Sunday, 28 April 2013

On This Day in Math - April 28

One of the principal objects of theoretical research
in my department of knowledge
is to find the point of view from which
the subject appears in its greatest simplicity.
Willard Gibbs (1839 - 1903)

The 118th day of the year; 118 can be partitioned into three parts that have the same product in 4 different ways. This is the smallest number for which that is possible.

1664 Trinity College, Cambridge awards a scholarship to Isaac Newton to study for his Master's Degree, thus ending his period as a lowly sizar earning his tuition by cleaning up after wealthier students. Within months his formal education would be put on hold as the college closed under the assault of the plague.

1686 Newton shows the handwritten copy of his Principia to the Royal Society. *VFR
 28 April 1686 "Dr. Vincent presented a manuscript treatise entitled Philosophiae Naturalis principia mathematica, and dedicated to the Society by Mr. Isaac Newton,..." Minutes of the RS written by Halley clerk to the Society. (It was actually only the manuscript of Book I) *Thony Christie

1693 Leibniz, in a letter to L’Hospital, explains his discovery of determinants. This work was fifty years before that of Cramer who was the real driving force in the development of determinants. Leibniz’s work had no influence because it was not published until 1850 in his Mathematische Schriften. [Smith, Source Book, p. 267] *VFR
Leibniz was convinced that good mathematical notation was the key to progress so he experimented with different notation for coefficient systems. His unpublished manuscripts contain more than 50 different ways of writing coefficient systems which he worked on during a period of 50 years beginning in 1678. Only two publications (1700 and 1710) contain results on coefficient systems and these use the same notation as in his letter to de l'Hôpital mentioned above.
Leibniz used the word 'resultant' for certain combinatorial sums of terms of a determinant. He proved various results on resultants including what is essentially Cramer's rule. He also knew that a determinant could be expanded using any column - what is now called the Laplace expansion. As well as studying coefficient systems of equations which led him to determinants, Leibniz also studied coefficient systems of quadratic forms which led naturally towards matrix theory. In the 1730's Maclaurin wrote Treatise of algebra although it was not published until 1748, two years after his death. It contains the first published results on determinants proving Cramer's rule for 2 cross 2 and 3 cross 3 systems and indicating how the 4 cross 4 case would work. Cramer gave the general rule for n cross n systems in his book Introduction to the analysis of algebraic curves (1750). It arose out of a desire to find the equation of a plane curve passing through a number of given points. The rule appears in an Appendix to the book but no proof is given] *SAU (edited and corrected with suggestions by Dave Renfro)
Dave adds:   a 715 page book (xxiii + 680 + xii pages), which is freely available on the internet. Cramer's rule itself appears in Appendix 2 (pp. 657-676). Cramer's book itself was motivated by Newton's work in classifying cubic curves, and I believe he was one of three mathematicians that devoted an extensive study to Newton's classification in the 1700s. (I don't remember who the other two were, but I believe one of them was Euler.) There is an excellent annotated and translation of Newton's work published in 1860 and freely available on the internet:

"Sir Isaac Newton's Enumeration of Lines of the Third Order, Generation of
Curves by Shadows, Organic Description of Curves, and Construction of
Equations by Curves", Translated from the Latin, with notes and examples,
by C.R.M. Talbot, 1860.
Thanks again to Dave for the corrections.

1817 Gauss wrote the astronomer H. W. M. Olbers, “I am becoming more and more convinced that the necessity of our [Euclidean] geometry cannot be proved, at least not by human intellect nor for the human intellect.” [G. E. Martin, Foundations of Geometry and the Non-Euclidean Plane, p. 306] *VFR

1983 Greece issued a stamp portraying Archimedes and his Hydrostatic Principle

1897 In a letter to Fuchs, Dedekind expressed skepticism of a tale about Gauss attmpting to light his pipe with a copy of his DA
Schering in Gottingen in response to a note from Fuchs that he had found materials related to Guass' Disquisitiones Arithmetica in the papers of Dirichlet had described a story that he had shared with Kronecker a decade before,
"The piece of Guass's Disquisitiones Arithmeticiae, which is found among Dirichlet's papers, is probably that portion which, as Dirichlet told me himself, he saved from the hand of Gauss when the latter lit his pipe with his manuscript of the Disquisitiones Arithmeticae on the day of his doctoral jubilee."
Dedekind reasoned, if Guass had saved the paper for fifty years he obviously valued it, and that if the anecdote were true, Dirichlet surely would have shared it with him as well.
*Uta Merzbach, An Early Version of Gauss's Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, Mathematical Perspectives, 1981

