Famous Mathematicians of the past



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Famous Mathematicians of the past.

  • Michelle Paluch
  • Math 303
  • Fall 2005

Pythagoras of Samos 569-475 BC.

  • He is considered to be the first pure mathematician.
  • He was born in 569 BC to a merchant from Tyre. As a child he was very well educated.
  • Little is known about his mathematical acheivements because he and his society followed a code of secrecy.

Pythagoras Cont.

  • Developed many theorems still widely used today in mathematics including his most famous theorem : The Pythagorean Theorem which states that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides or simply:

Pythagoras Cont.

  • Also contributed to the field of Astronomy with his teachings that stated that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the planet Venus, like the sun, orbited the Earth.
  • Many of Pythagoras observations on planetary and star movement are still used today.

Archimedes (287-212 B.C.)

Archimedes Cont.

  • He is also credited with developing a mathematical system that expresses extremely large numbers expontentially.
  • In addition to his many mathematical treatises, he came up with Archimedes Principle which states that an object placed in fluid pushes up with a force equal to the mass of displaced fluid.
  • One of his greatest inventions is known as Archimedes’ Screw which is a device shaped like a cylinder with a continuous screw inside it. This device was used to raise water, sand and soil. It’s applications are still used to this day in irrigation and drainage.

Euclid of Alexandria 325-265 B.C.

  • Born in Tyre, Egygt there is little known about his life.
  • His most famous mathematical work was the treatise he wrote called Elements which consisted of thirteen books.
  • The first six books of the Elements set dealt with plane geometry and dealt with the basic properties of triangles, rectangles, parallelograms, squares and circles.

Euclid of Alexandria Cont.

  • Books seven through nine deal with the number theory and Euclidean’s Logarithm.
  • Book ten deals with the theory of irrational numbers.
  • In the last three books, Euclid talks about three-dimensional shapes and applies many of his theorems from the first four books on two-dimensional shapes.

Rene Descartes 1596-1650

  • Born on March 31, 1596 in Touraine, France.
  • He was educated at the Jesuit College of La Fleche. He entered college at the age of eight years old and remained there until he was sixteen.
  • His most famous work is considered to be La Geometrie where he applies algebra to geometry for which was considered the birth of Cartesian Geometry.

Rene Descartes Cont.

  • He is also well known for his work entitled La Meteores which was the first book to understand common weather phenomenon. This book’s applications are still being studied today.
  • Descartes also authored other works which state that the universe could be understood on a mathematical foundation.
  • Descartes died of pneumonia on February 11,1650.

Blaise Pascal 1623-1662

  • Pascal was born in Auvergne, France on June 19, 1623.
  • By the age of sixteen, he had already developed several geometric theorems and by the time he was seventeen he had already published his first work: Essay on Conic Sections.
  • He is credited with having invented the first calculator in 1645.

Blaise Pascal Cont.

  • In 1646, Pascal began studying atmospheric pressure and the following year had proof that a vacuum existed.
  • In 1648, Pascal observed that the pressure of the atmosphere decreases with height and proved that a vacuum existed above the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • In May of 1653, Pascal wrote Treatise on the Equilibrium of Liquids in which he explains his law of pressure.
  • Pascal focused most of his study on conic sections.
  • By 1653, he developed “Pascal’s Triangle” which calculates binomial coefficents.
  • Pascal died on Aug 19, 1662 of stomach cancer that spread to his brain. He was only 39 years old.


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