The following relations, due to Ramanujan, provide a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers that is more
efficient than the one given by their original recursive definition:
Von StaudtƒClausen theorem
The von Staudt•Clausen theorem was given by Karl Georg Christian von Staudt (von Staudt 1840) and Thomas
Clausen (Clausen 1840) independently in 1840. The theorem states that for every n > 0,
is an integer. The sum extends over all primes p for which p ‰ 1 divides 2n.
A consequence of this is that the denominator of B
is given by the product of all primes p for which p ‰ 1 divides
2n. In particular, these denominators are square-free and divisible by 6.
Why do the odd Bernoulli numbers vanish?
The sum
can be evaluated for negative values of the index n. Doing so will show that it is an odd function for even values of
k, which implies that the sum has only terms of odd index. This and the formula for the Bernoulli sum imply that
is 0 for m odd and greater than 1; and that the term for B
is cancelled by the subtraction. The
von Staudt Clausen theorem combined with Worpitzky's representation also gives a combinatorial answer to this
question (valid for n > 1).
From the von Staudt Clausen theorem it is known that for odd n > 1 the number 2B
is an integer. This seems trivial
if one knows beforehand that in this case B
 = 0. However, by applying Worpitzky's representation one gets
as a sum of integers, which is not trivial. Here a combinatorial fact comes to surface which explains the vanishing of
the Bernoulli numbers at odd index. Let S
be the number of surjective maps from {1, 2, ..., n} to {1, 2, ..., m}, then
. The last equation can only hold if
This equation can be proved by induction. The first two examples of this equation are
n = 4:  2 + 8 = 7 + 3,
n = 6:  2 + 120 + 144 = 31 + 195 + 40.
Thus the Bernoulli numbers vanish at odd index because some non-obvious combinatorial identities are embodied in
the Bernoulli numbers.
Bernoulli number
A restatement of the Riemann hypothesis
The connection between the Bernoulli numbers and the Riemann zeta function is strong enough to provide an
alternate formulation of the Riemann hypothesis (RH) which uses only the Bernoulli number. In fact Marcel Riesz
(Riesz 1916) proved that the RH is equivalent to the following assertion:
For every • > 1/4 there exists a constant C

 > 0 (depending on •) such that |R(x)| < C
as x ˜ ™.
Here R(x) is the Riesz function
denotes the rising factorial power in the notation of D. E. Knuth. The number ‘
= B
/n occur frequently in the
study of the zeta function and are significant because ‘
is a p-integer for primes p where p ‰ 1 does not divide n.
The ‘
are called divided Bernoulli number.
Early history
The Bernoulli numbers are rooted in the early history of the computation of sums of integer powers, which have
been of interest to mathematicians since antiquity.
A page from Seki K×wa's Katsuyo Sampo (1712),
tabulating binomial coefficients and Bernoulli
Methods to calculate the sum of the first n positive integers, the sum of
the squares and of the cubes of the first n positive integers were
known, but there were no real 'formulas', only descriptions given
entirely in words. Among the great mathematicians of antiquity which
considered this problem were: Pythagoras (c. 572•497 BCE, Greece),
Archimedes (287•212 BCE, Italy), Aryabhata (b. 476, India), Abu
Bakr al-Karaji (d. 1019, Persia) and Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn
al-Haytham (965•1039, Iraq).
During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
mathematicians made significant progress. In the West Thomas Harriot
(1560•1621) of England, Johann Faulhaber (1580•1635) of Germany,
Pierre de Fermat (1601•1665) and fellow French mathematician Blaise
Pascal (1623•1662) all played important roles.
Thomas Harriot seems to have been the first to derive and write
formulas for sums of powers using symbolic notation, but even he
calculated only up to the sum of the fourth powers. Johann Faulhaber
gave formulas for sums of powers up to the 17th power in his 1631
Academia Algebrae, far higher than anyone before him, but he did not
give a general formula.
The Swiss mathematician Jakob Bernoulli (1654•1705) was the first to realize the existence of a single sequence of
constants B
, B
, B
, ... which provide a uniform formula for all sums of powers (Knuth 1993).
The joy Bernoulli experienced when he hit upon the pattern needed to compute quickly and easily the coefficients of
his formula for the sum of the c-th powers for any positive integer c can be seen from his comment. He wrote:
“With the help of this table, it took me less than half of a quarter of an hour to find that the tenth powers of the first
1000 numbers being added together will yield the sum
Bernoulli number
Bernoulli's result was published posthumously in Ars Conjectandi in 1713. Seki K×wa independently discovered the
Bernoulli numbers and his result was published a year earlier, also posthumously, in 1712.
However, Seki did not
present his method as a formula based on a sequence of constants.
Bernoulli's formula for sums of powers is the most useful and generalizable formulation to date. The coefficients in
Bernoulli's formula are now called Bernoulli numbers, following a suggestion of Abraham de Moivre.
Bernoulli's formula is sometimes called Faulhaber's formula after Johann Faulhaber who found remarkable ways to
calculate sum of powers but never stated Bernoulli's formula. To call Bernoulli's formula Faulhaber's formula does
injustice to Bernoulli and simultaneously hides the genius of Faulhaber as Faulhaber's formula is in fact more
efficient than Bernoulli's formula. According to Knuth (Knuth 1993) a rigorous proof of Faulhaber€s formula was
first published by Carl Jacobi in 1834 (Jacobi 1834). Donald E. Knuth's in-depth study of Faulhaber's formula
„Faulhaber never discovered the Bernoulli numbers; i.e., he never realized that a single sequence of constants B
, B
, ... would provide a uniform
for all sums of powers. He never mentioned, for example, the fact that almost half of the coefficients turned out to be
zero after he had converted his formulas for from polynomials in N to polynomials in n.… (Knuth 1993, p. 14)
Reconstruction of "Summae Potestatum"
Jakob Bernoulli's Summae Potestatum, 1713
The Bernoulli numbers were introduced by Jakob Bernoulli in the book
Ars Conjectandi published posthumously in 1713. The main formula
can be seen in the second half of the corresponding facsimile. The
constant coefficients denoted A, B, C and D by Bernoulli are mapped
to the notation which is now prevalent as A = B
, B = B
, C = B
D = B
. In the expression c™c‰1™c‰2™c‰3 the small dots are used as
grouping symbols, not as signs for multiplication. Using today's
terminology these expressions are falling factorial powers . The
factorial notation k! as a shortcut for 1 ± 2 ± ... ± k was not introduced
until 100 years later. The integral symbol on the left hand side goes
back to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in 1675 who used it as a long letter
S for "summa" (sum). (The Mathematics Genealogy Project
Leibniz as the doctoral adviser of Jakob Bernoulli. See also the Earliest
Uses of Symbols of Calculus.
) The letter n on the left hand side is
not an index of summation but gives the upper limit of the range of
summation which is to be understood as 1, 2, ‡, n. Putting things
together, for positive c, today a mathematician is likely to write Bernoulli's formula as:
In fact this formula imperatively suggests to set B
= Ç when switching from the so-called 'archaic' enumeration
which uses only the even indices 2, 4, ‡ to the modern form (more on different conventions in the next paragraph).
Most striking in this context is the fact that the falling factorial has for k = 0 the value .
Thus Bernoulli's
formula can and has to be written:
Bernoulli number
If B
stands for the value Bernoulli himself has given to the coefficient at that position.
Generalized Bernoulli numbers
The generalized Bernoulli numbers are certain algebraic numbers, defined similarly to the Bernoulli numbers, that
are related to special values of Dirichlet L-functions in the same way that Bernoulli numbers are related to special
values of the Riemann zeta function.
Let “ be a primitive Dirichlet character modulo f. The generalized Bernoulli numbers attached to “ are defined by
Let Š š {0, 1} be defined by “(‰1) = (‰1)
. Then,
 • 0 if, and only if, k › Š (mod 2).
Generalizing the relation between Bernoulli numbers and values of the Riemann zeta function at non-positive
integers, one has the for all integers k – 1
where L(s, “) is the Dirichlet L-function of “.
Assorted identities
€ Umbral calculus gives a compact form of Bernoulli's formula by using an abstract symbol B:
where the symbol that appears during binomial expansion of the parenthesized term is to be replaced by the
Bernoulli number (and ). More suggestively and mnemonically, this may be written as a definite
Many other Bernoulli identities can be written compactly with this symbol, e.g.
€ Let n be non-negative and even
€ The nth cumulant of the uniform probability distribution on the interval [‰1, 0] is B
€ Let nÛ = 1/n! and n – 1. Then B
is the following determinant:
Bernoulli number

2Û 1Û 0 0 0 ... 0
3Û 2Û 1Û 0 0 ... 0
4Û 3Û 2Û 1Û 0 ... 0
... ... ... ... ... ... ...
(n ‰ 1)Û ... ... 3Û 2Û 1Û 0
nÛ (n ‰ 1)Û ... ... 3Û 2Û 1Û
(n + 1)Û nÛ (n ‰ 1)Û ... ... 3Û 2Û
Thus the determinant is -
(1), the Stirling polynomial at x = 1.
€ For even-numbered Bernoulli numbers, B
is given by the p X p determinant:
‰ 2)(2p)Û
3Û 1Û 0 0 0 ... 0
5Û 3Û 1Û 0 0 ... 0
7Û 5Û 3Û 1Û 0 ... 0
... ... ... ... ... ... ...
(2p ‰ 3)Û ... ... 5Û 3Û 1Û 0
(2p ‰ 1)Û (2p ‰ 3)Û ... ... 5Û 3Û 1Û
(2p + 1)Û (2p ‰ 1)Û (2p ‰ 3)Û ... ... 5Û 3Û
€ Let n – 1.
€ Let n – 1. Then (von Ettingshausen 1827)
€ Let n – 0. Then (Leopold Kronecker 1883)
€ Let n – 1 and m – 1. Then (Carlitz 1968)
€ Let n – 4 and
the harmonic number. Then
€ Let n – 4. Yuri Matiyasevich found (1997)
Bernoulli number
€ Faber-Pandharipande-Zagier-Gessel identity: for n – 1,
Choosing x = 0 or x = 1 results in the Bernoulli number identity in one or another convention.
€ The next formula is true for n – 0 if B
= B
(1) = Ç, but only for n – 1 if B
= B
(0) = ‰Ç.
€ Let n – 0 and [b] = 1 if b is true, 0 otherwise.
Values of the first Bernoulli numbers
= 0 for all odd n other than 1. For even n, B
is negative if n is divisible by 4 and positive otherwise. The first few
non-zero Bernoulli numbers are:
n Numerator Denominator Decimal approximation
0 1 1 +1.00000000000
1 ‰1 2 ‰0.50000000000
2 1 6 +0.16666666667
4 ‰1 30 ‰0.03333333333
6 1 42 +0.02380952381
8 ‰1 30 ‰0.03333333333
10 5 66 +0.07575757576
12 ‰691 2730 ‰0.25311355311
14 7 6 +1.16666666667
16 ‰3617 510 ‰7.09215686275
18 43867 798 +54.9711779448
OEIS A027641 A027642
From 6, the denominators are multiples of the sequence of period 2 : 6,30 (sequence A165734 in OEIS). From 2, the
denominators are of the form 4*k + 2.
Bernoulli number
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bestimmten Gattung analytischer Functionen" (http:/ / resolver. sub. uni-goettingen. de/
purl?GDZPPN002147319), J. Reine Angew. Math. 41: 368•372.
€ Luschny, Peter (2007), An inclusion of the Bernoulli numbers (http:/ / www. luschny. de/ math/ primes/ bernincl.
€ Menabrea, L. F. (1842), "Sketch of the Analytic Engine invented by Charles Babbage, with notes upon the
Memoir by the Translator Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace" (http:/ / www. fourmilab. ch/ babbage/ sketch.
html), Biblioth‰que Universelle de Gen‰ve 82
€ Milnor, John W.; Stasheff, James D. (1974), "Appendix B: Bernoulli Numbers", Characteristic Classes, Annals
of Mathematics Studies, 76, Princeton University Press and University of Tokyo Press, pp. 281•287.
€ Neukirch, J·rgen (1999), Algebraic Number Theory, Grundlehren der mathematischen Wissenschaften, 322,
Berlin: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-540-65399-8, Zbl 0956.11021, MR1697859
€ Pavlyk, Oleksandr (2008), Today We Broke the Bernoulli Record: From the Analytical Engine to Mathematica
(http:/ / blog. wolfram. com/ 2008/ 04/ 29/
today-we-broke-the-bernoulli-record-from-the-analytical-engine-to-mathematica/ ), Wolfram Blog.
€ Riesz, M. (1916), "Sur l'hypoth½se de Riemann", Acta Mathematica 40: 185•90, doi:10.1007/BF02418544.
€ Saalsch·tz, Louis (1893), Vorlesungen ‚ber die Bernoullischen Zahlen, ihren Zusammenhang mit den
Secanten-Coefficienten und ihre wichtigeren Anwendungen (http:/ / digital. library. cornell. edu/ cgi/ t/ text/
text-idx?c=math;idno=00450002), Berlin: Julius Springer.
Bernoulli number
€ Seidel, L. (1877), "Über eine einfache Entstehungsweise der Bernoullischen Zahlen und einiger verwandten
Reihen", Sitzungsber. M‚nch. Akad. 4: 157•187.
€ Selin, Helaine, ed. (1997), "Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western
Cultures", Encyclopaedia of the History of Science (Springer): 819, Bibcode 2008ehst.book.....S,
ISBN 0-7923-4066-3.
€ Slavutskii, Ilya Sh. (1995), "Staudt and arithmetical properties of Bernoulli numbers", Historia Scientiarum 2:
€ Smith, David Eugene; Mikami, Yoshio (1914), A history of Japanese mathematics (http:/ / books. google. com/
?id=pTcQsvfbSu4C& pg=PA108), Open Court publishing company, ISBN 978-0-486-43482-7.
€ von Staudt, K. G. Ch. (1840), "Beweis eines Lehrsatzes, die Bernoullischen Zahlen betreffend", Journal f‚r die
reine und angewandte Mathematik 21: 372•374.
€ von Staudt, K. G. Ch. (1845), "De numeris Bernoullianis, commentationem alteram", Erlangen.
€ Sun, Zhi-Wei (2005/2006), Some curious results on Bernoulli and Euler polynomials (http:/ / pweb. nju. edu. cn/
€ Woon, S. C. (1997), "A tree for generating Bernoulli numbers", Math. Mag. 70 (1): 51•56, doi:10.2307/2691054,
JSTOR 2691054.
€€ Woon, S. C. (1998). "Generalization of a relation between the Riemann zeta function and Bernoulli numbers".
arXiv:math.NT/9812143 [math.NT]..
€ Worpitzky, J. (1883), "Studien ·ber die Bernoullischen und Eulerschen Zahlen" (http:/ / resolver. sub.
uni-goettingen. de/ purl?GDZPPN002158698), Journal f‚r die reine und angewandte Mathematik 94: 203•232.
External links
€ Hazewinkel, Michiel, ed. (2001), "Bernoulli numbers" (http:/ / www. encyclopediaofmath. org/ index.
php?title=p/ b015640), Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4
€ The first 498 Bernoulli Numbers (http:/ / www. gutenberg. org/ etext/ 2586) from Project Gutenberg
€ A multimodular algorithm for computing Bernoulli numbers (http:/ / web. maths. unsw. edu. au/ ~davidharvey/
papers/ bernmm/ )
€ The Bernoulli Number Page (http:/ / www. bernoulli. org)
€ Bernoulli number programs (http:/ / en. literateprograms. org/ Category:Bernoulli_numbers) at LiteratePrograms
(http:/ / en. literateprograms. org)
€ Weisstein, Eric W., " Bernoulli Number (http:/ / mathworld. wolfram. com/ BernoulliNumber. html)" from
€ The Computation of Irregular Primes (P. Luschny) (http:/ / www. luschny. de/ math/ primes/ irregular. html)
€ The Computation And Asymptotics Of Bernoulli Numbers (P. Luschny) (http:/ / oeis. org/ wiki/
User:Peter_Luschny/ ComputationAndAsymptoticsOfBernoulliNumbers)
€ Bernoullinumbers in context of Pascal-(Binomial)matrix (http:/ / go. helms-net. de/ math/ pascal/ bernoulli_en.
pdf) german version (http:/ / go. helms-net. de/ math/ pascal/ bernoulli. pdf)
€ summing of like powers in context with Pascal-/Bernoulli-matrix (http:/ / go. helms-net. de/ math/ binomial/
04_3_SummingOfLikePowers. pdf)
€ Some special properties, sums of Bernoulli-and related numbers (http:/ / go. helms-net. de/ math/ binomial/
02_2_GeneralizedBernoulliRecursion. pdf)
€ Bernoulli Numbers Calculator (http:/ / www. numberempire. com/ bernoullinumbers. php)
Bernoulli polynomials
Bernoulli polynomials
In mathematics, the Bernoulli polynomials occur in the study of many special functions and in particular the
Riemann zeta function and the Hurwitz zeta function. This is in large part because they are an Appell sequence, i.e. a
Sheffer sequence for the ordinary derivative operator. Unlike orthogonal polynomials, the Bernoulli polynomials are
remarkable in that the number of crossings of the x-axis in the unit interval does not go up as the degree of the
polynomials goes up. In the limit of large degree, the Bernoulli polynomials, appropriately scaled, approach the sine
and cosine functions.
Bernoulli polynomials
The Bernoulli polynomials B
admit a variety of different
representations. Which among them should be taken to be the
definition may depend on one's purposes.
Explicit formula
for n – 0, where b
are the Bernoulli numbers.
Generating functions
The generating function for the Bernoulli polynomials is
The generating function for the Euler polynomials is
Representation by a differential operator
The Bernoulli polynomials are also given by
where D = d/dx is differentiation with respect to x and the fraction is expanded as a formal power series. It follows
cf. #Integrals below.
Bernoulli polynomials
Representation by an integral operator
The Bernoulli polynomials are the unique polynomials determined by
The integral transform
on polynomials f, simply amounts to
This can be used to produce the #Inversion formulas below.
Another explicit formula
An explicit formula for the Bernoulli polynomials is given by
Note the remarkable similarity to the globally convergent series expression for the Hurwitz zeta function. Indeed,
one has
where Ž(s, q) is the Hurwitz zeta; thus, in a certain sense, the Hurwitz zeta generalizes the Bernoulli polynomials to
non-integer values of n.
The inner sum may be understood to be the nth forward difference of x
; that is,
where ¹ is the forward difference operator. Thus, one may write
This formula may be derived from an identity appearing above as follows. Since the forward difference operator ¹
where D is differentiation with respect to x, we have, from the Mercator series
As long as this operates on an mth-degree polynomial such as x
, one may let n go from 0 only up to m.
An integral representation for the Bernoulli polynomials is given by the N»rlund•Rice integral, which follows from
the expression as a finite difference.
An explicit formula for the Euler polynomials is given by
This may also be written in terms of the Euler numbers E
Bernoulli polynomials
Sums of pth powers
We have
See Faulhaber's formula for more on this.
The Bernoulli and Euler numbers
The Bernoulli numbers are given by An alternate convention defines the Bernoulli numbers as
. This definition gives B
 = ‰nØ(1 ‰ n) where for n = 0 and n = 1 the expression ‰nØ(1 ‰ n) is to be
understood as lim
x ˜ n
 ‰xØ(1 ‰ x). The two conventions differ only for n = 1 since B
(1) = 1/2 = ‰B
The Euler numbers are given by
Explicit expressions for low degrees
The first few Bernoulli polynomials are:
The first few Euler polynomials are
Bernoulli polynomials
Maximum and minimum
At higher n, the amount of variation in B
(x) between x = 0 and x = 1 gets large. For instance,
which shows that the value at x = 0 (and at x = 1) is ‰3617/510 Ž ‰7.09, while at x = 1/2, the value is
118518239/3342336 Ž +7.09. D.H. Lehmer
showed that the maximum value of B
(x) between 0 and 1 obeys
unless n is 2 modulo 4, in which case
(where is the Riemann zeta function), while the minimum obeys
unless n is 0 modulo 4, in which case
These limits are quite close to the actual maximum and minimum, and Lehmer gives more accurate limits as well.
Differences and derivatives
The Bernoulli and Euler polynomials obey many relations from umbral calculus:
(¹ is the forward difference operator).
These polynomial sequences are Appell sequences:
These identities are also equivalent to saying that these polynomial sequences are Appell sequences. (Hermite
polynomials are another example.)
Bernoulli polynomials
Zhi-Wei Sun and Hao Pan
established the following surprising symmetric relation: If r + s + t = n and
x + y + z = 1, then
Fourier series
The Fourier series of the Bernoulli polynomials is also a Dirichlet series, given by the expansion
Note the simple large n limit to suitably scaled trigonometric functions.
This is a special case of the analogous form for the Hurwitz zeta function
This expansion is valid only for 0 œ x œ 1 when n – 2 and is valid for 0 < x < 1 when n = 1.
The Fourier series of the Euler polynomials may also be calculated. Defining the functions
for , the Euler polynomial has the Fourier series
Note that the and are odd and even, respectively:
They are related to the Legendre chi function as
Bernoulli polynomials
The Bernoulli and Euler polynomials may be inverted to express the monomial in terms of the polynomials.
Specifically, evidently from the above section on #Representation by an integral operator, it follows that
Relation to falling factorial
The Bernoulli polynomials may be expanded in terms of the falling factorial as
where and
denotes the Stirling number of the second kind. The above may be inverted to express the falling factorial in terms of
the Bernoulli polynomials:
denotes the Stirling number of the first kind.
Multiplication theorems
The multiplication theorems were given by Joseph Ludwig Raabe in 1851:
Bernoulli polynomials
Indefinite integrals
Definite integrals
Periodic Bernoulli polynomials
A periodic Bernoulli polynomial P
(x) is a Bernoulli polynomial evaluated at the fractional part of the argument x.
These functions are used to provide the remainder term in the Euler•Maclaurin formula relating sums to integrals.
The first polynomial is a sawtooth function.
[1] D.H. Lehmer, "On the Maxima and Minima of Bernoulli Polynomials", American Mathematical Monthly, volume 47, pages 533•538 (1940)
[2] Zhi-Wei Sun; Hao Pan (2006). "Identities concerning Bernoulli and Euler polynomials". Acta Arithmetica 125: 21•39. arXiv:math/0409035.
€ Milton Abramowitz and Irene A. Stegun, eds. Handbook of Mathematical Functions with Formulas, Graphs, and
Mathematical Tables, (1972) Dover, New York. (See Chapter 23 (http:/ / www. math. sfu. ca/ ~cbm/ aands/
page_804. htm))
€ Apostol, Tom M. (1976), Introduction to analytic number theory, Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics, New
York-Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-0-387-90163-3, MR0434929, Zbl 0335.10001 (See chapter 12.11)
€ Dilcher, K. (2010), "Bernoulli and Euler Polynomials" (http:/ / dlmf. nist. gov/ 24), in Olver, Frank W. J.; Lozier,
Daniel M.; Boisvert, Ronald F. et al., NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions, Cambridge University Press,
ISBN 978-0521192255, MR2723248
€ CvijoviÝ, Djurdje; Klinowski, Jacek (1995). "New formulae for the Bernoulli and Euler polynomials at rational
arguments". Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society 123: 1527•1535.
€ Guillera, Jesus; Sondow, Jonathan (2008). "Double integrals and infinite products for some classical constants via
analytic continuations of Lerch's transcendent". The Ramanujan Journal 16 (3): 247•270.
arXiv:math.NT/0506319. doi:10.1007/s11139-007-9102-0. (Reviews relationship to the Hurwitz zeta function and
Lerch transcendent.)
€ Hugh L. Montgomery; Robert C. Vaughan (2007). Multiplicative number theory I. Classical theory. Cambridge
tracts in advanced mathematics. 97. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. pp. 495•519. ISBN 0-521-84903-9.
Bernoulli process
Bernoulli process
In probability and statistics, a Bernoulli process is a finite or infinite sequence of binary random variables, so it is a
discrete-time stochastic process that takes only two values, canonically 0 and 1. The component Bernoulli variables
are identical and independent. Prosaically, a Bernoulli process is a repeated coin flipping, possibly with an unfair
coin (but with consistent unfairness!). Every variable X
in the sequence is associated with a Bernoulli trial or
experiment. They all have the same Bernoulli distribution. Much of what can be said about the Bernoulli process can
also be generalized to more than two outcomes (such as the process for a six-sided die); this generalization is known
as the Bernoulli scheme.
The problem of determining the process, given only a limited sample of the Bernoulli trials, may be called the
problem of checking if a coin is fair.
A Bernoulli process is a finite or infinite sequence of independent random variables X
, X
, X
, ..., such that
€ For each i, the value of X
is either 0 or 1;
€ For all values of i, the probability that X
 = 1 is the same number p.
In other words, a Bernoulli process is a sequence of independent identically distributed Bernoulli trials.
Independence of the trials implies that the process is memoryless. Given that the probability p is known, past
outcomes provide no information about future outcomes. (If p is unknown, however, the past informs about the
future indirectly, through inferences about p.)
If the process is infinite, then from any point the future trials constitute a Bernoulli process identical to the whole
process, the fresh-start property.
The two possible values of each X
are often called "success" and "failure". Thus, when expressed as a number 0 or 1,
the outcome may be called the number of successes on the ith "trial".
Two other common interpretations of the values are true or false and yes or no. Under any interpretation of the two
values, the individual variables X
may be called Bernoulli trials with parameter p.
In many applications time passes between trials, as the index i increases. In effect, the trials X
, X
, ... X
, ... happen
at "points in time" 1, 2, ..., i, .... That passage of time and the associated notions of "past" and "future" are not
necessary, however. Most generally, any X
and X
in the process are simply two from a set of random variables
indexed by {1, 2, ..., n} or by {1, 2, 3, ...}, the finite and infinite cases.
Several random variables and probability distributions beside the Bernoullis may be derived from the Bernoulli
€ The number of successes in the first n trials, which has a binomial distribution B(n, p)
€ The number of trials needed to get r successes, which has a negative binomial distribution NB(r, p)
€ The number of trials needed to get one success, which has a geometric distribution NB(1, p), a special case of the
negative binomial distribution
The negative binomial variables may be interpreted as random waiting times.
Bernoulli process
Formal definition
The Bernoulli process can be formalized in the language of probability spaces as a random sequence in
of a single random variable that can take values of heads or tails.
Specifically, one considers the countably infinite direct product of copies of . It is common to
examine either the one-sided set or the two-sided set . There is a natural topology
on this space, called the product topology. The sets in this topology are finite sequences of coin flips, that is,
finite-length strings of H and T, with the rest of (infinitely long) sequence taken as "don't care". These sets of finite
sequences are referred to as cylinder sets in the product topology. The set of all such strings form a sigma algebra,
specifically, a Borel algebra. This algebra is then commonly written as where the elements of are the
finite-length sequences of coin flips (the cylinder sets). Note that the stress here is on finite length: the infinite-length
sequences of coin-flips are excluded from the product topology; that this is a reasonable thing to do will become
clear below.
If the chances of flipping heads or tails are given by the probabilities , then one can define a natural
measure on the product space, given by (or by for the two-sided process).
Given a cylinder set, that is, a specific sequence of coin flip results at times , the
probability of observing this particular sequence is given by
where k is the number of times that H appears in the sequence, and n-k is the number of times that T appears in the
sequence. There are several different kinds of notations for the above; a common one is to write
where each is a binary-valued random variable. It is common to write for . This probability P is
commonly called the Bernoulli measure.
Note that the probability of any specific, infinitely long sequence of coin flips is exactly zero; this is because
, for any . One says that any given infinite sequence has measure zero. Thus, infinite
sequences of coin-flips are simply not needed to discuss the Bernoulli process, and it is for this reason that the
product topology explicitly excludes them: it is the coarsest topology that allows the discussion of coin-flips. (Finer
topologies, which do allow infinite sequences, can, in fact, lead to certain kinds of confusion and seeming paradoxes;
see e.g. strong topology). Nevertheless, one can still say that some classes of infinite sequences of coin flips are far
more likely than others, this is given by the asymptotic equipartition property.
To conclude the formal definition, a Bernoulli process is then given by the probability triple , as defined
Finite vs. infinite sequences
The sigma algebra for a single coin toss is the set
with the probabilities
Roughly speaking, the sigma algebra for the one-sided infinite case can be thought of as
although a more formally correct definition is given below. For this infinite case, consider the two cylinder sets
Bernoulli process
Here, the '*' means 'don't care', and so the cylinder set corresponds to 'flipped tails on the first flip, and don't care
about the rest'. The measure of (the probability of ) is
That is, the measure of cylinder set is nothing other than the probability of flipping tails, once. Likewise, one
may consider the cylinder set
of flipping tails twice in a row, followed by an infinite sequence of 'don't care's. The measure of this set is again
exactly equal to the probability of flipping tails twice, and never flipping again. In essence, a finite sequence of flips
corresponds in a one-to-one fashion with a cylinder set taken from the infinite product. The definition of the
Bernoulli process does not need any special treatment to distinguish the 'finite case' from the 'infinite case': the
mechanics covers both cases equally well.
It should be emphasized that this works because the Bernoulli process was defined this way: the sigma algebra
consists of the union of all finite-length (but unbounded!) cylinder sets. Infinite-length strings are explicitly excluded
from the construction. Thus, letting be the set of all cylidner sets of length n (and is thus a sigma algebra in and
of itself), the sigma algebra describing the Bernoulli process is given by
where this sigma algebra is the middle letter in the Bernoulli process triple
The difference between the above, formal definition, and the somewhat sloppy, informal idea that
is worth noting. In the formal case, each finite set is endowed with a natural topology, the discrete topology; taking
the union preserves this notion. In the informal definition, a question arises: what should the topology be? What
could it be? One has the choice of the initial topology and the final topology. The formal definition makes it clear:
it's the former, not the latter.
Binomial distribution
The law of large numbers states that, on average, the expectation value of flipping heads for any one coin flip is p.
That is, one writes
for any one given random variable out of the infinite sequence of Bernoulli trials that compose the Bernoulli
One is often interested in knowing how often one will observe H in a sequence of n coin flips. This is given by
simply counting: Given n successive coin flips, that is, given the set of all possible strings of length n, the number
N(k,n) of such strings that contain k occurrences of H is given by the binomial coefficient
Bernoulli process
If the probability of flipping heads is given by p, then the total probability of seeing a string of length n with k heads
This probability is known as the Binomial distribution.
Of particular interest is the question of the value of P(k,n) for very, very long sequences of coin flips, that is, for the
limit . In this case, one may make use of Stirling's approximation to the factorial, and write
Inserting this into the expression for P(k,n), one obtains the Gaussian distribution; this is the content of the central
limit theorem, and this is the simplest example thereof.
The combination of the law of large numbers, together with the central limit theorem, leads to an interesting and
perhaps surprising result: the asymptotic equipartition property. Put informally, one notes that, yes, over many coin
flips, one will observe H exactly p fraction of the time, and that this corresponds exactly with the peak of the
Gaussian. The asymptotic equipartition property essentially states that this peak is infinitely sharp, with infinite
fall-off on either side. That is, given the set of all possible infinitely long strings of H and T occurring in the
Bernoulli process, this set is partitioned into two: those strings that occur with probability 1, and those that occur
with probability 0. This partitioning is known as the Kolmogorov 0-1 law.
The size of this set is interesting, also, and can be explicitly determined: the logarithm of it is exactly the entropy of
the Bernoulli process. Once again, consider the set of all strings of length n. The size of this set is . Of these,
only a certain subset are likely; the size of this set is for . By using Stirling's approximation, putting it
into the expression for P(k,n), solving for the location and width of the peak, and finally taking one finds
This value is the Bernoulli entropy entropy of a Bernoulli process. Here, H stands for entropy; do not confuse it with
the same symbol H standing for heads.
von Neumann posed a curious question about the Bernoulli process: is it ever possible that a given process is
isomorphic to another, in the sense of the isomorphism of dynamical systems? The question long defied analysis, but
was finally and completely answered with the Ornstein isomorphism theorem. This breakthrough resulted in the
understanding that the Bernoulli process is unique and universal; in a certain sense, it is the single most random
process possible; nothing is 'more' random than the Bernoulli process (although one must be careful with this
informal statement; certainly, systems that are mixing are, in a certain sense, 'stronger' than the Bernoulli process,
which is merely ergodic but not mixing. However, such processes do not consist of independent random variables:
indeed, many purely deterministic, non-random systems can be mixing).
Bernoulli process
As a metric space
Given any two infinite binary sequences and , one can define
a metric, and, in fact, an ultrametric by considering the first location where these two strings differ. That is, let
One then defines the distance between x and y as
This metric is known as the k-adic metric (for k=2).
With it, the Bernoulli process becomes a compact metric
The metric topology induced by this metric results in exactly the same Borel sigma algebra as that
constructed from the cylinder sets; this is essentially because the open balls induced by the metric are complements
of the cylinder sets (the only points in are the infinite strings).
As a dynamical system
The Bernoulli process can also be understood to be a dynamical system, specifically, a measure-preserving
dynamical system. This arises because there is a natural translation symmetry on the (two-sided) product space
given by the shift operator
The measure is translation-invariant; that is, given any cylinder set , one has
and thus the Bernoulli measure is a Haar measure.
The shift operator should be understood to be an operator acting on the sigma algebra , so that one has
In this guise, the shift operator is known as the transfer operator or the Ruelle-Frobenius-Perron operator. It is
interesting to consider the eigenfunctions of this operator, and how they differ when restricted to different subspaces
of . When restricted to the standard topology of the real numbers, the eigenfunctions are curiously the
Bernoulli polynomials!
This coincidence of naming was presumably not known to Bernoulli.
The coin flips of the Bernoulli process are presumed to be independent, and perfectly uncorrelated. It is reasonable to
ask what might happen if they were correlated, but still time-invariant. In this case, one gets a specific kind of
Markov chain, known as the one-dimensional Ising model.
As the Cantor space
The space is equivalent to the Cantor set, and, in formal discussions, it is often called the Cantor space.
Elements of the Cantor set are the infinitely long strings of H, T. The above discussion shows that the Bernoulli
process is one particular kind of measure on the Cantor space, although there are many others.
The Cantor space is universal in many ways; one particular way in which this holds is that the real numbers,
specifically, the unit interval [0,1] can be embedded in the Cantor set. One does this by interpreting coin flips H and
T as 0 and 1, and then takes an infinite sequence of these as a binary number. That is, given an infinite sequence
of binary digits, one considers
This function is onto but not one-to-one; every dyadic rational has two possible representations,
one ending with all zero's and one ending with all one's. As real numbers, these are the same; this is commonly
known as the theorem that 0.999...=1.000....
The shift operator composed with this map gives the Bernoulli map. That is, one has
Bernoulli process
where denotes the floor of 2y.
In order to study this map properly, one should, again, consider not infinite sequences of coin-tosses, but rather, the
finite sequences that lead to the product topology of the Bernoulli process. In this case, one finds that the Bernoulli
map is ergodic, but not strong mixing.
The analogous construction for the two-sided Bernoulli process results in the Baker's map. Thus, the Bernoulli
process is an Axiom A system.
Bernoulli sequence
The term Bernoulli sequence is often used informally to refer to a realization of a Bernoulli process. However, the
term has an entirely different formal definition as given below.
Suppose a Bernoulli process formally defined as a single random variable (see preceding section). For every infinite
sequence x of coin flips, there is a sequence of integers
called the Bernoulli sequence associated with the Bernoulli process. For example, if x represents a sequence of coin
flips, then the associated Bernoulli sequence is the list of natural numbers or time-points for which the coin toss
outcome is heads.
So defined, a Bernoulli sequence is also a random subset of the index set, the natural numbers .
Almost all Bernoulli sequences are ergodic sequences.
Randomness extraction
From any Bernoulli process one may derive a Bernoulli process with p = 1/2 by the von Neumann extractor, the
earliest randomness extractor, which actually extracts uniform randomness.
Represent the observed process as a sequence of zeroes and ones, or bits, and group that input stream in
non-overlapping pairs of successive bits, such as (11)(00)(10)... . Then for each pair,
€€ if the bits are equal, discard;
€€ if the bits are not equal, output the first bit.
This table summarizes the computation.
input output
00 discard
01 0
10 1
11 discard
In the output stream 0 and 1 are equally likely, as 10 and 01 are equally likely in the original, both having probability
pq = qp. This extraction of uniform randomness does not require the input trials to be independent, only
uncorrelated. More generally, it works for any exchangeable sequence of bits: all sequences that are finite
rearrangements are equally likely.
The Von Neumann extractor uses two input bits to produce either zero or one output bits, so the output is shorter
than the input by a factor of at least 2. On average the computation discards proportion p
 + (1 ‰ p)
of the input
pairs, or proportion p
 + q
, which is near one when p is near zero or one.
Bernoulli process
The discard of input pairs is at least proportion 1/2, the minimum which occurs where p = 1/2 for the original
process. In that case the output stream is 1/4 the length of the input on average.
[1] Achim Klenke, Probability Theory, (2006) Springer-Verlag ISBN 978-1-848000-047-6 doi:10.1007/978-1-848000-048-3
[2] Note: this metric is also frequently called the p-adic metric, with p standing for prime number. In order to avoid confusion with p the
probability, it is safe to call this k-adic, and this is frequently done.
[3] Pierre Gaspard, "r-adic one-dimensional maps and the Euler summation formula", Journal of Physics A, 25 (letter) L483-L485 (1992).
[4] [4] Dean J. Driebe, Fully Chaotic Maps and Broken Time Symmetry, (1999) Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht Netherlands ISBN
Further reading
€ Carl W. Helstrom, Probability and Stochastic Processes for Engineers, (1984) Macmillan Publishing Company,
New York ISBN 0-02-353560-1.
€ Dimitri P. Bertsekas and John N. Tsitsiklis, Introduction to Probability, (2002) Athena Scientific, Massachusetts
ISBN 1-886529-40-X
External links
€ Using a binary tree diagram for describing a Bernoulli process (http:/ / www. r-statistics. com/ 2011/ 11/
diagram-for-a-bernoulli-process-using-r/ )
Bernoulli trial
In the theory of probability and statistics, a Bernoulli trial is an experiment whose outcome is random and can be
either of two possible outcomes, "success" and "failure". The mathematical formalization of the Bernoulli trial is
known as the Bernoulli process. This article offers an elementary introduction to the concept, whereas the article on
the Bernoulli process offers a more advanced treatment.
In practice it refers to a single experiment which can have one of two possible outcomes. These events can be
phrased into "yes or no" questions:
€ Did the coin land heads?
€€ Was the newborn child a girl?
Therefore success and failure are labels for outcomes, and should not be construed literally. The term "success" in
this sense consists in the result meeting specified conditions, not in any moral judgement. Examples of Bernoulli
trials include
€ Flipping a coin. In this context, obverse ("heads") conventionally denotes success and reverse ("tails") denotes
failure. A fair coin has the probability of success 0.5 by definition.
€ Rolling a die, where a six is "success" and everything else a "failure".
€ In conducting a political opinion poll, choosing a voter at random to ascertain whether that voter will vote "yes"
in an upcoming referendum.
Bernoulli trial
Independent repeated trials of an experiment with two outcomes only are called Bernoulli trials. Call one of the
outcomes "success" and the other outcome "failure". Let be the probability of success in a Bernoulli trial. Then
the probability of failure is given by
Random variables describing Bernoulli trials are often encoded using the convention that 1 = "success", 0 =
Closely related to a Bernoulli trial is a binomial experiment, which consists of a fixed number of statistically
independent Bernoulli trials, each with a probability of success , and counts the number of successes. A random
variable corresponding to a binomial is denoted by , and is said to have a binomial distribution. The
probability of exactly successes in the experiment is given by:
Bernoulli trials may also lead to negative binomial distributions (which count the number of successes in a series of
repeated Bernoulli trials until a specified number of failures are seen), as well as various other distributions.
When multiple Bernoulli trials are performed, each with its own probability of success, these are sometimes referred
to as Poisson trials.
Example: Tossing Coins
Consider the simple experiment where a fair coin is tossed four times. Find the probability that exactly two of the
tosses result in heads.