2012 Mountain View, Ca—January 19, 2012—
The Computer History Museum (CHM), the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society, today announced its 2012 Fellow Award honorees: Edward A. Feigenbaum, pioneer of artificial intelligence and expert systems; Steve Furber and Sophie Wilson, chief architects of the ARM processor architecture; and Fernando J. Corbató, pioneer of timesharing and the Multics operating system. The four Fellows will be inducted into the Museum’s Hall of Fellows on Saturday, April 28, 2012, at a formal ceremony where Silicon Valley insiders, technology leaders, and Museum supporters will gather to celebrate the accomplishments of the Fellows and their impact on society. This year’s celebration commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the Fellow Awards and will reunite pioneers from more than two decades. *CHM

1765 Sylvestre François Lacroix (April 28, 1765, Paris – May 24, 1843, Paris) was a French mathematician. He displayed a particular talent for mathematics, calculating the motions of the planets by the age of 14. In 1782 at the age of 17 he became an instructor in mathematics at the École Gardes de Marine in Rochefort, France. He returned to Paris and taught courses in astronomy and mathematics at the Lycée. In 1787 he was the co-winner of that year's Grand Prix of the French Académie des Sciences, but was never awarded the prize. The same year the Lycée was abolished and he again moved to the provinces.
In Besançon he taught course in mathematics, physics, and chemistry at the École d'Artillerie. In 1793 he became examiner of the Artillery Corps, replacing Pierre-Simon Laplace in the post. By 1794 he was aiding his old instructor, Gaspard Monge, in creating material for a course on descriptive geometry. In 1799 he was appointed professor at the École Polytechnique. Lacroix produced most of his texts for the sake of improving his courses. The same year he was voted into the newly formed Institut National des Sciences et des Arts. In 1812 he began teaching at the Collège de France, and was appointed chair of mathematics in 1815.
During his career he produced a number of important textbooks in mathematics. Translations of these books into the English language were used in British universities, and the books remained in circulation for nearly 50 years. In 1812 Babbage set up The Analytical Society for the translation of Differential and Integral Calculus and the book was translated into English in 1816 by George Peacock. *Wik He coined the term “analytic geometry.” *VFR

1773 Robert Woodhouse (28 April 1773 – 23 December 1827) was an English mathematician. He was born at Norwich and educated at Caius College, Cambridge, (BA 1795) of which society he was subsequently a fellow. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in December 1802.
His earliest work, entitled the Principles of Analytical Calculation, was published at Cambridge in 1803. In this he explained the differential notation and strongly pressed the employment of it; but he severely criticized the methods used by continental writers, and their constant assumption of non-evident principles. This was followed in 1809 by a trigonometry (plane and spherical), and in 1810 by a historical treatise on the calculus of variations and isoperimetrical problems. He next produced an astronomy; of which the first book (usually bound in two volumes), on practical and descriptive astronomy, was issued in 1812, and the second book, containing an account of the treatment of physical astronomy by Pierre-Simon Laplace and other continental writers, was issued in 1818.
He became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1820, and subsequently the Plumian professor in the university. As Plumian Professor he was responsible for installing and adjusting the transit instruments and clocks at the Cambridge Observatory. He held that position until his death in 1827.
On his death in Cambridge he was buried in Caius College Chapel.*Wik He was interested in the “metaphysics of the calculus,” i.e., questions such as the proper theoretical foundations of the calculus, the role of geometric and analytic methods, and the importance of notation. *VFR

1831 Peter Guthrie Tait FRSE (28 April 1831 – 4 July 1901) was a Scottish mathematical physicist, best known for the seminal energy physics textbook Treatise on Natural Philosophy, which he co-wrote with Kelvin, and his early investigations into knot theory, which contributed to the eventual formation of topology as a mathematical discipline. His name is known in Graph theory mainly for Tait's conjecture.*Wik (His conjecture was proved wrong by counterexample in 1946 by W. T. Tutte. The problem is related to the four color theorem.) He helped develop quaternions, an advanced algebra that gave rise to vector analysis and was instrumental in the development of modern mathematical physics. *TIS

1868 Georgy Fedoseevich Voronoy (also voronoi) introduced what are today called Voronoi diagrams or Voronoi tessellations. Today they have wide applications to the analysis of spatially distributed data, so have become important in topics such as geophysics and meteorology. Although known under different names, the notion occurs in condensed matter physics, and in the study of Lie groups. (Two dimensional diagrams of Voronoi type were considered as early at 1644 by René Descartes and were used by Dirichlet (1850) in the investigation of positive quadratic forms. They were also studied by Voronoi (1907), who extended the investigation of Voronoi diagrams to higher dimensions. They find widespread applications in areas such as computer graphics, epidemiology, geophysics, and meteorology. A particularly notable use of a Voronoi diagram was the analysis of the 1854 cholera epidemic in London, in which physician John Snow determined a strong correlation of deaths with proximity to a particular (and infected) water pump on Broad Street. *Mathworld)

