Friday, 28 October 2011

On This Day in Math - Oct 28

"Big Fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
and little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so ad infinitum.
~Augustus De Morgan

The 301st day of the year; 301 is the sum of three consecutive primes starting at 97


EVENTS
1386 Opening of the University of Heidelberg. It is the oldest university in Germany and was the third university established in the Holy Roman Empire. *Wik

1462 Archbishop Adolph of Nassau captured the city of Maintz and allowed his soldiers to plunder the city. This forced Gutenberg and his printers to flee, but rather than nipping printing in the bud, it forced its spread to Strasburg, Cologne, Basel, Augsburg, Ulm, Nuremberg, Subiaco, and by 1470, Paris. [G. H. Putnam, Books and Their Makers During the Middle Ages (1896),
p. 372]. *VFR

1636 Harvard College founded. The only mathematical master’s thesis in the U.S. before 1700 was at Harvard. This was in 1693 when the candidate took the affirmative position on “Is the quadrature of a circle possible?”. *VFR

1886 The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor. The sculptur Bartholin was present. The statue had almost been moved to another city when there was not enough interest in New York to pay the cost of building the pedestal. Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the World, a New York newspaper, announced a drive to raise $100,000 (the equivalent of $2.3 million today). Pulitzer pledged to print the name of every contributor, no matter how small the amount given.The drive captured the imagination of New Yorkers, especially when Pulitzer began publishing the notes he received from contributors. "A young girl alone in the world" donated "60 cents, the result of self denial." As the donations flooded in, the committee resumed work on the pedestal. After five months of daily calls to donate to the statue fund, on August 11, 1885, the World announced that $102,000 had been raised from 120,000 donors, and that 80 percent of the total had been received in sums of less than one dollar. *Wik

1957 Only three weeks after Sputnik went into space, young Denis Cox in Victoria, Australia sent a design for a spaceship addressed, "TO A TOP SCIENTIST AT Woomera ROCKET RANGE South Australia." His design included locations for Austalian Insignia, four Rolls Royce Engines, guided missiles, etc, but advised the scientists, "YOU PUT IN OTHER DETAILS". The letter can be seen here at the Letters of Note web site Edited by Shaun Usher.
On September 24, 2009, an article on ABC Australia's web page indicated that "The Defence Science Technology Organisation is now finally organising a letter from rocket scientists in response to the letter."
In 1965, the Gateway Arch (630' (190m) high) was completed in St. Louis, Missouri. This graceful sweeping tapered curve of stainless steel is the tallest memorial in the U.S. The architect of the catenary curve arch was Eero Saarinen who won the design competition in 1947. It was constructed 1961-66 in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park, established on the banks of the Mississippi River, on 21 Dec 1935, to commemorate the westward growth of the United States between 1803 and 1890. Cost for the $30 million national monument was shared by the federal government and the City of St. Louis. The memorial arch has an observation room at the top for visitors reached by trams running inside the legs of the arch.*TIS

BIRTHS
1703 Antoine Deparcieux (28 Oct 1703 in Clotet-de-Cessous, France - 2 Sept 1768 in Paris, France) was a French mathematician who is best known for an early work on annuities and mortality.*SAU

1804 Pierre François Verhulst (28 October 1804, Brussels, Belgium – 15 February 1849, Brussels, Belgium) was a mathematician and a doctor in number theory from the University of Ghent in 1825. Verhulst published in 1838 the equation:

dN/dt = r N (1-N/k)

when N(t) represents number of individuals at time t, r the intrinsic growth rate and k is the carrying capacity, or the maximum number of individuals that the environment can support. In a paper published in 1845 he called the solution to this the logistic function, and the equation is now called the logistic equation. This model was rediscovered in 1920 by Raymond Pearl and Lowell Reed, who promoted its wide and indiscriminate use.*Wik