For this experiment, let a heads be defined as a success and a tails as a failure. Because the coin is assumed to be
fair, the probability of success is . Thus the probability of failure, , is given by
Using the equation above, the probability of exactly two tosses out of four total tosses resulting in a heads is given
Bernoulli trial
[1] Rajeev Motwani and P. Raghavan. Randomized Algorithms. Cambridge University Press, New York (NY), 1995, p.67-68
External links
€ Hazewinkel, Michiel, ed. (2001), "Bernoulli trials" (http:/ / www. encyclopediaofmath. org/ index. php?title=p/
b015690), Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4
€ Weisstein, Eric W., " Bernoulli Trial (http:/ / mathworld. wolfram. com/ BernoulliTrial. html)" from MathWorld.
Bernoulli's principle
A flow of air into a venturi meter. The kinetic
energy increases at the expense of the fluid
pressure, as shown by the difference in height of
the two columns of water.
In fluid dynamics, Bernoulli's principle states that for an inviscid
flow, an increase in the speed of the fluid occurs simultaneously with a
decrease in pressure or a decrease in the fluid's potential energy.
Bernoulli's principle is named after the Swiss scientist Daniel Bernoulli
who published his principle in his book Hydrodynamica in 1738.
Bernoulli's principle can be applied to various types of fluid flow,
resulting in what is loosely denoted as Bernoulli's equation. In fact,
there are different forms of the Bernoulli equation for different types of
flow. The simple form of Bernoulli's principle is valid for
incompressible flows (e.g. most liquid flows) and also for compressible
flows (e.g. gases) moving at low Mach numbers. More advanced forms
may in some cases be applied to compressible flows at higher Mach
numbers (see the derivations of the Bernoulli equation).
Bernoulli's principle can be derived from the principle of conservation
of energy. This states that, in a steady flow, the sum of all forms of mechanical energy in a fluid along a streamline is
the same at all points on that streamline. This requires that the sum of kinetic energy and potential energy remain
constant. Thus an increase in the speed of the fluid occurs proportionately with an increase in both its dynamic
pressure and kinetic energy, and a decrease in its static pressure and potential energy. If the fluid is flowing out of a
reservoir, the sum of all forms of energy is the same on all streamlines because in a reservoir the energy per unit
volume (the sum of pressure and gravitational potential ’ g h) is the same everywhere.
Bernoulli's principle can also be derived directly from Newton's 2nd law. If a small volume of fluid is flowing
horizontally from a region of high pressure to a region of low pressure, then there is more pressure behind than in
front. This gives a net force on the volume, accelerating it along the streamline.
Fluid particles are subject only to pressure and their own weight. If a fluid is flowing horizontally and along a section
of a streamline, where the speed increases it can only be because the fluid on that section has moved from a region of
higher pressure to a region of lower pressure; and if its speed decreases, it can only be because it has moved from a
region of lower pressure to a region of higher pressure. Consequently, within a fluid flowing horizontally, the highest
speed occurs where the pressure is lowest, and the lowest speed occurs where the pressure is highest.
Bernoulli's principle
Incompressible flow equation
In most flows of liquids, and of gases at low Mach number, the density of a fluid parcel can be considered to be
constant, regardless of pressure variations in the flow. Therefore, the fluid can be considered to be incompressible
and these flows are called incompressible flow. Bernoulli performed his experiments on liquids, so his equation in its
original form is valid only for incompressible flow. A common form of Bernoulli's equation, valid at any arbitrary
point along a streamline, is:
is the fluid flow speed at a point on a streamline,
is the acceleration due to gravity,
is the elevation of the point above a reference plane, with the positive z-direction pointing upward • so in
the direction opposite to the gravitational acceleration,
is the pressure at the chosen point, and
is the density of the fluid at all points in the fluid.
For conservative force fields, Bernoulli's equation can be generalized as:
where “ is the force potential at the point considered on the streamline. E.g. for the Earth's gravity “ = gz.
The following two assumptions must be met for this Bernoulli equation to apply:
€ the flow must be incompressible • even though pressure varies, the density must remain constant along a
€€ friction by viscous forces has to be negligible.
By multiplying with the fluid density , equation (A) can be rewritten as:
is dynamic pressure,
is the piezometric head or hydraulic head (the sum of the elevation z and the pressure
is the total pressure (the sum of the static pressure p and dynamic pressure q).
The constant in the Bernoulli equation can be normalised. A common approach is in terms of total head or energy
head H:
The above equations suggest there is a flow speed at which pressure is zero, and at even higher speeds the pressure is
negative. Most often, gases and liquids are not capable of negative absolute pressure, or even zero pressure, so
clearly Bernoulli's equation ceases to be valid before zero pressure is reached. In liquids • when the pressure
becomes too low • cavitation occurs. The above equations use a linear relationship between flow speed squared and
pressure. At higher flow speeds in gases, or for sound waves in liquid, the changes in mass density become
Bernoulli's principle
significant so that the assumption of constant density is invalid.
Simplified form
In many applications of Bernoulli's equation, the change in the ’ g z term along the streamline is so small compared
with the other terms it can be ignored. For example, in the case of aircraft in flight, the change in height z along a
streamline is so small the ’ g z term can be omitted. This allows the above equation to be presented in the following
simplified form:
where p
is called 'total pressure', and q is 'dynamic pressure'.
Many authors refer to the pressure p as static
pressure to distinguish it from total pressure p
and dynamic pressure q. In Aerodynamics, L.J. Clancy writes: "To
distinguish it from the total and dynamic pressures, the actual pressure of the fluid, which is associated not with its
motion but with its state, is often referred to as the static pressure, but where the term pressure alone is used it refers
to this static pressure."
The simplified form of Bernoulli's equation can be summarized in the following memorable word equation:
static pressure + dynamic pressure = total pressure
Every point in a steadily flowing fluid, regardless of the fluid speed at that point, has its own unique static pressure p
and dynamic pressure q. Their sum p + q is defined to be the total pressure p
. The significance of Bernoulli's
principle can now be summarized as total pressure is constant along a streamline.
If the fluid flow is irrotational, the total pressure on every streamline is the same and Bernoulli's principle can be
summarized as total pressure is constant everywhere in the fluid flow.
It is reasonable to assume that irrotational
flow exists in any situation where a large body of fluid is flowing past a solid body. Examples are aircraft in flight,
and ships moving in open bodies of water. However, it is important to remember that Bernoulli's principle does not
apply in the boundary layer or in fluid flow through long pipes.
If the fluid flow at some point along a stream line is brought to rest, this point is called a stagnation point, and at this
point the total pressure is equal to the stagnation pressure.
Applicability of incompressible flow equation to flow of gases
Bernoulli's equation is sometimes valid for the flow of gases: provided that there is no transfer of kinetic or potential
energy from the gas flow to the compression or expansion of the gas. If both the gas pressure and volume change
simultaneously, then work will be done on or by the gas. In this case, Bernoulli's equation • in its incompressible
flow form • can not be assumed to be valid. However if the gas process is entirely isobaric, or isochoric, then no
work is done on or by the gas, (so the simple energy balance is not upset). According to the gas law, an isobaric or
isochoric process is ordinarily the only way to ensure constant density in a gas. Also the gas density will be
proportional to the ratio of pressure and absolute temperature, however this ratio will vary upon compression or
expansion, no matter what non-zero quantity of heat is added or removed. The only exception is if the net heat
transfer is zero, as in a complete thermodynamic cycle, or in an individual isentropic (frictionless adiabatic) process,
and even then this reversible process must be reversed, to restore the gas to the original pressure and specific
volume, and thus density. Only then is the original, unmodified Bernoulli equation applicable. In this case the
equation can be used if the flow speed of the gas is sufficiently below the speed of sound, such that the variation in
density of the gas (due to this effect) along each streamline can be ignored. Adiabatic flow at less than Mach 0.3 is
generally considered to be slow enough.
Bernoulli's principle
Unsteady potential flow
The Bernoulli equation for unsteady potential flow is used in the theory of ocean surface waves and acoustics.
For an irrotational flow, the flow velocity can be described as the gradient „ ” of a velocity potential ”. In that case,
and for a constant density ’, the momentum equations of the Euler equations can be integrated to:
which is a Bernoulli equation valid also for unsteadyˆor time dependentˆflows. Here •”/•t denotes the partial
derivative of the velocity potential ” with respect to time t, and v = |ž”| is the flow speed. The function f(t) depends
only on time and not on position in the fluid. As a result, the Bernoulli equation at some moment t does not only
apply along a certain streamline, but in the whole fluid domain. This is also true for the special case of a steady
irrotational flow, in which case f is a constant.
Further f(t) can be made equal to zero by incorporating it into the velocity potential using the transformation
Note that the relation of the potential to the flow velocity is unaffected by this transformation: žŠ = ž”.
The Bernoulli equation for unsteady potential flow also appears to play a central role in Luke's variational principle,
a variational description of free-surface flows using the Lagrangian (not to be confused with Lagrangian
Compressible flow equation
Bernoulli developed his principle from his observations on liquids, and his equation is applicable only to
incompressible fluids, and compressible fluids up to approximately Mach number 0.3.
It is possible to use the
fundamental principles of physics to develop similar equations applicable to compressible fluids. There are
numerous equations, each tailored for a particular application, but all are analogous to Bernoulli's equation and all
rely on nothing more than the fundamental principles of physics such as Newton's laws of motion or the first law of
Compressible flow in fluid dynamics
For a compressible fluid, with a barotropic equation of state, and under the action of conservative forces,
  (constant along a streamline)
p is the pressure
’ is the density
v is the flow speed
“ is the potential associated with the conservative force field, often the gravitational potential
In engineering situations, elevations are generally small compared to the size of the Earth, and the time scales of
fluid flow are small enough to consider the equation of state as adiabatic. In this case, the above equation becomes
  (constant along a streamline)
where, in addition to the terms listed above:
• is the ratio of the specific heats of the fluid
Bernoulli's principle
g is the acceleration due to gravity
z is the elevation of the point above a reference plane
In many applications of compressible flow, changes in elevation are negligible compared to the other terms, so the
term gz can be omitted. A very useful form of the equation is then:
is the total pressure

is the total density
Compressible flow in thermodynamics
Another useful form of the equation, suitable for use in thermodynamics and for (quasi) steady flow, is:
Here w is the enthalpy per unit mass, which is also often written as h (not to be confused with "head" or "height").
Note that where • is the thermodynamic energy per unit mass, also known as the specific internal
The constant on the right hand side is often called the Bernoulli constant and denoted b. For steady inviscid adiabatic
flow with no additional sources or sinks of energy, b is constant along any given streamline. More generally, when b
may vary along streamlines, it still proves a useful parameter, related to the "head" of the fluid (see below).
When the change in “ can be ignored, a very useful form of this equation is:
where w
is total enthalpy. For a calorically perfect gas such as an ideal gas, the enthalpy is directly proportional to
the temperature, and this leads to the concept of the total (or stagnation) temperature.
When shock waves are present, in a reference frame in which the shock is stationary and the flow is steady, many of
the parameters in the Bernoulli equation suffer abrupt changes in passing through the shock. The Bernoulli parameter
itself, however, remains unaffected. An exception to this rule is radiative shocks, which violate the assumptions
leading to the Bernoulli equation, namely the lack of additional sinks or sources of energy.
Derivations of Bernoulli equation
Bernoulli equation for incompressible fluids
The Bernoulli equation for incompressible fluids can be derived by integrating the Euler equations, or applying the
law of conservation of energy in two sections along a streamline, ignoring viscosity, compressibility, and thermal
The simplest derivation is to first ignore gravity and consider constrictions and expansions in pipes that are otherwise
straight, as seen in Venturi effect. Let the x axis be directed down the axis of the pipe.
Define a parcel of fluid moving through a pipe with cross-sectional area "A", the length of the parcel is "dx", and the
volume of the parcel A dx. If mass density is ’, the mass of the parcel is density multiplied by its volume m = ’ A dx.
The change in pressure over distance dx is "dp" and flow velocity v = dx / dt.
Apply Newton's Second Law of Motion Force =mass±acceleration and recognizing that the effective force on the
parcel of fluid is -A dp. If the pressure decreases along the length of the pipe, dp is negative but the force resulting in
Bernoulli's principle
flow is positive along the x axis.
In steady flow the velocity field is constant with respect to time, v = v(x) = v(x(t)), so v itself is not directly a function
of time t. It is only when the parcel moves through x that the cross sectional area changes: v depends on t only
through the cross-sectional position x(t).
With density ’ constant, the equation of motion can be written as
by integrating with respect to x
where C is a constant, sometimes referred to as the Bernoulli constant. It is not a universal constant, but rather a
constant of a particular fluid system. The deduction is: where the speed is large, pressure is low and vice versa.
In the above derivation, no external work-energy principle is invoked. Rather, Bernoulli's principle was inherently
derived by a simple manipulation of the momentum equation.
A streamtube of fluid moving to the right. Indicated are pressure, elevation, flow speed, distance (s), and cross-sectional area. Note that in this figure
elevation is denoted as h, contrary to the text where it is given by z.
Another way to derive Bernoulli's principle for an incompressible flow is by applying conservation of energy.
the form of the work-energy theorem, stating that
the change in the kinetic energy E
of the system equals the net work W done on the system;
Bernoulli's principle
the work done by the forces in the fluid = increase in kinetic energy.
The system consists of the volume of fluid, initially between the cross-sections A
and A
. In the time interval ¹t
fluid elements initially at the inflow cross-section A
move over a distance s
 = v
 ¹t, while at the outflow
cross-section the fluid moves away from cross-section A
over a distance s
 = v
 ¹t. The displaced fluid volumes at
the inflow and outflow are respectively A
and A
. The associated displaced fluid masses are • when ’ is the
fluid's mass density • equal to density times volume, so ’ A
and ’ A
. By mass conservation, these two masses
displaced in the time interval ¹t have to be equal, and this displaced mass is denoted by ¹m:
The work done by the forces consists of two parts:
€ The work done by the pressure acting on the areas A
and A
€ The work done by gravity: the gravitational potential energy in the volume A
is lost, and at the outflow in the
volume A
is gained. So, the change in gravitational potential energy ¹E
in the time interval ¹t is
Now, the work by the force of gravity is opposite to the change in potential energy, W
 = ‰–E
while the force of gravity is in the negative z-direction, the workˆgravity force times change in
elevationˆwill be negative for a positive elevation change ¹z = z
 ‰ z
, while the corresponding potential
energy change is positive.
And the total work done in this time interval is
The increase in kinetic energy is
Putting these together, the work-kinetic energy theorem W = ¹E
After dividing by the mass ¹m = ’ A
 ¹t = ’ A
 ¹t the result is:
or, as stated in the first paragraph:
  (Eqn. 1), Which is also Equation (A)
Further division by g produces the following equation. Note that each term can be described in the length dimension
(such as meters). This is the head equation derived from Bernoulli's principle:
  (Eqn. 2a)
Bernoulli's principle
The middle term, z, represents the potential energy of the fluid due to its elevation with respect to a reference plane.
Now, z is called the elevation head and given the designation z
A free falling mass from an elevation z > 0 (in a vacuum) will reach a speed
when arriving at elevation z = 0. Or when we rearrange it as a head:
The term v
 / (2 g) is called the velocity head, expressed as a length measurement. It represents the internal energy of
the fluid due to its motion.
The hydrostatic pressure p is defined as
, with p
some reference pressure, or when we rearrange it as a head:
The term p / (’g) is also called the pressure head, expressed as a length measurement. It represents the internal
energy of the fluid due to the pressure exerted on the container.
When we combine the head due to the flow speed and the head due to static pressure with the elevation above a
reference plane, we obtain a simple relationship useful for incompressible fluids using the velocity head, elevation
head, and pressure head.
  (Eqn. 2b)
If we were to multiply Eqn. 1 by the density of the fluid, we would get an equation with three pressure terms:
  (Eqn. 3)
We note that the pressure of the system is constant in this form of the Bernoulli Equation. If the static pressure of the
system (the far right term) increases, and if the pressure due to elevation (the middle term) is constant, then we know
that the dynamic pressure (the left term) must have decreased. In other words, if the speed of a fluid decreases and it
is not due to an elevation difference, we know it must be due to an increase in the static pressure that is resisting the
All three equations are merely simplified versions of an energy balance on a system.
Bernoulli equation for compressible fluids
The derivation for compressible fluids is similar. Again, the derivation depends upon (1) conservation of mass, and (2) conservation of energy.
Conservation of mass implies that in the above figure, in the interval of time ¹t, the amount of mass passing through the boundary defined by the
area A
is equal to the amount of mass passing outwards through the boundary defined by the area A
Conservation of energy is applied in a similar manner: It is assumed that the change in energy of the volume of the streamtube bounded by A
is due entirely to energy entering or leaving through one or the other of these two boundaries. Clearly, in a more complicated situation such as a
fluid flow coupled with radiation, such conditions are not met. Nevertheless, assuming this to be the case and assuming the flow is steady so that the
net change in the energy is zero,
where ¹E
and ¹E
are the energy entering through A
and leaving through A
, respectively.
Bernoulli's principle
The energy entering through A
is the sum of the kinetic energy entering, the energy entering in the form of potential gravitational energy of the
fluid, the fluid thermodynamic energy entering, and the energy entering in the form of mechanical p dV work:
where “ = gz is a force potential due to the Earth's gravity, g is acceleration due to gravity, and z is elevation above a reference plane.
A similar expression for may easily be constructed. So now setting :
which can be rewritten as:
Now, using the previously-obtained result from conservation of mass, this may be simplified to obtain
which is the Bernoulli equation for compressible flow.
Condensation visible over the upper surface of a
wing caused by the fall in temperature
accompanying the fall in pressure, both due to
acceleration of the air.
In modern everyday life there are many observations that can be
successfully explained by application of Bernoulli's principle, even
though no real fluid is entirely inviscid
and a small viscosity often
has a large effect on the flow.
€ Bernoulli's principle can be used to calculate the lift force on an
airfoil if the behaviour of the fluid flow in the vicinity of the foil is
known. For example, if the air flowing past the top surface of an
aircraft wing is moving faster than the air flowing past the bottom
surface, then Bernoulli's principle implies that the pressure on the
surfaces of the wing will be lower above than below. This pressure
difference results in an upwards lifting force.
Whenever the
distribution of speed past the top and bottom surfaces of a wing is
known, the lift forces can be calculated (to a good approximation)
using Bernoulli's equations
• established by Bernoulli over a century before the first man-made wings were
used for the purpose of flight. Bernoulli's principle does not explain why the air flows faster past the top of the
wing and slower past the underside. To understand why, it is helpful to understand circulation, the Kutta
condition, and the Kutta•Joukowski theorem.
€ The Dyson Bladeless Fan (or Air Multiplier) is an implementation that takes advantage of the Venturi effect,
CoandÞ effect and Bernoulli's Principle.
€ The carburetor used in many reciprocating engines contains a venturi to create a region of low pressure to draw
fuel into the carburetor and mix it thoroughly with the incoming air. The low pressure in the throat of a venturi
can be explained by Bernoulli's principle; in the narrow throat, the air is moving at its fastest speed and therefore
it is at its lowest pressure.
€ The Pitot tube and static port on an aircraft are used to determine the airspeed of the aircraft. These two devices
are connected to the airspeed indicator, which determines the dynamic pressure of the airflow past the aircraft.
Dynamic pressure is the difference between stagnation pressure and static pressure. Bernoulli's principle is used to
calibrate the airspeed indicator so that it displays the indicated airspeed appropriate to the dynamic pressure.
€ The flow speed of a fluid can be measured using a device such as a Venturi meter or an orifice plate, which can be
placed into a pipeline to reduce the diameter of the flow. For a horizontal device, the continuity equation shows
Bernoulli's principle
that for an incompressible fluid, the reduction in diameter will cause an increase in the fluid flow speed.
Subsequently Bernoulli's principle then shows that there must be a decrease in the pressure in the reduced
diameter region. This phenomenon is known as the Venturi effect.
€ The maximum possible drain rate for a tank with a hole or tap at the base can be calculated directly from
Bernoulli's equation, and is found to be proportional to the square root of the height of the fluid in the tank. This is
Torricelli's law, showing that Torricelli's law is compatible with Bernoulli's principle. Viscosity lowers this drain
rate. This is reflected in the discharge coefficient, which is a function of the Reynolds number and the shape of
the orifice.
€ In open-channel hydraulics, a detailed analysis of the Bernoulli theorem and its extension were recently (2009)
It was proved that the depth-averaged specific energy reaches a minimum in converging
accelerating free-surface flow over weirs and flumes (also
). Further, in general, a channel control with
minimum specific energy in curvilinear flow is not isolated from water waves, as customary state in open-channel
€ The Bernoulli grip relies on this principle to create a non-contact adhesive force between a surface and the
Misunderstandings about the generation of lift
Many explanations for the generation of lift (on airfoils, propeller blades, etc.) can be found; some of these
explanations can be misleading, and some are false.
This has been a source of heated discussion over the years. In
particular, there has been debate about whether lift is best explained by Bernoulli's principle or Newton's laws of
motion. Modern writings agree that both Bernoulli's principle and Newton's laws are relevant and either can be used
to correctly describe lift.
Several of these explanations use the Bernoulli principle to connect the flow kinematics to the flow-induced
pressures. In cases of incorrect (or partially correct) explanations relying on the Bernoulli principle, the errors
generally occur in the assumptions on the flow kinematics and how these are produced. It is not the Bernoulli
principle itself that is questioned because this principle is well established.
Misapplications of Bernoulli's principle in common classroom demonstrations
There are several common classroom demonstrations that are sometimes incorrectly explained using Bernoulli's
One involves holding a piece of paper horizontally so that it droops downward and then blowing over
the top of it. As the demonstrator blows over the paper, the paper rises. It is then asserted that this is because "faster
moving air has lower pressure".
One problem with this explanation can be seen by blowing along the bottom of the paper - were the deflection due
simply to faster moving air one would expect the paper to deflect downward, but the paper deflects upward
regardless of whether the faster moving air is on the top or the bottom.
Another problem is that when the air
leaves the demonstrator's mouth it has the same pressure as the surrounding air;
the air does not have lower
pressure just because it is moving; in the demonstration, the static pressure of the air leaving the demonstrator's
mouth is equal to the pressure of the surrounding air.
A third problem is that it is false to make a connection
between the flow on the two sides of the paper using Bernoulli€s equation since the air above and below are different
flow fields and Bernoulli's principle only applies within a flow field.
As the wording of the principle can change its implications, stating the principle correctly is important.
Bernoulli's principle actually says is that within a flow of constant energy, when fluid flows through a region of
lower pressure it speeds up and vice versa.
Thus, Bernoulli's principle concerns itself with changes in speed and
changes in pressure within a flow field. It cannot be used to compare different flow fields.
Bernoulli's principle
A correct explanation of why the paper rises would observe that the plume follows the curve of the paper and that a
curved streamline will develop a pressure gradient perpendicular to the direction of flow, with the lower pressure on
the inside of the curve.
Bernoulli's principle predicts that the decrease in pressure is associated with an
increase in speed, i.e. that as the air passes over the paper it speeds up and moves faster than it was moving when it
left the demonstrator's mouth. But this is not apparent from the demonstration.
Other common classroom demonstrations, such as blowing between two suspended spheres, or suspending a ball in
an airstream are sometimes explained in a similarly misleading manner by saying "faster moving air has lower
[1] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Chapter 3.
[2] Batchelor, G.K. (1967), Section 3.5, pp. 156•64.
[3] "Hydrodynamica" (http:/ / www. britannica. com/ EBchecked/ topic/ 658890/ Hydrodynamica#tab=active~checked,items~checked&
title=Hydrodynamica ß Britannica Online Encyclopedia). Britannica Online Encyclopedia. . Retrieved 2008-10-30.
[4] Streeter, V.L., Fluid Mechanics, Example 3.5, McGraw•Hill Inc. (1966), New York.
[5] "If the particle is in a region of varying pressure (a non-vanishing pressure gradient in the x-direction) and if the particle has a finite size l,
then the front of the particle will be ”seeing€ a different pressure from the rear. More precisely, if the pressure drops in the x-direction (dp/dx <
0) the pressure at the rear is higher than at the front and the particle experiences a (positive) net force. According to Newton€s second law, this
force causes an acceleration and the particle€s velocity increases as it moves along the streamline... Bernoulli€s equation describes this
mathematically (see the complete derivation in the appendix)."Babinsky, Holger (November 2003), "How do wings work?" (http:/ / www. iop.
org/ EJ/ article/ 0031-9120/ 38/ 6/ 001/ pe3_6_001. pdf), Physics Education,
[6] "Acceleration of air is caused by pressure gradients. Air is accelerated in direction of the velocity if the pressure goes down. Thus the
decrease of pressure is the cause of a higher velocity." Weltner, Klaus; Ingelman-Sundberg, Martin, Misinterpretations of Bernoulli's Law
(http:/ / user.uni-frankfurt.de/ ~weltner/ Mis6/ mis6. html),
[7] " The idea is that as the parcel moves along, following a streamline, as it moves into an area of higher pressure there will be higher pressure
ahead (higher than the pressure behind) and this will exert a force on the parcel, slowing it down. Conversely if the parcel is moving into a
region of lower pressure, there will be an higher pressure behind it (higher than the pressure ahead), speeding it up. As always, any unbalanced
force will cause a change in momentum (and velocity), as required by Newton€s laws of motion." See How It Flies John S. Denker http:/ /
www.av8n. com/ how/ htm/ airfoils.html
[8] [8] Batchelor, G.K. (1967), º5.1, p. 265.
[9] Mulley, Raymond (2004). Flow of Industrial Fluids: Theory and Equations. CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-2767-9., 410 pages. See pp. 43•44.
[10] Chanson, Hubert (2004). Hydraulics of Open Channel Flow: An Introduction. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-5978-5., 650 pages.
See p. 22.
[11] Oertel, Herbert; Prandtl, Ludwig; B»hle, M.; Mayes, Katherine (2004). Prandtl's Essentials of Fluid Mechanics. Springer. pp. 70•71.
ISBN 0-387-40437-6.
[12] "Bernoulli's Equation" (http:/ / www.grc.nasa. gov/ WWW/ K-12/ airplane/ bern. htm). NASA Glenn Research Center. . Retrieved
[13] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Section 3.5.
[14] Clancy, L.J. Aerodynamics, Equation 3.12
[15] [15] Batchelor, G.K. (1967), p. 383
[16] White, Frank M. Fluid Mechanics, 6e. McGraw-Hill International Edition. p. 602.
[17] Clarke C. and Carswell B., Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
[18] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Section 3.11
[19] Landau & Lifshitz (1987, º5)
[20] Van Wylen, G.J., and Sonntag, R.E., (1965), Fundamentals of Classical Thermodynamics, Section 5.9, John Wiley and Sons Inc., New York
[21] Feynman, R.P.; Leighton, R.B.; Sands, M. (1963). The Feynman Lectures on Physics. ISBN 0-201-02116-1., Vol. 2, º40•3, pp. 40•6 •
[22] Tipler, Paul (1991). Physics for Scientists and Engineers: Mechanics (3rd extended ed.). W. H. Freeman. ISBN 0-87901-432-6., p. 138.
[23] Feynman, R.P.; Leighton, R.B.; Sands, M. (1963). The Feynman Lectures on Physics. ISBN 0-201-02116-1., Vol. 1, º14•3, p. 14•4.
[24] Physics Today, May 1010, "The Nearly Perfect Fermi Gas", by John E. Thomas, p 34.
[25] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Section 5.5 ("When a stream of air flows past an airfoil, there are local changes in flow speed round the airfoil,
and consequently changes in static pressure, in accordance with Bernoulli's Theorem. The distribution of pressure determines the lift, pitching
moment and form drag of the airfoil, and the position of its centre of pressure.")
[26] Resnick, R. and Halliday, D. (1960), Physics, Section 18•5, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York ("[streamlines] are closer together above
the wing than they are below so that Bernoulli's principle predicts the observed upward dynamic lift.")
Bernoulli's principle
[27] Eastlake, Charles N. (March 2002). "An Aerodynamicist€s View of Lift, Bernoulli, and Newton" (http:/ / www. df. uba. ar/ users/ sgil/
physics_paper_doc/ papers_phys/ fluids/ Bernoulli_Newton_lift. pdf). The Physics Teacher 40. . "The resultant force is determined by
integrating the surface-pressure distribution over the surface area of the airfoil."
[28] Hua, M., Khaitan, D. and Kintner, P. (2011). University of Rochester, NY. Studying Near-Surface Effects of the Dyson Air-Multiplier
Airfoil (http:/ / www. me. rochester.edu/ courses/ ME241/ G12Dyson. pdf) (2.7MB file) Retrieved 2012-07-19
[29] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Section 3.8
[30] Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual Ninth Edition
[31] Castro-Orgaz, O. & Chanson, H. (2009). "Bernoulli Theorem, Minimum Specific Energy and Water Wave Celerity in Open Channel Flow"
(http:/ / espace. library. uq. edu. au/ view/ UQ:187794). Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, ASCE, 135 (6): 773•778.
doi:10.1061/(ASCE)IR.1943-4774.0000084. .
[32] Chanson, H. (2009). "Transcritical Flow due to Channel Contraction" (http:/ / espace. library. uq. edu. au/ view/ UQ:187795). Journal of
Hydraulic Engineering, ASCE 135 (12): 1113•1114. .
[33] Chanson, H. (2006). "Minimum Specific Energy and Critical Flow Conditions in Open Channels" (http:/ / espace. library. uq. edu. au/ view.
php?pid=UQ:7830). Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, ASCE 132 (5): 498•502.
doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9437(2006)132:5(498). .
[34] Glenn Research Center (2006-03-15). "Incorrect Lift Theory" (http:/ / www. grc. nasa. gov/ WWW/ K-12/ airplane/ wrong1. html). NASA. .
Retrieved 2010-08-12.
[35] Chanson, H. (2009). Applied Hydrodynamics: An Introduction to Ideal and Real Fluid Flows (http:/ / www. uq. edu. au/ ~e2hchans/
reprints/ book15. htm). CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Leiden, The Netherlands, 478 pages. ISBN 978-0-415-49271-3. .
[36] "Newton vs Bernoulli" (http:/ / www. grc.nasa.gov/ WWW/ K-12/ airplane/ bernnew. html). .
[37] Ison, David. Bernoulli Or Newton: Who's Right About Lift? (http:/ / www. planeandpilotmag. com/ component/ zine/ article/ 289. html)
Retrieved on 2009-11-26
[38] Phillips, O.M. (1977). The dynamics of the upper ocean (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29801-6. Section 2.4.
[39] [39] Batchelor, G.K. (1967). Sections 3.5 and 5.1
[40] Lamb, H. (1994) º17•º29
[41] Weltner, Klaus; Ingelman-Sundberg, Martin. "Physics of Flight • reviewed" (http:/ / www. angelfire. com/ dc/ nova/ flight/ PHYSIC4.
html). . "The conventional explanation of aerodynamical lift based on Bernoulli€s law and velocity differences mixes up cause and effect. The
faster flow at the upper side of the wing is the consequence of low pressure and not its cause."
[42] "Bernoulli's law and experiments attributed to it are fascinating. Unfortunately some of these experiments are explained erroneously..."
Misinterpretations of Bernoulli's Law Weltner, Klaus and Ingelman-Sundberg, Martin Department of Physics, University Frankfurt http:/ /
www-stud. rbi. informatik.uni-frankfurt. de/ ~plass/ MIS/ mis6. html
[43] "This occurs because of Bernoulli€s principle ˆ fast-moving air has lower pressure than non-moving air." Make Magazine http:/ /
makeprojects.com/ Project/ Origami-Flying-Disk/ 327/ 1
[44] " Faster-moving fluid, lower pressure. ... When the demonstrator holds the paper in front of his mouth and blows across the top, he is
creating an area of faster-moving air." University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy http:/ / www. physics. umn. edu/ outreach/
pforce/ circus/ Bernoulli.html
[45] "Bernoulli's Principle states that faster moving air has lower pressure... You can demonstrate Bernoulli's Principle by blowing over a piece
of paper held horizontally across your lips." http:/ / www. tallshipschannelislands. com/ PDFs/ Educational_Packet. pdf
[46] "If the lift in figure A were caused by "Bernoulli principle," then the paper in figure B should droop further when air is blown beneath it.
However, as shown, it raises when the upward pressure gradient in downward-curving flow adds to atmospheric pressure at the paper lower
surface." Gale M. Craig PHYSICAL PRINCIPLES OF WINGED FLIGHT http:/ / www. regenpress. com/ aerodynamics. pdf
[47] "In fact, the pressure in the air blown out of the lungs is equal to that of the surrounding air..." Babinsky http:/ / iopscience. iop. org/
0031-9120/ 38/ 6/ 001/ pdf/ pe3_6_001. pdf
[48] "...air does not have a reduced lateral pressure (or static pressure...) simply because it is caused to move, the static pressure of free air does
not decrease as the speed of the air increases, it misunderstanding Bernoulli's principle to suggest that this is what it tells us, and the behavior
of the curved paper is explained by other reasoning than Bernoulli's principle." Peter Eastwell Bernoulli? Perhaps, but What About Viscosity?
The Science Education Review, 6(1) 2007 http:/ / www. scienceeducationreview. com/ open_access/ eastwell-bernoulli. pdf
[49] "Make a strip of writing paper about 5 cm X 25 cm. Hold it in front of your lips so that it hangs out and down making a convex upward
surface. When you blow across the top of the paper, it rises. Many books attribute this to the lowering of the air pressure on top solely to the
Bernoulli effect. Now use your fingers to form the paper into a curve that it is slightly concave upward along its whole length and again blow
along the top of this strip. The paper now bends downward...an often-cited experiment, which is usually taken as demonstrating the common
explanation of lift, does not do so..." Jef Raskin Coanda Effect: Understanding Why Wings Work http:/ / karmak. org/ archive/ 2003/ 02/
coanda_effect. html
[50] "Blowing over a piece of paper does not demonstrate Bernoulli€s equation. While it is true that a curved paper lifts when flow is applied on
one side, this is not because air is moving at different speeds on the two sides... It is false to make a connection between the flow on the two
sides of the paper using Bernoulliƒs equation." Holger Babinsky How Do Wings Work Physics Education 38(6) http:/ / iopscience. iop. org/
0031-9120/ 38/ 6/ 001/ pdf/ pe3_6_001. pdf
[51] "An explanation based on Bernoulli€s principle is not applicable to this situation, because this principle has nothing to say about the
interaction of air masses having different speeds... Also, while Bernoulli€s principle allows us to compare fluid speeds and pressures along a
Bernoulli's principle
single streamline and... along two different streamlines that originate under identical fluid conditions, using Bernoulli€s principle to compare
the air above and below the curved paper in Figure 1 is nonsensical; in this case, there aren€t any streamlines at all below the paper!" Peter
Eastwell Bernoulli? Perhaps, but What About Viscosity? The Science Education Review 6(1) 2007 http:/ / www. scienceeducationreview.
com/ open_access/ eastwell-bernoulli. pdf
[52] "The well-known demonstration of the phenomenon of lift by means of lifting a page cantilevered in one€s hand by blowing horizontally
along it is probably more a demonstration of the forces inherent in the Coanda effect than a demonstration of Bernoulli€s law; for, here, an air
jet issues from the mouth and attaches to a curved (and, in this case pliable) surface. The upper edge is a complicated vortex-laden mixing
layer and the distant flow is quiescent, so that Bernoulli€s law is hardly applicable." David Auerbach Why Aircreft Fly European Journal of
Physics Vol 21 p 289 http:/ / iopscience.iop. org/ 0143-0807/ 21/ 4/ 302/ pdf/ 0143-0807_21_4_302. pdf
[53] "Millions of children in science classes are being asked to blow over curved pieces of paper and observe that the paper "lifts"... They are
then asked to believe that Bernoulli's theorem is responsible... Unfortunately, the "dynamic lift" involved...is not properly explained by
Bernoulli's theorem." Norman F. Smith "Bernoulli and Newton in Fluid Mechanics" The Physics Teacher Nov 1972
[54] "Bernoulli€s principle is very easy to understand provided the principle is correctly stated. However, we must be careful, because
seemingly-small changes in the wording can lead to completely wrong conclusions." See How It Flies John S. Denker http:/ / www. av8n.
com/ how/ htm/ airfoils.html#sec-bernoulli
[55] "A complete statement of Bernoulli's Theorem is as follows: "In a flow where no energy is being added or taken away, the sum of its various
energies is a constant: consequently where the velocity increasees the pressure decreases and vice versa."" Norman F Smith Bernoulli, Newton
and Dynamic Lift Part I School Science and Mathematics Vol 73 Issue 3 http:/ / onlinelibrary. wiley. com/ doi/ 10. 1111/ j. 1949-8594. 1973.
tb08998.x/ pdf
[56] "...if a streamline is curved, there must be a pressure gradient across the streamline, with the pressure increasing in the direction away from
the centre of curvature." Babinsky http:/ / iopscience.iop. org/ 0031-9120/ 38/ 6/ 001/ pdf/ pe3_6_001. pdf
[57] "The curved paper turns the stream of air downward, and this action produces the lift reaction that lifts the paper." Norman F. Smith
Bernoulli, Newton, and Dynamic Lift Part II School Science and Mathematics vol 73 Issue 4 pg 333 http:/ / onlinelibrary. wiley. com/ doi/ 10.
1111/ j.1949-8594.1973. tb09040. x/ pdf
[58] "The curved surface of the tongue creates unequal air pressure and a lifting action. ... Lift is caused by air moving over a curved surface."
AERONAUTICS An Educatorƒs Guide with Activities in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education by NASA pg 26 http:/ / www. nasa.
gov/ pdf/ 58152main_Aeronautics.Educator.pdf
[59] "Viscosity causes the breath to follow the curved surface, Newton's first law says there a force on the air and Newton€s third law says there is
an equal and opposite force on the paper. Momentum transfer lifts the strip. The reduction in pressure acting on the top surface of the piece of
paper causes the paper to rise." The Newtonian Description of Lift of a Wing-Revised David F. Anderson & Scott Eberhardt http:/ / home.
comcast. net/ ~clipper-108/ Lift_AAPT. pdf
[60] '"Demonstrations" of Bernoulli's principle are often given as demonstrations of the physics of lift. They are truly demonstrations of lift, but
certainly not of Bernoulli's principle.' David F Anderson & Scott Eberhardt Understanding Flight pg 229 http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=52Hfn7uEGSoC& pg=PA229
[61] "As an example, take the misleading experiment most often used to "demonstrate" Bernoulli's principle. Hold a piece of piece of paper so
that it curves over your finger, then blow across the top. The paper will rise. However most people do not realize that the paper would not rise
if it were flat, even though you are blowing air across the top of it at a furious rate. Bernoulli's principle does not apply directly in this case.