1906 Kurt Godel (April 28, 1906 – January 14, 1978) Austrian-born US mathematician, logician, and author of Gödel's proof. He is best known for his proof of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems (1931) He proved fundamental results about axiomatic systems showing in any axiomatic mathematical system there are propositions that cannot be proved or disproved within the axioms of the system. In particular the consistency of the axioms cannot be proved. This ended a hundred years of attempts to establish axioms to put the whole of mathematics on an axiomatic basis.*TIS

1906 Richard Rado FRS(28 April 1906 – 23 December 1989) was a Jewish German mathematician. He earned two Ph.D.s: in 1933 from the University of Berlin, and in 1935 from the University of Cambridge. He was interviewed in Berlin by Lord Cherwell for a scholarship given by the chemist Sir Robert Mond which provided financial support to study at Cambridge. After he was awarded the scholarship, Rado and his wife left for the UK in 1933. He made contributions in combinatorics and graph theory. He wrote 18 papers with Paul Erdős. In 1964, he discovered the Rado graph (The Rado graph contains all finite and countably infinite graphs as induced subgraphs..)
In 1972, he was awarded the Senior Berwick Prize*Wik

1923 Fritz Joseph Ursell FRS (28 April 1923 – 11 May 2012) was a British mathematician noted for his contributions to fluid mechanics, especially in the area of wave-structure interactions.[5] He held the Beyer Chair of Applied Mathematics at the University of Manchester from 1961–1990, was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1972 and retired in 1990.
Ursell came to England as a refugee in 1937 from Germany. From 1941 to 1943 he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating with a bachelor degree in mathematics. *Wik

1843 William Wallace (23 September 1768, Dysart—28 April 1843, Edinburgh) worked on geometry and discovered the (so-called)
Simson line of a triangle.*SAU In geometry, given a triangle ABC and a point P on its circumcircle, the three closest points to P on lines AB, AC, and BC are collinear. The line through these points is the Simson line of P, named for Robert Simson. The concept was first published, however, by William Wallace.*Wik
 Mary Sommerville was one of his students.  He succeeded John Playfair as Math Chair in Edinburgh. He also invented a complicated type of pantograph called the eidograph.

1903 Josiah Willard Gibbs (February 11, 1839 – April 28, 1903) was an American mathematical physicist and chemist known for contributions to vector analysis and as one of the founders of physical chemistry. In 1863, He was awarded Yale University's first engineering doctorate degree. His major work was in developing thermodynamic theory, which brought physical chemistry from an empirical inquiry to a deductive science. In 1873, he published two papers concerning the fundamental nature of entropy of a system, and established the "thermodynamic surface," a geometrical and graphical method for the analysis of the thermodynamic properties of substances. His famous On the Equilibrium of Homogeneous Substances, published in 1876, established the use of "chemical potential," now an important concept in physical chemistry. *TIS
He is buried at the  Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven Connecticut, USA.

1946 Louis Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Bachelier (March 11, 1870 – April 28, 1946) was a French mathematician at the turn of the 20th century. He is credited with being the first person to model the stochastic process now called Brownian motion, which was part of his PhD thesis The Theory of Speculation, (published 1900).
His thesis, which discussed the use of Brownian motion to evaluate stock options, is historically the first paper to use advanced mathematics in the study of finance. Thus, Bachelier is considered a pioneer in the study of financial mathematics and stochastic processes. *Wik Bachelier is now recognised internationally as the father of financial mathematics, but this fame, which he so justly deserved, was a long time coming. The Bachelier Society, named in his honour, is the world-wide financial mathematics society and mathematical finance is now a scientific discipline of its own. The Society held its first World Congress on 2000 in Paris on the hundredth anniversary of Bachelier's celebrated PhD Thesis, Théorie de la Spéculation *SAU

1986 R H Bing (October 20, 1914, Oakwood, Texas – April 28, 1986, Austin, Texas) He wrote papers on general topology, particularly on metrization; planar sets where he examined in particular planar webs, cuttings and planar embeddings. He worked on topological classification of the 2-sphere, the 3-sphere, pseudo arcs, simple closed curves and Hilbert space. He studied partitions and decompositions of locally connected continua. He considered several different aspects of 3-manifolds including decompositions, maps, approximating surfaces, recognizing tameness, triangulation and the Poincaré conjecture. *SAU Oakwood had a population of 471 at the 2000 census.

1991 Paul Ernest Klopsteg (May 30, 1889 – April 28, 1991) was an American physicist. The asteroid 3520 Klopsteg was named after him and the yearly Klopsteg Memorial Award was founded in his memory.
He performed ballistics research during World War I at the US Army's Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. He applied his knowledge of ballistics to the study of archery.
He was director of research at Northwestern University Technical Institution. From 1951 through 1958 he was an associate director of the National Science Foundation and was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 1958 through 1959.*Wik
Credits :
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*NSEC= NASA Solar Eclipse Calendar
*RMAT= The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*TIA = Today in Astronomy
*TIS= Today in Science History
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*Wik = Wikipedia
*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell
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