Friday 17 June 2011

On This Day in Math - June 17

By keenly confronting the enigmas that surround us, and by considering and analyzing the observations that I have made, I ended up in the domain of mathematics, Although I am absolutely without training in the exact sciences, I often seem to have more in common with mathematicians than with my fellow artists. 
M. C. Escher, Quoted in To Infinity and Beyond, E Maor (Princeton 1991) 

1713 Leibniz replies from Vienna to Johan (I) Bernoulli's letter of June 7th informing him of the book from London accusing Leibniz of "plagiary". "I have not yet seen the little English book directed against me. .... it appears that he (Newton) no more knew our calculus than Apollonius knew the algebraic calculus of Viete and Descartes." In this letter he will deny being the author of a critical review of Newton's tracts in the Arcta Eruditorum. (A lie.) *The Correspondence of Isaac Newton

1867 Nobel invented dynamite. It is from this invention that he earned the fortune that he used to endow the Nobel Prizes.*VFR

1870 Benjamin Pierce, Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey, sends letter of introduction for his son to August De Morgan, "I presume upon the unseen brotherhood of science to introduce to you my son Charles S. Peirce Esq. who is a devoted student of Logic and I think that he has original thoughts which you may regard as deserving your consideration. He carries with him a memoir which he has written upon one of the subjects of your own learned investigations... " *Universidad de Navarra

1928, Amelia Earhart embarked on a trans-Atlantic flight from Newfoundland to Wales; she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, though as a passenger in a plane piloted by Wilmer Stultz. In 1932, she became the first woman to fly solo across that ocean. 

1714  César-François Cassini de Thury , French astronomer and geodesist (Cassini III), who continued surveying work he began while assisting his father, Jacques Cassini (Cassini II), resulting in the first topographical map of France produced by modern principles. His grandfather, Giovanni Domenico Cassini (Cassini I) discovered four satellites of Saturn, a band on planet's surface, and that its ring was subdivided. Cassini I was the first to assume effective direction (1671) of the new observatory established by the Académie Royale des Sciences in Paris, which his descendants in turn continued. Cassini III was the first official director of the observatory when the post was created by the king in 1771. His son was Jean-Dominique Cassini (Cassini IV) *TIS

1800  William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse was an Irish astronomer who built the largest reflecting telescope of the 19th century. He learned to polish metal mirrors (1827) and spent the next few years building a 36-inch telescope. He later completed a giant 72-inch telescope (1845) which he named "Leviathan," It remained the largest ever built until decades after his death. He was the first to resolve the spiral shape of objects - previously seen as only clouds - which were much later identified as galaxies independent of our own Milky Way galaxy and millions of light-years away. His first such sighting was made in 1845, and by 1850 he had discovered 13 more. In 1848, he found and named the Crab Nebula (because he thought it resembled a crab), by which name it is still known.*TIS

1898 Maurits Cornelius Escher   an artist whose works have included a considerable mathematical content.  He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. These feature impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations. *Wik 

1903 Sir. William Valance Douglas Hodge born.*VFR  Hodge also wrote, with Daniel Pedoe, a three-volume work Methods of Algebraic Geometry, on classical algebraic geometry, with much concrete content — illustrating though what Élie Cartan called 'the debauch of indices', in its component notation. According to Atiyah, this was intended to update and replace H. F. Baker's Principles of Geometry. *Wik 

1906 Samuel Stanley Wilks (June 17, 1906 – March 7, 1964) was an American mathematician and academic who played an important role in the development of mathematical statistics, especially in regard to practical applications.
Born in Little Elm, Texas (Little Elm was once a quiet farm town, and today is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Texas) and raised on a farm, Wilks was educated at the University of Iowa, where he acquired his Ph.D. under Everett F. Linquist; his thesis dealt with a problem of statistical measurement in education, and was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology. Wilks became an instructor in mathematics at Princeton University in 1933; in 1938 he assumed the editorship of the journal Annals of Mathematical Statistics in place of Harry C. Carver. Wilks assembled an advisory board for the journal that included major figures in statistics and probability, among them Ronald Fisher, Jerzy Neyman, and Egon Pearson.
Wilks was named professor of mathematics and director of the Section of Mathematical Statistics at Princeton in 1944, and became chairman of the Division of Mathematics at the University in 1958. He was noted for his work on multivariate statistics and unit-weighted regression.
From the start of his career, Wilks favored a strong focus on practical applications for the increasingly abstract field of mathematical statistics; he also influenced other researchers, notably John Tukey, in a similar direction. Drawing upon the background of his thesis, Wilks worked with the Educational Testing Service in developing the standardized tests like the SAT that have had a profound effect on American education. He also worked with Walter Shewhart on statistical applications in quality control in manufacturing.
During World War II he was a consultant with the Office of Naval Research. Both during and after the War he had a profound impact on the application of statistical methods to all aspects of military planning.
The American Statistical Association named its Wilks Memorial Award in his honor.
Wilks' lambda distribution is a probability distribution related to two independent Wishart distributed variables. It is important in multivariate statistics and likelihood-ratio tests. *Wik

1908 Gunnar Af Hallstrom born. He determined the congruence axioms which Hilbert used in his famous axiomatization of geometry. *VFR

1919  William Kaye Estas  American psychologist, a leader in bringing mathematical methods into psychological research, who was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1997 for "his fundamental theories of cognition and learning that transformed the field of experimental psychology. His pioneering methods of quantitative modeling and an insistence on rigor and precision established the standard for modern psychological science." In his early professional research he partnered with another pioneering psychologist B. F. Skinner in studying animal learning and behavior. The quantitative method they devised to measure emotional reactions is still widely used today. From 1979, Estes focused on investigating human memory and classification learning.

1994 Frank Yates FRS (May 12, 1902 – June 17, 1994) was one of the pioneers of 20th century statistics.
He was born in Manchester. He spent two years teaching mathematics to secondary school pupils before heading to Africa where he was mathematical advisor on the Gold Coast Survey. He returned to England due to ill health and met and married a chemist, Margaret Forsythe Marsden, the daughter of a civil servant. This marriage was dissolved in 1933 and he later married Pauline Penn, previously the partner of the well-known architect. After her death in 1976 he married Ruth Hunt, his long-time secretary.
In 1931 Yates was appointed assistant statistician at Rothamsted Experimental Station by R.A. Fisher. In 1933 he became head of statistics when Fisher went to University College London. At Rothamsted he worked on the design of experiments, including contributions to the theory of analysis of variance and originating Yates' algorithm and the balanced incomplete block design.
During World War II he worked on what would later be called operational research.
After the war he worked on sample survey design and analysis. He became an enthusiast of electronic computers, in 1954 obtaining an Elliott 401 for Rothamsted and contributing to the initial development of statistical computing. In he was awarded the Guy Medal in Gold of the Royal Statistical Society, and in 1966 he was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society. He retired from Rothamsted to become a Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College London. He died in 1994, aged 92, in Harpenden.*Wik

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

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