This is because the air on the two sides of the paper did not start out from the same source. The air on the bottom is ambient air from the room,
but the air on the top came from your mouth where you actually increased its speed without decreasing its pressure by forcing it out of your
mouth. As a result the air on both sides of the flat paper actually has the same pressure, even though the air on the top is moving faster. The
reason that a curved piece of paper does rise is that the air from your mouth speeds up even more as it follows the curve of the paper, which in
turn lowers the pressure according to Bernoulli." From The Aeronautics File By Max Feil http:/ / webcache. googleusercontent. com/
search?q=cache:nutfrrTXLkMJ:www. mat. uc. pt/ ~pedro/ ncientificos/ artigos/ aeronauticsfile1. ps+ & cd=29& hl=en& ct=clnk& gl=us
[62] "Some people blow over a sheet of paper to demonstrate that the accelerated air over the sheet results in a lower pressure. They are wrong
with their explanation. The sheet of paper goes up because it deflects the air, by the Coanda effect, and that deflection is the cause of the force
lifting the sheet. To prove they are wrong I use the following experiment: If the sheet of paper is pre bend the other way by first rolling it, and
if you blow over it than, it goes down. This is because the air is deflected the other way. Airspeed is still higher above the sheet, so that is not
causing the lower pressure." Pim Geurts. sailtheory.com http:/ / www. sailtheory. com/ experiments. html
[63] "Finally, let€s go back to the initial example of a ball levitating in a jet of air. The naive explanation for the stability of the ball in the air
stream, 'because pressure in the jet is lower than pressure in the surrounding atmosphere,' is clearly incorrect. The static pressure in the free air
jet is the same as the pressure in the surrounding atmosphere..." Martin Kamela Thinking About Bernoulli The Physics Teacher Vol. 45,
September 2007 http:/ / tpt. aapt.org/ resource/ 1/ phteah/ v45/ i6/ p379_s1
[64] "Aysmmetrical flow (not Bernoulli's theorem) also explains lift on the ping-pong ball or beach ball that floats so mysteriously in the tilted
vacuum cleaner exhaust..." Norman F. Smith, Bernoulli and Newton in Fluid Mechanics" The Physics Teacher Nov 1972 p 455
[65] "Bernoulli€s theorem is often obscured by demonstrations involving non-Bernoulli forces. For example, a ball may be supported on an
upward jet of air or water, because any fluid (the air and water) has viscosity, which retards the slippage of one part of the fluid moving past
another part of the fluid." The Bernoulli Conundrum Robert P. Bauman Professor of Physics Emeritus University of Alabama at Birmingham
http:/ / www.introphysics.info/ Papers/ BernoulliConundrumWS. pdf
Bernoulli's principle
[66] "In a demonstration sometimes wrongly described as showing lift due to pressure reduction in moving air or pressure reduction due to flow
path restriction, a ball or balloon is suspended by a jet of air." Gale M. Craig PHYSICAL PRINCIPLES OF WINGED FLIGHT http:/ / www.
regenpress.com/ aerodynamics. pdf
[67] "A second example is the confinement of a ping-pong ball in the vertical exhaust from a hair dryer. We are told that this is a demonstration
of Bernoulli's principle. But, we now know that the exhaust does not have a lower value of ps. Again, it is momentum transfer that keeps the
ball in the airflow. When the ball gets near the edge of the exhaust there is an asymmetric flow around the ball, which pushes it away from the
edge of the flow. The same is true when one blows between two ping-pong balls hanging on strings." Anderson & Eberhardt The Newtonian
Description of Lift on a Wing http:/ / lss. fnal. gov/ archive/ 2001/ pub/ Pub-01-036-E. pdf
[68] "This demonstration is often incorrectly explained using the Bernoulli principle. According to the INCORRECT explanation, the air flow is
faster in the region between the sheets, thus creating a lower pressure compared with the quiet air on the outside of the sheets. UNIVERSITY
OF MARYLAND PHYSICS LECTURE-DEMONSTRATION FACILITY http:/ / www. physics. umd. edu/ lecdem/ services/ demos/
demosf5/ f5-03. htm
[69] "Although the Bernoulli effect is often used to explain this demonstration, and one manufacturer sells the material for this demonstration as
"Bernoulli bags," it cannot be explained by the Bernoulli effect, but rather by the process of entrainment." UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
PHYSICS LECTURE-DEMONSTRATION FACILITY http:/ / www. physics. umd. edu/ lecdem/ outreach/ QOTW/ arch13/ a256. htm
Further reading
€ Batchelor, G.K. (1967). An Introduction to Fluid Dynamics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-66396-2.
€ Clancy, L.J. (1975). Aerodynamics. Pitman Publishing, London. ISBN 0-273-01120-0.
€ Lamb, H. (1993). Hydrodynamics (6th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-45868-9. Originally
published in 1879; the 6th extended edition appeared first in 1932.
€ Landau, L.D.; Lifshitz, E.M. (1987). Fluid Mechanics. Course of Theoretical Physics (2nd ed.). Pergamon Press.
ISBN 0-7506-2767-0.
€ Chanson, H. (2009). Applied Hydrodynamics: An Introduction to Ideal and Real Fluid Flows (http:/ / www. uq.
edu. au/ ~e2hchans/ reprints/ book15. htm). CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 978-0-415-49271-3.
External links
€ Head and Energy of Fluid Flow (http:/ / www. mathalino. com/ reviewer/ fluid-mechanics-and-hydraulics/
€ Interactive animation demonstrating Bernoulli's principle (http:/ / home. earthlink. net/ ~mmc1919/ venturi. html)
€ Denver University • Bernoulli's equation and pressure measurement (http:/ / mysite. du. edu/ ~jcalvert/ tech/
fluids/ bernoul. htm)
€ Millersville University • Applications of Euler's equation (http:/ / www. millersville. edu/ ~jdooley/ macro/
macrohyp/ eulerap/ eulap. htm)
€ NASA • Beginner's guide to aerodynamics (http:/ / www. grc. nasa. gov/ WWW/ K-12/ airplane/ bga. html)
€ Misinterpretations of Bernoulli's equation • Weltner and Ingelman-Sundberg (http:/ / user. uni-frankfurt. de/
~weltner/ Misinterpretations of Bernoullis Law 2011 internet. pdf)
Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler
Portrait by Johann Georg Brucker (1756)
Born 15 April 1707
Basel, Switzerland
Died 18 September 1783 (aged 76)
[OS: 7 September 1783]
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Residence Kingdom of Prussia, Russian Empire
Nationality Swiss
Fields Mathematics and physics
Institutions Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences
Berlin Academy
Alma mater University of Basel
Doctoral advisor Johann Bernoulli
Doctoral students Nicolas Fuss
Johann Hennert
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Stepan Rumovsky
Known for See full list
He is the father of the mathematician Johann Euler
He is listed by academic genealogy authorities as the equivalent to the doctoral advisor of Joseph Louis Lagrange.
Leonhard Euler (German pronunciation: [‚•Ÿl], Swiss German pronunciation, Standard German pronunciation, English
approximation, "Oiler";
15 April 1707 • 18 September 1783) was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist.
He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced
much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the
notion of a mathematical function.
He is also renowned for his work in mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, and
astronomy. Euler spent most of his adult life in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Berlin, Prussia. He is considered to be
the preeminent mathematician of the 18th century, and one of the greatest mathematicians to have ever lived. He is
also one of the most prolific mathematicians ever; his collected works fill 60•80 quarto volumes.
A statement
attributed to Pierre-Simon Laplace expresses Euler's influence on mathematics: "Read Euler, read Euler, he is the
Leonhard Euler
master of us all."
Early years
Old Swiss 10 Franc banknote honoring Euler
Euler was born on April 15, 1707, in Basel to Paul Euler, a pastor of
the Reformed Church. His mother was Marguerite Brucker, a pastor's
daughter. He had two younger sisters named Anna Maria and Maria
Magdalena. Soon after the birth of Leonhard, the Eulers moved from
Basel to the town of Riehen, where Euler spent most of his childhood.
Paul Euler was a friend of the Bernoulli familyˆJohann Bernoulli,
who was then regarded as Europe's foremost mathematician, would
eventually be the most important influence on young Leonhard. Euler's
early formal education started in Basel, where he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother. At the age of
thirteen he enrolled at the University of Basel, and in 1723, received his Master of Philosophy with a dissertation that
compared the philosophies of Descartes and Newton. At this time, he was receiving Saturday afternoon lessons from
Johann Bernoulli, who quickly discovered his new pupil's incredible talent for mathematics.
Euler was at this point
studying theology, Greek, and Hebrew at his father's urging, in order to become a pastor, but Bernoulli convinced
Paul Euler that Leonhard was destined to become a great mathematician. In 1726, Euler completed a dissertation on
the propagation of sound with the title De Sono.
At that time, he was pursuing an (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt
to obtain a position at the University of Basel. In 1727, he entered the Paris Academy Prize Problem competition,
where the problem that year was to find the best way to place the masts on a ship. He won second place, losing only
to Pierre Bouguerˆa man now known as "the father of naval architecture". Euler subsequently won this coveted
annual prize twelve times in his career.
St. Petersburg
Around this time Johann Bernoulli's two sons, Daniel and Nicolas, were working at the Imperial Russian Academy
of Sciences in St Petersburg. On July 10, 1726, Nicolas died of appendicitis after spending a year in Russia, and
when Daniel assumed his brother's position in the mathematics/physics division, he recommended that the post in
physiology that he had vacated be filled by his friend Euler. In November 1726 Euler eagerly accepted the offer, but
delayed making the trip to St Petersburg while he unsuccessfully applied for a physics professorship at the
University of Basel.
1957 stamp of the former Soviet Union
commemorating the 250th birthday of Euler. The
text says: 250 years from the birth of the great
mathematician, academician Leonhard Euler.
Euler arrived in the Russian capital on 17 May 1727. He was promoted
from his junior post in the medical department of the academy to a
position in the mathematics department. He lodged with Daniel
Bernoulli with whom he often worked in close collaboration. Euler
mastered Russian and settled into life in St Petersburg. He also took on
an additional job as a medic in the Russian Navy.
The Academy at St. Petersburg, established by Peter the Great, was
intended to improve education in Russia and to close the scientific gap
with Western Europe. As a result, it was made especially attractive to
foreign scholars like Euler. The academy possessed ample financial
resources and a comprehensive library drawn from the private libraries
Leonhard Euler
of Peter himself and of the nobility. Very few students were enrolled in the academy in order to lessen the faculty's
teaching burden, and the academy emphasized research and offered to its faculty both the time and the freedom to
pursue scientific questions.
The Academy's benefactress, Catherine I, who had continued the progressive policies of her late husband, died on
the day of Euler's arrival. The Russian nobility then gained power upon the ascension of the twelve-year-old Peter II.
The nobility were suspicious of the academy's foreign scientists, and thus cut funding and caused other difficulties
for Euler and his colleagues.
Conditions improved slightly upon the death of Peter II, and Euler swiftly rose through the ranks in the academy and
was made professor of physics in 1731. Two years later, Daniel Bernoulli, who was fed up with the censorship and
hostility he faced at St. Petersburg, left for Basel. Euler succeeded him as the head of the mathematics
On 7 January 1734, he married Katharina Gsell (1707•1773), a daughter of Georg Gsell, a painter from the
Academy Gymnasium.
The young couple bought a house by the Neva River. Of their thirteen children, only five
survived childhood.
Stamp of the former German Democratic
Republic honoring Euler on the 200th anniversary
of his death. In the middle, it shows his
polyhedral formula .
Concerned about the continuing turmoil in Russia, Euler left St.
Petersburg on 19 June 1741 to take up a post at the Berlin Academy,
which he had been offered by Frederick the Great of Prussia. He lived
for twenty-five years in Berlin, where he wrote over 380 articles. In
Berlin, he published the two works which he would be most renowned
for: the Introductio in analysin infinitorum, a text on functions
published in 1748, and the Institutiones calculi differentialis,
published in 1755 on differential calculus.
In 1755, he was elected a
foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
In addition, Euler was asked to tutor the Princess of Anhalt-Dessau,
Frederick's niece. Euler wrote over 200 letters to her in the early 1760s,
which were later compiled into a best-selling volume entitled Letters of Euler on different Subjects in Natural
Philosophy Addressed to a German Princess. This work contained Euler's exposition on various subjects pertaining
to physics and mathematics, as well as offering valuable insights into Euler's personality and religious beliefs. This
book became more widely read than any of his mathematical works, and it was published across Europe and in the
United States. The popularity of the 'Letters' testifies to Euler's ability to communicate scientific matters effectively
to a lay audience, a rare ability for a dedicated research scientist.
Despite Euler's immense contribution to the Academy's prestige, he was eventually forced to leave Berlin. This was
partly because of a conflict of personality with Frederick, who came to regard Euler as unsophisticated, especially in
comparison to the circle of philosophers the German king brought to the Academy. Voltaire was among those in
Frederick's employ, and the Frenchman enjoyed a prominent position in the king's social circle. Euler, a simple
religious man and a hard worker, was very conventional in his beliefs and tastes. He was in many ways the direct
opposite of Voltaire. Euler had limited training in rhetoric, and tended to debate matters that he knew little about,
making him a frequent target of Voltaire's wit.
Frederick also expressed disappointment with Euler's practical
engineering abilities:
I wanted to have a water jet in my garden: Euler calculated the force of the wheels necessary to raise the water
to a reservoir, from where it should fall back through channels, finally spurting out in Sanssouci. My mill was
carried out geometrically and could not raise a mouthful of water closer than fifty paces to the reservoir.
Vanity of vanities! Vanity of geometry!
Leonhard Euler
A 1753 portrait by Emanuel Handmann. This
portrayal suggests problems of the right eyelid,
and possible strabismus. The left eye, which here
appears healthy, was later affected by a
Eyesight deterioration
Euler's eyesight worsened throughout his mathematical career. Three
years after suffering a near-fatal fever in 1735 he became nearly blind
in his right eye, but Euler rather blamed his condition on the
painstaking work on cartography he performed for the St. Petersburg
Academy. Euler's sight in that eye worsened throughout his stay in
Germany, so much so that Frederick referred to him as "Cyclops".
Euler later suffered a cataract in his good left eye, rendering him
almost totally blind a few weeks after its discovery in 1766. Even so,
his condition appeared to have little effect on his productivity, as he
compensated for it with his mental calculation skills and photographic
memory. For example, Euler could repeat the Aeneid of Virgil from
beginning to end without hesitation, and for every page in the edition
he could indicate which line was the first and which the last. With the
aid of his scribes, Euler's productivity on many areas of study actually
increased. He produced on average one mathematical paper every week
in the year 1775.
Return to Russia
The situation in Russia had improved greatly since the accession to the throne of Catherine the Great, and in 1766
Euler accepted an invitation to return to the St. Petersburg Academy and spent the rest of his life in Russia. His
second stay in the country was marred by tragedy. A fire in St. Petersburg in 1771 cost him his home, and almost his
life. In 1773, he lost his wife Katharina after 40 years of marriage. Three years after his wife's death, Euler married
her half-sister, Salome Abigail Gsell (1723•1794).
This marriage lasted until his death.
In St. Petersburg on 18 September 1783, after a lunch with his family, during a conversation with a fellow
academician Anders Johan Lexell about the newly discovered Uranus and its orbit, Euler suffered a brain
hemorrhage and died a few hours later.
A short obituary for the Russian Academy of Sciences was written by
Jacob von Staehlin-Storcksburg and a more detailed eulogy
was written and delivered at a memorial meeting by
Russian mathematician Nicolas Fuss, one of Euler's disciples. In the eulogy written for the French Academy by the
French mathematician and philosopher Marquis de Condorcet, he commented,
...il cessa de calculer et de vivreˆ... he ceased to calculate and to live.
He was buried next to Katharina at the Smolensk Lutheran Cemetery on Vasilievsky Island. In 1785, the Russian
Academy of Sciences put a marble bust of Leonhard Euler on a pedestal next to the Director's seat and, in 1837,
placed a headstone on Euler's grave. To commemorate the 250th anniversary of Euler's birth, the headstone was
moved in 1956, together with his remains, to the 18th-century necropolis at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.
Euler's grave at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery
Leonhard Euler
Contributions to mathematics and physics
Part of a series of articles on
The mathematical constant e
Natural logarithm Œ Exponential function
Applications in: compound interest Œ Euler's identity & Euler's formula  Œ half-lives & exponential growth/decay
Defining e: proof that e is irrational  Œ representations of e Œ Lindemann•Weierstrass theorem
People John Napier  Œ Leonhard Euler
Schanuel's conjecture
Euler worked in almost all areas of mathematics: geometry, infinitesimal calculus, trigonometry, algebra, and
number theory, as well as continuum physics, lunar theory and other areas of physics. He is a seminal figure in the
history of mathematics; if printed, his works, many of which are of fundamental interest, would occupy between 60
and 80 quarto volumes.
Euler's name is associated with a large number of topics.
Euler is the only mathematician to have two numbers named after him: the immensely important Euler's Number in
calculus, e, approximately equal to 2.71828, and the Euler-Mascheroni Constant ° (gamma) sometimes referred to as
just "Euler's constant", approximately equal to 0.57721. It is not known whether ° is rational or irrational.
Mathematical notation
Euler introduced and popularized several notational conventions through his numerous and widely circulated
textbooks. Most notably, he introduced the concept of a function
and was the first to write f(x) to denote the
function f applied to the argument x. He also introduced the modern notation for the trigonometric functions, the
letter e for the base of the natural logarithm (now also known as Euler's number), the Greek letter à for summations
and the letter i to denote the imaginary unit.
The use of the Greek letter • to denote the ratio of a circle's
circumference to its diameter was also popularized by Euler, although it did not originate with him.
The development of infinitesimal calculus was at the forefront of 18th Century mathematical research, and the
Bernoullisˆfamily friends of Euler ˆ were responsible for much of the early progress in the field. Thanks to their
influence, studying calculus became the major focus of Euler's work. While some of Euler's proofs are not acceptable
by modern standards of mathematical rigour
(in particular his reliance on the principle of the generality of
algebra), his ideas led to many great advances. Euler is well known in analysis for his frequent use and development
of power series, the expression of functions as sums of infinitely many terms, such as
Notably, Euler directly proved the power series expansions for e and the inverse tangent function. (Indirect proof via
the inverse power series technique was given by Newton and Leibniz between 1670 and 1680.) His daring use of
Leonhard Euler
power series enabled him to solve the famous Basel problem in 1735 (he provided a more elaborate argument in
A geometric interpretation of Euler's formula
Euler introduced the use of the exponential function and logarithms in
analytic proofs. He discovered ways to express various logarithmic
functions using power series, and he successfully defined logarithms
for negative and complex numbers, thus greatly expanding the scope of
mathematical applications of logarithms.
He also defined the
exponential function for complex numbers, and discovered its relation
to the trigonometric functions. For any real number á, Euler's formula
states that the complex exponential function satisfies
A special case of the above formula is known as Euler's identity,
called "the most remarkable formula in mathematics" by Richard P.
Feynman, for its single uses of the notions of addition, multiplication, exponentiation, and equality, and the single
uses of the important constants 0, 1, e, i and ‘.
In 1988, readers of the Mathematical Intelligencer voted it "the
Most Beautiful Mathematical Formula Ever".
In total, Euler was responsible for three of the top five formulae in
that poll.
De Moivre's formula is a direct consequence of Euler's formula.
In addition, Euler elaborated the theory of higher transcendental functions by introducing the gamma function and
introduced a new method for solving quartic equations. He also found a way to calculate integrals with complex
limits, foreshadowing the development of modern complex analysis. He also invented the calculus of variations
including its best-known result, the Euler•Lagrange equation.
Euler also pioneered the use of analytic methods to solve number theory problems. In doing so, he united two
disparate branches of mathematics and introduced a new field of study, analytic number theory. In breaking ground
for this new field, Euler created the theory of hypergeometric series, q-series, hyperbolic trigonometric functions and
the analytic theory of continued fractions. For example, he proved the infinitude of primes using the divergence of
the harmonic series, and he used analytic methods to gain some understanding of the way prime numbers are
distributed. Euler's work in this area led to the development of the prime number theorem.
Number theory
Euler's interest in number theory can be traced to the influence of Christian Goldbach, his friend in the St. Petersburg
Academy. A lot of Euler's early work on number theory was based on the works of Pierre de Fermat. Euler
developed some of Fermat's ideas, and disproved some of his conjectures.
Euler linked the nature of prime distribution with ideas in analysis. He proved that the sum of the reciprocals of the
primes diverges. In doing so, he discovered the connection between the Riemann zeta function and the prime
numbers; this is known as the Euler product formula for the Riemann zeta function.
Euler proved Newton's identities, Fermat's little theorem, Fermat's theorem on sums of two squares, and he made
distinct contributions to Lagrange's four-square theorem. He also invented the totient function á(n) which is the
number of positive integers less than or equal to the integer n that are coprime to n. Using properties of this function,
he generalized Fermat's little theorem to what is now known as Euler's theorem. He contributed significantly to the
theory of perfect numbers, which had fascinated mathematicians since Euclid. Euler also conjectured the law of
Leonhard Euler
quadratic reciprocity. The concept is regarded as a fundamental theorem of number theory, and his ideas paved the
way for the work of Carl Friedrich Gauss.
By 1772 Euler had proved that 2
 ‰ 1 = 2,147,483,647 is a Mersenne prime. It may have remained the largest
known prime until 1867.
Graph theory
Map of K»nigsberg in Euler's time showing the
actual layout of the seven bridges, highlighting
the river Pregel and the bridges.
In 1736, Euler solved the problem known as the Seven Bridges of
The city of K»nigsberg, Prussia was set on the Pregel
River, and included two large islands which were connected to each
other and the mainland by seven bridges. The problem is to decide
whether it is possible to follow a path that crosses each bridge exactly
once and returns to the starting point. It is not possible: there is no
Eulerian circuit. This solution is considered to be the first theorem of
graph theory, specifically of planar graph theory.
Euler also discovered the formula V ‰ E + F = 2 relating the number of
vertices, edges, and faces of a convex polyhedron,
and hence of a
planar graph. The constant in this formula is now known as the Euler
characteristic for the graph (or other mathematical object), and is
related to the genus of the object.
The study and generalization of this formula, specifically by Cauchy
is at the origin of topology.
Applied mathematics
Some of Euler's greatest successes were in solving real-world problems analytically, and in describing numerous
applications of the Bernoulli numbers, Fourier series, Venn diagrams, Euler numbers, the constants e and ‘,
continued fractions and integrals. He integrated Leibniz's differential calculus with Newton's Method of Fluxions,
and developed tools that made it easier to apply calculus to physical problems. He made great strides in improving
the numerical approximation of integrals, inventing what are now known as the Euler approximations. The most
notable of these approximations are Euler's method and the Euler•Maclaurin formula. He also facilitated the use of
differential equations, in particular introducing the Euler•Mascheroni constant:
One of Euler's more unusual interests was the application of mathematical ideas in music. In 1739 he wrote the
Tentamen novae theoriae musicae, hoping to eventually incorporate musical theory as part of mathematics. This part
of his work, however, did not receive wide attention and was once described as too mathematical for musicians and
too musical for mathematicians.
Physics and astronomy
Euler helped develop the Euler•Bernoulli beam equation, which became a cornerstone of engineering. Aside from
successfully applying his analytic tools to problems in classical mechanics, Euler also applied these techniques to
celestial problems. His work in astronomy was recognized by a number of Paris Academy Prizes over the course of
his career. His accomplishments include determining with great accuracy the orbits of comets and other celestial
bodies, understanding the nature of comets, and calculating the parallax of the sun. His calculations also contributed
to the development of accurate longitude tables.
In addition, Euler made important contributions in optics. He disagreed with Newton's corpuscular theory of light in
the Opticks, which was then the prevailing theory. His 1740s papers on optics helped ensure that the wave theory of
Leonhard Euler
light proposed by Christian Huygens would become the dominant mode of thought, at least until the development of
the quantum theory of light.
In 1757 he published an important set of equations for inviscid flow, that are now known as the Euler equations.
Euler is also credited with using closed curves to illustrate syllogistic reasoning (1768). These diagrams have
become known as Euler diagrams.
Personal philosophy and religious beliefs
Euler and his friend Daniel Bernoulli were opponents of Leibniz's monadism and the philosophy of Christian Wolff.
Euler insisted that knowledge is founded in part on the basis of precise quantitative laws, something that monadism
and Wolffian science were unable to provide. Euler's religious leanings might also have had a bearing on his dislike
of the doctrine; he went so far as to label Wolff's ideas as "heathen and atheistic".
Much of what is known of Euler's religious beliefs can be deduced from his Letters to a German Princess and an
earlier work, Rettung der G€ttlichen Offenbahrung Gegen die Einw‚rfe der Freygeister (Defense of the Divine
Revelation against the Objections of the Freethinkers). These works show that Euler was a devout Christian who
believed the Bible to be inspired; the Rettung was primarily an argument for the divine inspiration of scripture.
There is a famous legend,
inspired by Euler's arguments with secular philosophers over religion, which is set
during Euler's second stint at the St. Petersburg academy. The French philosopher Denis Diderot was visiting Russia
on Catherine the Great's invitation. However, the Empress was alarmed that the philosopher's atheism was
influencing members of her court, and so Euler was asked to confront the Frenchman. Diderot was later informed
that a learned mathematician had produced a proof of the existence of God: he agreed to view the proof as it was
presented in court. Diderot, to whom (says the legend
) all mathematics was supposed to be gibberish, would
stand dumbstruck as peals of laughter would have erupted from the court.
Leonhard Euler
Euler was featured on the sixth series of the Swiss 10-franc banknote and on numerous Swiss, German, and Russian
postage stamps. The asteroid 2002 Euler was named in his honor. He is also commemorated by the Lutheran Church
on their Calendar of Saints on 24 Mayˆhe was a devout Christian (and believer in biblical inerrancy) who wrote
apologetics and argued forcefully against the prominent atheists of his time.
Selected bibliography
The title page of Euler's Methodus inveniendi
lineas curvas.
Euler has an extensive bibliography. His best known books include:
€ Elements of Algebra. This elementary algebra text starts with a
discussion of the nature of numbers and gives a comprehensive
introduction to algebra, including formulae for solutions of
polynomial equations.
€ Introductio in analysin infinitorum (1748). English translation
Introduction to Analysis of the Infinite by John Blanton (Book I,
ISBN 0-387-96824-5, Springer-Verlag 1988; Book II, ISBN
0-387-97132-7, Springer-Verlag 1989).
€ Two influential textbooks on calculus: Institutiones calculi
differentialis (1755) and Institutionum calculi integralis
€ Lettres ‡ une Princesse d'Allemagne (Letters to a German Princess)
(1768•1772). Available online
(in French). English translation,
with notes, and a life of Euler, available online from Google Books:
Volume 1
, Volume 2
€ Methodus inveniendi lineas curvas maximi minimive proprietate
gaudentes, sive solutio problematis isoperimetrici latissimo sensu
accepti (1744). The Latin title translates as a method for finding curved lines enjoying properties of maximum or
minimum, or solution of isoperimetric problems in the broadest accepted sense.
A definitive collection of Euler's works, entitled Opera Omnia, has been published since 1911 by the Euler
Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences. A complete chronological list of Euler's works is available at the
following page: The Enestr€m Index
References and notes
[1] The pronunciation /‚juƒl…r/ is incorrect. "Euler", Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, Oxford University Press, 1989 "Euler" (http:/ /
www.merriam-webster. com/ dictionary/ Euler), Merriam•Webster's Online Dictionary, 2009. "Euler, Leonhard" (http:/ / www. bartleby.
com/ 61/ 71/ E0237100.html), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition, Houghton Mifflin Company,
Boston, 2000. Peter M. Higgins (2007). Nets, Puzzles, and Postmen: An Exploration of Mathematical Connections. Oxford University Press.
p. 43.
[2] Dunham, William (1999). Euler: The Master of Us All. The Mathematical Association of America. p. 17.
[3] Finkel, B.F. (1897). "Biography- Leonard Euler". The American Mathematical Monthly 4 (12): 297•302. doi:10.2307/2968971.
JSTOR 2968971.
[4] Dunham, William (1999). Euler: The Master of Us All. The Mathematical Association of America. xiii. "Lisez Euler, lisez Euler, c'est notre
maÓtre Õ tous."
[5] James, Ioan (2002). Remarkable Mathematicians: From Euler to von Neumann. Cambridge. p. 2. ISBN 0-521-52094-0.
[6] Euler's Dissertation De Sono : E002. Translated & Annotated by Ian Bruce (http:/ / www. 17centurymaths. com/ contents/ euler/ e002tr. pdf).
(PDF) . 17centurymaths.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-14.
[7] Calinger, Ronald (1996). "Leonhard Euler: The First St. Petersburg Years (1727•1741)". Historia Mathematica 23 (2): 156.
Leonhard Euler
[8] Calinger, Ronald (1996). "Leonhard Euler: The First St. Petersburg Years (1727•1741)". Historia Mathematica 23 (2): 125.
[9] Calinger, Ronald (1996). "Leonhard Euler: The First St. Petersburg Years (1727•1741)". Historia Mathematica 23 (2): 127.
[10] Calinger, Ronald (1996). "Leonhard Euler: The First St. Petersburg Years (1727•1741)". Historia Mathematica 23 (2): 128•129.
[11] Gekker, I.R.; Euler, A.A. (2007). "Leonhard Euler's family and descendants". In Bogoliubov, N.N.; Mikhaâlov, G.K.; Yushkevich, A.P..
Euler and modern science. Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 0-88385-564-X., p. 402.
[12] Fuss, Nicolas. "Eulogy of Euler by Fuss" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-and. ac. uk/ ~history/ Extras/ Euler_Fuss_Eulogy. html). . Retrieved
30 August 2006.
[13] "E212 • Institutiones calculi differentialis cum eius usu in analysi finitorum ac doctrina serierum" (http:/ / www. math. dartmouth. edu/
~euler/ pages/ E212. html). Dartmouth. .
[14] Dunham, William (1999). Euler: The Master of Us All. The Mathematical Association of America. xxiv•xxv.
[15] Frederick II of Prussia (1927). Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great, Letter H 7434, 25 January 1778. Richard Aldington. New York:
[16] Calinger, Ronald (1996). "Leonhard Euler: The First St. Petersburg Years (1727•1741)". Historia Mathematica 23 (2): 154•155.
[17] Gekker, I.R.; Euler, A.A. (2007). "Leonhard Euler's family and descendants". In Bogoliubov, N.N.; Mikhaâlov, G.K.; Yushkevich, A.P..
Euler and modern science. Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 0-88385-564-X., p. 405.
[18] A. Ya. Yakovlev (1983). Leonhard Euler. M.: Prosvesheniye.
[19] "Eloge de M. Leonhard Euler. Par M. Fuss". Nova Acta Academia Scientarum Imperialis Petropolitanae 1: 159•212. 1783.
[20] Marquis de Condorcet. "Eulogy of Euler • Condorcet" (http:/ / www. math. dartmouth. edu/ ~euler/ historica/ condorcet. html). . Retrieved
30 August 2006.
[21] Leonhard Euler (http:/ / www. findagrave. com/ cgi-bin/ fg. cgi?page=gr& GRid=15567379) at Find a Grave
[22] Derbyshire, John (2003). Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics. Washington, D.C.:
Joseph Henry Press. pp. 422.
[23] Boyer, Carl B.; Uta C. Merzbach (1991). A History of Mathematics. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 439•445. ISBN 0-471-54397-7.
[24] Wolfram, Stephen. "Mathematical Notation: Past and Future" (http:/ / www. stephenwolfram. com/ publications/ talks/ mathml/ mathml2.
html). . Retrieved August 2006.
[25] Wanner, Gerhard; Harrier, Ernst (March 2005). Analysis by its history (1st ed.). Springer. p. 62.
[26] Feynman, Richard (June 1970). "Chapter 22: Algebra". The Feynman Lectures on Physics: Volume I. p. 10.
[27] Wells, David (1990). "Are these the most beautiful?". Mathematical Intelligencer 12 (3): 37•41. doi:10.1007/BF03024015.
Wells, David (1988). "Which is the most beautiful?". Mathematical Intelligencer 10 (4): 30•31. doi:10.1007/BF03023741.
See also: Peterson, Ivars. "The Mathematical Tourist" (http:/ / www. maa. org/ mathtourist/ mathtourist_03_12_07. html). . Retrieved March
[28] Dunham, William (1999). "3,4". Euler: The Master of Us All. The Mathematical Association of America.
[29] Dunham, William (1999). "1,4". Euler: The Master of Us All. The Mathematical Association of America.
[30] Caldwell, Chris. The largest known prime by year (http:/ / primes. utm. edu/ notes/ by_year. html)
[31] Alexanderson, Gerald (July 2006). "Euler and K»nigsberg's bridges: a historical view". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society 43
(4): 567. doi:10.1090/S0273-0979-06-01130-X.
[32] Peter R. Cromwell (1997). Polyhedra. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 189•190.
[33] Alan Gibbons (1985). Algorithmic Graph Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 72.
[34] Cauchy, A.L. (1813). "Recherche sur les poly½dresˆpremier m•moire". Journal de l'ˆcole Polytechnique 9 (Cahier 16): 66•86.
[35] L'Huillier, S.-A.-J. (1861). "M•moire sur la poly½drom•trie". Annales de Mathƒmatiques 3: 169•189.
[36] Calinger, Ronald (1996). "Leonhard Euler: The First St. Petersburg Years (1727•1741)". Historia Mathematica 23 (2): 144•145.
[37] Youschkevitch, A P; Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970•1990).
[38] Home, R.W. (1988). "Leonhard Euler's 'Anti-Newtonian' Theory of Light". Annals of Science 45 (5): 521•533.
[39] [39] Baron, M. E.; A Note on The Historical Development of Logic Diagrams. The Mathematical Gazette: The Journal of the Mathematical
Association. Vol LIII, no. 383 May 1969.
[40] Calinger, Ronald (1996). "Leonhard Euler: The First St. Petersburg Years (1727•1741)". Historia Mathematica 23 (2): 153•154.
[41] Euler, Leonhard (1960). Orell-Fussli. ed. "Rettung der G»ttlichen Offenbahrung Gegen die Einw·rfe der Freygeister". Leonhardi Euleri
Opera Omnia (series 3) 12.
[42] Brown, B.H. (May 1942). "The Euler-Diderot Anecdote". The American Mathematical Monthly 49 (5): 302•303. doi:10.2307/2303096.
JSTOR 2303096.; Gillings, R.J. (February 1954). "The So-Called Euler-Diderot Incident". The American Mathematical Monthly 61 (2):
77•80. doi:10.2307/2307789. JSTOR 2307789.
Leonhard Euler
[43] Marty, Jacques. "Quelques aspects des travaux de Diderot en Mathematiques Mixtes." (http:/ / www. persee. fr/ web/ revues/ home/
prescript/ article/ rde_0769-0886_1988_num_4_1_954). .
[44] http:/ / perso. club-internet. fr/ nielrowclub-internet. fr/ nielrowbooks/ euler. tif
[45] http:/ / books. google. com/ books?vid=09-Fi9xi6pUzqBOnQzlnRS& id=hAm5VsEeu1EC& printsec=titlepage& dq=%22Leonhard+
[46] http:/ / books. google. com/ books?vid=OCLC00826569& id=CZLPNtEnFRcC& printsec=titlepage& dq=%22Leonhard+ Euler%22
[47] E65 ˆ Methodus... entry at Euler Archives (http:/ / math. dartmouth. edu/ ~euler/ pages/ E065. html). Math.dartmouth.edu. Retrieved on
[48] http:/ / www.math. dartmouth.edu/ ~euler/ docs/ translations/ enestrom/ Enestrom_Index. pdf
Further reading
€ Lexikon der Naturwissenschaftler, (2000), Heidelberg: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag.
€ Bogolyubov, Mikhailov, and Yushkevich, (2007), Euler and Modern Science, Mathematical Association of
America. ISBN 0-88385-564-X. Translated by Robert Burns.
€ Bradley, Robert E., D'Antonio, Lawrence A., and C. Edward Sandifer (2007), Euler at 300: An Appreciation,
Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 0-88385-565-8
€ Demidov, S.S., (2005), "Treatise on the differential calculus" in Grattan-Guinness, I., ed., Landmark Writings in
Western Mathematics. Elsevier: 191•98.
€ Dunham, William (1999) Euler: The Master of Us All, Washington: Mathematical Association of America. ISBN
€ Dunham, William (2007), The Genius of Euler: Reflections on his Life and Work, Mathematical Association of
America. ISBN 0-88385-558-5
€ Fraser, Craig G., (2005), "Leonhard Euler's 1744 book on the calculus of variations" in Grattan-Guinness, I., ed.,
Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics. Elsevier: 168•80.
€ Gladyshev, Georgi, P. (2007), " Leonhard Euler€s methods and ideas live on in the thermodynamic hierarchical
theory of biological evolution, (http:/ / ceser. in/ ceserp/ index. php/ ijamas/ article/ view/ 1014)" International
Journal of Applied Mathematics & Statistics (IJAMAS) 11 (N07), Special Issue on Leonhard Paul Euler€s:
Mathematical Topics and Applications (M. T. A.).
€ Gautschi, Walter (2008). "Leonhard Euler: his life, the man, and his works" (http:/ / www. cs. purdue. edu/
homes/ wxg/ EulerLect. pdf). SIAM Review 50 (1): 3•33. Bibcode 2008SIAMR..50....3G.
€ Heimpell, Hermann, Theodor Heuss, Benno Reifenberg (editors). 1956. Die gro—en Deutschen, volume 2, Berlin:
Ullstein Verlag.
€ Krus, D.J. (2001). "Is the normal distribution due to Gauss? Euler, his family of gamma functions, and their place
in the history of statistics" (http:/ / www. visualstatistics. net/ Statistics/ Euler/ Euler. htm). Quality and Quantity:
International Journal of Methodology 35: 445•46.
€ Nahin, Paul (2006), Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula, New Jersey: Princeton, ISBN 978-0-691-11822-2
€ du Pasquier, Louis-Gustave, (2008) Leonhard Euler And His Friends, CreateSpace, ISBN 1-4348-3327-5.
Translated by John S.D. Glaus.
€ Reich, Karin, (2005), " 'Introduction' to analysis" in Grattan-Guinness, I., ed., Landmark Writings in Western
Mathematics. Elsevier: 181•90.
€ Richeson, David S. (2008), Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology. Princeton
University Press.
€ Sandifer, Edward C. (2007), The Early Mathematics of Leonhard Euler, Mathematical Association of America.
ISBN 0-88385-559-3
€ Sandifer, Edward C. (2007), How Euler Did It, Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 0-88385-563-1
€ Simmons, J. (1996) The giant book of scientists: The 100 greatest minds of all time, Sydney: The Book Company.
€ Singh, Simon. (1997). Fermat's last theorem, Fourth Estate: New York, ISBN 1-85702-669-1
Leonhard Euler
€ Thiele, R·diger. (2005). The mathematics and science of Leonhard Euler, in Mathematics and the Historian's
Craft: The Kenneth O. May Lectures, G. Van Brummelen and M. Kinyon (eds.), CMS Books in Mathematics,
Springer Verlag. ISBN 0-387-25284-3.
€ "A Tribute to Leohnard Euler 1707•1783". Mathematics Magazine 56 (5). November 1983.
External links
€ LeonhardEuler.com (http:/ / www. leonhardeuler. com/ )
€ Weisstein, Eric W., Euler, Leonhard (1707€1783) (http:/ / scienceworld. wolfram. com/ biography/ Euler. html)
from ScienceWorld.
€ Encyclop¾dia Britannica article (http:/ / www. britannica. com/ eb/ article-9033216/ Leonhard-Euler)
€ Leonhard Euler (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=38586) at the Mathematics Genealogy
€ How Euler did it (http:/ / www. maa. org/ news/ howeulerdidit. html) contains columns explaining how Euler
solved various problems
€ Euler Archive (http:/ / www. eulerarchive. org/ )
€ Leonhard Euler • ãuvres compl½tes (http:/ / portail. mathdoc. fr/ cgi-bin/ oetoc?id=OE_EULER_1_2)
€ Euler Committee of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (http:/ / www. leonhard-euler. ch/ )
€ References for Leonhard Euler (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ References/ Euler. html)
€ Euler Tercentenary 2007 (http:/ / www. euler-2007. ch/ en/ index. htm)
€ The Euler Society (http:/ / www. eulersociety. org/ )
€ Leonhard Euler Congress 2007 (http:/ / www. pdmi. ras. ru/ EIMI/ 2007/ AG/ )ˆSt. Petersburg, Russia
€ Project Euler (http:/ / www. projecteuler. net)
€ Euler Family Tree (http:/ / www. math. dartmouth. edu/ ~euler/ historica/ family-tree. html)
€ Euler's Correspondence with Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (http:/ / friedrich. uni-trier. de/ oeuvres/ 20/
219/ )
€ "Euler • 300th anniversary lecture" (http:/ / www. gresham. ac. uk/ event. asp?PageId=45& EventId=518), given
by Robin Wilson at Gresham College, 9 May 2007 (can download as video or audio files)
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Leonhard Euler" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Euler. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Euler Quartic Conjecture (http:/ / euler413. narod. ru/ )
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Joseph-Louis Lagrange
Joseph-Louis (Giuseppe Luigi),
comte de Lagrange
Born Giuseppe Luigi Lagrancia
25 January 1736
Turin, Piedmont-Sardinia
Died 10 April 1813 (aged 77)
Paris, France
Residence Piedmont
Citizenship Kingdom of Sardinia
Nationality Italian
Fields Mathematics
Mathematical physics
Institutions Ácole Polytechnique
Doctoral advisor Leonhard Euler
Doctoral students Joseph Fourier
Giovanni Plana
Sim•on Poisson
Known for See list
Analytical mechanics
Celestial mechanics
Mathematical analysis
Number theory
Note he did not have a doctoral advisor but academic genealogy authorities link his intellectual heritage to Leonhard Euler, who played the
equivalent role.