1845 Ulisse Dini (14 Nov 1845 in Pisa, Italy - 28 Oct 1918 in Pisa, Italy) Dini looked at infinite series and generalised results such as a theorem of Kummer and one of Riemann, the ideas for which had first emerged in work of Dirichlet. He discovered a condition, now known as the Dini condition, ensuring the convergence of a Fourier series in terms of the convergence of a definite integral. As well as trigonometric series, Dini studied results on potential theory. *SAU

1880 Michele Cipolla (born 28 October 1880 in Palermo; died 7 September 1947 in Palermo) was an Italian mathematician, mainly specializing in number theory.
He was a professor of Algebraic Analysis at the University of Catania and, later, the University of Palermo. He developed (among other things) a theory for sequences of sets and Cipolla's algorithm for finding square roots modulo a prime number. He also solved the problem of binomial congruence.*Wik

1937 Dr. Marcian Edward (Ted) Hoff, Jr. was born October 28, 1937 at Rochester, New York. He received a BEE (1958) from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. During the summers away from college he worked for General Railway Signal Company in Rochester where he made developments that produced his first two patents. He attended Stanford as a National Science Foundation Fellow and received a MS (1959) and Ph.D. (1962) in electrical engineering. He joined Intel in 1962. In 1980, he was named the first Intel Fellow, the highest technical position in the company. He spent a brief time as VP for Technology with Atari in the early 1980s and is currently VP and Chief Technical Officer with Teklicon, Inc. Other honors include the Stuart Ballantine Medal from the Franklin Institute.*CHM

1955 Bill Gates, cofounder and CEO of Microsoft Corporation, was born. Gates developed a version of BASIC for the Altair 8800 while being a student at Harvard. With the success of BASIC, he and co-developer Paul Allen​ founded Microsoft, which delivered an operating system for the IBM PC​, the Microsoft Word​ word processing program, the Window system software, and other programs. *CHM


DEATHS
1703 John Wallis (23 Nov 1616, 28 Oct 1703) British mathematician who introduced the infinity math symbol. Wallis was skilled in cryptography and decoded Royalist messages for the Parliamentarians during the Civil War. Subsequently, he was appointed to the Savilian Chair of geometry at Oxford in 1649, a position he held until his death more than 50 years later. Wallis was part of a group interested in natural and experimental science which became the Royal Society, so Wallis is a founder member of the Royal Society and one of its first Fellows. Wallis contributed substantially to the origins of calculus and was the most influential English mathematician before Newton. *TIS

1916 Cleveland Abbe (3 Dec 1838, 28 Oct 1916) U.S. astronomer and first meteorologist, born in New York City, the "father of the U.S. Weather Bureau," which was later renamed the National Weather Service. Abbe inaugurated a private weather reporting and warning service at Cincinnati. His weather reports or bulletins began to be issued on Sept. 1, 1869. The Weather Service of the United States was authorized by Congress on 9 Feb 1870, and placed under the direction of the Signal Service. Abbe was the only person in the country who was already experienced in drawing weather maps from telegraphic reports and forecasting from them. Naturally, he was offered an important position in this new service which he accepted, beginning 3 Jan 1871, and was often the official forecaster of the weather.*TIS

1924 John Backus (3 Dec 1924, 28 Oct 1988) American computer scientist who invented the FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation) programming language in the mid 1950s. He had previously developed an assembly language for IBM's 701 computer when he suggested the development of a compiler and higher level language for the IBM 704. As the first high-level computer programming language, FORTRAN was able to convert standard mathematical formulas and expressions into the binary code used by computers. Thus a non-specialist could write a program in familiar words and symbols, and different computers could use programs generated in the same language. This paved the way for other computer languages such as COBOL, ALGOL and BASIC. *TIS

1965 Luther Pfahler Eisenhart (13 January 1876 – 28 October 1965) was an American mathematician, best known today for his contributions to semi-Riemannian geometry.*Wik

1986 Irving Reiner was an American mathematician who (with Curtis) produced an important book on group representations.*SAU


Credits
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum
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