Joseph-Louis Lagrange (25 January 1736 • 10 April 1813), born Giuseppe Luigi Lagrancia
(often known as
Giuseppe Luigi Lagrangia in the scientific literature)
was an Italian-born French mathematician and astronomer
born in Turin, Piedmont, who lived part of his life in Prussia and part in France.
He made significant contributions
to all fields of analysis, number theory, and classical and celestial mechanics. On the recommendation of Euler and
d'Alembert, in 1766 Lagrange succeeded Euler as the director of mathematics at the Prussian Academy of Sciences
in Berlin, where he stayed for over twenty years, producing a large body of work and winning several prizes of the
Joseph Louis Lagrange
French Academy of Sciences. Lagrange's treatise on analytical mechanics (Mƒcanique Analytique, 4. ed., 2 vols.
Paris: Gauthier-Villars et fils, 1888•89), written in Berlin and first published in 1788, offered the most
comprehensive treatment of classical mechanics since Newton and formed a basis for the development of
mathematical physics in the nineteenth century.
Lagrange's parents were Italian, although his paternal great grandfather was French. In 1787, at age 51, he moved
from Berlin to France and became a member of the French Academy. He remained in France until the end of his life.
Therefore, Lagrange is alternatively considered a French and an Italian scientist. Lagrange survived the French
Revolution and became the first professor of analysis at the Ácole Polytechnique upon its opening in 1794. Lagrange
was appointed Senator in 1799, and Napoleon named him to the Legion of Honour in 1803 and made him a Count of
the Empire in 1808.
He is buried in the Panth•on and his name appears as one of the 72 names inscribed on the
Eiffel Tower.
Scientific contribution
Lagrange was one of the creators of the calculus of variations, deriving the Euler•Lagrange equations for extrema of
functionals. He also extended the method to take into account possible constraints, arriving at the method of
Lagrange multipliers. Lagrange invented the method of solving differential equations known as variation of
parameters, applied differential calculus to the theory of probabilities and attained notable work on the solution of
equations. He proved that every natural number is a sum of four squares. His treatise Theorie des fonctions
analytiques laid some of the foundations of group theory, anticipating Galois. In calculus, Lagrange developed a
novel approach to interpolation and Taylor series. He studied the three-body problem for the Earth, Sun and Moon
(1764) and the movement of Jupiter€s satellites (1766), and in 1772 found the special-case solutions to this problem
that yield what are now known as Lagrangian points. But above all he impressed on mechanics, having transformed
Newtonian mechanics into a branch of analysis, Lagrangian mechanics as it is now called, and exhibited the
so-called mechanical "principles" as simple results of the variational calculus.
Early years
Lagrange was born of French and Italian descent (a paternal great grandfather was a French army officer who then
moved to Turin),
as Giuseppe Lodovico Lagrangia in Turin. His father, who had charge of the Kingdom of
Sardinia's military chest, was of good social position and wealthy, but before his son grew up he had lost most of his
property in speculations, and young Lagrange had to rely on his own abilities for his position. He was raised as a
Roman Catholic, though later on, he became an agnostic.
He was educated at the college of Turin, but it was not
until he was seventeen that he showed any taste for mathematics • his interest in the subject being first excited by a
paper by Edmund Halley which he came across by accident. Alone and unaided he threw himself into mathematical
studies; at the end of a year's incessant toil he was already an accomplished mathematician, and was made a lecturer
in the artillery school.
Variational calculus
Lagrange is one of the founders of the calculus of variations. Starting in 1754, he worked on the problem of
tautochrone, discovering a method of maximizing and minimizing functionals in a way similar to finding extrema of
functions. Lagrange wrote several letters to Leonhard Euler between 1754 and 1756 describing his results. He
outlined his "œ-algorithm", leading to the Euler•Lagrange equations of variational calculus and considerably
simplifying Euler's earlier analysis.
Lagrange also applied his ideas to problems of classical mechanics,
generalizing the results of Euler and Maupertuis.
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Euler was very impressed with Lagrange's results. It has been stated that "with characteristic courtesy he withheld a
paper he had previously written, which covered some of the same ground, in order that the young Italian might have
time to complete his work, and claim the undisputed invention of the new calculus"; however, this chivalric view has
been disputed.
Lagrange published his method in two memoirs of the Turin Society in 1762 and 1773.
Miscellanea Taurinensia
In 1758, with the aid of his pupils, Lagrange established a society, which was subsequently incorporated as the Turin
Academy of Sciences, and most of his early writings are to be found in the five volumes of its transactions, usually
known as the Miscellanea Taurinensia. Many of these are elaborate papers. The first volume contains a paper on the
theory of the propagation of sound; in this he indicates a mistake made by Newton, obtains the general differential
equation for the motion, and integrates it for motion in a straight line. This volume also contains the complete
solution of the problem of a string vibrating transversely; in this paper he points out a lack of generality in the
solutions previously given by Brook Taylor, D'Alembert, and Euler, and arrives at the conclusion that the form of the
curve at any time t is given by the equation . The article concludes with a masterly
discussion of echoes, beats, and compound sounds. Other articles in this volume are on recurring series,
probabilities, and the calculus of variations.
The second volume contains a long paper embodying the results of several papers in the first volume on the theory
and notation of the calculus of variations; and he illustrates its use by deducing the principle of least action, and by
solutions of various problems in dynamics.
The third volume includes the solution of several dynamical problems by means of the calculus of variations; some
papers on the integral calculus; a solution of Fermat's problem mentioned above: given an integer n which is not a
perfect square, to find a number x such that x
n + 1 is a perfect square; and the general differential equations of
motion for three bodies moving under their mutual attractions.
The next work he produced was in 1764 on the libration of the Moon, and an explanation as to why the same face
was always turned to the earth, a problem which he treated by the aid of virtual work. His solution is especially
interesting as containing the germ of the idea of generalized equations of motion, equations which he first formally
proved in 1780.
Berlin Academy
Already in 1756 Euler, with support from Maupertuis, made an attempt to bring Lagrange to the Berlin Academy.
Later, D'Alambert interceded on Lagrange's behalf with Frederick of Prussia and wrote to Lagrange asking him to
leave Turin for a considerably more prestigious position in Berlin. Lagrange turned down both offers, responding in
1765 that
It seems to me that Berlin would not be at all suitable for me while M.Euler is there.
In 1766 Euler left Berlin for Saint Petersburg, and Frederick wrote to Lagrange expressing the wish of "the greatest
king in Europe" to have "the greatest mathematician in Europe" resident at his court. Lagrange was finally persuaded
and he spent the next twenty years in Prussia, where he produced not only the long series of papers published in the
Berlin and Turin transactions, but his monumental work, the Mƒcanique analytique. His residence at Berlin
commenced with an unfortunate mistake. Finding most of his colleagues married, and assured by their wives that it
was the only way to be happy, he married; his wife soon died, but the union was not a happy one.
Lagrange was a favourite of the king, who used frequently to discourse to him on the advantages of perfect regularity
of life. The lesson went home, and thenceforth Lagrange studied his mind and body as though they were machines,
and found by experiment the exact amount of work which he was able to do without breaking down. Every night he
set himself a definite task for the next day, and on completing any branch of a subject he wrote a short analysis to see
what points in the demonstrations or in the subject-matter were capable of improvement. He always thought out the
subject of his papers before he began to compose them, and usually wrote them straight off without a single erasure
Joseph Louis Lagrange
or correction.
In 1786, Frederick died, and Lagrange, who had found the climate of Berlin trying, gladly accepted the offer of
Louis XVI to move to Paris. He received similar invitations from Spain and Naples. In France he was received with
every mark of distinction and special apartments in the Louvre were prepared for his reception, and he became a
member of the French Academy of Sciences, which later became part of the National Institute. At the beginning of
his residence in Paris he was seized with an attack of melancholy, and even the printed copy of his Mƒcanique on
which he had worked for a quarter of a century lay for more than two years unopened on his desk. Curiosity as to the
results of the French revolution first stirred him out of his lethargy, a curiosity which soon turned to alarm as the
revolution developed.
It was about the same time, 1792, that the unaccountable sadness of his life and his timidity moved the compassion
of a young girl who insisted on marrying him, and proved a devoted wife to whom he became warmly attached.
Although the decree of October 1793 that ordered all foreigners to leave France specifically exempted him by name,
he was preparing to escape when he was offered the presidency of the commission for the reform of weights and
measures. The choice of the units finally selected was largely due to him, and it was mainly owing to his influence
that the decimal subdivision was accepted by the commission of 1799. In 1795, Lagrange was one of the founding
members of the Bureau des Longitudes.
Though Lagrange had determined to escape from France while there was yet time, he was never in any danger; and
the different revolutionary governments (and at a later time, Napoleon) loaded him with honors and distinctions. A
striking testimony to the respect in which he was held was shown in 1796 when the French commissary in Italy was
ordered to attend in full state on Lagrange's father, and tender the congratulations of the republic on the
achievements of his son, who "had done honor to all mankind by his genius, and whom it was the special glory of
Piedmont to have produced." It may be added that Napoleon, when he attained power, warmly encouraged scientific
studies in France, and was a liberal benefactor of them. Appointed senator in 1799, he was the first signer of the
S•natus-consulte which in 1802 annexed Piedmont, his fatherland, to France.
Due to that, he acquired the French
•cole normale
In 1795, Lagrange was appointed to a mathematical chair at the newly established Ácole normale, which enjoyed
only a brief existence of four months. His lectures there were quite elementary, and contain nothing of any special
importance, but they were published because the professors had to "pledge themselves to the representatives of the
people and to each other neither to read nor to repeat from memory," and the discourses were ordered to be taken
down in shorthand in order to enable the deputies to see how the professors acquitted themselves.
•cole Polytechnique
Lagrange was appointed professor of the Ácole Polytechnique in 1794; and his lectures there are described by
mathematicians who had the good fortune to be able to attend them, as almost perfect both in form and matter.
Beginning with the merest elements, he led his hearers on until, almost unknown to themselves, they were
themselves extending the bounds of the subject: above all he impressed on his pupils the advantage of always using
general methods expressed in a symmetrical notation.
On the other hand, Fourier, who attended his lectures in 1795, wrote:
His voice is very feeble, at least in that he does not become heated; he has a very pronounced Italian accent
and pronounces the s like z † The students, of whom the majority are incapable of appreciating him, give him
little welcome, but the professors make amends for it.
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Late years
Lagrange's tomb in the crypt of the Panth•on
In 1810, Lagrange commenced a thorough revision of
the Mƒcanique analytique, but he was able to complete
only about two-thirds of it before his death at Paris in
1813. He was buried that same year in the Panth•on in
Paris. The French inscription on his tomb there reads:
Count of the Empire. Grand Officer of the
Legion of Honour. Grand Cross of the
Imperial Order of the Reunion. Member of
the Institute and the Bureau of Longitude.
Born in Turin on 25 January 1736. Died in
Paris on 10 April 1813.
Work in Berlin
Lagrange was extremely active scientifically during twenty years he spent in Berlin. Not only did he produce his
splendid Mƒcanique analytique, but he contributed between one and two hundred papers to the Academy of Turin,
the Berlin Academy, and the French Academy. Some of these are really treatises, and all without exception are of a
high order of excellence. Except for a short time when he was ill he produced on average about one paper a month.
Of these, note the following as amongst the most important.
First, his contributions to the fourth and fifth volumes, 1766•1773, of the Miscellanea Taurinensia; of which the
most important was the one in 1771, in which he discussed how numerous astronomical observations should be
combined so as to give the most probable result. And later, his contributions to the first two volumes, 1784•1785, of
the transactions of the Turin Academy; to the first of which he contributed a paper on the pressure exerted by fluids
in motion, and to the second an article on integration by infinite series, and the kind of problems for which it is
Most of the papers sent to Paris were on astronomical questions, and among these one ought to particularly mention
his paper on the Jovian system in 1766, his essay on the problem of three bodies in 1772, his work on the secular
equation of the Moon in 1773, and his treatise on cometary perturbations in 1778. These were all written on subjects
proposed by the Acad•mie franÀaise, and in each case the prize was awarded to him.
Lagrangian mechanics
Between 1772 and 1788, Lagrange re-formulated Classical/Newtonian mechanics to simplify formulas and ease
calculations. These mechanics are called Lagrangian mechanics.
The greater number of his papers during this time were, however, contributed to the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
Several of them deal with questions in algebra.
€ His discussion of representations of integers by quadratic forms (1769) and by more general algebraic forms
€ His tract on the Theory of Elimination, 1770.
€ Lagrange's theorem that the order of a subgroup H of a group G must divide the order of G.
€ His papers of 1770 and 1771 on the general process for solving an algebraic equation of any degree via the
Lagrange resolvents. This method fails to give a general formula for solutions of an equation of degree five and
Joseph Louis Lagrange
higher, because the auxiliary equation involved has higher degree than the original one. The significance of this
method is that it exhibits the already known formulas for solving equations of second, third, and fourth degrees as
manifestations of a single principle, and was foundational in Galois theory. The complete solution of a binomial
equation of any degree is also treated in these papers.
€ In 1773, Lagrange considered a functional determinant of order 3, a special case of a Jacobian. He also proved the
expression for the volume of a tetrahedron with one of the vertices at the origin as the one sixth of the absolute
value of the determinant formed by the coordinates of the other three vertices.
Number Theory
Several of his early papers also deal with questions of number theory.
€ Lagrange (1766•1769) was the first to prove that Pell's equation has a nontrivial solution in the
integers for any non-square natural number n.
€ He proved the theorem, stated by Bachet without justification, that every positive integer is the sum of four
squares, 1770.
€ He proved Wilson's theorem that if n is a prime, then (n ‰ 1)! + 1 is always a multiple of n, 1771.
€€ His papers of 1773, 1775, and 1777 gave demonstrations of several results enunciated by Fermat, and not
previously proved.
€ His Recherches d'Arithm•tique of 1775 developed a general theory of binary quadratic forms to handle the
general problem of when an integer is representable by the form .
Other mathematical work
There are also numerous articles on various points of analytical geometry. In two of them, written rather later, in
1792 and 1793, he reduced the equations of the quadrics (or conicoids) to their canonical forms.
During the years from 1772 to 1785, he contributed a long series of papers which created the science of partial
differential equations. A large part of these results were collected in the second edition of Euler's integral calculus
which was published in 1794.
He made contributions to the theory of continued fractions.
Lastly, there are numerous papers on problems in astronomy. Of these the most important are the following:
€ Attempting to solve the General Three-Body Problem, with the consequent discovery of the two constant-pattern
solutions, collinear and equilateral, 1772. Those solutions were later seen to explain what are now known as the
Lagrangian points.
€ On the attraction of ellipsoids, 1773: this is founded on Maclaurin's work.
€€ On the secular equation of the Moon, 1773; also noticeable for the earliest introduction of the idea of the
potential. The potential of a body at any point is the sum of the mass of every element of the body when divided
by its distance from the point. Lagrange showed that if the potential of a body at an external point were known,
the attraction in any direction could be at once found. The theory of the potential was elaborated in a paper sent to
Berlin in 1777.
€ On the motion of the nodes of a planet's orbit, 1774.
€€ On the stability of the planetary orbits, 1776.
€ Two papers in which the method of determining the orbit of a comet from three observations is completely
worked out, 1778 and 1783: this has not indeed proved practically available, but his system of calculating the
perturbations by means of mechanical quadratures has formed the basis of most subsequent researches on the
Joseph Louis Lagrange
€ His determination of the secular and periodic variations of the elements of the planets, 1781-1784: the upper
limits assigned for these agree closely with those obtained later by Le Verrier, and Lagrange proceeded as far as
the knowledge then possessed of the masses of the planets permitted.
€€ Three papers on the method of interpolation, 1783, 1792 and 1793: the part of finite differences dealing therewith
is now in the same stage as that in which Lagrange left it.
MŠcanique analytique
Over and above these various papers he composed his great treatise, the Mƒcanique analytique. In this he lays down
the law of virtual work, and from that one fundamental principle, by the aid of the calculus of variations, deduces the
whole of mechanics, both of solids and fluids.
The object of the book is to show that the subject is implicitly included in a single principle, and to give general
formulae from which any particular result can be obtained. The method of generalized co-ordinates by which he
obtained this result is perhaps the most brilliant result of his analysis. Instead of following the motion of each
individual part of a material system, as D'Alembert and Euler had done, he showed that, if we determine its
configuration by a sufficient number of variables whose number is the same as that of the degrees of freedom
possessed by the system, then the kinetic and potential energies of the system can be expressed in terms of those
variables, and the differential equations of motion thence deduced by simple differentiation. For example, in
dynamics of a rigid system he replaces the consideration of the particular problem by the general equation, which is
now usually written in the form
where T represents the kinetic energy and V represents the potential energy of the system. He then presented what we
now know as the method of Lagrange multipliersˆthough this is not the first time that method was publishedˆas a
means to solve this equation.
Amongst other minor theorems here given it may mention the proposition that the
kinetic energy imparted by the given impulses to a material system under given constraints is a maximum, and the
principle of least action. All the analysis is so elegant that Sir William Rowan Hamilton said the work could be
described only as a scientific poem. It may be interesting to note that Lagrange remarked that mechanics was really a
branch of pure mathematics analogous to a geometry of four dimensions, namely, the time and the three coordinates
of the point in space; and it is said that he prided himself that from the beginning to the end of the work there was not
a single diagram. At first no printer could be found who would publish the book; but Legendre at last persuaded a
Paris firm to undertake it, and it was issued under his supervision in 1788.
Work in France
Differential calculus and calculus of variations
Lagrange's lectures on the differential calculus at Ácole Polytechnique form the basis of his treatise Thƒorie des
fonctions analytiques, which was published in 1797. This work is the extension of an idea contained in a paper he
had sent to the Berlin papers in 1772, and its object is to substitute for the differential calculus a group of theorems
based on the development of algebraic functions in series, relying in particular on the principle of the generality of
algebra. A somewhat similar method had been previously used by John Landen in the Residual Analysis, published
in London in 1758. Lagrange believed that he could thus get rid of those difficulties, connected with the use of
infinitely large and infinitely small quantities, to which philosophers objected in the usual treatment of the
differential calculus. The book is divided into three parts: of these, the first treats of the general theory of functions,
and gives an algebraic proof of Taylor's theorem, the validity of which is, however, open to question; the second
deals with applications to geometry; and the third with applications to mechanics. Another treatise on the same lines
was his Le˜ons sur le calcul des fonctions, issued in 1804, with the second edition in 1806. It is in this book that
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Lagrange formulated his celebrated method of Lagrange multipliers, in the context of problems of variational
calculus with integral constraints. These works devoted to differential calculus and calculus of variations may be
considered as the starting point for the researches of Cauchy, Jacobi, and Weierstrass.
At a later period Lagrange reverted to the use of infinitesimals in preference to founding the differential calculus on
the study of algebraic forms; and in the preface to the second edition of the Mƒcanique Analytique, which was issued
in 1811, he justifies the employment of infinitesimals, and concludes by saying that:
When we have grasped the spirit of the infinitesimal method, and have verified the exactness of its results
either by the geometrical method of prime and ultimate ratios, or by the analytical method of derived
functions, we may employ infinitely small quantities as a sure and valuable means of shortening and
simplifying our proofs.
Continued fractions
His Rƒsolution des ƒquations numƒriques, published in 1798, was also the fruit of his lectures at Ácole
Polytechnique. There he gives the method of approximating to the real roots of an equation by means of continued
fractions, and enunciates several other theorems. In a note at the end he shows how Fermat's little theorem that
‰ 1 › 0 (mod p)
where p is a prime and a is prime to p, may be applied to give the complete algebraic solution of any binomial
equation. He also here explains how the equation whose roots are the squares of the differences of the roots of the
original equation may be used so as to give considerable information as to the position and nature of those roots.
The theory of the planetary motions had formed the subject of some of the most remarkable of Lagrange's Berlin
papers. In 1806 the subject was reopened by Poisson, who, in a paper read before the French Academy, showed that
Lagrange's formulae led to certain limits for the stability of the orbits. Lagrange, who was present, now discussed the
whole subject afresh, and in a letter communicated to the Academy in 1808 explained how, by the variation of
arbitrary constants, the periodical and secular inequalities of any system of mutually interacting bodies could be
Prizes and distinctions
Euler proposed Lagrange for election to the Berlin Academy and he was elected on 2 September 1756. He was
elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1790, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a foreign member of
the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1806. In 1808, Napoleon made Lagrange a Grand Officer of the Legion
of Honour and a Comte of the Empire. He was awarded the Grand Croix of the Ordre Imp•rial de la R•union in
1813, a week before his death in Paris.
Lagrange was awarded the 1764 prize of the French Academy of Sciences for his memoir on the libration of the
Moon. In 1766 the Academy proposed a problem of the motion of the satellites of Jupiter, and the prize again was
awarded to Lagrange. He also shared or won the prizes of 1772, 1774, and 1778.
Lagrange is one of the 72 prominent French scientists who were commemorated on plaques at the first stage of the
Eiffel Tower when it first opened. Rue Lagrange in the 5th Arrondissement in Paris is named after him. In Turin, the
street where the house of his birth still stands is named via Lagrange. The lunar crater Lagrange also bears his name.
Joseph Louis Lagrange
€ He was of medium height and slightly formed, with pale blue eyes and a colorless complexion. He was nervous
and timid, he detested controversy, and, to avoid it, willingly allowed others to take credit for what he had done
€ Due to thorough preparation, he was usually able to write out his papers complete without a single crossing-out or
The initial version of this article was taken from the public domain resource A Short Account of the History of
Mathematics (4th edition, 1908) by W. W. Rouse Ball.
[1] Luigi Pepe. "Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange" (http:/ / www.treccani. it/ enciclopedia/ giuseppe-luigi-lagrange/ ) (in Italian). Dizionario Biografico
degli Italiani. Enciclopedia Italiana. . Retrieved 8 July 2012.
[2] (http:/ / books.google.it/ books?id=VUWno1sOwnUC& pg=PA342& lpg#v=onepage& q& f=false) Encyclopedia of Space and Astronomy.
[3] Lagrange biography (http:/ / www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/ ~history/ Biographies/ Lagrange. html)
[4] Morris Kline (1986). Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge. Oxford University Press. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-19-504230-6. "Lagrange and
Laplace, though of Catholic parentage, were agnostics."
[5] Although some authors speak of general method of solving "isoperimetric problems", the eighteenth century meaning of this expression
amounts to "problems in variational calculus", reserving the adjective "relative" for problems with isoperimetric-type constraints. The
celebrated method of Lagrange multipliers, which applies to optimization of functions of several variables subject to constraints, did not
appear until much later, see Fraser, Craig (1992). "Isoperimetric Problems in the Variational Calculus of Euler and Lagrange". Historia
Mathematica 19: 4•23. doi:10.1016/0315-0860(92)90052-D.
[6] Galletto, D., The genesis of M‰canique analytique, La M½canique analytique de Lagrange et son h•ritage, II (Turin, 1989). Atti Accad. Sci.
Torino Cl. Sci. Fis. Mat. Natur. 126 (1992), suppl. 2, 277--370, MR1264671.
[7] Oeveres, t.1, 671•732 (http:/ / gdz. sub. uni-goettingen.de/ no_cache/ dms/ load/ img/ ?IDDOC=41029)
[8] Marco Panza, "The Origins of Analytic Mechanics in the 18th Century", in Hans Niels Jahnke (editor), A History of Analysis, 2003, p. 149
[9] W. W. Rouse Ball, 1908, " Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736 - 1813), (http:/ / www. maths. tcd. ie/ pub/ HistMath/ People/ Lagrange/ RouseBall/
RB_Lagrange. html)" A Short Account of the History of Mathematics, 4th ed. pp. 401 - 412
€ Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2005, " Lagrange, Joseph Louis. (http:/ / www. encyclopedia. com/ html/ L/
Lagrange. asp)"
€ W. W. Rouse Ball, 1908, " Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736 - 1813), (http:/ / www. maths. tcd. ie/ pub/ HistMath/
People/ Lagrange/ RouseBall/ RB_Lagrange. html)" A Short Account of the History of Mathematics, 4th ed.
€ Chanson, Hubert, 2007, " Velocity Potential in Real Fluid Flows: Joseph-Louis Lagrange's Contribution, (http:/ /
espace. library. uq. edu. au/ eserv. php?pid=UQ:119883& dsID=hb07_5. pdf)" La Houille Blanche 5: 127-31.
€ Fraser, Craig G., 2005, "Th•orie des fonctions analytiques" in Grattan-Guinness, I., ed., Landmark Writings in
Western Mathematics. Elsevier: 258-76.
€ Lagrange, Joseph-Louis. (1811). Mecanique Analytique. Courcier (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009;
ISBN 978-1-108-00174-8)
€ Lagrange, J.L. (1781) "M•moire sur la Th•orie du Mouvement des Fluides"(Memoir on the Theory of Fluid
Motion) in Serret, J.A., ed., 1867. Oeuvres de Lagrange, Vol. 4. Paris" Gauthier-Villars: 695-748.
€ Pulte, Helmut, 2005, "M•chanique Analytique" in Grattan-Guinness, I., ed., Landmark Writings in Western
Mathematics. Elsevier: 208-24.
Joseph Louis Lagrange
External links
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Joseph Louis Lagrange" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac.
uk/ Biographies/ Lagrange. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Weisstein, Eric W., Lagrange, Joseph (1736-1813) (http:/ / scienceworld. wolfram. com/ biography/ Lagrange.
html) from ScienceWorld.
€ Lagrange, Joseph Louis de: The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy and Space Flight (http:/ / www.
daviddarling. info/ encyclopedia/ L/ Lagrange. html)
€ Joseph Louis Lagrange (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=17864) at the Mathematics
Genealogy Project
€ The Founders of Classical Mechanics: Joseph Louis Lagrange (http:/ / about-physicists. org/ lagrange. html)
€ The Lagrange Points (http:/ / map. gsfc. nasa. gov/ m_mm/ ob_techorbit1. html)
€ Derivation of Lagrange's result (not Lagrange's method) (http:/ / map. gsfc. nasa. gov/ media/ ContentMedia/
lagrange. pdf)
€ Lagrange's works (in French) Oeuvres de Lagrange, edited by Joseph Alfred Serret, Paris 1867, digitized by
G»ttinger Digitalisierungszentrum (http:/ / www-gdz. sub. uni-goettingen. de/ cgi-bin/ digbib.
cgi?PPN308899466) (M•canique analytique is in volumes 11 and 12.)
€ Joseph Louis de Lagrange - ãuvres compl½tes (http:/ / portail. mathdoc. fr/ cgi-bin/
oetoc?id=OE_LAGRANGE__1) Gallica-Math
€ Inventaire chronologique de l'äuvre de Lagrange (http:/ / www. persee. fr/ web/ revues/ home/ prescript/ article/
rhs_0151-4105_1974_num_27_1_1044) Persee
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749•1827). Posthumous portrait by Madame Feytaud, 1842.
Born 23 March 1749
Beaumont-en-Auge, Normandy, France
Died 5 March 1827 (aged 77)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Fields Astronomer and Mathematician
Institutions Ácole Militaire (1769•1776)
Alma mater University of Caen
Academic advisors Jean d'Alembert
Christophe Gadbled
Pierre Le Canu
Doctoral students Sim•on Denis Poisson
Known for Work in Celestial Mechanics
Laplace's equation
Laplace transform
Laplace distribution
Laplace's demon
Laplace expansion
Young•Laplace equation
Laplace number
Laplace limit
Laplace invariant
Laplace principle
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (/l…‚pl¾s/; French: [pj†Œ sim•¡ laplas]; 23 March 1749 • 5 March 1827) was a
French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and
statistics. He summarized and extended the work of his predecessors in his five-volume Mƒcanique Cƒleste (Celestial
Mechanics) (1799•1825). This work translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus,
opening up a broader range of problems. In statistics, the so-called Bayesian interpretation of probability was
developed mainly by Laplace.
Laplace formulated Laplace's equation, and pioneered the Laplace transform which appears in many branches of
mathematical physics, a field that he took a leading role in forming. The Laplacian differential operator, widely used
in mathematics, is also named after him. He restated and developed the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar
system and was one of the first scientists to postulate the existence of black holes and the notion of gravitational
Laplace is remembered as one of the greatest scientists of all time. Sometimes referred to as the French Newton or
Newton of France, he possessed a phenomenal natural mathematical faculty superior to that of any of his
Laplace became a count of the First French Empire in 1806 and was named a marquis in 1817, after the Bourbon
Early years
Many details of the life of Laplace were lost when the family chÈteau burned in 1925.
Laplace was born in
Beaumont-en-Auge, Normandy in 1749. According to W. W. Rouse Ball,
he was the son of a small cottager or
perhaps a farm-laborer, and owed his education to the interest excited in some wealthy neighbors by his abilities and
engaging presence. Very little is known of his early years. It would seem that from a pupil he became an usher in the
school at Beaumont; but, having procured a letter of introduction to d'Alembert, he went to Paris to advance his
fortune. However, Karl Pearson
is scathing about the inaccuracies in Rouse Ball's account and states:
Indeed Caen was probably in Laplace's day the most intellectually active of all the towns of Normandy. It was
here that Laplace was educated and was provisionally a professor. It was here he wrote his first paper
published in the Mƒlanges of the Royal Society of Turin, Tome iv. 1766•1769, at least two years before he
went at 22 or 23 to Paris in 1771. Thus before he was 20 he was in touch with Lagrange in Turin. He did not
go to Paris a raw self-taught country lad with only a peasant background! In 1765 at the age of sixteen Laplace
left the "School of the Duke of Orleans" in Beaumont and went to the University of Caen, where he appears to
have studied for five years. The 'Ácole Militaire' of Beaumont did not replace the old school until 1776.
His parents were from comfortable families. His father was Pierre Laplace, and his mother was Marie-Anne Sochon.
The Laplace family was involved in agriculture until at least 1750, but Pierre Laplace senior was also a cider
merchant and syndic of the town of Beaumont.
Pierre Simon Laplace attended a school in the village run at a Benedictine priory, his father intending that he be
ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. At sixteen, to further his father's intention, he was sent to the University of
Caen to read theology.
At the university, he was mentored by two enthusiastic teachers of mathematics, Christophe Gadbled and Pierre Le
Canu, who awoke his zeal for the subject. Laplace did not graduate in theology but left for Paris with a letter of
introduction from Le Canu to Jean le Rond d'Alembert.
According to his great-great-grandson,
d'Alembert received him rather poorly, and to get rid of him gave him a
thick mathematics book, saying to come back when he had read it. When Laplace came back a few days later,
d'Alembert was even less friendly and did not hide his opinion that it was impossible that Laplace could have read
and understood the book. But upon questioning him, he realized that it was true, and from that time he took Laplace
under his care.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Another version is that Laplace solved overnight a problem that d'Alembert set him for submission the following
week, then solved a harder problem the following night. D'Alembert was impressed and recommended him for a
teaching place in the ˆcole Militaire.
With a secure income and undemanding teaching, Laplace now threw himself into original research and in the next
seventeen years, 1771•1787, he produced much of his original work in astronomy.
Laplace further impressed the Marquis de Condorcet, and already in 1771 Laplace felt that he was entitled to
membership of the French Academy of Sciences. However, in that year, admission went to Alexandre-Th•ophile
Vandermonde and in 1772 to Jacques Antoine Joseph Cousin. Laplace was disgruntled, and at the beginning of
1773, d'Alembert wrote to Lagrange in Berlin to ask if a position could be found for Laplace there. However,
Condorcet became permanent secretary of the Acadƒmie in February and Laplace was elected associate member on
31 March, at age 24.
On 15 March 1788,
at the age of thirty-nine, Laplace married Marie-Charlotte de Courty de Romanges, a pretty
eighteen-and-a-half-year-old girl from a good family in BesanÀon.
The wedding was celebrated at Saint-Sulpice,
Paris. The couple had a son, Charles-Ámile (1789•1874), and a daughter, Sophie-Suzanne (1792•1813).
Analysis, probability and astronomical stability
Laplace's early published work in 1771 started with differential equations and finite differences but he was already
starting to think about the mathematical and philosophical concepts of probability and statistics.
However, before
his election to the Acadƒmie in 1773, he had already drafted two papers that would establish his reputation. The first,
Mƒmoire sur la probabilitƒ des causes par les ƒvƒnements was ultimately published in 1774 while the second paper,
published in 1776, further elaborated his statistical thinking and also began his systematic work on celestial
mechanics and the stability of the solar system. The two disciplines would always be interlinked in his mind.
"Laplace took probability as an instrument for repairing defects in knowledge."
Laplace's work on probability and
statistics is discussed below with his mature work on the analytic theory of probabilities.
Stability of the solar system
Sir Isaac Newton had published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687 in which he gave a
derivation of Kepler's laws, which describe the motion of the planets, from his laws of motion and his law of
universal gravitation. However, though Newton had privately developed the methods of calculus, all his published
work used cumbersome geometric reasoning, unsuitable to account for the more subtle higher-order effects of
interactions between the planets. Newton himself had doubted the possibility of a mathematical solution to the
whole, even concluding that periodic divine intervention was necessary to guarantee the stability of the solar system.
Dispensing with the hypothesis of divine intervention would be a major activity of Laplace's scientific life.
It is
now generally regarded that Laplace's methods on their own, though vital to the development of the theory, are not
sufficiently precise to demonstrate the stability of the Solar System,
and indeed, the Solar System is now
understood to be chaotic, although it actually appears to be fairly stable.
One particular problem from observational astronomy was the apparent instability whereby Jupiter's orbit appeared
to be shrinking while that of Saturn was expanding. The problem had been tackled by Leonhard Euler in 1748 and
Joseph Louis Lagrange in 1763 but without success.
In 1776, Laplace published a memoir in which he first
explored the possible influences of a purported luminiferous ether or of a law of gravitation that did not act
instantaneously. He ultimately returned to an intellectual investment in Newtonian gravity.
Euler and Lagrange
had made a practical approximation by ignoring small terms in the equations of motion. Laplace noted that though
the terms themselves were small, when integrated over time they could become important. Laplace carried his
analysis into the higher-order terms, up to and including the cubic. Using this more exact analysis, Laplace
concluded that any two planets and the sun must be in mutual equilibrium and thereby launched his work on the
stability of the solar system.
Gerald James Whitrow described the achievement as "the most important advance in
Pierre-Simon Laplace
physical astronomy since Newton".
Laplace had a wide knowledge of all sciences and dominated all discussions in the Acadƒmie.
Laplace seems to
have regarded analysis merely as a means of attacking physical problems, though the ability with which he invented
the necessary analysis is almost phenomenal. As long as his results were true he took but little trouble to explain the
steps by which he arrived at them; he never studied elegance or symmetry in his processes, and it was sufficient for
him if he could by any means solve the particular question he was discussing.
On the figure of the Earth
During the years 1784•1787 he published some memoirs of exceptional power. Prominent among these is one read
in 1783, reprinted as Part II of Thƒorie du Mouvement et de la figure elliptique des plan‰tes in 1784, and in the third
volume of the Mƒcanique cƒleste. In this work, Laplace completely determined the attraction of a spheroid on a
particle outside it. This is memorable for the introduction into analysis of spherical harmonics or Laplace's
coefficients, and also for the development of the use of what we would now call the gravitational potential in
celestial mechanics.
Spherical harmonics
Spherical harmonics.
In 1783, in a paper sent to the Acadƒmie, Adrien-Marie Legendre had
introduced what are now known as associated Legendre functions.
If two
points in a plane have polar co-ordinates (r, ³) and (r ', ³'), where r ' – r, then,
by elementary manipulation, the reciprocal of the distance between the points,
d, can be written as:
This expression can be expanded in powers of r/r ' using Newton's generalised
binomial theorem to give:
The sequence of functions P
(coså) is the set of so-called "associated Legendre functions" and their usefulness
arises from the fact that every function of the points on a circle can be expanded as a series of them.
Laplace, with scant regard for credit to Legendre, made the non-trivial extension of the result to three dimensions to
yield a more general set of functions, the spherical harmonics or Laplace coefficients. The latter term is not in
common use now .
Potential theory
This paper is also remarkable for the development of the idea of the scalar potential.
The gravitational force acting
on a body is, in modern language, a vector, having magnitude and direction. A potential function is a scalar function
that defines how the vectors will behave. A scalar function is computationally and conceptually easier to deal with
than a vector function.
Alexis Clairaut had first suggested the idea in 1743 while working on a similar problem though he was using
Newtonian-type geometric reasoning. Laplace described Clairaut's work as being "in the class of the most beautiful
mathematical productions".
However, Rouse Ball alleges that the idea "was appropriated from Joseph Louis
Lagrange, who had used it in his memoirs of 1773, 1777 and 1780".
The term "potential" itself was due to Daniel
Bernoulli, who introduced it in his 1738 memoire Hydrodynamica. However, according to Rouse Ball, the term
"potential function" was not actually used (to refer to a function V of the coordinates of space in Laplace's sense)
Pierre-Simon Laplace
until George Green's 1828 An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and
Laplace applied the language of calculus to the potential function and showed that it always satisfies the differential
An analogous result for the velocity potential of a fluid had been obtained some years previously by Leonard
Laplace's subsequent work on gravitational attraction was based on this result. The quantity ž
V has been termed the
concentration of V and its value at any point indicates the "excess" of the value of V there over its mean value in the
neighbourhood of the point. Laplace's equation, a special case of Poisson's equation, appears ubiquitously in
mathematical physics. The concept of a potential occurs in fluid dynamics, electromagnetism and other areas. Rouse
Ball speculated that it might be seen as "the outward sign" of one of the a priori forms in Kant's theory of
The spherical harmonics turn out to be critical to practical solutions of Laplace's equation. Laplace's equation in
spherical coordinates, such as are used for mapping the sky, can be simplified, using the method of separation of
variables into a radial part, depending solely on distance from the centre point, and an angular or spherical part. The
solution to the spherical part of the equation can be expressed as a series of Laplace's spherical harmonics,
simplifying practical computation.
Planetary and lunar inequalities
JupiterƒSaturn great inequality
Laplace presented a memoir on planetary inequalities in three sections, in 1784, 1785, and 1786. This dealt mainly
with the identification and explanation of the perturbations now known as the "great Jupiter•Saturn inequality".
Laplace solved a longstanding problem in the study and prediction of the movements of these planets. He showed by
general considerations, first, that the mutual action of two planets could never cause large changes in the
eccentricities and inclinations of their orbits; but then, even more importantly, that peculiarities arose in the
Jupiter•Saturn system because of the near approach to commensurability of the mean motions of Jupiter and Saturn.
(Commensurability, in this context, means related by ratios of small whole numbers. Two periods of Saturn's orbit
around the Sun almost equal five of Jupiter's. The corresponding difference between multiples of the mean motions,
‰ 5n
), corresponds to a period of nearly 900 years, and it occurs as a small divisor in the integration of a very
small perturbing force with this same period. As a result, the integrated perturbations with this period are
disproportionately large, about 0.8ª degrees of arc in orbital longitude for Saturn and about 0.3ª for Jupiter.) Further
developments of these theorems on planetary motion were given in his two memoirs of 1788 and 1789, but with the
aid of Laplace's discoveries, the tables of the motions of Jupiter and Saturn could at last be made much more
accurate. It was on the basis of Laplace's theory that Delambre computed his astronomical tables.
Lunar inequalities
Laplace also produced an analytical solution (as it turned out later, a partial solution), to a significant problem
regarding the motion of the Moon. Edmond Halley had been the first to suggest, in 1695,
that the mean motion of
the Moon was apparently getting faster, by comparison with ancient eclipse observations, but he gave no data. (It
was not yet known in Halley's or Laplace's times that what is actually occurring includes a slowing down of the
Earth's rate of rotation: see also Ephemeris time • History. When measured as a function of mean solar time rather
than uniform time, the effect appears as a positive acceleration.) In 1749, Richard Dunthorne confirmed Halley's
suspicion after re-examining ancient records, and produced the first quantitative estimate for the size of this apparent
Pierre-Simon Laplace
a centurial rate of +10" (arcseconds) in lunar longitude (a surprisingly good result for its time, not far
different from values assessed later, e.g. in 1786 by de Lalande,
and to compare with values from about 10" to
nearly 13" being derived about century later.)
The effect became known as the secular acceleration of the
Moon, but until Laplace, its cause remained unknown.
Laplace gave an explanation of the effect in 1787, showing how an acceleration arises from changes (a secular
reduction) in the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit, which in turn is one of the effects of planetary perturbations on the
Earth. Laplace's initial computation accounted for the whole effect, thus seeming to tie up the theory neatly with both
modern and ancient observations. However, in 1853, J. C. Adams caused the question to be re-opened by finding an
error in Laplace's computations: it turned out that only about half of the Moon's apparent acceleration could be
accounted for on Laplace's basis by the change in the Earth's orbital eccentricity.
(Adams showed that Laplace
had in effect considered only the radial force on the moon and not the tangential, and the partial result thus had
overestimated the acceleration; the remaining (negative), terms, when accounted for, showed that Laplace's cause
could not explain more than about half of the acceleration. The other half was subsequently shown to be due to tidal
Laplace used his results concerning the lunar acceleration when completing his attempted "proof" of the stability of
the whole solar system on the assumption that it consists of a collection of rigid bodies moving in a vacuum.
All the memoirs above alluded to were presented to the Acadƒmie des sciences, and they are printed in the Mƒmoires
prƒsentƒs par divers savants.
Celestial mechanics
Laplace now set himself the task to write a work which should "offer a complete solution of the great mechanical
problem presented by the solar system, and bring theory to coincide so closely with observation that empirical
equations should no longer find a place in astronomical tables." The result is embodied in the Exposition du syst‰me
du monde and the Mƒcanique cƒleste.
The former was published in 1796, and gives a general explanation of the phenomena, but omits all details. It
contains a summary of the history of astronomy. This summary procured for its author the honour of admission to
the forty of the French Academy and is commonly esteemed one of the masterpieces of French literature, though it is
not altogether reliable for the later periods of which it treats.
Laplace developed the nebular hypothesis of the formation of the solar system, first suggested by Emanuel
Swedenborg and expanded by Immanuel Kant, a hypothesis that continues to dominate accounts of the origin of
planetary systems. According to Laplace's description of the hypothesis, the solar system had evolved from a
globular mass of incandescent gas rotating around an axis through its centre of mass. As it cooled, this mass
contracted, and successive rings broke off from its outer edge. These rings in their turn cooled, and finally condensed
into the planets, while the sun represented the central core which was still left. On this view, Laplace predicted that
the more distant planets would be older than those nearer the sun.
As mentioned, the idea of the nebular hypothesis had been outlined by Immanuel Kant in 1755,
and he had also
suggested "meteoric aggregations" and tidal friction as causes affecting the formation of the solar system. Laplace
was probably aware of this, but, like many writers of his time, he generally did not reference the work of others.
Laplace's analytical discussion of the solar system is given in his Mƒchanique cƒleste published in five volumes. The
first two volumes, published in 1799, contain methods for calculating the motions of the planets, determining their
figures, and resolving tidal problems. The third and fourth volumes, published in 1802 and 1805, contain
applications of these methods, and several astronomical tables. The fifth volume, published in 1825, is mainly
historical, but it gives as appendices the results of Laplace's latest researches. Laplace's own investigations embodied
in it are so numerous and valuable that it is regrettable to have to add that many results are appropriated from other
writers with scanty or no acknowledgement, and the conclusions • which have been described as the organized result
Pierre-Simon Laplace
of a century of patient toil • are frequently mentioned as if they were due to Laplace.
Jean-Baptiste Biot, who assisted Laplace in revising it for the press, says that Laplace himself was frequently unable
to recover the details in the chain of reasoning, and, if satisfied that the conclusions were correct, he was content to
insert the constantly recurring formula, "Il est aisƒ ‡ voir que..." ("It is easy to see that..."). The Mƒcanique cƒleste is
not only the translation of Newton's Principia into the language of the differential calculus, but it completes parts of
which Newton had been unable to fill in the details. The work was carried forward in a more finely tuned form in
F•lix Tisserand's Traitƒ de mƒcanique cƒleste (1889•1896), but Laplace's treatise will always remain a standard
Black holes
Laplace also came close to propounding the concept of the black hole. He pointed out that there could be massive
stars whose gravity is so great that not even light could escape from their surface (see escape velocity).
also speculated that some of the nebulae revealed by telescopes might not be part of the Milky Way but rather
galaxies themselves. Thus, he anticipated Edwin Hubble's major discovery 100 years in advance.
Laplace's house at Arcueil.
In 1806, Laplace bought a house in Arcueil, then a village and not yet
absorbed into the Paris conurbation. Claude Louis Berthollet was a
neighbour ˆ their gardens were not separated
ˆ and the pair
formed the nucleus of an informal scientific circle, latterly known as
the Society of Arcueil. Because of their closeness to Napoleon,
Laplace and Berthollet effectively controlled advancement in the
scientific establishment and admission to the more prestigious offices.
The Society built up a complex pyramid of patronage.
In 1806,
Laplace was also elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences.
Analytic theory of probabilities
In 1812, Laplace issued his Thƒorie analytique des probabilitƒs in which he laid down many fundamental results in
statistics. The first half of this treatise was concerned with probability methods and problems, the second half with
statistical methods and applications. Laplace's proofs are not always rigorous according to the standards of a later
day, and his perspective slides back and forth between the Bayesian and non-Bayesian views with an ease that makes
some of his investigations difficult to follow, but his conclusions remain basically sound even in those few situations
where his analysis goes astray.
In 1819, he published a popular account of his work on probability. This book
bears the same relation to the Thƒorie des probabilitƒs that the Syst‰me du monde does to the Mƒchanique cƒleste.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Inductive probability
While he conducted much research in physics, another major theme of his life's endeavours was probability theory.
In his Essai philosophique sur les probabilitƒs (1814), Laplace set out a mathematical system of inductive reasoning
based on probability, which we would today recognise as Bayesian. He begins the text with a series of principles of
probability, the first six being:
1. 1. Probability is the ratio of the "favored events" to the total possible events.
2. 2. The first principle assumes equal probabilities for all events. When this is not true, we must first determine the
probabilities of each event. Then, the probability is the sum of the probabilities of all possible favored events.
3. 3. For independent events, the probability of the occurrence of all is the probability of each multiplied together.
4. 4. For events not independent, the probability of event B following event A (or event A causing B) is the probability
of A multiplied by the probability that A and B both occur.
5. The probability that A will occur, given that B has occurred, is the probability of A and B occurring divided by the
probability of B.
6. Three corollaries are given for the sixth principle, which amount to Bayesian probability. Where event A
š {A
, ...A
} exhausts the list of possible causes for event B, Pr(B) = Pr(A
, A
, ...A
). Then
One well-known formula arising from his system is the rule of succession, given as principle seven. Suppose that
some trial has only two possible outcomes, labeled "success" and "failure". Under the assumption that little or
nothing is known a priori about the relative plausibilities of the outcomes, Laplace derived a formula for the
probability that the next trial will be a success.
where s is the number of previously observed successes and n is the total number of observed trials. It is still used as
an estimator for the probability of an event if we know the event space, but have only a small number of samples.
The rule of succession has been subject to much criticism, partly due to the example which Laplace chose to
illustrate it. He calculated that the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow, given that it has never failed to in the
past, was
where d is the number of times the sun has risen in the past. This result has been derided as absurd, and some authors
have concluded that all applications of the Rule of Succession are absurd by extension. However, Laplace was fully
aware of the absurdity of the result; immediately following the example, he wrote, "But this number [i.e., the
probability that the sun will rise tomorrow] is far greater for him who, seeing in the totality of phenomena the
principle regulating the days and seasons, realizes that nothing at the present moment can arrest the course of it."
Probability-generating function
The method of estimating the ratio of the number of favorable cases to the whole number of possible cases had been
previously indicated by Laplace in a paper written in 1779. It consists of treating the successive values of any
function as the coefficients in the expansion of another function, with reference to a different variable. The latter is
therefore called the probability-generating function of the former. Laplace then shows how, by means of
interpolation, these coefficients may be determined from the generating function. Next he attacks the converse
problem, and from the coefficients he finds the generating function; this is effected by the solution of a finite
difference equation.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Least squares
The fourth chapter of this treatise includes an exposition of the method of least squares, a remarkable testimony to
Laplace's command over the processes of analysis. In 1805 Legendre had published the method of least squares,
making no attempt to tie it to the theory of probability. In 1809 Gauss had derived the normal distribution from the
principle that the arithmetic mean of observations gives the most probable value for the quantity measured; then,
turning this argument back upon itself, he showed that, if the errors of observation are normally distributed, the least
squares estimates give the most probable values for the coefficients in regression situations. These two works seem
to have spurred Laplace to complete work toward a treatise on probability he had contemplated as early as 1783.
In two important papers in 1810 and 1811, Laplace first developed the characteristic function as a tool for
large-sample theory and proved the first general central limit theorem. Then in a supplement to his 1810 paper
written after he had seen Gauss's work, he showed that the central limit theorem provided a Bayesian justification for
least squares: if one were combining observations, each one of which was itself the mean of a large number of
independent observations, then the least squares estimates would not only maximize the likelihood function,
considered as a posterior distribution, but also minimize the expected posterior error, all this without any assumption
as to the error distribution or a circular appeal to the principle of the arithmetic mean.
In 1811 Laplace took a
different non-Bayesian tack. Considering a linear regression problem, he restricted his attention to linear unbiased
estimators of the linear coefficients. After showing that members of this class were approximately normally
distributed if the number of observations was large, he argued that least squares provided the "best" linear estimators.
Here "best" in the sense that they minimized the asymptotic variance and thus both minimized the expected absolute
value of the error, and maximized the probability that the estimate would lie in any symmetric interval about the
unknown coefficient, no matter what the error distribution. His derivation included the joint limiting distribution of
the least squares estimators of two parameters.
Laplace's demon
In 1814, Laplace published what is usually known as the first articulation of causal or scientific determinism:
We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect
which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of
which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would
embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom;
for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its
ˆPierre Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities
This intellect is often referred to as Laplace's demon (in the same vein as Maxwell's demon) and sometimes
Laplace's Superman (after Hans Reichenbach). Laplace, himself, did not use the word "demon", which was a later
embellishment. As translated into English above, he simply referred to: "Une intelligence... Rien ne serait incertain
pour elle, et l'avenir comme le passƒ, serait prƒsent ‡ ses yeux."
Even though Laplace is known as the first to express such ideas about causal determinism, his view is very similar to
the one proposed by Boscovich as early as 1763 in his book Theoria philosophiae naturalis.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Laplace transforms
As early as 1744, Euler, followed by Lagrange, had started looking for solutions of differential equations in the
In 1785, Laplace took the key forward step in using integrals of this form in order to transform a whole difference
equation, rather than simply as a form for the solution, and found that the transformed equation was easier to solve
than the original.
Other discoveries and accomplishments
Amongst the other discoveries of Laplace in pure and applied mathematics are:
€ Discussion, contemporaneously with Alexandre-Th•ophile Vandermonde, of the general theory of determinants,
€ Proof that every equation of an even degree must have at least one real quadratic factor;
€ Solution of the linear partial differential equation of the second order;
€ He was the first to consider the difficult problems involved in equations of mixed differences, and to prove that
the solution of an equation in finite differences of the first degree and the second order might always be obtained
in the form of a continued fraction;
€€ In his theory of probabilities:
€ Evaluation of several common definite integrals;
€ General proof of the Lagrange reversion theorem.
Surface tension
Laplace built upon the qualitative work of Thomas Young to develop the theory of capillary action and the
Young•Laplace equation.
Speed of sound
Laplace in 1816 was the first to point out that the speed of sound in air depends on the heat capacity ratio. Newton's
original theory gave too low a value, because it does not take account of the adiabatic compression of the air which
results in a local rise in temperature and pressure. Laplace's investigations in practical physics were confined to those
carried on by him jointly with Lavoisier in the years 1782 to 1784 on the specific heat of various bodies.
Minister of the Interior
In his early years Laplace was careful never to become involved in politics, or indeed in life outside the Acadƒmie
des sciences. He prudently withdrew from Paris during the most violent part of the Revolution.
In November 1799, immediately after seizing power in the coup of 18 Brumaire, Napoleon appointed Laplace to the
post of Minister of the Interior. The appointment, however, lasted only six weeks, after which Lucien, Napoleon's
brother, was given the post. Evidently, once Napoleon's grip on power was secure, there was no need for a
prestigious but inexperienced scientist in the government.
Napoleon later (in his Mƒmoires de Sainte Hƒl‰ne)
wrote of Laplace's dismissal as follows:
Pierre-Simon Laplace
G•om½tre de premier rang, Laplace ne tarda pas Õ se montrer administrateur plus que m•diocre; d½s son
premier travail nous reconnæmes que nous nous •tions tromp•. Laplace ne saisissait aucune question sous son
v•ritable point de vue: il cherchait des subtilit•s partout, n'avait que des id•es probl•matiques, et portait enfin
l'esprit des `infiniment petits' jusque dans l'administration. (Geometrician of the first rank, Laplace was not
long in showing himself a worse than average administrator; from his first actions in office we recognized our
mistake. Laplace did not consider any question from the right angle: he sought subtleties everywhere,
conceived only problems, and finally carried the spirit of "infinitesimals" into the administration.)
Grattan-Guinness, however, describes these remarks as "tendentious", since there seems to be no doubt that Laplace
"was only appointed as a short-term figurehead, a place-holder while Napoleon consolidated power".
From Bonaparte to the Bourbons
Although Laplace was removed from office, it was desirable to retain his
allegiance. He was accordingly raised to the senate, and to the third volume of
the Mƒcanique cƒleste he prefixed a note that of all the truths therein contained
the most precious to the author was the declaration he thus made of his devotion
towards the peacemaker of Europe. In copies sold after the Bourbon Restoration
this was struck out. (Pearson points out that the censor would not have allowed it
anyway.) In 1814 it was evident that the empire was falling; Laplace hastened to
tender his services to the Bourbons, and in 1817 during the Restoration he was
rewarded with the title of marquis.
According to Rouse Ball, the contempt that his more honest colleagues felt for
his conduct in the matter may be read in the pages of Paul Louis Courier. His
knowledge was useful on the numerous scientific commissions on which he
served, and, says Rouse Ball, probably accounts for the manner in which his political insincerity was overlooked.
Roger Hahn disputes this portrayal of Laplace as an opportunist and turncoat, pointing out that, like many in France,
he had followed the debacle of Napoleon's Russian campaign with serious misgivings. The Laplaces, whose only
daughter Sophie had died in childbirth in September 1813, were in fear for the safety of their son Ámile, who was on
the eastern front with the emperor. Napoleon had originally come to power promising stability, but it was clear that
he had overextended himself, putting the nation at peril. It was at this point that Laplace's loyalty began to weaken.
Although he still had easy access to Napoleon, his personal relations with the emperor cooled considerably. As a
grieving father, he was particularly cut to the quick by Napoleon's insensitivity in an exchange related by
Jean-Antoine Chaptal: "On his return from the rout in Leipzig, he [Napoleon] accosted Mr Laplace: 'Oh! I see that
you have grown thin ˆ Sire, I have lost my daughter ˆ Oh! that's not a reason for losing weight. You are a
mathematician; put this event in an equation, and you will find that it adds up to zero.'"
Political philosophy
In the second edition (1814) of the Essai philosophique, Laplace added some revealing comments on politics and
governance. Since it is, he says, "the practice of the eternal principles of reason, justice and humanity that produce
and preserve societies, there is a great advantage to adhere to these principles, and a great inadvisability to deviate
from them".
Noting "the depths of misery into which peoples have been cast" when ambitious leaders
disregard these principles, Laplace makes a veiled criticism of Napoleon's conduct: "Every time a great power
intoxicated by the love of conquest aspires to universal domination, the sense of liberty among the unjustly
threatened nations breeds a coalition to which it always succumbs." Laplace argues that "in the midst of the multiple
causes that direct and restrain various states, natural limits" operate, within which it is "important for the stability as
well as the prosperity of empires to remain". States that transgress these limits cannot avoid being "reverted" to
them, "just as is the case when the waters of the seas whose floor has been lifted by violent tempests sink back to
Pierre-Simon Laplace
their level by the action of gravity".
About the political upheavals he had witnessed, Laplace formulated a set of principles derived from physics to favor
evolutionary over revolutionary change:
Let us apply to the political and moral sciences the method founded upon observation and calculation, which
has served us so well in the natural sciences. Let us not offer fruitless and often injurious resistance to the
inevitable benefits derived from the progress of enlightenment; but let us change our institutions and the
usages that we have for a long time adopted only with extreme caution. We know from past experience the
drawbacks they can cause, but we are unaware of the extent of ills that change may produce. In the face of this
ignorance, the theory of probability instructs us to avoid all change, especially to avoid sudden changes which
in the moral as well as the physical world never occur without a considerable loss of vital force.
In these lines, Laplace expressed the views he had arrived at after experiencing the Revolution and the Empire. He
believed that the stability of nature, as revealed through scientific findings, provided the model that best helped to
preserve the human species. "Such views," Hahn comments, "were also of a piece with his steadfast character."
Laplace died in Paris in 1827. His brain was removed by his physician, FranÀois Magendie, and kept for many years,
eventually being displayed in a roving anatomical museum in Britain. It was reportedly smaller than the average
Religious opinions
I had no need of that hypothesis
A frequently cited but apocryphal interaction between Laplace and Napoleon purportedly concerns the existence of
God. A typical version is provided by Rouse Ball:
Laplace went in state to Napoleon to present a copy of his work, and the following account of the interview is
well authenticated, and so characteristic of all the parties concerned that I quote it in full. Someone had told
Napoleon that the book contained no mention of the name of God; Napoleon, who was fond of putting
embarrassing questions, received it with the remark, 'M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book
on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.' Laplace, who, though the most
supple of politicians, was as stiff as a martyr on every point of his philosophy, drew himself up and answered
bluntly, Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypoth‰se-l‡. ("I had no need of that hypothesis.") Napoleon, greatly
amused, told this reply to Lagrange, who exclaimed, Ah! c'est une belle hypoth‰se; ˜a explique beaucoup de
choses. ("Ah, it is a fine hypothesis; it explains many things.")
In 1884, however, the astronomer Herv• Faye
affirmed that this account of Laplace's exchange with Napoleon
presented a "strangely transformed" (ƒtrangement transformƒe) or garbled version of what had actually happened. It
was not God that Laplace had treated as a hypothesis, but merely his intervention at a determinate point:
In fact Laplace never said that. Here, I believe, is what truly happened. Newton, believing that the secular
perturbations which he had sketched out in his theory would in the long run end up destroying the solar
system, says somewhere that God was obliged to intervene from time to time to remedy the evil and somehow
keep the system working properly. This, however, was a pure supposition suggested to Newton by an
incomplete view of the conditions of the stability of our little world. Science was not yet advanced enough at
that time to bring these conditions into full view. But Laplace, who had discovered them by a deep analysis,
would have replied to the First Consul that Newton had wrongly invoked the intervention of God to adjust
from time to time the machine of the world (la machine du monde) and that he, Laplace, had no need of such
an assumption. It was not God, therefore, that Laplace treated as a hypothesis, but his intervention in a certain
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Laplace's younger colleague, the astronomer FranÀois Arago, who gave his eulogy before the French Academy in
told Faye that the garbled version of Laplace's interaction with Napoleon was already in circulation towards
the end of Laplace's life. Faye writes:,
I have it on the authority of M. Arago that Laplace, warned shortly before his death that that anecdote was
about to be published in a biographical collection, had requested him (Arago) to demand its deletion by the
publisher. It was necessary to either explain or delete it, and the second way was the easiest. But,
unfortunately, it was neither deleted nor explained.
The Swiss-American historian of mathematics Florian Cajori appears to have been unaware of Faye's research, but in
1893 he came to a similar conclusion.
Stephen Hawking said in 1999,
"I don't think that Laplace was claiming
that God does not exist. It's just that he doesn't intervene, to break the laws of Science."
The only eyewitness account of Laplace's interaction with Napoleon is an entry in the diary of the British astronomer
Sir William Herschel. Since this makes no mention of Laplace saying, "I had no need of that hypothesis," Daniel
argues that "Laplace never used the words attributed to him." Arago's testimony, however, appears to
imply that he did, only not in reference to the existence of God.
Views on God
Born a Catholic, Laplace appears for most of his life to have veered between deism (presumably his considered
position, since it is the only one found in his writings) and atheism.
Faye thought that Laplace "did not profess atheism",
but Napoleon, on Saint Helena, told General Gaspard
Gourgaud, "I often asked Laplace what he thought of God. He owned that he was an atheist."
Roger Hahn, in his
biography of Laplace, mentions a dinner party at which "the geologist Jean-Átienne Guettard was staggered by
Laplace's bold denunciation of the existence of God". It appeared to Guettard that Laplace's atheism "was supported
by a thoroughgoing materialism".
But the chemist Jean-Baptiste Dumas, who knew Laplace well in the 1820s,
wrote that Laplace "gave materialists their specious arguments, without sharing their convictions".
Hahn states: "Nowhere in his writings, either public or private, does Laplace deny God's existence."
occur in his private letters that appear inconsistent with atheism.
On 17 June 1809, for instance, he wrote to his
son, "Je prie Dieu qu'il veille sur tes jours. Aie-Le toujours prƒsent ‡ ta pensƒe, ainsi que ton pƒre et ta mƒre [I pray
that God watches over your days. Let Him be always present to your mind, as also your father and your
Ian S. Glass, quoting Herschel's account of the celebrated exchange with Napoleon, writes that
Laplace was "evidently a deist like Herschel".
In Exposition du syst‰me du monde, Laplace quotes Newton's assertion that "the wondrous disposition of the Sun,
the planets and the comets, can only be the work of an all-powerful and intelligent Being".
This, says Laplace, is
a "thought in which he [Newton] would be even more confirmed, if he had known what we have shown, namely that
the conditions of the arrangement of the planets and their satellites are precisely those which ensure its stability".
By showing that the "remarkable" arrangement of the planets could be entirely explained by the laws of motion,
Laplace had eliminated the need for the "supreme intelligence" to intervene, as Newton had "made" it do.
cites with approval Leibniz's criticism of Newton's invocation of divine intervention to restore order to the solar
system: "This is to have very narrow ideas about the wisdom and the power of God."
He evidently shared
Leibniz's astonishment at Newton's belief "that God has made his machine so badly that unless he affects it by some
extraordinary means, the watch will very soon cease to go".
In a group of manuscripts, preserved in relative secrecy in a black envelope in the library of the Acadƒmie des
sciences and published for the first time by Hahn, Laplace mounted a deist critique of Christianity. It is, he writes,
the "first and most infallible of principles ... to reject miraculous facts as untrue".
As for the doctrine of
transubstantiation, it "offends at the same time reason, experience, the testimony of all our senses, the eternal laws of
nature, and the sublime ideas that we ought to form of the Supreme Being". That "the sovereign lawgiver of the
universe would suspend the laws that he has established, and which he seems to have maintained invariably" is the
Pierre-Simon Laplace
sheerest absurdity.
In old age, Laplace remained curious about the question of God
and frequently discussed Christianity with the
Swiss astronomer Jean-Fr•d•ric-Th•odore Maurice.
He told Maurice that "Christianity is quite a beautiful thing"
and praised its civilizing influence. Maurice thought that the basis of Laplace's beliefs was, little by little, being
modified, but that he held fast to his conviction that the invariability of the laws of nature did not permit of
supernatural events.
After Laplace's death, Poisson told Maurice, "You know that I do not share your [religious]
opinions, but my conscience forces me to recount something that will surely please you." When Poisson had
complimented Laplace about his "brilliant discoveries", the dying man had fixed him with a pensive look and
replied, "Ah! we chase after phantoms [chim‰res]."
These were his last words, interpreted by Maurice as a
realization of the ultimate "vanity" of earthly pursuits.
Laplace received the last rites from the cur• of the
Missions Átrang½res (in whose parish he was to be buried)
and the cur• of Arcueil.
However, according to his biographer, Roger Hahn, since it is "not credible" that Laplace "had a proper Catholic
end", the "last rights" (sic) were ineffective and he "remained a skeptic" to the very end of his life.
Laplace was
said to be an agnostic in his last years.
Excommunication of a comet
In 1470 the humanist scholar Bartolomeo Platina wrote
that Pope Callixtus III had asked for prayers for
deliverance from the Turks during a 1456 appearance of Halley's Comet. Platina's account does not accord with
Church records, which do not mention the comet. Laplace is alleged to have embellished the story by claiming the
Pope had "excommunicated" Halley's comet.
What Laplace actually said, in Exposition du syst‰me du monde
(1796), was that the Pope had ordered the comet to be "exorcized" (conjurƒ). It was Arago, in Des Com‰tes en
gƒnƒral (1832), who first spoke of an excommunication. Neither the exorcism nor the excommunication can be
regarded as anything but pure fiction.
€ The asteroid 4628 Laplace is named for Laplace.
€ Laplace is one of only seventy-two persons to have his name engraved on the Eiffel Tower.
€ The tentative working name of the European Space Agency Europa Jupiter System Mission is the "Laplace" space
€ I had no need of that hypothesis. ("Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypoth½se-lÕ", allegedly as a reply to Napoleon,
who had asked why he hadn't mentioned God in his book on astronomy.)
€ It is therefore obvious that ... (Frequently used in the Celestial Mechanics when he had proved something and
mislaid the proof, or found it clumsy. Notorious as a signal for something true, but hard to prove.)
€ The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness.
€ This simplicity of ratios will not appear astonishing if we consider that all the effects of nature are only
mathematical results of a small number of immutable laws.
€ What we know is little, and what we are ignorant of is immense. (Fourier comments: "This was at least the
meaning of his last words, which were articulated with difficulty.")
Pierre-Simon Laplace
In popular culture
€ In Kamen Rider Fourze the Libra Horoscopes develops an ability called "The eye of Laplace"
€ In Mega Man Star Force 3 Solo gains a wizard named Laplace.
€€ The idea of the Laplace Demon has been cited several times in Japanese pop culture:
€ In the Super Robot Wars serial, Elemental Lord of the Wind Cybuster is said to be equipped with the Laplace
Demon which can alter the Laws of Probabilities.
€ In Gundam UC, the titular machine, the Gundam Unicorn, has the La+ (Laplus; Laplace) operative system,
which is the key to obtain the Box of Laplace ˆ a repository of secret information whose possession could
change the course of the world.
[1] Stigler, Stephen M. (1986). The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty before 1900. Harvard University Press, Chapter 3.
[2] [Anon.] (1911) " Pierre Simon, Marquis De Laplace (http:/ / www. 1911encyclopedia. org/ Pierre_Simon,_Marquis_De_Laplace)",
Encyclopaedia Britannica
[3] "Laplace, being Extracts from Lectures delivered by Karl Pearson", Biometrika, vol. 21, December 1929, pp. 202•216.
[4] W. W. Rouse Ball A Short Account of the History of Mathematics, 4th edition, 1908.
[5] *O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Pierre-Simon Laplace" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Laplace.
html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews, ., accessed 25 August 2007
[6] Gillispie (1997) pp3•4
[7] [7] Rouse Ball (1908)
[8] [8] Gillispie (1997), p. 5
[9] [9] Hahn (2005), p. 99. However, Gillispie (1997), p. 67, gives the month of the marriage as May.
[10] Hahn (2005), pp. 99•100
[11] [11] Gillispie (1997), p. 67
[12] [12] Hahn (2005), p. 101
[13] Gillispie (1989), pp. 7•12
[14] Gillispie (1989). pp. 14•15
[15] [15] Whitrow (2001)
[16] Celletti, A. & Perozzi, E. (2007). Celestial Mechanics: The Waltz of the Planets. Berlin: Springer. pp. 91•93. ISBN 0-387-30777-X.
[17] [17] Whittaker (1949b)
[18] Gillispie (1989). pp. 29•35
[19] Gillispie (1989), pp. 35•36
[20] School of Mathematics and Statistics (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Laplace. html), University of St Andrews,
[21] Grattan-Guinness, I. (2003). Companion Encyclopedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences (http:/ / books. google.
com/ ?id=f5FqsDPVQ2MC& pg=PA1098& lpg=PA1098& dq=laplace+ potential+ 1784). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
pp. 1097•1098. ISBN 0-8018-7396-7. .
[22] W. W. Rouse Ball A Short Account of the History of Mathematics (4th edition, 1908) (http:/ / www. maths. tcd. ie/ pub/ HistMath/ People/
Clairaut/ RouseBall/ RB_Clairaut. html)
[23] Green, G. (1828). An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism. Nottingham.
[24] Kline, Morris (1972). Mathematical thought from ancient to modern times, Volume 2. Oxford University Press. pp. 524•525.
ISBN 0-19-506136-5.
[25] Euler, Leonard (1756/57). "General principles of the motion of fluids". Novi. Comm. Acad. Sci. Petrop.: 271•311.
[26] Halley, Edmond (1695), "Some Account of the Ancient State of the City of Palmyra, with Short Remarks upon the Inscriptions Found there"
(http:/ / rstl.royalsocietypublishing. org/ content/ 19/ 215-235/ 160. full. pdf), Phil. Trans., vol.19 (1695•1697), pages 160•175; esp. at pages
[27] Dunthorne, Richard (1749), "A Letter from the Rev. Mr. Richard Dunthorne to the Reverend Mr. Richard Mason F. R. S. and Keeper of the
Wood•Wardian Museum at Cambridge, concerning the Acceleration of the Moon" (http:/ / rstl. royalsocietypublishing. org/ content/ 46/
491-496/ 162.full. pdf), Philosophical Transactions (1683€1775), Vol. 46 (1749•1750) #492, pp. 162•172; also given in Philosophical
Transactions (abridgements) (1809), vol.9 (for 1744•49), p669•675 (http:/ / www. archive. org/ stream/ philosophicaltra09royarich#page/
669/ mode/ 2up) as "On the Acceleration of the Moon, by the Rev. Richard Dunthorne".
[28] de Lalande, J•r˜me (1786), "Sur les equations seculaires du soleil et de la lune" (http:/ / www. academie-sciences. fr/ membres/
in_memoriam/ Lalande/ Lalande_pdf/ Mem1786_p390.pdf), Memoires de l'Academie Royale des Sciences, pp. 390•397, at page 395.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
[29] North, John David (2008), Cosmos: an illustrated history of astronomy and cosmology. University of Chicago Press, Chapter 14, at page
454 (http:/ / books. google.com/ books?id=qq8Luhs7rTUC& pg=PA454).
[30] See also P Puiseux (1879), "Sur l'acceleration seculaire du mouvement de la Lune" (http:/ / archive. numdam. org/ article/
ASENS_1879_2_8__361_0. pdf), Annales Scientifiques de l'Ecole Normale Superieure, 2nd series vol. 8, pp. 361•444, at pp. 361•365.
[31] J. C. Adams (1853), "On the Secular Variation of the Moon's Mean Motion" (http:/ / rstl. royalsocietypublishing. org/ content/ 143/ 397. full.
pdf), in Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., vol.143 (1853), pages 397•406.
[32] Roy, A. E. (2005). Orbital Motion (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=Hzv7k2vH6PgC& pg=PA313& lpg=PA313& dq=laplace+ secular+
acceleration). London: CRC Press. pp. 313. ISBN 0-7503-1015-4. .
[33] Owen, T. C. (2001) "Solar system: origin of the solar system", Encyclopaedia Britannica, Deluxe CDROM edition
[34] [34] See Israel (1987), sec. 7.2.
[35] [35] Fourier (1829)
[36] [36] Crosland (1967), p. 1
[37] [37] Stigler, 1975
[38] Laplace, Pierre Simon, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, translated from the 6th French edition by Frederick Wilson Truscott and
Frederick Lincoln Emory. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1902, p. 19. Dover Publications edition (New York, 1951) has same pagination.
[39] Hawking, Stephen (1999). "Does God Play Dice?" (http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20000708041816/ http:/ / www. hawking. org. uk/
lectures/ dice. html). Public Lecture. Archived from the original (http:/ / www. hawking. org. uk/ lectures/ dice. html) on 8 July 2000. .
[40] Laplace, A Philosophical Essay, New York, 1902, p. 4.
[41] Cercignani, Carlo. "Chapter 2: Physics before Boltzmann" (in English). Ludwig Boltzmann, The Man Who Trusted Atoms. Oxford
University Press. p. 55. ISBN 0-19-850154-4.
[42] Grattan-Guinness, in Gillispie (1997), p. 260
[43] Grattan-Guinness, in Gillispie (1997), pp. 261•262
[44] [44] Deakin (1981)
[45] [45] Crosland (2006), p. 30
[46] [46] Grattan-Guinness (2005), p. 333
[47] [47] Hahn (2005), p. 191
[48] Laplace, A Philosophical Essay, New York, 1902, p. 62. (Translation in this paragraph of article is from Hahn.)
[49] [49] Hahn (2005), p. 184
[50] Laplace, A Philosophical Essay, New York, 1902, p. 63. (Translation in this paragraph of article is from Hahn)
[51] [51] Hahn (2005), p. 185
[52] Laplace, A Philosophical Essay, New York, 1902, pp. 107•108. (Translation in this paragraph of article is from Hahn.
[53] Faye, Herv• (1884), Sur l'origine du monde: thƒories cosmogoniques des anciens et des modernes. Paris: Gauthier-Villars, pp. 109•111
[54] Pasquier, Ernest (1898). "Les hypoth½ses cosmogoniques (suite)" (http:/ / www. persee. fr/ web/ revues/ home/ prescript/ article/
phlou_0776-5541_1898_num_5_18_1596). Revue nƒo-scholastique, 5
ann•e, N
18, pp. 124•125, footnote 1
[55] Arago, FranÀois (1827), Laplace: Eulogy before the French Academy, translated by Prof. Baden Powell, Smithsonian Report, 1874
[56] Cajori, Florian (1893), A History of Mathematics. Fifth edition (1991), reprinted by the American Mathematical Society, 1999, p. 262. ISBN
[57] Johnson, Daniel (June 18, 2007), "The Hypothetical Atheist" (http:/ / www. commentarymagazine. com/ 2007/ 06/ 18/
the-hypothetical-atheist), Commentary.
[58] Talks of Napoleon at St. Helena with General Baron Gourgaud, translated by Elizabeth Wormely Latimer. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co.,
1903, p. 276.
[59] [59] Hahn (2005), p. 67.
[60] Dumas, Jean-Baptiste (1885). Discours et ƒloges acadƒmiques, Vol. II. Paris: Gauthier-Villars, p. 255.
[61] Kneller, Karl Alois. Christianity and the Leaders of Modern Science: A Contribution to the History of Culture in the Nineteenth Century,
translated from the second German edition by T. M. Kettle. London: B. Herder, 1911, pp. 73•74 (http:/ / www. ebooksread. com/ authors-eng/
karl-alois-kneller/ christianity-and-the-leaders-of-modern-science-a-contribution-to-the-history-of-hci/
page-6-christianity-and-the-leaders-of-modern-science-a-contribution-to-the-history-of-hci. shtml)
[62] [62] Hahn (1981), p. 95.
[63] ™uvres de Laplace. Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1878, Vol. I, pp. v•vi.
[64] Glass, Ian S. (2006). Revolutionaries of the Cosmos: The Astrophysicists. Cambridge University Press, p. 108. ISBN 0-19-857099-6
[65] General Scholium, from the end of Book III of the Principia; first appeared in the second edition, 1713.
[66] Laplace, Exposition du syst‰me du monde (http:/ / archive. org/ details/ expositiondusys05laplgoog), 6th edition. Brussels, 1827, pp.
[67] Laplace, Exposition, 1827, p. 523.
[68] Leibniz to Conti, Nov. or Dec. 1715, in H. G. Alexander, ed., The Leibniz€Clarke Correspondence (Manchester University Press, 1956),
Appendix B. 1: "Leibniz and Newton to Conti", p. 185 ISBN 0-7190-0669-4; cited in Laplace, Exposition, 1827, p. 524.
[69] [69] Leibniz to Conti, 1715, in Alexander, ed., 1956, p. 185.
[70] [70] Hahn (2005), p. 220
[71] [71] Hahn (2005), p. 223
Pierre-Simon Laplace
[72] [72] Hahn (2005), p. 202
[73] [73] Hahn (2005), pp. 202, 233
[74] Compare Edmund Burke's famous remark, after a parliamentary candidate's sudden death, about "what shadows we are, and what shadows
we pursue".
[75] [75] Hahn (2005), p. 204
[76] Roger Hahn (2005). Pierre Simon Laplace, 1749€1827: A Determined Scientist. Harvard University Press. p. 204. ISBN 9780674018921.
"The Catholic newspaper La Quotidienne [The Daily] announced that Laplace had died in the arms of two cur•s (priests), implying that he had
a proper Catholic end, but this is not credible. To the end, he remained a skeptic, wedded to his deterministic creed and to an uncompromised
ethos derived from his vast scientific experience."
[77] Roger Hahn (2005). Pierre Simon Laplace, 1749-1827: A Determined Scientist. Harvard University Press. p. 202. ISBN 9780674018921.
"Publicly, Laplace maintained his agnostic beliefs, and even in his old age continued to be skeptical about any function God might play in a
deterministic universe."
[78] Morris Kline (1986). Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge. Oxford University Press. p. 214. ISBN 9780195042306. "Lagrange and
Laplace, though of Catholic parentage, were agnostics."
[79] Mathematics and the Imagination. Courier Dover Publications. 2001. p. 253. ISBN 9780486417035. "Modern physics, indeed all of modern
science, is as humble as Lagrange, and as agnostic as Laplace."
[80] E. Emerson (1910). Comet Lore. Schilling Press, New York. p. 83.
[81] C. M. Botley (1971). "The Legend of 1P/Halley 1456". The Observatory 91: 125•126. Bibcode 1971Obs....91..125B.
[82] Hagen, John G.  "Pierre-Simon Laplace". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
[83] Stein, John (1911), "Bartolomeo Platina" (http:/ / www. newadvent. org/ cathen/ 12158a. htm), The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 12. New
York: Robert Appleton Company
[84] Rigge, William F. (04/1910), "An Historical Examination of the Connection of Calixtus III with Halley's Comet" (http:/ / adsabs. harvard.
edu/ full/ 1910PA.. . . .18. .214R), Popular Astronomy, Vol. 18, pp. 214-219
[85] Schmadel, L. D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names (5th rev. ed.). Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-00238-3.
[86] A sense of place in the heartland (http:/ / www. jsonline. com/ story/ index. aspx?id=497783& format=print), The Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel Online
[87] Laplace, A Philosophical Essay, New York, 1902, p. 177.
By Laplace
€ ™uvres compl‰tes de Laplace (http:/ / gallica. bnf. fr/ Search?ArianeWireIndex=index& lang=EN& q=oeuvres+
completes+ de+ laplace& p=1& f_creator=Laplace,+ Pierre+ Simon+ de+ (1749-1827)), 14 vol. (1878•1912),
Paris: Gauthier-Villars (copy from Gallica in French)
€ Thƒorie du movement et de la figure elliptique des plan‰tes (1784) Paris (not in ™uvres compl‰tes)
€ Prƒcis de l'histoire de l'astronomie (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=QYpOb3N7zBMC)
English translations
€ Bowditch, N. (trans.) (1829•1839) Mƒcanique cƒleste, 4 vols, Boston
€€ New edition by Reprint Services ISBN 0-7812-2022-X
€ ˆ [1829•1839] (1966•1969) Celestial Mechanics, 5 vols, including the original French
€ Pound, J. (trans.) (1809) The System of the World, 2 vols, London: Richard Phillips
€ _ The System of the World (v.1) (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=yW3nd4DSgYYC)
€ _ The System of the World (v.2) (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=f7Kv2iFUNJoC)
€ ˆ [1809] (2007) The System of the World, vol.1, Kessinger, ISBN 1-4326-5367-9
€ Toplis, J. (trans.) (1814) A treatise upon analytical mechanics (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=c2YSAAAAIAAJ) Nottingham: H. Barnett
€ Truscott, F. W. & Emory, F. L. (trans.) (2007) [1902]. A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities.
ISBN 1-60206-328-1., translated from the French 6th ed. (1840)
€ A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (1902) (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/ philosophicaless00lapliala)
at the Internet Archive
Pierre-Simon Laplace
About Laplace and his work
€ Andoyer, H. (1922). L'šuvre scientifique de Laplace. Paris: Payot. (in French)
€ Bigourdan, G. (1931). "La jeunesse de P.-S. Laplace" (in French). La Science moderne 9: 377•384.
€ Crosland, M. (1967). The Society of Arcueil: A View of French Science at the Time of Napoleon I. Cambridge
MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-435-54201-X.
€ ˆ (2006) "A Science Empire in Napoleonic France" (http:/ / adsabs. harvard. edu/ full/ 2006HisSc. . 44. . . 29C),
History of Science, vol. 44, pp. 29•48
€ Dale, A. I. (1982). "Bayes or Laplace? an examination of the origin and early application of Bayes' theorem".
Archive for the History of the Exact Sciences 27: 23•47.
€ David, F. N. (1965) "Some notes on Laplace", in Neyman, J. & LeCam, L. M. (eds) Bernoulli, Bayes and
Laplace, Berlin, pp30•44
€ Deakin, M. A. B. (1981). "The development of the Laplace transform". Archive for the History of the Exact
Sciences 25 (4): 343•390. doi:10.1007/BF01395660.
€ ˆ (1982). "The development of the Laplace transform". Archive for the History of the Exact Sciences 26 (4):
351•381. doi:10.1007/BF00418754.
€ Dhombres, J. (1989). "La th•orie de la capillarit• selon Laplace: math•matisation superficielle ou •tendue" (in
French). Revue d'Histoire des sciences et de leurs applications 62: 43•70.
€ Duveen, D. & Hahn, R. (1957). "Laplace's succession to B•zout's post of Examinateur des •l½ves de l'artillerie".
Isis 48 (4): 416•427. doi:10.1086/348608.
€ Finn, B. S. (1964). "Laplace and the speed of sound". Isis 55: 7•19. doi:10.1086/349791.
€ Fourier, J. B. J. (1829). "Áloge historique de M. le Marquis de Laplace". Mƒmoires de l'Acadƒmie Royale des
Sciences 10: lxxxi•cii., delivered 15 June 1829, published in 1831. (in French) Link to article (http:/ / www.
academie-sciences. fr/ activite/ archive/ dossiers/ Fourier/ Fourier_pdf/ Mem1829_p81_102. pdf)
€ Gillispie, C. C. (1972). "Probability and politics: Laplace, Condorcet, and Turgot". Proceedings of the American
Philosophical Society 116 (1): 1•20.
€ ˆ (1997) Pierre Simon Laplace 1749€1827: A Life in Exact Science, Princeton: Princeton University Press,
ISBN 0-691-01185-0
€ Grattan-Guinness, I., 2005, "'Exposition du syst½me du monde' and 'Trait• de m•chanique c•leste'" in his
Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics. Elsevier: 242•57.
€ Hahn, R. (1955). "Laplace's religious views". Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences 8: 38•40.
€ ˆ (1981) "Laplace and the Vanishing Role of God in the Physical Universe", in Woolf, Henry, ed., The Analytic
Spirit: Essays in the History of Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-1350-8
€ ˆ (1982). Calendar of the Correspondence of Pierre Simon Laplace (Berkeley Papers in the History of Science,
vol.8 ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California. ISBN 0-918102-07-3.
€ ˆ (1994). New Calendar of the Correspondence of Pierre Simon Laplace (Berkeley Papers in the History of
Science, vol.16 ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California. ISBN 0-918102-07-3.
€ ˆ (2005) Pierre Simon Laplace 1749€1827: A Determined Scientist, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
ISBN 0-674-01892-3
€ Israel, Werner (1987). "Dark stars: the evolution of an idea". In Hawking, Stephen W.; Israel, Werner. 300 Years
of Gravitation. Cambridge University Press. pp. 199•276
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Pierre-Simon Laplace" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Laplace. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews. (1999)
€ Nikulin, M. (1992). "A remark on the converse of Laplace's theorem". Journal of Soviet Mathematics 59:
€ Rouse Ball, W. W. [1908] (2003) " Pierre Simon Laplace (1749•1827) (http:/ / www. maths. tcd. ie/ pub/
HistMath/ People/ Laplace/ RouseBall/ RB_Laplace. html)", in A Short Account of the History of Mathematics,
4th ed., Dover, ISBN 0-486-20630-0
Pierre-Simon Laplace
€ Stigler, S. M. (1975). "Napoleonic statistics: the work of Laplace". Biometrika (Biometrika, Vol. 62, No. 2) 62
(2): 503•517. doi:10.2307/2335393. JSTOR 2335393.
€ ˆ (1978). "Laplace's early work: chronology and citations". Isis 69 (2): 234•254. doi:10.1086/352006.
€ Whitrow, G. J. (2001) "Laplace, Pierre-Simon, marquis de", Encyclopaedia Britannica, Deluxe CDROM edition
€ Whittaker, E. T. (1949a). "Laplace". Mathematical Gazette (The Mathematical Gazette, Vol. 33, No. 303) 33
(303): 1•12. doi:10.2307/3608408. JSTOR 3608408.
€ ˆ (1949b). "Laplace". American Mathematical Monthly 56 (6): 369•372. doi:10.2307/2306273.
JSTOR 2306273.
€ Wilson, C. (1985). "The Great Inequality of Jupiter and Saturn: from Kepler to Laplace". Archive for the History
of the Exact Sciences 33(1ƒ3): 15•290. doi:10.1007/BF00328048.
€ Young, T. (1821). Elementary Illustrations of the Celestial Mechanics of Laplace: Part the First, Comprehending
the First Book (http:/ / books. google. com/ ?id=20AJAAAAIAAJ& dq=laplace). London: John Murray.
(available from Google Books)
External links
€ "Laplace, Pierre (1749•1827)" (http:/ / scienceworld. wolfram. com/ biography/ Laplace. html). Eric Weisstein's
World of Scientific Biography. Wolfram Research. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
€ " Pierre-Simon Laplace (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Laplace. html)" in the
MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.
€ "Bowditch's English translation of Laplace's preface" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ history/
Extras/ Laplace_mechanique_celeste. html). Mƒchanique Cƒleste. The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.
Retrieved 2007-09-04.
€ Guide to the Pierre Simon Laplace Papers (http:/ / www. oac. cdlib. org/ findaid/ ark:/ 13030/ kt8q2nf3g7/ ) at
The Bancroft Library
€ Pierre-Simon Laplace (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=108295) at the Mathematics
Genealogy Project
€ English translation (http:/ / www. cs. xu. edu/ math/ Sources/ Laplace/ index. html) of a large part of Laplace's
work in probability and statistics, provided by Richard Pulskamp (http:/ / www. cs. xu. edu/ math/ Sources/ index.
€ Pierre-Simon Laplace - ãuvres compl½tes (http:/ / portail. mathdoc. fr/ cgi-bin/ oetoc?id=OE_LAPLACE__7)
(last 7 volumes only) Gallica-Math
Gaspard Monge
Gaspard Monge
Gaspard Monge
Born May 9, 1746
Beaune, C˜te-d'Or
Died July 28, 1818
Nationality French
Fields mathematics, engineering, education
Doctoral students Jean-Victor Poncelet
Known for Descriptive geometry
Gaspard Monge, Comte de PŠluse (9 May 1746
• 28 July 1818) was a French mathematician and the inventor of
descriptive geometry, the mathematical basis on which technical drawing is based. During the French Revolution he
served as the Minister of the Marine, he and was involved in the reform of the French educational system, helping to
found the Ácole Polytechnique.
Early life
Monge was born at Beaune, C˜te-d'Or, the son of a merchant. He was educated at the college of the Oratorians at
Beaune. In 1762 he went to the Coll½ge de la Trinit• at Lyon, where, one year after he had begun studying, he was
made a teacher of physics at the age of just seventeen.
After finishing his education in 1764 he returned to Beaune, where he made a large-scale plan of the town, inventing
the methods of observation and constructing the necessary instruments; the plan was presented to the town, and is
still preserved in their library. An officer of engineers who saw it wrote to the commandant of the Ácole Royale du
G•nie at M•zi½res, recommending Monge to him and he was given a job as a draftsman.
Those studying at the school were drawn from the aristocracy, so he was not allowed admission to the institution
itself. His manual skill was highly regarded, but his mathematical skills were not made use of. Nevertheless he
worked on the development of his ideas in his spare time. At this time came to contact with Charles Bossut, the
professor of mathematics at the Ácole Royale. "I was a thousand times tempted," he said long afterwards, "to tear up
my drawings in disgust at the esteem in which they were held, as if I had been good for nothing better."
After a year at the Ácole Royale Monge was asked to produce a plan for a fortification in such a way as to optimise
its defensive arrangement. There was an established method for doing this which involved lengthy calculations but
Monge devised a way of solving the problems by using drawings. At first his solution was not accepted, since it had
Gaspard Monge
not taken the time judged to be necessary, but upon examination the value of the work was recognized, and Monge's
exceptional abilities were recognized.
After Bossut left the Ácole Royale du G•nie Monge took his place in January 1769, and in 1770 he was also
appointed instructor in experimental physics.
In 1777, Monge married Cath•rine Huart, who owned a forge. This caused Monge to develop an interest in
metallurgy. In 1780 he became a member of the Acad•mie; his friendship with C.L. Berthollet began at this time. In
1783, after leaving M•zi½res, he was, on the death of Á. B•zout, appointed examiner of naval candidates. Although
pressed by the minister to prepare a complete course of mathematics, he declined to do so, on the grounds that this
would deprive Mme B•zout of her only income, that from the sale of the textbooks written by her late husband. In
1786 he wrote and published his Traitƒ ƒlƒmentaire de la statique.
1789 and after
Monge's bust in Le P½re Lachaise Cemetery in
Unsurprisingly the French Revolution completely changed the course
of Monge's career. He was a strong supporter of the Revolution, and in
1792, on the creation by the Legislative Assembly of an executive
council, Monge accepted the office of Minister of the Marine, and held
this office from 10 August 1792 to 10 April 1793, when he resigned.
When the Committee of Public Safety made an appeal to the academics
to assist in the defence of the republic, he applied himself wholly to
these operations, and distinguished himself by his energy, writing the
Description de l'art de fabriquer les canons and Avis aux ouvriers en
fer sur la fabrication de l'acier.
He took a very active part in the measures for the establishment of the
Ecole Normale (which existed only during the first four months of the
year 1795), and of the school for public works, afterwards the Ácole
Polytechnique, and was at each of them professor for descriptive
geometry. Gƒomƒtrie descriptive. Le˜ons donnƒes aux ƒcoles normales
was published in 1799 from transcriptions of his letures given in 1795.
He later published Application de l'analyse ‡ la gƒomƒtrie, which
enlarged on the lectures.
From May 1796 to October 1797 Monge was in Italy with C.L. Berthollet and some artists to select the paintings and
sculptures being levied from the Italians. While there he became friendly with of Napoleon Bonaparte. Upon his
return to France, he as appointed as the Director of the Ácole Polytechnique, but early in 1798 he was sent to Italy on
a mission that ended in the establishment, of the short-lived Roman Republic.
From there Monge joined Napoleon's expedition to Egypt, taking part with Berthollet and in the scientific work of
the Institut d'Ágypte and Egyptian Institute of Sciences and Arts. They accompanied Bonaparte to Syria, and
returned with him in 1798 to France. Monge was appointed president of the Egyptian commission, and he resumed
his connection with the Ácole Polytechnique. His later mathematical papers are published (1794 ˆ 1816) in the
Journal and the Correspondence of the Ácole Polytechnique. On the formation of the S•nat conservateur he was
appointed a member of that body, with an ample provision and the title of count of Pelusium (Comte de P•luse), and
he became the Senate conservateur's president during 1806 - 07. Then on the fall of Napoleon he had all of his
honours taken away, and he even excluded from the list of members of the reconstituted Institute.
Monge died at Paris on July 28, 1818, and his remains were interred in a mausoleum in the Le P½re Lachaise
Cemetery in Paris. His remains was later transferred to the Panth•on in Paris.
Gaspard Monge
A statue portraying him was erected in Beaune in 1849. Monge's name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the base
of the Eiffel Tower.
Published works
€ Between 1770 and 1790 contributed various papers on mathematics and physics to the Memoirs of the Academy
of Turin, the Mƒmoires des savantes ƒtrangers of the Academy of Paris, the Mƒmoires of the same Academy, and
the Annales de chimie, including:
€ "Sur la thƒorie des dƒblais et des remblais" (Mƒm. de lƒacad. de Paris, 1781), which is an elegant investigation
of the problem with earthworks referred to in the title and establishes in connection with it his capital
discovery of the curves of curvature of a surface. Leonhard Euler, in his 1760 paper on curvature in the Berlin
Memoirs for, had considered, not the normals of the surface, but the normals of the plane sections through a
particular normal, so that the question of the intersection of successive normals of the surface had never
presented itself to him. Monge's paper gives the ordinary differential equation of the curves of curvature, and
establishes the general theory in a very satisfactory manner; the application to the interesting particular case of
the ellipsoid was first made by him in a later paper in 1795. (Monge's 1781 memoir is also the earliest known
anticipation of Linear Programming type of problems, in particular of the transportation problem. Related to
that, the Monge soil-transport problem leads to a weak-topology definition of a distance between distributions
rediscovered many times since by such as L. V. Kantorovich, P. Levy, L. N. Wasserstein, and others; and
bearing their names in various combinations in various contexts.)
€ A paper in the volume for 1783 relates to the production of water by the combustion of hydrogen. Monge's
results had been anticipated by Henry Cavendish.
€ The Art of Manufacturing Cannon (1793)
€ Gƒomƒtrie descriptive. Le˜ons donnƒes aux ƒcoles normales (Descriptive Geometry): a transcription of Monge's
lectures. (1799)
[1] Archives D•partementales de la C˜te d'or (http:/ / www. archives. cotedor. fr/ jahia/ Jahia/ archives. cotedor. fr/ site/ adco/ pid/ 3792) registre
paroissial de Beaune 1745-1746, FRAD021_057_MI05R027, vue nª 174
[2] J.J., O'Connor and; Robertson, E.F.. "Gaspard Monge" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Monge. html). School of
Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland. . Retrieved 26 March 20.
[3] Dumas, Maurice, ed. (1980) A History of Technology and Invention 3 London: John Murray p. 405 ISBN 0-7195-3732-0
€ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911).
Encyclop„dia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
€ Sakarovitch, Joel, 2005, "G•om•trie descriptive" in Grattan-Guinness, I., ed., Landmark Writings in Western
Mathematics. Elsevier: 225-41.
€ Pairault, FranÀois Pairault, 2000, Gaspard Monge, le fondateur de Polytechnique. ISBN 2-235-02271-5.
€€ Aubry, Paul V., Monge, Le savant ami de Napol•on Bonaparte, Paris, Gauthiers-Villars, 1954.
Gaspard Monge
External links
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Gaspard Monge" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Monge. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ books.google.com (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=YrQEAAAAYAAJ& pg=PA15& dq=intitle:statics&
as_brr=1& hl=en) An Elementary Treatise on Statics with a Biographical Notice of the Author (Biddle,
Philadelphia, 1851).
€ books.google.com (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=UjEDAAAAQAAJ& printsec=titlepage&
dq=inauthor:Gaspard+ inauthor:Monge& as_brr=0& hl=en) An elementary treatise on descriptive geometry, with
a theory of shadows and of perspective (Weale, London, 1851).
Joseph Fourier
Joseph Fourier
Joseph Fourier
Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier
Born 21 March 1768
Auxerre, Burgundy, Kingdom of France (now in Yonne, France)
Died 16 May 1830 (aged 62)
Paris, Kingdom of France
Residence France
Nationality French
Fields Mathematician, physicist, and historian
Institutions Ácole Normale
Ácole Polytechnique
Alma mater Ácole Normale
Doctoral advisor Joseph Lagrange
Doctoral students Gustav Dirichlet
Giovanni Plana
Claude-Louis Navier
Known for Fourier series
Fourier transform
Fourier's law of conduction
Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (21 March 1768 • 16 May 1830) was a French mathematician and physicist best
known for initiating the investigation of Fourier series and their applications to problems of heat transfer and
vibrations. The Fourier transform and Fourier's Law are also named in his honour. Fourier is also generally credited
with the discovery of the greenhouse effect.
Fourier was born at Auxerre (now in the Yonne d•partement of France), the son of a tailor. He was orphaned at age
eight. Fourier was recommended to the Bishop of Auxerre, and through this introduction, he was educated by the
Benvenistes of the Convent of St. Mark. The commissions in the scientific corps of the army were reserved for those
of good birth, and being thus ineligible, he accepted a military lectureship on mathematics. He took a prominent part
in his own district in promoting the French Revolution, serving on the local Revolutionary Committee. He was
imprisoned briefly during the Terror but in 1795 was appointed to the ˆcole Normale Supƒrieure, and subsequently
succeeded Joseph-Louis Lagrange at the ˆcole Polytechnique.
Joseph Fourier
Fourier went with Napoleon Bonaparte on his Egyptian expedition in 1798, and was made governor of Lower Egypt
and secretary of the Institut d'Ágypte. Cut off from France by the English fleet, he organized the workshops on
which the French army had to rely for their munitions of war. He also contributed several mathematical papers to the
Egyptian Institute (also called the Cairo Institute) which Napoleon founded at Cairo, with a view of weakening
English influence in the East. After the British victories and the capitulation of the French under General Menou in
1801, Fourier returned to France.
1820 watercolor caricatures of French mathematicians Adrien-Marie
Legendre (left) and Joseph Fourier (right) by French artist
Julien-Leopold Boilly, watercolor portrait numbers 29 and 30 of
Album de 73 Portraits-Charge Aquarelleƒs des Membres de
In 1801
Napoleon appointed Fourier Prefect
(Governor) of the Department of Is½re in Grenoble,
where he oversaw road construction and other projects.
However, Fourier had previously returned home from
the Napoleon expedition to Egypt to resume his
academic post as professor at Ácole Polytechnique
when Napoleon decided otherwise in his remark
... the Prefect of the Department of Is‰re having
recently died, I would like to express my confidence in
citizen Fourier by appointing him to this place.
Hence being faithful to Napolean he took the office of
It was while at Grenoble that he began to
experiment on the propagation of heat. He presented
his paper On the Propagation of Heat in Solid Bodies
to the Paris Institute on December 21, 1807. He also
contributed to the monumental Description de
Fourier moved to England in 1816. Later he returned to France, and in 1822 succeeded Jean Baptiste Joseph
Delambre as Permanent Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences. In 1830, he was elected a foreign member of
the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
In 1830, his diminished health began to take its toll:
Fourier had already experienced, in Egypt and Grenoble, some attacks of aneurism of the heart. At Paris, it
was impossible to be mistaken with respect to the primary cause of the frequent suffocations which he
experienced. A fall, however, which he sustained on the 4th of May, 1830, while descending a flight of stairs,
aggravated the malady to an extent beyond what could have been ever feared.
Shortly after this event, he died in his bed on 16 May, 1830.
Fourier was buried in the P½re Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, a tomb decorated with an Egyptian motif to reflect his
position as secretary of the Cairo Institute, and his collation of Description de l'•gypte. His name is one of the 72
names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
Joseph Fourier
Rosetta Stone
In 1801, Fourier returned from Egypt on the Napoleon expedition with many artifacts including an ink pressed copy
of the Rosetta Stone. The original stone was discovered in 1799
and by 1802 a translation of the ancient Greek
text had already been popularly printed.
Born in 1790 as the seventh son to an impoverished family, young Jean-Francois Champollion joined his elder
brother at Acad•mie de Grenoble in 1801; Fourier became Prefect of Grenoble the same year.
Champollion was
quickly recognized as a virtuoso and self-educated linguist. In an honorable meeting, Fourier happened to introduce
Champollion at age 11 to an ink pressed copy of the Rosetta Stone where, being amazed that none had deciphered its
meaning, he resolutely dedicated himself to the translation of ancient Egyptian.
In 1806, Champollion with the
continued support of Fourier and his elder brother, Jacques, presented a paper on Coptic at Acad•mie de Grenoble
with insight to ancient Egyptian. Furthermore in 1809, Champollion returned after 2 years in Paris to Acad•mie de
Grenoble after being helped by Fourier to gain exemption from miew York, ISBN 0-387-90403-4, page 52.</ref>
with editorial 'corrections',
into English 56 years later by Freeman (1878).
The book was also edited, with many
editorial corrections, by Darboux and republished in French in 1888.
Sketch of Fourier, circa 1820.
There were three important contributions in this work, one purely
mathematical, two essentially physical. In mathematics, Fourier
claimed that any function of a variable, whether continuous or
discontinuous, can be expanded in a series of sines of multiples of
the variable. Though this result is not correct, Fourier's observation
that some discontinuous functions are the sum of infinite series
was a breakthrough. The question of determining when a Fourier
series converges has been fundamental for centuries. Joseph Louis
Lagrange had given particular cases of this (false) theorem, and
had implied that the method was general, but he had not pursued
the subject. Johann Dirichlet was the first to give a satisfactory
demonstration of it with some restrictive conditions.
One physical contribution in the book was the concept of
dimensional homogeneity in equations; i.e. an equation can be
formally correct only if the dimensions match on either side of the
equality; Fourier made important contributions to dimensional
The other physical contribution was Fourier's proposal of his partial differential equation for conductive
diffusion of heat. This equation is now taught to every student of mathematical physics.
Determinate equations
Fourier left an unfinished work on determinate equations which was edited by Claude-Louis Navier and published in
1831. This work contains much original matter ˆ in particular, there is a demonstration of Fourier's theorem on the
position of the roots of an algebraic equation. Joseph Louis Lagrange had shown how the roots of an algebraic
equation might be separated by means of another equation whose roots were the squares of the differences of the
roots of the original equation. FranÀois Budan, in 1807 and 1811, had enunciated the theorem generally known by
the name of Fourier, but the demonstration was not altogether satisfactory. Fourier's proof
is the same as that
usually given in textbooks on the theory of equations. The final solution of the problem was given in 1829 by
Jacques Charles FranÀois Sturm.
Joseph Fourier
Discovery of the greenhouse effect
In the 1820s Fourier calculated that an object the size of the Earth, and at its distance from the Sun, should be
considerably colder than the planet actually is if warmed only by the effects of incoming solar radiation. He
examined various possible sources of the additional observed heat in articles published in 1824
and 1827.
While he ultimately suggested that interstellar radiation might be responsible for a large portion of the additional
warmth, Fourier's consideration of the possibility that the Earth's atmosphere might act as an insulator of some kind
is widely recognized as the first proposal of what is now known as the greenhouse effect.
Bust of Fourier in Grenoble
In his articles Fourier referred to an experiment by de Saussure,
who lined a vase with blackened cork. Into the cork, he inserted several
panes of transparent glass, separated by intervals of air. Midday
sunlight was allowed to enter at the top of the vase through the glass
panes. The temperature became more elevated in the more interior
compartments of this device. Fourier concluded that gases in the
atmosphere could form a stable barrier like the glass panes.
conclusion may have contributed to the later use of the metaphor of the
'greenhouse effect' to refer to the processes that determine atmospheric
temperatures . Fourier noted that the actual mechanisms that determine
the temperatures of the atmosphere included convection, which was
not present in de Saussure's experimental device.
Joseph Fourier
Fourier's grave, P½re Lachaise Cemetery
€ Fourier, Joseph (1822). Thƒorie analytique de la
. Paris: Firmin Didot P½re et Fils.
€ Fourier, Joseph (1824). Annales de chimie et de
. 27. Paris: Annals of Chemistry and
Physics. pp. 236•281.
€ Fourier, Joseph (1827). Mƒmoire sur la tempƒrature
du globe terrestre et des espaces planƒtaires
. 7.
Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences of the
Institut de France. pp. 569•604.
€ Fourier, Joseph (1827). Mƒmoire sur la distinction
des racines imaginaires, et sur l'application des
thƒor‰mes d'analyse algƒbrique aux ƒquations
transcendantes qui dƒpendent de la thƒorie de la
. 7. Memoirs of the Royal Academy of
Sciences of the Institut de France. pp. 605•624.
€ Fourier, Joseph (1827). Analyse des ƒquations
. 10. Firmin Didot fr½res.
pp. 119•146.
€ Fourier, Joseph (1827). Remarques gƒnƒrales sur
l'application du principe de l'analyse algƒbrique aux ƒquations transcendantes
. 10. Paris: Memoirs of the
Royal Academy of Sciences of the Institut de France. pp. 119•146.
€ Fourier, Joseph (1833). Mƒmoire d'analyse sur le mouvement de la chaleur dans les fluides
. 12. Paris:
Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences of the Institut de France. pp. 507•530.
€ Fourier, Joseph (1821). Rapport sur les tontines
. 5. Paris: Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences of the
Institut de France. pp. 26•43.
[1] Cowie, J. (2007). Climate Change: Biological and Human Aspects. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-521-69619-7.
[2] "Joseph Fourier" (http:/ / acd. ucar. edu/ textbook/ ch15/ Fourier/ Fourier. cite1. html). Acd.ucar.edu. . Retrieved 2013-01-01.
[3] Boilly, Julien-Leopold. (1820). Album de 73 Portraits-Charge Aquarelleƒs des Membres de IƒInstitute ( watercolor portrait (http:/ / translate.
google.com/ translate?js=y& prev=_t& hl=en& ie=UTF-8& layout=1& eotf=1& u=http:/ / www. photo. rmn. fr/ cf/ htm/ CSearchZ.
aspx?E=2K1KTS6T7WAMK& SubE=2C6NU00YI4TE& sl=auto& tl=en) #29). Biliotheque de l€Institut de France.
[4] "Jean-Baptiste Fourier" (http:/ / www-history.mcs.st-and. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Fourier. html). . Retrieved 4 April 2012.
[5] Nowlan, Robert. A Chronicle of Mathematical People ([www.robertnowlan.com/pdfs/Fourier,%20Joseph.pdf])
[6] Arago, FranÀois (1857). Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men (http:/ / www. gutenberg. org/ files/ 16775/ 16775-h/ 16775-h. htm). .
[7] "Gallery of Philologists: Jean-Francios Champollion" (http:/ / www. umass. edu/ wsp/ philology/ gallery/ champollion. html). . Retrieved 4
April 2012.
[8] "The Mystery of the Rosetta Stone Part II" (http:/ / www. unmuseum. org/ rosetta2. htm). . Retrieved 4 April 2012.
[9] Truesdell, C.A. (1980). The Tragicomical History of Thermodynamics, 1822€1854, Springer, New York, ISBN 0-387-90403-4, page 52.
[10] [10] Digital Image Processing by Rafeel Gonzalez and Richard E Woods ,Third Edition , Pg 200 , PHI Eastern Economy Edition.
[11] Mason, Stephen F.: A History of the Sciences (Simon & Schuster, 1962), p. 169.
[12] Fourier, Jean Baptiste Joseph (1820). "Sur l'usage du th•or½me de Descartes dans la recherche des limites des racines" (http:/ / ia600309. us.
archive. org/ 22/ items/ bulletindesscien20soci/ bulletindesscien20soci. pdf). Bulletin des Sciences, par la Sociƒtƒ Philomatique de Paris:
156•165. .
[13] Fourier J (1824). "Remarques G•n•rales Sur Les Temp•ratures Du Globe Terrestre Et Des Espaces Plan•taires". Annales de Chimie et de
Physique 27: 136•67.
Joseph Fourier
[14] Fourier J (1827). "M•moire Sur Les Temp•ratures Du Globe Terrestre Et Des Espaces Plan•taires" (http:/ / visualiseur. bnf. fr/
StatutConsulter?N=sorel1. bnf.fr-1295037014309& B=1& E=PDF& O=NUMM-3370). Mƒmoires de l'Acadƒmie Royale des Sciences 7:
569•604. .
[15] Weart, S. (2008). The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect (http:/ / www. aip. org/ history/ climate/ co2. htm). Retrieved on 27 May 2008
[16] [16] fr:Horace-B•n•dict de Saussure
[17] Translation by W M Connolley of: Fourier 1827: MEMOIRE sur les temperatures du globe terrestre et des espaces planetaires (http:/ / www.
wmconnolley.org.uk/ sci/ fourier_1827/ fourier_1827. html)
[18] http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=TDQJAAAAIAAJ
[19] http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=1Jg5AAAAcAAJ& dq=Annales+ de+ chimie+ et+ de+ physique+ volume+ 27&
[20] http:/ / gallica. bnf.fr/ ark:/ 12148/ bpt6k32227.image.r=memoires+ de+ l%27academie+ des+ sciences. f808. langEN
[21] http:/ / gallica. bnf.fr/ ark:/ 12148/ bpt6k32227/ f844.image. r=memoires+ de+ l'academie+ des+ sciences. langEN
[22] http:/ / num-scd-ulp. u-strasbg. fr:8080/ 827/
[23] http:/ / gallica. bnf.fr/ ark:/ 12148/ bpt6k32255.image.r=memoires+ de+ l%27academie+ des+ sciences. f346. langEN
[24] http:/ / gallica. bnf.fr/ ark:/ 12148/ bpt6k3227s.image.r=memoires+ de+ l%27academie+ des+ sciences. f620. langEN
[25] http:/ / gallica. bnf.fr/ ark:/ 12148/ bpt6k3220m. image. f568. pagination. langEN
Further reading
€ Initial text from the public domain Rouse History of Mathematics
€ Fourier, Joseph. (1822). Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur. Firmin Didot (reissued by Cambridge University
Press, 2009; ISBN 978-1-108-00180-9)
€ Fourier, Joseph. (1878). The Analytical Theory of Heat. Cambridge University Press (reissued by Cambridge
University Press, 2009; ISBN 978-1-108-00178-6)
€ Fourier, J.-B.-J. (1824). Mƒmoires de l'Acadƒmie Royale des Sciences de l'Institut de France VII. 570•604 (http:/
/ www. academie-sciences. fr/ activite/ archive/ dossiers/ Fourier/ Fourier_pdf/ Mem1827_p569_604. pdf)
(Mƒmoire sur Les Temperatures du Globe Terrestre et Des Espaces Planetaires • greenhouse effect essay
published in 1827)
€ The Project Gutenberg EBook of Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men (http:/ / www. gutenberg. org/
etext/ 16775) by FranÀois Arago
€€ Fourier, J. Áloge historique de Sir William Herschel, prononc• dans la s•ance publique de l'Acad•mie royale des
sciences le 7 Juin, 1824. Historie de l'Acad•mie Royale des Sciences de l'Institut de France, tome vi., ann•e 1823,
p. lxi.[Pg 227]
External links
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Joseph Fourier" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Fourier. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Fourier, J. B. J., 1824, Remarques G•n•rales Sur Les Temp•ratures Du Globe Terrestre Et Des Espaces
Plan•taires., in Annales de Chimie et de Physique, Vol. 27, pp. 136•167 • translation by Burgess (1837). (http:/ /
fourier1824. geologist-1011. mobi)
€ Fourier 1827: MEMOIRE sur les temp•ratures du globe terrestre et des espaces plan•taires (http:/ / www.
wmconnolley. org. uk/ sci/ fourier_1827/ fourier_1827. html)
€ Universit• Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France (http:/ / www. ujf-grenoble. fr)
€ Joseph Fourier and the Vuvuzela (http:/ / blog. mathsbank. co. uk/ 2010/ 06/ joseph-fourier-and-vuvuzela. html)
on MathsBank.co.uk (http:/ / mathsbank. co. uk)
€ Joseph Fourier (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=17981) at the Mathematics Genealogy
€ Joseph Fourier • ãuvres compl½tes, tome 2 (http:/ / portail. mathdoc. fr/ cgi-bin/ oetoc?id=OE_FOURIER__2)
€ Joseph Fourier, Th•orie analytique de la chaleur (http:/ / books. google. de/ books?id=TDQJAAAAIAAJ&
pg=PA525) Google books
Jean-Victor Poncelet
Jean-Victor Poncelet
Jean-Victor Poncelet
Born July 1, 1788
Metz, France
Died December 22, 1867 (aged 79)
Paris, France
Residence Metz (later Paris)
Nationality French
Fields Mathematics, engineering
Institutions Ácole d€Application of Metz, University of Paris, Ácole Polytechnique
Alma mater Ácole Polytechnique
Doctoral advisor Gaspard Monge
Known for Traitƒ des propriƒtƒs projectives des figures (1822), Introduction ‡ la mƒcanique industrielle (1829)
Jean-Victor Poncelet (July 1, 1788 • December 22, 1867) was a French engineer and mathematician who served
most notably as the commandant general of the Ácole Polytechnique. He is considered a reviver of projective
geometry, and his work Traitƒ des propriƒtƒs projectives des figures is considered the first definitive paper on the
subject since G•rard Desargues' work on it in the 17th century. He later wrote an introduction to it; Applications
dƒanalyse et de gƒomƒtrie.
As a mathematician, his most notable work was in projective geometry, in particular, his work on Feuerbach's
theorem. He also made discoveries about projective harmonic conjugates; among these were the poles and polar lines
associated with conic sections. These discoveries led to the principle of duality, and also aided in the development of
complex numbers and projective geometry.
As a military engineer, he served in Napoleon's campaign against the Russian Empire in 1812, in which he was
captured and held prisoner until 1814. Later, he served as a professor of mechanics at the Ácole d€Application in his
home town of Metz, during which time he published Introduction ‡ la mƒcanique industrielle, a work he is famous
for, and improved the design of turbines and water wheels. After this, he served as professor at the Facult• des
Sciences at the University of Paris, and finally as the commandant general of his alma mater, the Ácole
He is honoured by having his name listed among notable French engineers and scientists displayed
around the first stage of the Eiffel tower.
Jean-Victor Poncelet
Birth, education, and capture (1788ƒ1814)
The Fabert School in Metz, where Poncelet was
fellow student.
Poncelet was born in Metz, France, on July 1, 1788, the illegitimate
son of Claude Poncelet, a lawyer of the Parliament of Metz and
wealthy landowner.
At a young age, he was sent to live with the
Olier family at Saint-Avold.
He returned to Metz for his secondary
education, at the lyc•e.
After this, he attended the Ácole
Polytechnique, a prestigious school in Paris, from 1808 to 1810,
though he fell behind in his studies in his third year due to poor
After graduation, he joined the Corps of Military Engineers.
He attended the Ácole d'Application in his hometown during this time,
and achieved the rank of lieutenant in the French Army the same year
he graduated.
Poncelet took part in Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. His biographer Didion writes that he was part of the
group that did not follow Marshal Michel Ney at the Battle of Krasnoi, which was forced to capitulate to the
Russians, though other sources say that he was left for dead.
Upon capture, he was interrogated by General
Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich, but he did not disclose any information.
The Russians held Poncelet as a
prisoner of war and confined him at Saratov.
During his imprisonment, in the years 1812•1814, he wrote his most
notable work, Traitƒ des propriƒtƒs projectives des figures, which outlined the foundations of projective geometry,
as well as some new results. Poncelet, however, could not publish it until after his release in 1814.
Release and later employment (1822ƒ1848)
In 1815, the year after his release, Poncelet was employed a military engineer at his hometown of Metz. In 1822,
while at this position, he published Traitƒ des propriƒtƒs projectives des figures. This work was the first major to
discuss projective geometry since Desargues', though Gaspard Monge had written a few minor works about it
previously. It is considered the founding work of modern projective geometry.
Joseph Diaz Gergonne wrote about
this branch of geometry at approximately the same time, beginning in 1810. Poncelet published several papers about
the subject in Gergonne's mathematical journal Annales de Gergonne (officially known as Annales de
mathƒmatiques pures et appliquƒes).
In 1825, he became the professor of mechanics at the Ácole d'Application in Metz, a position he held until 1835.
During his tenure at this school, he improved the design of turbines and water wheels, deriving his work from the
mechanics of the ProvenÀal mill from southern France.
Although the turbine of his design was not constructed
until 1838, he envisioned such a design twelve years previous to that.
In 1835, his left Ácole d'Application, and in
1838 became a professor at the Facult• des Sciences in Paris with the support of FranÀois Arago.
Jean-Victor Poncelet
Commanding General at •cole Polytechnique (1848ƒ1867)
In 1848, Poncelet became Commanding General of his alma mater; the Ácole Polytechnique.
He held the position
until 1850, when he retired.
During this time, he wrote Applications d'analyse et de gƒomƒtrie, which served as an introduction to his earlier
work Traitƒ des propriƒtƒs projectives des figures. It was published in two volumes in 1862 and 1864.
Steiner construction of an equilateral triangle
Poncelet-Steiner theorem
Poncelet discovered the following theorem in 1822: Euclidean
compass and straightedge constructions can be carried out using only a
straightedge if a single circle and its center is given. Swiss
mathematician Jakob Steiner proved this theorem in 1833, leading to
the name of the theorem. The constructions that this theorem states are
possible are known as Steiner constructions.
List of selected works
€ (1822) Traitƒ des propriƒtƒs projectives des figures
€ (1826) Cours de mƒcanique appliquƒ aux machines
€ (1829) Introduction ‡ la mƒcanique industrielle
€ (1862/64) Applications d'analyse et de gƒomƒtrie
[1] "Jean-Victor Poncelet" (http:/ / www.britannica. com/ EBchecked/ topic/ 469548/ Jean-Victor-Poncelet). Encyclop„dia Britannica.
Encyclop¾dia Britannica, Inc. 2008. . Retrieved 2008-04-19.
[2] Kimberly A. McGrath (2006). "Jean-Victor Poncelet". World of Scientific Discovery. Thomson Gale.
[3] [3] Didion 1870, p. 102
[4] John J O'Connor and Edmund F Robertson. "Jean-Victor Poncelet biography" (http:/ / www-groups. dcs. st-and. ac. uk/ ~history/
Biographies/ Poncelet. html). . Retrieved 2008-04-19.
[5] [5] Didion 1870, p. 166
[6] Eric W. Weisstein (1996). "Poncelet, Jean-Victor" (http:/ / scienceworld. wolfram. com/ biography/ Poncelet. html). . Retrieved 2008-05-31.
[7] "Jean-Victor Poncelet". Encyclop„dia Britannica. 22. Encyclop¾dia Britannica, Inc. 1911. p. 59.
[8] James B. Calvert. "Turbines" (http:/ / mysite.du. edu/ ~jcalvert/ tech/ fluids/ turbine. htm). University of Denver. . Retrieved 2008-05-20.
[9] The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (6 ed.). Columbia University Press. 2007.
[10] [10] Didion 1870, p. 101
[11] [11] Bertrand 1879, p. 45
[12] Weisstein, Eric W., " Poncelet-Steiner Theorem (http:/ / mathworld. wolfram. com/ Poncelet-SteinerTheorem. html)" from MathWorld.
Jean-Victor Poncelet
€ Didion, M. (1870). Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages du gƒnƒral J. V. Poncelet. L'Acad•mie nationale de Metz.
(http:/ / visualiseur. bnf. fr/ Visualiseur?Destination=Gallica& O=NUMM-33253) 1870 (50e ann•e / 1868-1869;
2e s•rie) pp. 101•159.
€ Bertrand, J. (1879). Mƒmoires de l'Acadƒmie des Sciences. 41.
€ Taton, Ren• (1970). "Jean-Victor Poncelet". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Gale Cengage.
ISBN 978-0-684-16970-5.
External links
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Jean-Victor Poncelet" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Poncelet. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
Poncelet Prize
The Poncelet Prize (French: Prix Poncelet) is awarded by the French Academy of Sciences. The prize was
established in 1868 by the widow of General Jean-Victor Poncelet for the advancement of the sciences.
It was in
the amount of 2,000 francs (as of 1868), mostly for the work in applied mathematics. The precise wording of the
announcement by the Academy varied from year to year and required the work be "in mechanics", or "for work
contributing to the progress of pure or applied mathematics", or simply "in applied mathematics", and sometimes
included condition that the work must be "done during the ten years preceding the award."
Poncelet Prize recipients
The following is an incomplete list of recipients, with a brief citation as in the Nature announcement (if available).
19th century
€ (1871) Joseph Boussinesq
€ (1872) Am•d•e Mannheim, "for the general excellence of his geometrical disquisitions."
€ (1873) William Thomson, "for his magnificent works on the mathematical theory of electricity and magnetism."
€ (1874) Jacques Bresse, "for his work in applied mechanics."
€ (1875) Gaston Darboux, "for the ensemble of his mathematical work."
€ (1878) Edmond Laguerre, "for his mathematical works."
€ (1882) Charles Auguste Briot
€ (1883) Rudolf Clausius
€ (1885) Henri Poincar•
€ (1886) Charles Ámile Picard
€€ (1888) Ádouard Collignon
€ (1889) Edouard Goursat
€ (1891) Marie Georges Humbert
€ (1893) Hermann Laurent, "for the whole of his mathematical works."
€ (1896) Paul Painlev•, "for all of his mathematical work."
€ (1898) Jacques Hadamard
€€ (1899) Eug½ne Cosserat, "for the whole of his contributions to geometry and mechanics."
€€ (1900) L•on Lecornu
Poncelet Prize
20th century
€ (1901) Ámile Borel
€€ (1902) Maurice d'Ocagne
€ (1903) David Hilbert
€€ (1904) D. Andr•
€ (1907) Erik Ivar Fredholm, "for his researches on integral equations."
€€ (1908) Comte de Sparre, "for his studies relating to gunnery and his works on mechanics."
€ (1911) Maurice Leblanc, "for the totality of his researches in mechanics."
€€ (1912) Edmond Maillet
€ (1913) Gabriel Xavier Paul Koenigs
€ (1914) Henri Lebesgue
€ (1915) Charles de la Vall•e-Poussin
€€ (1917) Jules Andrade, "for his work in applied mechanics, especially that dealing with chronometry."
€ (1919) Joseph Larmor
€ (1920) Álie Cartan, "for the whole of his work."
€€ (1921) Jacques Charles Emile Jouguet
€€ (1922) Jules Drach, "for the whole of his work in mathematics."
€ (1923) Auguste Boulanger (posthumously), "for the whole of his scientific work."
€ (1924) Ernest Vessiot, "for the whole of his work in mathematics."
€€ (1925) Denis Eydoux, "for the whole of his work in hydraulics."
€ (1926) Paul Montel, "for his mathematical work as a whole."
€ (1929) Alfred-Marie Li•nard
€ (1932) Raoul Bricard, "for his work in geometry."
€ (1936) Paul L•vy, "for the whole of his mathematical works."
€ (1981) Philippe G. Ciarlet
€€ (1987) Pierre Ladeveze
€€ (1993) Marie Farge
Additional recipients (date not confirmed)
€€ Benjamin Baker
€€ Camille Jordan
€€ Julius Robert von Mayer
€€ Georges Henri Halphen
[1] Jeremy Gray, " A History of Prizes in Mathematics (http:/ / www. claymath. org/ library/ monographs/ MPP. pdf)", Clay Mathematics
Institute and American Mathematical Society, 2006.
€ Nature, different years.
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777•1855), painted by Christian Albrecht Jensen
Born 30 April 1777
Braunschweig, Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenb·ttel, Holy Roman Empire
Died 23 February 1855 (aged 77)
G»ttingen, Kingdom of Hanover
Residence Kingdom of Hanover
Nationality German
Fields Mathematics and physics
Institutions University of G»ttingen
Alma mater University of Helmstedt
Doctoral advisor Johann Friedrich Pfaff
Other academic advisors Johann Christian Martin Bartels
Doctoral students Friedrich Bessel
Christoph Gudermann
Christian Ludwig Gerling
Richard Dedekind
Johann Encke
Johann Listing
Bernhard Riemann
Christian Peters
Moritz Cantor
Other notable students Johann Dirichlet
Gotthold Eisenstein
Carl Wolfgang Benjamin Goldschmidt
Gustav Kirchhoff
Ernst Kummer
August Ferdinand M»bius
L. C. Schn·rlein
Julius Weisbach
Known for See full list
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Influenced Sophie Germain
Notable awards Copley Medal (1838)
Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (pron.: /•a„s/; German: Gau—, pronounced [•a„s] ( listen); Latin: Carolus Fridericus
Gauss) (30 April 1777 • 23 February 1855) was a German mathematician and physical scientist who contributed
significantly to many fields, including number theory, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics,
electrostatics, astronomy and optics.
Sometimes referred to as the Princeps mathematicorum
(Latin, "the Prince of Mathematicians" or "the foremost of
mathematicians") and "greatest mathematician since antiquity", Gauss had a remarkable influence in many fields of
mathematics and science and is ranked as one of history's most influential mathematicians.
He referred to
mathematics as "the queen of sciences".
Early years (1777ƒ1798)
Statue of Gauss at his birthplace, Braunschweig
Carl Friedrich Gauss was born on 30 April 1777 in Braunschweig
(Brunswick), in the Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenb·ttel, now part of
Lower Saxony, Germany, as the son of poor working-class parents.
Indeed, his mother was illiterate and never recorded the date of his
birth, remembering only that he had been born on a Wednesday, eight
days before the Feast of the Ascension, which itself occurs 40 days
after Easter. Gauss would later solve this puzzle about his birthdate in
the context of finding the date of Easter, deriving methods to compute
the date in both past and future years.
He was christened and
confirmed in a church near the school he attended as a child.
Gauss was a child prodigy. There are many anecdotes about his precocity while a toddler, and he made his first
ground-breaking mathematical discoveries while still a teenager. He completed Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, his
magnum opus, in 1798 at the age of 21, though it was not published until 1801. This work was fundamental in
consolidating number theory as a discipline and has shaped the field to the present day.
Gauss's intellectual abilities attracted the attention of the Duke of Braunschweig,
who sent him to the Collegium
Carolinum (now Technische Universit¤t Braunschweig), which he attended from 1792 to 1795, and to the University
of G»ttingen from 1795 to 1798. While at university, Gauss independently rediscovered several important
his breakthrough occurred in 1796 when he showed that any regular polygon with a number of sides
which is a Fermat prime (and, consequently, those polygons with any number of sides which is the product of
distinct Fermat primes and a power of 2) can be constructed by compass and straightedge. This was a major
discovery in an important field of mathematics; construction problems had occupied mathematicians since the days
of the Ancient Greeks, and the discovery ultimately led Gauss to choose mathematics instead of philology as a
career. Gauss was so pleased by this result that he requested that a regular heptadecagon be inscribed on his
tombstone. The stonemason declined, stating that the difficult construction would essentially look like a circle.
The year 1796 was most productive for both Gauss and number theory. He discovered a construction of the
heptadecagon on 30 March.
He further advanced modular arithmetic, greatly simplifying manipulations in number
Carl Friedrich Gauss
theory. On 8 April he became the first to prove the quadratic reciprocity law. This remarkably general law allows
mathematicians to determine the solvability of any quadratic equation in modular arithmetic. The prime number
theorem, conjectured on 31 May, gives a good understanding of how the prime numbers are distributed among the
integers. Gauss also discovered that every positive integer is representable as a sum of at most three triangular
numbers on 10 July and then jotted down in his diary the famous note: "šçèéêë! num = ¹ + ¹ + ¹". On October 1
he published a result on the number of solutions of polynomials with coefficients in finite fields, which 150 years
later led to the Weil conjectures.
Middle years (1799ƒ1830)
In his 1799 doctorate in absentia, A new proof of the theorem that every integral rational algebraic function of one
variable can be resolved into real factors of the first or second degree, Gauss proved the fundamental theorem of
algebra which states that every non-constant single-variable polynomial with complex coefficients has at least one
complex root. Mathematicians including Jean le Rond d'Alembert had produced false proofs before him, and Gauss's
dissertation contains a critique of d'Alembert's work. Ironically, by today's standard, Gauss's own attempt is not
acceptable, owing to implicit use of the Jordan curve theorem. However, he subsequently produced three other
proofs, the last one in 1849 being generally rigorous. His attempts clarified the concept of complex numbers
considerably along the way.
Gauss also made important contributions to number theory with his 1801 book Disquisitiones Arithmeticae (Latin,
Arithmetical Investigations), which, among things, introduced the symbol › for congruence and used it in a clean
presentation of modular arithmetic, contained the first two proofs of the law of quadratic reciprocity, developed the
theories of binary and ternary quadratic forms, stated the class number problem for them, and showed that a regular
heptadecagon (17-sided polygon) can be constructed with straightedge and compass.
Title page of Gauss's Disquisitiones Arithmeticae
In that same year, Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the
dwarf planet Ceres. Piazzi could only track Ceres for a few months,
following it for three degrees across the night sky. Then it disappeared
temporarily behind the glare of the Sun. Several months later, when
Ceres should have reappeared, Piazzi could not locate it: the
mathematical tools of the time were not able to extrapolate a position
from such a scant amount of dataˆthree degrees represent less than
1% of the total orbit.
Gauss, who was 23 at the time, heard about the problem and tackled it.
After three months of intense work, he predicted a position for Ceres in
December 1801ˆjust about a year after its first sightingˆand this
turned out to be accurate within a half-degree when it was rediscovered
by Franz Xaver von Zach on 31 December at Gotha, and one day later
by Heinrich Olbers in Bremen.
Gauss's method involved determining a conic section in space, given
one focus (the Sun) and the conic's intersection with three given lines
(lines of sight from the Earth, which is itself moving on an ellipse, to
the planet) and given the time it takes the planet to traverse the arcs
determined by these lines (from which the lengths of the arcs can be
calculated by Kepler's Second Law). This problem leads to an equation
of the eighth degree, of which one solution, the Earth's orbit, is known. The solution sought is then separated from
the remaining six based on physical conditions. In this work Gauss used comprehensive approximation methods
which he created for that purpose.
Carl Friedrich Gauss
One such method was the fast Fourier transform. While this method is traditionally attributed to a 1965 paper by J.
W. Cooley and J. W. Tukey, Gauss developed it as a trigonometric interpolation method. His paper, Theoria
Interpolationis Methodo Nova Tractata
, was only published posthumously in Volume 3 of his collected works.
This paper predates the first presentation by Joseph Fourier on the subject in 1807.
Zach noted that "without the intelligent work and calculations of Doctor Gauss we might not have found Ceres
again". Though Gauss had up to that point been financially supported by his stipend from the Duke, he doubted the
security of this arrangement, and also did not believe pure mathematics to be important enough to deserve support.
Thus he sought a position in astronomy, and in 1807 was appointed Professor of Astronomy and Director of the
astronomical observatory in G»ttingen, a post he held for the remainder of his life.
The discovery of Ceres led Gauss to his work on a theory of the motion of planetoids disturbed by large planets,
eventually published in 1809 as Theoria motus corporum coelestium in sectionibus conicis solem ambientum
(Theory of motion of the celestial bodies moving in conic sections around the Sun). In the process, he so streamlined
the cumbersome mathematics of 18th century orbital prediction that his work remains a cornerstone of astronomical
computation. It introduced the Gaussian gravitational constant, and contained an influential treatment of the method
of least squares, a procedure used in all sciences to this day to minimize the impact of measurement error. Gauss
proved the method under the assumption of normally distributed errors (see Gauss•Markov theorem; see also
Gaussian). The method had been described earlier by Adrien-Marie Legendre in 1805, but Gauss claimed that he had
been using it since 1795.
Gauss' portrait published in Astronomische
Nachrichten 1828
In 1818 Gauss, putting his calculation skills to practical use, carried out
a geodesic survey of the Kingdom of Hanover, linking up with
previous Danish surveys. To aid the survey, Gauss invented the
heliotrope, an instrument that uses a mirror to reflect sunlight over
great distances, to measure positions.
Gauss also claimed to have discovered the possibility of non-Euclidean
geometries but never published it. This discovery was a major
paradigm shift in mathematics, as it freed mathematicians from the
mistaken belief that Euclid's axioms were the only way to make
geometry consistent and non-contradictory. Research on these
geometries led to, among other things, Einstein's theory of general
relativity, which describes the universe as non-Euclidean. His friend
Farkas Wolfgang Bolyai with whom Gauss had sworn "brotherhood
and the banner of truth" as a student, had tried in vain for many years
to prove the parallel postulate from Euclid's other axioms of geometry.
Bolyai's son, JÑnos Bolyai, discovered non-Euclidean geometry in 1829; his work was published in 1832. After
seeing it, Gauss wrote to Farkas Bolyai: "To praise it would amount to praising myself. For the entire content of the
work... coincides almost exactly with my own meditations which have occupied my mind for the past thirty or
thirty-five years."
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Four Gaussian distributions in statistics
This unproved statement put a strain on his relationship with JÑnos
Bolyai (who thought that Gauss was "stealing" his idea), but it is now
generally taken at face value. Letters from Gauss years before 1829
reveal him obscurely discussing the problem of parallel lines. Waldo
Dunnington, a biographer of Gauss, argues in Gauss, Titan of Science
that Gauss was in fact in full possession of non-Euclidean geometry
long before it was published by JÑnos Bolyai, but that he refused to
publish any of it because of his fear of controversy.
The survey of Hanover fueled Gauss's interest in differential geometry,
a field of mathematics dealing with curves and surfaces. Among other
things he came up with the notion of Gaussian curvature. This led in 1828 to an important theorem, the Theorema
Egregium (remarkable theorem), establishing an important property of the notion of curvature. Informally, the
theorem says that the curvature of a surface can be determined entirely by measuring angles and distances on the
surface. That is, curvature does not depend on how the surface might be embedded in 3-dimensional space or
2-dimensional space.
In 1821, he was made a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Later years and death (1831ƒ1855)
Daguerreotype of Gauss on his deathbed, 1855.
Grave of Gauss at Albanifriedhof in G»ttingen,
In 1831 Gauss developed a fruitful collaboration with the physics
professor Wilhelm Weber, leading to new knowledge in magnetism
(including finding a representation for the unit of magnetism in terms
of mass, length and time) and the discovery of Kirchhoff's circuit laws
in electricity. It was during this time that he formulated his namesake
law. They constructed the first electromechanical telegraph in 1833,
which connected the observatory with the institute for physics in
G»ttingen. Gauss ordered a magnetic observatory to be built in the
garden of the observatory, and with Weber founded the "Magnetischer
Verein" (magnetic club in German), which supported measurements of
Earth's magnetic field in many regions of the world. He developed a
method of measuring the horizontal intensity of the magnetic field
which was in use well into the second half of the 20th century, and
worked out the mathematical theory for separating the inner and outer
(magnetospheric) sources of Earth's magnetic field.
In 1840, Gauss published his influential Dioptrische
in which he gave the first systematic analysis on
the formation of images under a paraxial approximation (Gaussian
Among his results, Gauss showed that under a paraxial
approximation an optical system can be characterized by its cardinal
and he derived the Gaussian lens formula.
In 1854, Gauss notably selected the topic for Bernhard Riemann's now
famous Habilitationvortrag, •ber die Hypothesen, welche der Geometrie zu Grunde liegen.
On the way home
from Riemann's lecture, Weber reported that Gauss was full of praise and excitement.
Gauss died in G»ttingen, in the Kingdom of Hannover (now part of Lower Saxony, Germany) in 1855 and is interred
in the Albanifriedhof cemetery there. Two individuals gave eulogies at his funeral: Gauss's son-in-law Heinrich
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Ewald and Wolfgang Sartorius von Waltershausen, who was Gauss's close friend and biographer. His brain was
preserved and was studied by Rudolf Wagner who found its mass to be 1,492 grams and the cerebral area equal to
219,588 square millimeters
(340.362 square inches). Highly developed convolutions were also found, which in
the early 20th century was suggested as the explanation of his genius.
B·hler writes that, according to correspondence with Rudolf Wagner, Gauss did not appear to believe in a personal
He was said to be a deist.
He further asserts that although Gauss firmly believed in the immortality of the
soul and in some sort of life after death, it was not in a fashion that could be interpreted as Christian.
According to Dunnington, Gauss's religion was based upon the search for truth. He believed in "the immortality of
the spiritual individuality, in a personal permanence after death, in a last order of things, in an eternal, righteous,
omniscient and omnipotent God". Gauss also upheld religious tolerance, believing it wrong to disturb others who
were at peace with their own beliefs.
Gauss' daughter Therese (1816ˆ1864)
Gauss's personal life was overshadowed by the early death of his first
wife, Johanna Osthoff, in 1809, soon followed by the death of one
child, Louis. Gauss plunged into a depression from which he never
fully recovered. He married again, to Johanna's best friend named
Friederica Wilhelmine Waldeck but commonly known as Minna.
When his second wife died in 1831 after a long illness,
one of his
daughters, Therese, took over the household and cared for Gauss until
the end of his life. His mother lived in his house from 1817 until her
death in 1839.
Gauss had six children. With Johanna (1780•1809), his children were
Joseph (1806•1873), Wilhelmina (1808•1846) and Louis
(1809•1810). Of all of Gauss's children, Wilhelmina was said to have
come closest to his talent, but she died young. With Minna Waldeck he
also had three children: Eugene (1811•1896), Wilhelm (1813•1879)
and Therese (1816•1864). Eugene shared a good measure of Gauss'
talent in languages and computation.
Therese kept house for Gauss
until his death, after which she married.
Gauss eventually had conflicts with his sons. He did not want any of his sons to enter mathematics or science for
"fear of lowering the family name".
Gauss wanted Eugene to become a lawyer, but Eugene wanted to study
languages. They had an argument over a party Eugene held, which Gauss refused to pay for. The son left in anger
and, in about 1832, emigrated to the United States, where he was quite successful. Wilhelm also settled in Missouri,
starting as a farmer and later becoming wealthy in the shoe business in St. Louis. It took many years for Eugene's
success to counteract his reputation among Gauss's friends and colleagues. See also the letter from Robert Gauss to
Felix Klein on 3 September 1912.
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Gauss was an ardent perfectionist and a hard worker. He was never a prolific writer, refusing to publish work which
he did not consider complete and above criticism. This was in keeping with his personal motto pauca sed matura
("few, but ripe"). His personal diaries indicate that he had made several important mathematical discoveries years or
decades before his contemporaries published them. Mathematical historian Eric Temple Bell estimated that, had
Gauss published all of his discoveries in a timely manner, he would have advanced mathematics by fifty years.
Though he did take in a few students, Gauss was known to dislike teaching. It is said that he attended only a single
scientific conference, which was in Berlin in 1828. However, several of his students became influential
mathematicians, among them Richard Dedekind, Bernhard Riemann, and Friedrich Bessel. Before she died, Sophie
Germain was recommended by Gauss to receive her honorary degree.
Gauss usually declined to present the intuition behind his often very elegant proofsˆhe preferred them to appear
"out of thin air" and erased all traces of how he discovered them. This is justified, if unsatisfactorily, by Gauss in his
"Disquisitiones Arithmeticae", where he states that all analysis (i.e., the paths one travelled to reach the solution of a
problem) must be suppressed for sake of brevity.
Gauss supported monarchy and opposed Napoleon, whom he saw as an outgrowth of revolution.
There are several stories of his early genius. According to one, his gifts became very apparent at the age of three
when he corrected, mentally and without fault in his calculations, an error his father had made on paper while
calculating finances.
Another famous story has it that in primary school after the young Gauss misbehaved, his teacher, J.G. B·ttner, gave
him a task : add a list of integers in arithmetic progression; as the story is most often told, these were the numbers
from 1 to 100. The young Gauss reputedly produced the correct answer within seconds, to the astonishment of his
teacher and his assistant Martin Bartels.
Gauss's presumed method was to realize that pairwise addition of terms from opposite ends of the list yielded
identical intermediate sums: 1 + 100 = 101, 2 + 99 = 101, 3 + 98 = 101, and so on, for a total sum of
50 ± 101 = 5050. However, the details of the story are at best uncertain (see
for discussion of the original
Wolfgang Sartorius von Waltershausen source and the changes in other versions); some authors, such as Joseph
Rotman in his book A first course in Abstract Algebra, question whether it ever happened.
According to Isaac Asimov, Gauss was once interrupted in the middle of a problem and told that his wife was dying.
He is purported to have said, "Tell her to wait a moment till I'm done."
This anecdote is briefly discussed in G.
Waldo Dunnington's Gauss, Titan of Science where it is suggested that it is an apocryphal story.
German 10-Deutsche Mark banknote (1993;
discontinued) featuring Gauss
From 1989 through 2001, Gauss's portrait, a normal distribution curve
and some prominent G»ttingen buildings were featured on the German
ten-mark banknote. The reverse featured the heliotrope and a
triangulation approach for Hannover. Germany has also issued three
postage stamps honoring Gauss. One (no. 725) appeared in 1955 on the
hundredth anniversary of his death; two others, nos. 1246 and 1811, in
1977, the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Gauss (aged about 26) on East German stamp
produced in 1977. Next to him: heptadecagon,
compass and straightedge.
Daniel Kehlmann's 2005 novel Die Vermessung der Welt, translated
into English as Measuring the World (2006), explores Gauss's life and
work through a lens of historical fiction, contrasting them with those of
the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt.
In 2007 a bust of Gauss was placed in the Walhalla temple.
Things named in honor of Gauss include:
€ Degaussing, the process of eliminating a magnetic field.
€ The CGS unit for magnetic field was named gauss in his honour,
€ The crater Gauss on the Moon,
€ Asteroid 1001 Gaussia,
€ The ship Gauss, used in the Gauss expedition to the Antarctic,
€ Gaussberg, an extinct volcano discovered by the above mentioned expedition,
€ Gauss Tower, an observation tower in Dransfeld, Germany,
€ In Canadian junior high schools, an annual national mathematics competition (Gauss Mathematics Competition)
administered by the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing is named in honour of Gauss,
€ In University of California, Santa Cruz, in Crown College, a dormitory building is named after him,
€ The Gauss Haus, an NMR center at the University of Utah,
€ The Carl-Friedrich-GauÒ School for Mathematics, Computer Science, Business Administration, Economics, and
Social Sciences of University of Braunschweig,
€ The Gauss Building - University of Idaho (College of Engineering).
In 1929 the Polish mathematician Marian Rejewski, who would solve the German Enigma cipher machine in
December 1932, began studying actuarial statistics at G»ttingen. At the request of his Poznaì University professor,
ZdzisÏaw Krygowski, on arriving at G»ttingen Rejewski laid flowers on Gauss's grave.
€ 1799: Doctoral dissertation on the Fundamental theorem of algebra, with the title: Demonstratio nova theorematis
omnem functionem algebraicam rationalem integram unius variabilis in factores reales primi vel secundi gradus
resolvi posse ("New proof of the theorem that every integral algebraic function of one variable can be resolved
into real factors (i.e., polynomials) of the first or second degree")
€ 1801: Disquisitiones Arithmeticae
. German translation by H. Maser Untersuchungen ‚ber h€here Arithmetik
(Disquisitiones Arithmeticae & other papers on number theory) (Second edition). New York: Chelsea. 1965.
ISBN 0-8284-0191-8, pp. 1•453. English translation by Arthur A. Clarke Disquisitiones Arithemeticae (Second,
corrected edition). New York: Springer. 1986. ISBN 0-387-96254-9.
€ 1808: Theorematis arithmetici demonstratio nova. G»ttingen: Comment. Soc. regiae sci, G»ttingen XVI. German
translation by H. Maser Untersuchungen ‚ber h€here Arithmetik (Disquisitiones Arithmeticae & other papers on
number theory) (Second edition). New York: Chelsea. 1965. ISBN 0-8284-0191-8, pp. 457•462 [Introduces
Gauss's lemma, uses it in the third proof of quadratic reciprocity]
€ 1809: Theoria Motus Corporum Coelestium in sectionibus conicis solem ambientium
(Theorie der Bewegung
der Himmelsk»rper, die die Sonne in Kegelschnitten umkreisen), English translation by C. H. Davis, reprinted
1963, Dover, New York.
€ 1811: Summatio serierun quarundam singularium. G»ttingen: Comment. Soc. regiae sci, G»ttingen. German
translation by H. Maser Untersuchungen ‚ber h€here Arithmetik (Disquisitiones Arithmeticae & other papers on
number theory) (Second edition). New York: Chelsea. 1965. ISBN 0-8284-0191-8, pp. 463•495 [Determination
of the sign of the quadratic Gauss sum, uses this to give the fourth proof of quadratic reciprocity]
Carl Friedrich Gauss
€ 1812: Disquisitiones Generales Circa Seriem Infinitam
€ 1818: Theorematis fundamentallis in doctrina de residuis quadraticis demonstrationes et amplicationes novae.
G»ttingen: Comment. Soc. regiae sci, G»ttingen. German translation by H. Maser Untersuchungen ‚ber h€here
Arithmetik (Disquisitiones Arithmeticae & other papers on number theory) (Second edition). New York: Chelsea.
1965. ISBN 0-8284-0191-8, pp. 496•510 [Fifth and sixth proofs of quadratic reciprocity]
€ 1821, 1823 and 1826: Theoria combinationis observationum erroribus minimis obnoxiae. Drei Abhandlungen
betreffend die Wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung als Grundlage des GauÒ'schen Fehlerfortpflanzungsgesetzes. (Three
essays concerning the calculation of probabilities as the basis of the Gaussian law of error propagation) English
translation by G. W. Stewart, 1987, Society for Industrial Mathematics.
€ 1827: Disquisitiones generales circa superficies curvas
, Commentationes Societatis Regiae Scientiarum
Gottingesis Recentiores. Volume VI, pp. 99•146. "General Investigations of Curved Surfaces
" (published
1965) Raven Press, New York, translated by A.M.Hiltebeitel and J.C.Morehead.
€ 1828: Theoria residuorum biquadraticorum, Commentatio prima. G»ttingen: Comment. Soc. regiae sci,
G»ttingen 6. German translation by H. Maser Untersuchungen ‚ber h€here Arithmetik (Disquisitiones
Arithmeticae & other papers on number theory) (Second edition). New York: Chelsea. 1965.
ISBN 0-8284-0191-8, pp. 511•533 [Elementary facts about biquadratic residues, proves one of the supplements
of the law of biquadratic reciprocity (the biquadratic character of 2)]
€ 1832: Theoria residuorum biquadraticorum, Commentatio secunda. G»ttingen: Comment. Soc. regiae sci,
G»ttingen 7. German translation by H. Maser Untersuchungen ‚ber h€here Arithmetik (Disquisitiones
Arithmeticae & other papers on number theory) (Second edition). New York: Chelsea. 1965.
ISBN 0-8284-0191-8, pp. 534•586 [Introduces the Gaussian integers, states (without proof) the law of
biquadratic reciprocity, proves the supplementary law for 1 + i]
€ 1843/44: Untersuchungen ‚ber GegenstŒnde der H€heren GeodŒsie. Erste Abhandlung
, Abhandlungen der
K»niglichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften in G»ttingen. Zweiter Band
, pp. 3•46
€ 1846/47: Untersuchungen ‚ber GegenstŒnde der H€heren GeodŒsie. Zweite Abhandlung
, Abhandlungen der
K»niglichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften in G»ttingen. Dritter Band
, pp. 3•44
€ Mathematisches Tagebuch 1796€1814, Ostwaldts Klassiker, Harri Deutsch Verlag 2005, mit Anmerkungen von
Neumamn, ISBN 978-3-8171-3402-1 (English translation with annotations by Jeremy Gray: Expositiones Math.
€ Gauss' collective works are online here
This includes German translations of Latin texts and commentaries by
various authorities
[1] Zeidler, Eberhard (2004). Oxford User's Guide to Mathematics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 1188. ISBN 0-19-850763-1.
[2] Dunnington, G. Waldo. (May, 1927). " The Sesquicentennial of the Birth of Gauss (http:/ / www. mathsong. com/ cfgauss/ Dunnington/ 1927/
)". Scientific Monthly XXIV: 402•414. Retrieved on 29 June 2005. Comprehensive biographical article.
[3] [3] Quoted in Waltershausen, Wolfgang Sartorius von (1856, repr. 1965). Gauss zum Ged¤chtniss. S¤ndig Reprint Verlag H. R. Wohlwend.
ISBN 3-253-01702-8. ISSN B0000BN5SQ ASIN: B0000BN5SQ.
[4] "Carl Friedrich Gauss" (http:/ / www. math. wichita. edu/ history/ men/ gauss. html). Wichita State University. .
[5] "Gauss Birthday Problem" (http:/ / american_almanac.tripod. com/ gauss. htm). .
[6] Susan Chambless (2000-03-11). "Letter:WORTHINGTON, Helen to Carl F. Gauss - 1911-07-26" (http:/ / www. gausschildren. org/ genwiki/
index. php?title=Letter:WORTHINGTON,_Helen_to_Carl_F. _Gauss_-_1911-07-26). Susan D. Chambless. . Retrieved 2011-09-14.
[7] O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Carl Friedrich Gauss" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Gauss. html),
MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews, .
[8] [8] Pappas, Theoni: Mathematical Snippets, Page 42. Pgw 2008
[9] Carl Friedrich Gauss ºº365•366 in Disquisitiones Arithmeticae. Leipzig, Germany, 1801. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965.
[10] Klein, Felix; Hermann, Robert (1979). Development of mathematics in the 19th century. Math Sci Press. ISBN 978-0-915692-28-6.
Carl Friedrich Gauss
[11] http:/ / lseet. univ-tln. fr/ ~iaroslav/ Gauss_Theoria_interpolationis_methodo_nova_tractata. php
[12] Heideman, M.; Johnson, D., Burrus, C. (1984). "Gauss and the history of the fast fourier transform". IEEE ASSP Magazine 1 (4): 14•21.
[13] B·hler, Walter Kaufmann (1987). Gauss: a biographical study. Springer-Verlag. pp. 144•145. ISBN 0-387-10662-6.
[14] Hecht, Eugene (1987). Optics. Addison Wesley. p. 134. ISBN 0-201-11609-X.
[15] Bass, Michael; DeCusatis, Casimer; Enoch, Jay; Lakshminarayanan, Vasudevan (2009). Handbook of Optics. McGraw Hill Professional.
p. 17.7. ISBN 0-07-149889-3.
[16] Ostdiek, Vern J.; Bord, Donald J. (2007). Inquiry Into Physics. Cengage Learning. p. 381. ISBN 0-495-11943-1.
[17] Monastyrsky, Michael (1987). Riemann, Topology, and Physics. Birkh¤user. pp. 21•22. ISBN 0-8176-3262-X.
[18] This reference from 1891 (Donaldson, Henry H. (1891). "Anatomical Observations on the Brain and Several Sense-Organs of the Blind
Deaf-Mute, Laura Dewey Bridgman". The American Journal of Psychology (E. C. Sanford) 4 (2): 248•294. doi:10.2307/1411270.
JSTOR 1411270.) says: "Gauss, 1492 grm. 957 grm. 219588. sq. mm."; i.e. the unit is square mm. In the later reference: Dunnington (1927),
the unit is erroneously reported as square cm, which gives an unreasonably large area; the 1891 reference is more reliable.
[19] B·hler, Walter Kaufmann (1987). Gauss: a biographical study. Springer-Verlag. p. 153. ISBN 0-387-10662-6.
[20] Gerhard Falk (1995). American Judaism in Transition: The Secularization of a Religious Community. University Press of America. p. 121.
ISBN 9780761800163. "Evidently, Gauss was a Deist with a good deal of skepticism concerning religion but incorporating a great deal of
philosophical interests in the Big Questions, that is. the immortality of the soul, the afterlife and the meaning of man's existence."
[21] "Gauss, Carl Friedrich" (http:/ / www.encyclopedia.com/ topic/ Carl_Friedrich_Gauss. aspx). Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography.
2008. . Retrieved 29 July 2012. "In seeming contradiction, his religious and philosophical views leaned toward those of his political
opponents. He was an uncompromising believer in the priority of empiricism in science. He did not adhere to the views of Kant, Hegel and
other idealist philosophers of the day. He was not a churchman and kept his religious views to himself. Moral rectitude and the advancement
of scientific knowledge were his avowed principles."
[22] Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science. MAA. 2004. p. 300. ISBN 9780883855478. "Gauss' religious consciousness was based on an
insatiable thirst for truth and a deep feeling of justice extending to intellectual as well as material goods. He conceived spiritual life in the
whole universe as a great system of law penetrated by eternal truth, and from this source he gained the firm confidence that death does not end
[23] Morris Kline (1982). Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty. Oxford University Press. p. 73. ISBN 9780195030853.
[24] "Gauss biography" (http:/ / www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac. uk/ ~history/ Biographies/ Gauss. html). Groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk. . Retrieved
[25] "Letter:GAUSS, Charles Henry to Florian Cajori - 1898-12-21" (http:/ / www. gausschildren. org/ genwiki/ index.
php?title=Letter:GAUSS,_Charles_Henry_to_Florian_Cajori_-_1898-12-21). Susan D. Chambless. 2000-03-11. . Retrieved 2011-09-14.
[26] Bell, E. T. (2009). "Ch. 14: The Prince of Mathematicians: Gauss". Men of Mathematics: The Lives and Achievements of the Great
Mathematicians from Zeno to Poincarƒ. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 218•269. ISBN 0-671-46400-0.
[27] Brian Hayes (14 November 2009). "Gauss's Day of Reckoning í" (http:/ / www. americanscientist. org/ issues/ pub/
gausss-day-of-reckoning/ 2). American Scientist. doi:10.1511/2006.3.200. . Retrieved 30 October 2012.
[28] Asimov, I. (1972). Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology; the Lives and Achievements of 1195 Great Scientists from
Ancient Times to the Present, Chronologically Arranged.. New York: Doubleday.
[29] "Bayerisches Staatsministerium f·r Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst: Startseite" (http:/ / www. stmwfk. bayern. de/ downloads/ aviso/
2004_1_aviso_48-49. pdf). Stmwfk.bayern.de. . Retrieved 2009-07-19.
[30] [30] Andersson, L. E.; Whitaker, E. A., (1982). NASA Catalogue of Lunar Nomenclature. NASA RP-1097.
[31] WÏadysÏaw Kozaczuk, Enigma: How the German Machine Cipher Was Broken, and How It Was Read by the Allies in World War Two,
Frederick, Maryland, University Publications of America, 1984, p. 7, note 6.
[32] http:/ / resolver. sub. uni-goettingen.de/ purl?PPN235993352
[33] http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=ORUOAAAAQAAJ& dq=Theoria+ Motus+ Corporum+ Coelestium+ in+ sectionibus+ conicis+
solem+ ambientium& cad=0
[34] http:/ / www-gdz.sub.uni-goettingen. de/ cgi-bin/ digbib. cgi?PPN35283028X_0006_2NS
[35] http:/ / quod.lib.umich. edu/ cgi/ t/ text/ text-idx?c=umhistmath;idno=ABR1255
[36] http:/ / dz-srv1. sub. uni-goettingen. de/ contentserver/ contentserver?command=docconvert& docid=D39018
[37] http:/ / www-gdz.sub.uni-goettingen. de/ cgi-bin/ digbib. cgi?PPN250442582_0002
[38] http:/ / dz-srv1. sub. uni-goettingen. de/ contentserver/ contentserver?command=docconvert& docid=D39036
[39] http:/ / www-gdz.sub.uni-goettingen. de/ cgi-bin/ digbib. cgi?PPN250442582_0003
[40] http:/ / dz-srv1. sub. uni-goettingen. de/ cache/ toc/ D38910. html
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Further reading
€ Dunnington, G. Waldo. (2003). Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science. The Mathematical Association of
America. ISBN 0-88385-547-X. OCLC 53933110.
€ Gauss, Carl Friedrich (1965). Disquisitiones Arithmeticae. tr. Arthur A. Clarke. Yale University Press.
ISBN 0-300-09473-6.
€ Hall, Tord (1970). Carl Friedrich Gauss: A Biography. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-08040-0.
OCLC 185662235.
€ Kehlmann, Daniel (2005). Die Vermessung der Welt. Rowohlt. ISBN 3-498-03528-2. OCLC 144590801.
€ Sartorius von Waltershausen, Wolfgang (1966). Gauss: A Memorial (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/
€ Simmons, J. (1996). The Giant Book of Scientists: The 100 Greatest Minds of All Time. Sydney: The Book
€ Tent, Margaret (2006). The Prince of Mathematics: Carl Friedrich Gauss. A K Peters. ISBN 1-56881-455-0.
External links
€ Carl Friedrich Gauss (http:/ / planetmath. org/ ?op=getobj& amp;from=objects& amp;id=5594), PlanetMath.org.
€ Complete works (http:/ / www-gdz. sub. uni-goettingen. de/ cgi-bin/ digbib. cgi?PPN235957348)
€ Works by or about Carl Friedrich Gauss (http:/ / worldcat. org/ identities/ lccn-n79-38533) in libraries (WorldCat
€ Gauss and his children (http:/ / www. gausschildren. org)
€ Gauss biography (http:/ / www. corrosion-doctors. org/ Biographies/ GaussBio. htm)
€ Carl Friedrich Gauss (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=18231) at the Mathematics
Genealogy Project
€ Carl Friedrich Gauss (http:/ / fermatslasttheorem. blogspot. com/ 2005/ 06/ carl-friedrich-gauss. html), Biography
at Fermat's Last Theorem Blog.
€ Gauss: mathematician of the millennium (http:/ / www. idsia. ch/ ~juergen/ gauss. html), by J·rgen Schmidhuber
€ English translation of Waltershausen's 1862 biography (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=yh0PAAAAIAAJ)
€ Gauss (http:/ / www. gauss. info) general website on Gauss
€ MNRAS 16 (1856) 80 (http:/ / adsabs. harvard. edu/ / full/ seri/ MNRAS/ 0016/ / 0000080. 000. html) Obituary
€ Carl Friedrich Gauss on the 10 Deutsche Mark banknote (http:/ / www-personal. umich. edu/ ~jbourj/ money1.
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Carl Friedrich Gauss" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Gauss. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Carl Friedrich Gauss at Wikiquote
€ "Carl Friedrich Gauss" (http:/ / www. bbc. co. uk/ programmes/ b00ss0lf) in the series A Brief History of
Mathematics on BBC 4
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
Cauchy around 1840. Lithography by Z•phirin Belliard after a painting by Jean Roller.
Born 21 August 1789
Paris, France
Died 23 May 1857 (aged 67)
Sceaux, France
Nationality French
Fields Mathematics
Institutions Ácole Centrale du Panth•on
Ácole Nationale des Ponts et Chauss•es
Ácole polytechnique
Alma mater Ácole Nationale des Ponts et Chauss•es
Doctoral students Francesco FaÕ di Bruno
Viktor Bunyakovsky
Known for See list
Baron Augustin-Louis Cauchy (French pronunciation:  [ogys‚t†¡ lwi ko‚¢i]) (21 August 1789 • 23 May 1857) was a
French mathematician who was an early pioneer of analysis. He started the project of formulating and proving the
theorems of infinitesimal calculus in a rigorous manner, rejecting the heuristic principle of the generality of algebra
exploited by earlier authors. He defined continuity in terms of infinitesimals and gave several important theorems in
complex analysis and initiated the study of permutation groups in abstract algebra. A profound mathematician,
Cauchy exercised a great influence over his contemporaries and successors. His writings cover the entire range of
mathematics and mathematical physics.
"More concepts and theorems have been named for Cauchy than for any other mathematician (in elasticity alone
there are sixteen concepts and theorems named for Cauchy)."
Cauchy was a prolific writer; he wrote
approximately eight hundred research articles and five complete textbooks. He was a devout Roman Catholic, strict
Bourbon royalist, and a close associate of the Jesuit order.
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
Youth and education
Cauchy was the son of Louis FranÀois Cauchy (1760•1848) and Marie-Madeleine Desestre. Cauchy had two
brothers, Alexandre Laurent Cauchy (1792•1857), who became a president of a division of the court of appeal in
1847, and a judge of the court of cassation in 1849; and Eugene FranÀois Cauchy (1802•1877), a publicist who also
wrote several mathematical works.
Cauchy married Aloise de Bure in 1818. She was a close relative of the publisher who published most of Cauchy's
works. By her he had two daughters, Marie FranÀoise Alicia (1819) and Marie Mathilde (1823).
Cauchy's father (Louis FranÀois Cauchy) was a high official in the Parisian Police of the New R•gime. He lost his
position because of the French Revolution (July 14, 1789) that broke out one month before Augustin-Louis was
The Cauchy family survived the revolution and the following Reign of Terror (1794) by escaping to Arcueil,
where Cauchy received his first education, from his father. After the execution of Robespierre (1794), it was safe for
the family to return to Paris. There Louis-FranÀois Cauchy found himself a new bureaucratic job, and quickly moved
up the ranks. When Napoleon Bonaparte came to power (1799), Louis-FranÀois Cauchy was further promoted, and
became Secretary-General of the Senate, working directly under Laplace (who is now better known for his work on
mathematical physics). The famous mathematician Lagrange was also no stranger in the Cauchy family.
On Lagrange's advice, Augustin-Louis was enrolled in the ˆcole Centrale du Panthƒon, the best secondary school of
Paris at that time, in the fall of 1802. Most of the curriculum consisted of classical languages; the young and
ambitious Cauchy, being a brilliant student, won many prizes in Latin and Humanities. In spite of these successes,
Augustin-Louis chose an engineering career, and prepared himself for the entrance examination to the ˆcole
In 1805 he placed second out of 293 applicants on this exam, and he was admitted. One of the main purposes of this
school was to give future civil and military engineers a high-level scientific and mathematical education. The school
functioned under military discipline, which caused the young and pious Cauchy some problems in adapting.
Nevertheless, he finished the Polytechnique in 1807, at the age of 18, and went on to the ˆcole des Ponts et
Chaussƒes (School for Bridges and Roads). He graduated in civil engineering, with the highest honors.
Engineering days
After finishing school in 1810, Cauchy accepted a job as a junior engineer in Cherbourg, where Napoleon intended
to build a naval base. Here Augustin-Louis stayed for three years, and although he had an extremely busy managerial
job, he still found time to prepare three mathematical manuscripts, which he submitted to the Premi‰re Classe (First
Class) of the Institut de France.
Cauchy's first two manuscripts (on polyhedra) were accepted; the third one (on
directrices of conic sections) was rejected.
In September 1812, now 23 years old, after becoming ill from overwork, Cauchy returned to Paris. Another reason
for his return to the capital was that he was losing his interest in his engineering job, being more and more attracted
to abstract beauty of mathematics; in Paris he would have a much better chance to find a mathematics related
position. Although he formally kept his engineering position, he was transferred from the payroll of the Ministry of
the Marine to the Ministry of the Interior. The next three years Augustin-Louis was mainly on unpaid sick leave, and
spent his time quite fruitfully, working on mathematics (on the related topics of symmetric functions, the symmetric
group and the theory of higher-order algebraic equations). He attempted admission to the First Class of the Institut de
France but failed on three different occasions between 1813 and 1815. In 1815 Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo,
and the newly installed Bourbon king Louis XVIII took the restoration in hand. The Acadƒmie des Sciences was
re-established in March 1816; Lazare Carnot and Gaspard Monge were removed from this Academy for political
reasons, and the king appointed Cauchy to take the place of one of them. The reaction by Cauchy's peers was harsh;
they considered his acceptance of membership of the Academy an outrage, and Cauchy thereby created many
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
enemies in scientific circles.
Professor at •cole Polytechnique
In November 1815, Louis Poinsot, who was an associate professor at the Ácole Polytechnique, asked to be exempted
from his teaching duties for health reasons. Cauchy was by then a rising mathematical star, who certainly merited a
professorship. One of his great successes at that time was the proof of Fermat's polygonal number theorem.
However, the fact that Cauchy was known to be very loyal to the Bourbons, doubtless also helped him in becoming
the successor of Poinsot. He finally quit his engineering job, and received a one-year contract for teaching
mathematics to second-year students of the Ácole Polytechnique. In 1816, this Bonapartist, non-religious school was
reorganized, and several liberal professors were fired; the reactionary Cauchy was promoted to full professor.
When Cauchy was 28 years old, he was still living with his parents. His father found it high time for his son to
marry; he found him a suitable bride, Alo¿se de Bure, five years his junior.The de Bure family were printers and
booksellers, and published most of Cauchy's works.
Alo¿se and Augustin were married on April 4, 1818, with
great Roman Catholic pomp and ceremony, in the Church of Saint-Sulpice. In 1819 the couple's first daughter, Marie
FranÀoise Alicia, was born, and in 1823 the second and last daughter, Marie Mathilde.
Cauchy had two brothers:
Alexandre Laurent Cauchy, who became a president of a division of the court of appeal in 1847, and a judge of the
court of cassation in 1849; and Eug½ne FranÀois Cauchy, a publicist who also wrote several mathematical works.
The oppressive political climate that lasted until 1830 suited Cauchy perfectly. In 1824 Louis XVIII died, and was
succeeded by his even more reactionary brother Charles X. During these years Cauchy was highly productive, and
published one important mathematical treatise after another. He received cross appointments at the Coll½ge de
France, and the Facult• des Sciences of the University.
In exile
In July 1830 France underwent another revolution. Charles X fled the country, and was succeeded by the
non-Bourbon king Louis-Philippe (of the House of Orl•ans). Riots, in which uniformed students of the Ácole
Polytechnique took an active part, raged close to Cauchy's home in Paris.
These events marked a turning point in Cauchy's life, and a break in his mathematical productivity. Cauchy, shaken
by the fall of the government, and moved by a deep hatred of the liberals who were taking power, left Paris to go
abroad, leaving his family behind. He spent a short time at Fribourg in Switzerland, where he had to decide whether
he would swear a required oath of allegiance to the new regime. He refused to do this, and consequently lost all his
positions in Paris, except his membership of the Academy, for which an oath was not required. In 1831 Cauchy went
to the Italian city of Turin, and after some time there, he accepted an offer from the King of Sardinia (who ruled
Turin and the surrounding Piedmont region) for a chair of theoretical physics, which was created especially for him.
He taught in Turin during 1832-1833. In 1831, he had been elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences.
In August 1833 Cauchy left Turin for Prague, to become the science tutor of the thirteen-year-old Duke of Bordeaux
Henri d'Artois (1820•1883), the exiled Crown Prince and grandson of Charles X. As a professor of the Ácole
Polytechnique, Cauchy had been a notoriously bad lecturer, assuming levels of understanding that only a few of his
best students could reach, and cramming his allotted time with too much material. The young Duke had neither taste
nor talent for either mathematics or science, so student and teacher were a perfect mismatch. Although Cauchy took
his mission very seriously, he did this with great clumsiness, and with surprising lack of authority over the Duke.
During his civil engineering days, Cauchy once had been briefly in charge of repairing a few of the Parisian sewers,
and he made the mistake of telling his pupil this; with great malice, the young Duke went about saying that Mister
Cauchy started his career in the sewers of Paris. His role as tutor lasted until the Duke became eighteen years old, in
September 1838. Cauchy did hardly any research during those five years, while the Duke acquired a lifelong dislike
of mathematics. The only good that came out of this episode was Cauchy's promotion to Baron, a title that Cauchy
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
set great store by. In 1834, his wife and two daughters moved to Prague, and Cauchy was finally reunited with his
family, after four years of exile.
Last years
Cauchy returned to Paris and his position at the Academy of Sciences late in 1838. He could not regain his teaching
positions, because he still refused to swear an oath of allegiance. However, he desperately wanted to regain a formal
position in Parisian science.
Cauchy prior to 1857
In August 1839 a vacancy appeared in the Bureau des Longitudes. This
Bureau had some resemblance to the Academy; for instance, it had the
right to co-opt its members. Further, it was believed that members of
the Bureau could "forget" about the oath of allegiance, although
formally, unlike the Academicians, they were obliged to take it. The
Bureau des Longitudes was an organization founded in 1795 to solve
the problem of determining position on sea - mainly the longitudinal
coordinate, since latitude is easily determined from the position of the
sun. Since it was thought that position on sea was best determined by
astronomical observations, the Bureau had developed into an
organization resembling an academy of astronomical sciences.
In November 1839 Cauchy was elected to the Bureau, and discovered
immediately that the matter of the oath was not so easily dispensed
with. Without his oath, the king refused to approve his election. For
four years Cauchy was in the absurd position of being elected, but not
being approved; hence, he was not a formal member of the Bureau, did
not receive payment, could not participate in meetings, and could not submit papers. Still Cauchy refused to take any
oaths; however, he did feel loyal enough to direct his research to celestial mechanics. In 1840, he presented a dozen
papers on this topic to the Academy. He also described and illustrated the signed-digit representation of numbers, an
innovation presented in England in 1727 by John Colson. The confounded membership of the Bureau lasted until the
end of 1843, when Cauchy was finally replaced by Poinsot.
All through the nineteenth century the French educational system struggled with the separation of Church and State.
The Catholic Church strived for freedom of education (that is, the right to establish Catholic schools); the Church
found in Cauchy a staunch and illustrious ally in this struggle. He lent his prestige and knowledge to the ˆcole
Normale ˆcclƒsiastique, a school in Paris run by Jesuits, for training teachers for their colleges. He also took part in
the founding of the Institut Catholique. The purpose of this institute was to counter the effects of the absence of
Catholic university education in France. These activities did not make Cauchy popular with his colleagues who, on
the whole, supported the Enlightenment ideals of the French Revolution. When a chair of mathematics became
vacant at the Coll½ge de France in 1843, Cauchy applied for it, but got just three out of 45 votes.
The year 1848 was the year of revolution all over Europe; revolutions broke out in numerous countries, beginning in
France. King Louis-Philippe, fearful of sharing the fate of Louis XVI, fled to England. The oath of allegiance was
abolished, and the road to an academic appointment was finally clear for Cauchy. On March 1, 1849, he was
reinstated at the Facult• de Sciences, as a professor of mathematical astronomy. After political turmoil all through
1848, France chose to become a Republic, under the Presidency of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon
Bonaparte, and son of Napoleon's brother, who had been installed as the first king of Holland. Soon (early 1852) the
President became the Emperor of France, and took the name Napoleon III.
Not unexpectedly, the idea came up in bureaucratic circles that it would be useful to require a loyalty oath from all
state functionaries, including university professors. Not always does history repeat itself, however, because this time
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
a cabinet minister was able to convince the Emperor to exempt Cauchy from the oath. Cauchy remained a professor
at the University until his death at the age of 67. He received the Last Sacraments and died at 4 a.m. during the night
of May 23, 1857.
His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
Early work
The genius of Cauchy was illustrated in his simple solution of the problem of Apolloniusˆdescribing a circle
touching three given circlesˆwhich he discovered in 1805, his generalization of Euler's formula on polyhedra in
1811, and in several other elegant problems. More important is his memoir on wave propagation, which obtained the
Grand Prix of the French Academy of Sciences in 1816. Cauchy's writings covered notable topics including: the
theory of series, where he developed the notion of convergence and discovered many of the basic formulas for
q-series. The theory of numbers and complex quantities; he was the first to define complex numbers as pairs of real
numbers. The theory of groups and substitutions; and the theory of functions, differential equations, and
Wave theory, mechanics, elasticity
In the theory of light he worked on Fresnel's wave theory and on the dispersion and polarization of light. He also
contributed significant research in mechanics, substituting the notion of the continuity of geometrical displacements
for the principle of the continuity of matter. He wrote on the equilibrium of rods and elastic membranes and on
waves in elastic media. He introduced
a 3 ± 3 symmetric matrix of numbers that is now known as the Cauchy
stress tensor. In elasticity, he originated the theory of stress, and his results are nearly as valuable as those of Simeon
Poisson. Other significant contributions include being the first to prove the Fermat polygonal number theorem.
Complex functions
Cauchy is most famous for his single-handed development of complex function theory. The first pivotal theorem
proved by Cauchy, now known as Cauchy's integral theorem, was the following:
where f(z) is a complex-valued function holomorphic on and within the non-self-intersecting closed curve C
(contour) lying in the complex plane. The contour integral is taken along the contour C. The rudiments of this
theorem can already be found in a paper that the 24-year-old Cauchy presented to the Acad•mie des Sciences (then
still called "First Class of the Institute") on August 11, 1814. In full form
the theorem was given in 1825. The 1825
paper is seen by many as Cauchy's most important contribution to mathematics.
In 1826
Cauchy gave a formal definition of a residue of a function. This concept regards functions that have
polesˆisolated singularities, i.e., points where a function goes to positive or negative infinity. If the complex-valued
function f(z) can be expanded in the neighborhood of a singularity a as
where á(z) is analytic (i.e., well-behaved without singularities), then f is said to have a pole of order n in the point a.
If n = 1, the pole is called simple. The coefficient B
is called by Cauchy the residue of function f at a. If f is
non-singular at a then the residue of f is zero at a. Clearly the residue is in the case of a simple pole equal to,
where we replaced B
by the modern notation of the residue.
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
In 1831, while in Turin, Cauchy submitted two papers to the Academy of Sciences of Turin. In the first
proposed the formula now known as Cauchy's integral formula,
where f(z) is analytic on C and within the region bounded by the contour C and the complex number a is somewhere
in this region. The contour integral is taken counter-clockwise. Clearly, the integrand has a simple pole at z = a. In
the second paper
he presented the residue theorem,
where the sum is over all the n poles of f(z) on and within the contour C. These results of Cauchy's still form the core
of complex function theory as it is taught today to physicists and electrical engineers. For quite some time,
contemporaries of Cauchy ignored his theory, believing it to be too complicated. Only in the 1840s the theory started
to get response, with Pierre-Alphonse Laurent being the first mathematician, besides Cauchy, making a substantial
contribution (his Laurent series published in 1843).
Cours d'Analyse
The title page of a textbook by Cauchy.
In addition to his work on complex functions, Cauchy was the first to
stress the importance of rigor in analysis. His book Cours d'Analyse
had a such an impact that Judith Grabiner writes Cauchy was "the man
who taught rigorous analysis to all of Europe."(Grabiner 1981) This
book is frequently noted as being the first place that inequalities, and
arguments were introduced into Calculus. Cauchy exploited
infinitesimals and wrote in his introduction that he has been "... unable
to dispense with making the principal qualities of infinitely small
quantities known...". M. Barany claims that the Ácole mandated the
inclusion of infinitesimal methods against Cauchy's better judgement
(Barany 2011). Gilain argued that the infinitesimal portions of the book
were likely a late insertion.(Gilain 1989) Laugwitz (1989) and
Benis-Sinaceur (1973) argued that Cauchy was not forced to teach
infinitesimals, pointing out that he continued to use them in his own
work as late as 1853.
Cauchy gave an explicit definition of an infinitesimal in terms of a
sequence tending to zero. Namely, such a null sequence "becomes" an
infinitesimal in Cauchy's and Lazare Carnot's terminology. Sources
disagree if Cauchy defined his notion of infinitesimal in terms of limits. Some have argued that such a claim is
ambiguous, and essentially a play of words on the term "limit". Similarly, some sources contest the claim that
Cauchy anticipated Weierstrassian rigor, and point out internal contradictions in post-Weierstrassian Cauchy
scholarship relative to Cauchy's 1853 text on the sum theorem.
recently argued that Cauchy possessed a kinetic notion of limit similar to Newton's. Regardless of how
Cauchy viewed the rigor of using infinitesimal methods, these methods continued in practice long after Cours
d'Analyse both by Cauchy and other mathematicians and can be justified by modern techniques.
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
Taylor's theorem
He was the first to prove Taylor's theorem rigorously, establishing his well-known form of the remainder. He wrote a
(see the illustration) for his students at the Ácole Polytechnique in which he developed the basic
theorems of mathematical analysis as rigorously as possible. In this book he gave the necessary and sufficient
condition for the existence of a limit in the form that is still taught. Also Cauchy's well-known test for absolute
convergence stems from this book: Cauchy condensation test. In 1829 he defined for the first time a complex
function of a complex variable in another textbook.
In spite of these, Cauchy's own research papers often used
intuitive, not rigorous, methods;
thus one of his theorems was exposed to a "counter-example" by Abel, later
fixed by the introduction of the notion of uniform continuity.
Argument principle, stability
In a paper published in 1855, two years before Cauchy's death, he discussed some theorems, one of which is similar
to the "Argument Principle" in many modern textbooks on complex analysis. In modern control theory textbooks, the
Cauchy argument principle is quite frequently used to derive the Nyquist stability criterion, which can be used to
predict the stability of negative feedback amplifier and negative feedback control systems. Thus Cauchy's work has a
strong impact on both pure mathematics and practical engineering.
Cauchy was very productive, in number of papers second only to Leonhard Euler. It took almost a century to collect
all his writings into 27 large volumes:
€ Oeuvres compl‰tes d'Augustin Cauchy publiƒes sous la direction scientifique de l'Acadƒmie des sciences et sous
les auspices de M. le ministre de l'Instruction publique (27 volumes)
(Paris : Gauthier-Villars et fils,
His greatest contributions to mathematical science are enveloped in the rigorous methods which he introduced; these
are mainly embodied in his three great treatises:
€ Cours d'analyse de l'ˆcole royale polytechnique
€ Le Calcul infinitƒsimal (1823)
€ Le˜ons sur les applications de calcul infinitƒsimal; La gƒomƒtrie (1826•1828)
His other works include:
€ Exercices d'analyse et de physique mathematique (Volume 1)
€ Exercices d'analyse et de physique mathematique (Volume 2)
€ Exercices d'analyse et de physique mathematique (Volume 3)
€ Exercices d'analyse et de physique mathematique (Volume 4)
(Paris: Bachelier, 1840•1847)
€ Analyse alg‰brique
(Imprimerie Royale, 1821)
€ Nouveaux exercices de mathƒmatiques
(Paris : Gauthier-Villars, 1895)
€ Courses of mechanics (for the Ácole Polytechnique)
€ Higher algebra (for the Facult• des Sciences)
€ Mathematical physics (for the Coll½ge de France).
€ Mƒmoire sur l'emploi des equations symboliques dans le calcul infinitƒsimal et dans le calcul aux diffƒrences finis
CR Ac ad. Sci. Paris, t. XVII, 449-458 (1843) credited as originating the operational calculus.
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
Politics and religious beliefs
Augustin Louis Cauchy grew up in the house of a staunch royalist. This made his father flee with the family to
Arcueil during the French Revolution. Their life there was apparently hard; Augustin-Louis's father, Louis FranÀois,
spoke of living on rice, bread, and crackers during the period. A paragraph from an undated letter from Louis
FranÀois to his mother in Rouen says:
We never had more than a half pound of bread ˆ and sometimes not even that. This we supplement with little
supply of hard crackers and rice that we are allotted. Otherwise, we are getting along quite well, which is the
important thing and goes to show that human beings can get by with little. I should tell you that for my
children's pap I still have a bit of fine flour, made from wheat that I grew on my own land. I had three bushels,
and I also have a few pounds of potato starch. It is as white as snow and very good, too, especially for very
young children. It, too, was grown on my own land.
In any event, he inherited his father's staunch royalism and hence refused to take oaths to any government after the
overthrow of Charles X.
He was an equally staunch Catholic and a member of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.
He also had links to
the Society of Jesus and defended them at the Academy when it was politically unwise to do so. His zeal for his faith
may have led to his caring for Charles Hermite during his illness and leading Hermite to become a faithful Catholic.
It also inspired Cauchy to plead on behalf of the Irish during the Potato Famine.
His royalism and religious zeal also made him contentious, which caused difficulties with his colleagues. He felt that
he was mistreated for his beliefs, but his opponents felt he intentionally provoked people by berating them over
religious matters or by defending the Jesuits after they had been suppressed. Niels Henrik Abel called him a "bigoted
Catholic" and added he was "mad and there is nothing that can be done about him," but at the same time praised him
as a mathematician. Cauchy's views were widely unpopular among mathematicians and when Guglielmo Libri
Carucci dalla Sommaja was made chair in mathematics before him he, and many others, felt his views were the
cause. When Libri was accused of stealing books he was replaced by Joseph Liouville which caused a rift between
him and Cauchy. Another dispute concerned Jean Marie Constant Duhamel and a claim on inelastic shocks. Cauchy
was later shown, by Jean-Victor Poncelet, that he was in the wrong.
[1] [1] Freudenthal 2008
[2] [2] His father's dismissal is sometimes seen as the cause of the deep hatred of the French Revolution that Cauchy felt all through his life.
[3] In the revolutionary years the French Acadƒmie des Sciences was known as the "First Class" of the Institut de France.
[4] Bradley & Sandifer page 9
[5] Belhoste, Bruno (1991). Augustin-Louis Cauchy: A Biography (http:/ / www. amazon. com/
Augustin-Louis-Studies-Mathematics-Physical-Sciences/ dp/ 354097220X/ ref=sr_11_1?). Ann Arbor, Michigan: Springer-Verlag New York
Inc.. p. 134. ISBN 3-540-97220-X.. .
[6] Cauchy, De la pression ou tension dans un corps solide, [On the pressure or tension in a solid body], Exercices de Math•matiques, vol. 2, p.
42 (1827)
[7] Cauchy, Mƒmoire sur les intƒgrales dƒfinies prises entre des limites imaginaires [Memorandum on definite integrals taken between imaginary
limits], submitted to the Acad•mie des Sciences on February 28, 1825
[8] Cauchy, Sur un nouveau genre de calcul analogue au calcul infinitƒsimal [On a new type of calculus analogous to the infinitesimal calculus],
Exercices de Math•matique, vol. 1, p. 11 (1826)
[9] Cauchy, Sur la mƒcanique cƒleste et sur un nouveau calcul qui s'applique ‡ un grande nombre de questions diverses [On the celestial
mechanics and on a new calculus that can be applied to a great number of diverse questions], presented to the Academy of Sciences of Turin,
October 11, 1831.
[10] Cauchy, Mƒmoire sur les rapports qui existent entre le calcul des Rƒsidus et le calcul des Limites, et sur les avantages qu'offrent ces deux
calculs dans la rƒsolution des ƒquations algƒbriques ou transcendantes Memorandum on the connections that exist between the residue
calculus and the limit calculus, and on the advantages that these two calculi offer in solving algebraic and transcendental equations], presented
to the Academy of Sciences of Turin, November 27, 1831.
[11] Katz, Karin Usadi; Katz, Mikhail G. (2011), "Cauchy's continuum", Perspectives on Science 19 (4): 426•452, doi:10.1162/POSC_a_00047,
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
[12] Borovik, Alexandre; Katz, Mikhail G. (2011), "Who gave you the Cauchy--Weierstrass tale? The dual history of rigorous calculus",
Foundations of Science (4), doi:10.1007/s10699-011-9235-x.
[13] Katz, Karin Usadi; Katz, Mikhail G. (2011), "Cauchy's continuum", Perspectives on Science 19 (4): 426•452, doi:10.1162/POSC_a_00047.
[14] Barany, M. J.: revisiting the introduction to Cauchy's Cours d'analyse. Historia Mathematica 38 (2011), no. 3, 368--388. http:/ / dx. doi. org/
10. 1016/ j.hm.2010.12.001
[15] Cauchy, Cours d'Analyse de l'Ácole Royale Polytechnique, I.
partie, Analyse Alg•brique, Paris (1821)
[16] [16] Cauchy, LeÀons sur le Calcul Diff•rentiel, Paris (1829)
[17] Morris Kline, Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty, ISBN 0-19-503085-0, p. 176
[18] http:/ / portail.mathdoc. fr/ cgi-bin/ oetoc?id=OE_CAUCHY_1_8
[19] http:/ / mathdoc. emath. fr/ cgi-bin/ oeitem?id=OE_CAUCHY_2_3_P5_0
[20] http:/ / www.archive. org/ details/ exercicedanaly01caucrich
[21] http:/ / www.archive. org/ details/ exercicedanaly02caucrich
[22] http:/ / www.archive. org/ details/ exercicedanaly03caucrich
[23] http:/ / www.archive. org/ details/ 117770570_004
[24] http:/ / gallica. bnf.fr/ notice?N=FRBNF35030140
[25] http:/ / gallica. bnf.fr/ notice?N=FRBNF37281629
[26] http:/ / gallica. bnf.fr/ ark:/ 12148/ bpt6k90188b/ f34
[27] C. A. Valson. La Vie et les Travaux du baron Cauchy (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=vQ7tw0rVKPsC), v. 1, p. 13.
[28] Belhoste, Bruno (1991). Augustin-Louis Cauchy: A Biography (http:/ / www. amazon. com/
Augustin-Louis-Studies-Mathematics-Physical-Sciences/ dp/ 354097220X/ ref=sr_11_1?). Ann Arbor, Michigan: Springer-Verlag New York
Inc.. p. 3. ISBN 3-540-97220-X.. .
[29] "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Augustin-Louis Cauchy" (http:/ / www. newadvent. org/ cathen/ 03457a. htm). Newadvent.org.
1908-11-01. . Retrieved 2009-06-19.
€ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cauchy,
Augustin Louis". Encyclop„dia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
€ This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article "Augustin-Louis Cauchy", which is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.
Further reading
€ Barany, Michael (2011), "God, king, and geometry: revisiting the introduction to Cauchy's Cours d'analyse",
Historia Mathematica 38
€ Bradley, Robert E. and C. Edward Sandifer, Cauchy's Cours d'analyse: An Annotated Translation; Springer,
2009; ISBN 1-4419-0548-0
€€ Boyer, C.: The concepts of the calculus. Hafner Publishing Company, 1949.
€ Cauchy, Augustin-Louis, Cours d'analyse de l'Ecole Royale Polytechnique; Imprimerie royale, 1821 (reissued by
Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN 978-1-108-00208-0)
€ Cauchy, Augustin-Louis, Oeuvres completes; Gauthier-Villars, 1882 (reissued by Cambridge University Press,
2009; ISBN 978-1-108-00317-9)
€ Freudenthal, Hans (2008). "Cauchy, Augustin-Louis." (http:/ / www. encyclopedia. com/ topic/
Augustin-Louis_Cauchy. aspx#1). In Gillispie, Charles. Dictionary of Scientific Biography. New York: Scribner
& American Council of Learned Societies. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9.
€ Benis-Sinaceur Hourya. Cauchy et Bolzano. In: Revue d'histoire des sciences. 1973, Tome 26 nª2. pp. 97•112.
€ Laugwitz, D. (1989), "Definite values of infinite sums: aspects of the foundations of infinitesimal analysis around
1820", Arch. Hist. Exact Sci. 39 (3): 195•245, doi:10.1007/BF00329867.
€ Gilain, C. (1989), "Cauchy et le Course d'Analyse de l'Ácole Polytechnique", Bulletin de la Sociƒtƒ des amis de la
Biblioth‰que de l'ˆcole polytechnique 5: 3•145
€ Grabiner, J. V. (1981), The Origins of Cauchy's Rigorous Calculus, Cambridge, MA.: The MIT press
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
External links
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Augustin-Louis Cauchy" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac.
uk/ Biographies/ Cauchy. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Cauchy criterion for convergence (http:/ / planetmath. org/ encyclopedia/ CauchyCriterionForConvergence. html)
€ ™uvres compl‰tes d'Augustin Cauchy (http:/ / www. archive. org/ details/ oeuvresdaugusti01caucrich) Acad•mie
des sciences (France). Minist½re de l'•ducation nationale.
€ Augustin-Louis Cauchy - ãuvres compl½tes (http:/ / portail. mathdoc. fr/ cgi-bin/ oetoc?id=OE_CAUCHY_1_1)
(in 2 series) Gallica-Math
€ Augustin-Louis Cauchy (http:/ / genealogy. math. ndsu. nodak. edu/ id. php?id=55177) at the Mathematics
Genealogy Project
€ Augustin-Louis Cauchy • Cauchy's Life (http:/ / math. berkeley. edu/ ~robin/ Cauchy/ ) by Robin Hartshorne
€ Th. M. Rassias, Topics in Mathematical Analysis, A Volume Dedicated to the Memory of A. L. Cauchy (http:/ /
www. worldscibooks. com/ mathematics/ 0659. html), World Scientific Co., Singapore, New Jersey, London,
€  "Cauchy, Augustin Louis". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
Nikolai Lobachevsky
Nikolai Lobachevsky
Nikolai Lobachevsky
Portrait by Lev Kryukov (c.1843)
Born December 1, 1792
Nizhny Novgorod, Russian Empire
Died February 24, 1856 (aged 63)
Kazan, Russian Empire
Nationality Russian
Fields Geometry
Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky (Russian: îïðñòó£ô õöó£÷ñöïø ùñúóøû£öüðïô) (December 1, 1792 • February 24,
1856 (N.S.); November 20, 1792 • February 12, 1856 (O.S.)) was a Russian mathematician and geometer, known
primarily for his work on hyperbolic geometry, otherwise known as Lobachevskian geometry. William Kingdon
Clifford called Lobachevsky the "Copernicus of Geometry" due to the revolutionary character of his work.
Nikolai Lobachevsky was born in Makariev near Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) in 1792 to parents of Polish origin -
Ivan Maksimovich Lobachevsky and Praskovia Alexandrovna Lobachevskaya.
He was one of three children.
His father, a clerk in a land surveying office, died when he was seven, and his mother moved to Kazan. Lobachevsky
attended Kazan Gymnasium from 1802, graduating in 1807 and then received a scholarship to Kazan
which was founded just three years earlier in 1804.
At Kazan University, Lobachevsky was influenced by professor Johann Christian Martin Bartels, a former teacher
and friend of German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss.
Lobachevsky received a Master's degree in physics and
mathematics in 1811. In 1814, he became a lecturer at Kazan University, in 1816 he was promoted to associate
professor, and in 1822, at the age of 30, he became a full professor,
teaching mathematics, physics, and
He served in many administrative positions and became the rector of Kazan University
in 1827. In
1832, he married Varvara Alexeyevna Moiseyeva. They had a large number of children (eighteen according to his
son's memoirs, while only seven apparently survived into adulthood). He was dismissed from the university in 1846,
ostensibly due to his deteriorating health: by the early 1850s, he was nearly blind and unable to walk. He died in
poverty in 1856.
Nikolai Lobachevsky
Lobachevsky's main achievement is the development (independently from JÑnos Bolyai) of a non-Euclidean
also referred to as Lobachevskian geometry. In contrast to Bolyai's work, Lobachevsky's work
contained only hyperbolic geometry. Before him, mathematicians were trying to deduce Euclid's fifth postulate from
other axioms. Euclid's fifth is a rule in Euclidean geometry which states (in John Playfair's reformulation) that for
any given line and point not on the line, there is one parallel line through the point not intersecting the line.
Lobachevsky would instead develop a geometry in which the fifth postulate was not true. This idea was first reported
on February 23 (Feb. 11, O.S.), 1826 to the session of the department of physics and mathematics, and this research
was printed in the UMA (ýûüþ÷ïð ÿóзó÷üðñгñ у÷ïöûрüïþûþó) in 1829•1830. Lobachevsky wrote a paper about it
called A concise outline of the foundations of geometry that was published by the Kazan Messenger but was rejected
when it was submitted to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences for publication.
The non-Euclidean geometry that Lobachevsky developed is referred to as hyperbolic geometry. Lobachevsky
replaced Playfair's axiom with the statement that for any given point there exists more than one line that can be
extended through that point and run parallel to another line of which that point is not part. He developed the angle of
parallelism which depends on the distance the point is off the given line. In hyperbolic geometry the sum of angles in
a hyperbolic triangle must be less than 180 degrees. Non-Euclidean geometry stimulated the development of
differential geometry which has many applications. Hyperbolic geometry is frequently referred to as "Lobachevskian
geometry" or "Bolyai-Lobachevskian geometry".
Some mathematicians and historians have wrongfully claimed that Lobachevsky in his studies in non-Euclidean
geometry was influenced by Gauss, which is untrue - Gauss himself appreciated Lobachevsky's published works
very highly, but they never had personal correspondence between them prior to the publication. In fact out of the
three people that can be credited with discovery of hyperbolic geometry - Gauss, Lobachevsky and Bolyai,
Lobachevsky rightfully deserves having his name attached to it, since Gauss never published his ideas and out of the
latter two Lobachevsky was the first who duly presented his views to the world mathematical community.
Lobachevsky's magnum opus Geometriya was completed in 1823, but was not published in its exact original form
until 1909, long after he had died. Lobachevsky was also the author of New Foundations of Geometry (1835•1838).
He also wrote Geometrical Investigations on the Theory of Parallels (1840)
and Pangeometry (1855).
Another of Lobachevsky's achievements was developing a method for the approximation of the roots of algebraic
equations. This method is now known as the Dandelin•Gr¤ffe method, named after two other mathematicians who
discovered it independently. In Russia, it is called the Lobachevsky method. Lobachevsky gave the definition of a
function as a correspondence between two sets of real numbers (Dirichlet gave the same definition independently
soon after Lobachevsky).
E.T.Bell in his book Men of Mathematics wrote about Lobachevsky's influence on the following development of
The boldness of his challenge and its successful outcome have inspired mathematicians and scientists in
general to challenge other 'axioms' or accepted 'truths', for example the 'law' of causality which, for
centuries, have seemed as necessary to straight thinking as Euclid's postulate appeared till
Lobatchewsky discarded it. The full impact of the Lobatchewskian method of challenging axioms has
probably yet to be felt. It is no exaggeration to call Lobatchewsky the Copernicus of Geometry, for
geometry is only a part of the vaster domain which he renovated; it might even be just to designate him
as a Copernicus of all thought.
Nikolai Lobachevsky
€€ Kagan V.F.(ed.): N.I.Lobachevsky - Complete Collected Works, Vols I-IV (Russian), Moscow-Leningrad
(GITTL) 1946-51
€ Vol.I Geometrical investigations on the theory of parallel lines; On the foundations of geometry (1829•30).
€ Vol.II New foundations of geometry with a complete theory of parallels. (1835•38)
€€ Vol.III Imaginary geometry (1835); Application of imaginary geometry to certain integrals (1836);
Pangeometry (1856).
€€ Vol.IV Works on other subjects.
English translations
€€ Geometrical investigations on the theory of parallel lines. Halstead G.N.(tr) 1891. Reprinted in Bonola:
NonEuclidean Geometry 1912, Dover reprint 1955.
€ Pangeometry. D.E. Smith: Source Book of Mathematics. McGraw Hill. Dover reprint
€€ Nikolai I. Lobachevsky, Pangeometry, Translator and Editor: A. Papadopoulos, Heritage of European
Mathematics Series, Vol. 4, European Mathematical Society, 2010.
In popular culture
Annual celebration of Lobachevsky's birthday by
participants of Volga's student Mathematical
€ Lobachevsky is the subject of songwriter/mathematician Tom
Lehrer's humorous song "Lobachevsky" from his Songs by Tom
Lehrer album. In the song, Lehrer portrays a Russian mathematician
who sings about how Lobachevsky influenced him: "And who made
me a big success / and brought me wealth and fame? / Nikolai
Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name." Lobachevsky's secret to
mathematical success is given as "Plagiarize!", as long as one is
always careful to "call it, please, research". According to Lehrer, the
song is "not intended as a slur on [Lobachevsky's] character" and
the name was chosen "solely for prosodic reasons".
€ In Poul Anderson's 1969 fantasy novella "Operation Changeling" •
which was later expanded into the fix-up novel Operation Chaos (1971) • a group of sorcerers navigate a
non-Euclidean universe with the assistance of the ghosts of Lobachevsky and Bolyai. The story also contains the
line, "Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name," possibly a nod to the Tom Lehrer song.
€ Roger Zelazny's science fiction novel Doorways in the Sand contains a poem dedicated to Lobachevsky.
€ 1858 Lobachevsk, an asteroid discovered in 1972, was named in his honour.
[1] E. T., Bell (1986). Men of Mathematics. Touchstone Books. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-671-62818-5. Author attributes this quote to another
mathematician, William Kingdon Clifford.
[2] This is a quote from G. B. Halsted's translator's preface to his 1914 translation of The Theory of Parallels: "What Vesalius was to Galen, what
Copernicus was to Ptolemy that was Lobachevsky to Euclid. • W. K. Clifford
[3] Victor J. Katz. A history of mathematics: Introduction. Addison-Wesley. 2009. p. 842.
[4] Stephen Hawking. God Created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs that Changed History. Running Press. 2007. pp. 697-703.
[5] Ivan Maksimovich Lobachevsky (Jan Łobaczewski in Polish) came from a Polish noble family of Jastrzębiec and Łada coats of arms, and
was classified as a Pole in Russian official documents; Jan Ciechanowicz. Miko›aj œobaczewski - tw†rca pangeometrii. Rocznik Wschodni.
Issue 7-9. 2002. p. 163.
[6] "Lobachevsky biography" (http:/ / www-history. mcs.st-andrews. ac. uk/ Biographies/ Lobachevsky. html). History.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk. .
Retrieved 2012-12-17.
Nikolai Lobachevsky
[7] "The 1914 English translation by George Bruce Halsted is available at" (http:/ / quod. lib. umich. edu/ cgi/ t/ text/
text-idx?c=umhistmath;idno=AAN2339). Quod.lib.umich.edu. . Retrieved 2012-12-17.
[8] "The 1902 German translation by Heinrich Liebmann is available at" (http:/ / quod. lib. umich. edu/ cgi/ t/ text/
text-idx?c=umhistmath;idno=ABR5311). Quod.lib.umich.edu. . Retrieved 2012-12-17.
[9] E. T., Bell (1986). Men of Mathematics. Touchstone Books. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-671-62818-5.
[10] [10] Liner notes, "The Tom Lehrer Collection", Shout! Factory, 2010
External links
€ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Nikolai Lobachevsky" (http:/ / www-history. mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/
Biographies/ Lobachevsky. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
€ Works by or about Nikolai Lobachevsky (http:/ / worldcat. org/ identities/ lccn-n84-802726) in libraries
(WorldCat catalog)
€ Web site dedicated to Lobachevsky (http:/ / www. lobachevsky. com) (Spanish)
€ Nikolaj Ivanovič Lobačevskij - ãuvres compl½tes, tome 2 (http:/ / portail. mathdoc. fr/ cgi-bin/
oetoc?id=OE_LOBACHEVSKY__2) Gallica-Math
€ Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod (http:/ / www. unn. ru/ eng/ )
Niels Henrik Abel
Niels Henrik Abel
Niels Henrik Abel
Niels Henrik Abel
Born 5 August 1802
Nedstrand, Norway
Died 6 April 1829 (aged 26)
Froland, Norway
Residence Norway
Nationality Norwegian
Fields Mathematics
Alma mater Royal Frederick University
Known for Abelian function
Abelian group
Abel's theorem
Influences Bernt Michael Holmboe
Niels Henrik Abel (5 August 1802 • 6 April 1829) was a Norwegian mathematician
who proved the impossibility
of solving the quintic equation by radicals. The Abel Prize is named for him.
Early life
SÍren Georg Abel
Niels Henrik Abel
Anne Marie Abel
Niels Henrik Abel was born in Nedstrand, Norway, as second child to SÍren Georg Abel and Anne Marie Simonsen.
When he was born, the family was living at the rectory at FinnÍy. Much suggests that Niels Henrik was born in the
neighboring parish, as his parents were guests of the bailiff in Nedstrand in July / August of his year of birth.
Niels Henrik Abel's father, SÍren Georg Abel, had a degree in theology and philosophy and served as pastor at
FinnÍy. SÍren's father, Niels's grandfather, Hans Mathias Abel, was also a pastor, at Gjerstad near RisÍr. SÍren had
spent his childhood at Gjerstad, and had also served as chaplain there; and after his father's death in 1804, SÍren was
appointed pastor at Gjerstad and the family moved there.
Postcard of Gjerstad church and rectory in
1890•95. The main building of the rectory was
the same as when Abel lived here.
Anne Marie Simonsen was from RisÍr; her father, Niels Henrik Saxild
Simonsen, was a tradesman and merchant ship-owner, and said to be
the richest person in RisÍr. Anne Marie had grown up with two
stepmothers, in relatively luxurious surroundings. At Gjerstad rectory,
she enjoyed arranging balls and social gatherings. Much suggests she
was early on an alcoholic and took little interest in the upbringing of
the children.
Niels Henrik and his brothers were given their
schooling by their father, with handwritten books to read. Interestingly,
an addition table in a book of mathematics reads: 1+0=0.
Cathedral School and Royal Frederick University
With Norwegian independence and the first election held in Norway, in 1814, SÍren Abel was elected as a
representative to the Storting. Meetings of the Storting were held until 1866 in the main hall of the Cathedral School
in Christiania (now known as Oslo). Almost certainly, this is how he came into contact with the school, and he
decided that his eldest son, Hans Mathias, should start there the following year. However, when the time for his
departure approached, Hans was so saddened and depressed over having to leave home that his father did not dare
send him away. He decided to send Niels instead.
In 1815, Niels Abel entered the Cathedral School at the age of 13. His elder brother Hans joined him there a year
later. They shared rooms and had classes together. In general, Hans got better grades than Niels; however, a new
mathematics teacher, Bernt Michael Holmboe, was appointed in 1818. He gave the students mathematical tasks to do
at hom