Euler is held to be one of the greatest mathematicians in history and the greatest of the 18th century. Several great mathematicians who produced their work after Euler's death have recognised his importance in the field as shown by quotes attributed to many of them: Pierre-Simon Laplace expressed Euler's influence on mathematics by stating, "Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all." Carl Friedrich Gauss wrote: "The study of Euler's works will remain the best school for the different fields of mathematics, and nothing else can replace it." Euler is also widely considered to be the most prolific; his 866 publications as well as his correspondences are being collected in the Opera Omnia Leonhard Euler which, when completed, will consist of 81 quarto volumes. He spent most of his adult life in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and in Berlin, then the capital of Prussia. (Full article...)
Rejewski, c. 1932
Marian Adam Rejewski (Polish:[ˈmarjanrɛˈjɛfskʲi]ⓘ; 16 August 1905 – 13 February 1980) was a Polishmathematician and cryptologist who in late 1932 reconstructed the sight-unseen Nazi German military Enigma cipher machine, aided by limited documents obtained by French military intelligence. Over the next nearly seven years, Rejewski and fellow mathematician-cryptologists Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski developed and used techniques and equipment to decrypt the German machine ciphers, even as the Germans introduced modifications to their equipment and encryption procedures. Five weeks before the outbreak of World War II in Europe, the Poles shared their technological achievements with the French and British at a conference in Warsaw, thus enabling Britain to begin reading German Enigma-encrypted messages, seven years after Rejewski's original reconstruction of the machine. The intelligence that was gained by the British from Enigma decrypts formed part of what was code-named Ultra and contributed—perhaps decisively—to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
In 1929, while studying mathematics at Poznań University, Rejewski attended a secret cryptology course conducted by the Polish General Staff's Cipher Bureau (Biuro Szyfrów), which he joined in September 1932. The Bureau had had no success in reading Enigma-enciphered messages and set Rejewski to work on the problem in late 1932; he deduced the machine's secret internal wiring after only a few weeks. Rejewski and his two colleagues then developed successive techniques for the regular decryption of Enigma messages. His own contributions included the cryptologic card catalog, derived using the cyclometer that he had invented, and the cryptologic bomb. (Full article...)
In 1594, Hues published his discoveries in the Latin work Tractatus de globis et eorum usu (Treatise on Globes and Their Use) which was written to explain the use of the terrestrial and celestial globes that had been made and published by Emery Molyneux in late 1592 or early 1593, and to encourage English sailors to use practical astronomical navigation. Hues' work subsequently went into at least 12 other printings in Dutch, English, French and Latin. (Full article...)
A stamp of Zhang Heng issued by China Post in 1955
Zhang Heng began his career as a minor civil servant in Nanyang. Eventually, he became Chief Astronomer, Prefect of the Majors for Official Carriages, and then Palace Attendant at the imperial court. His uncompromising stance on historical and calendrical issues led to his becoming a controversial figure, preventing him from rising to the status of Grand Historian. His political rivalry with the palace eunuchs during the reign of Emperor Shun (r. 125–144) led to his decision to retire from the central court to serve as an administrator of Hejian Kingdom in present-day Hebei. Zhang returned home to Nanyang for a short time, before being recalled to serve in the capital once more in 138. He died there a year later, in 139. (Full article...)
In mathematics, the Euclidean algorithm, or Euclid's algorithm, is an efficient method for computing the greatest common divisor (GCD) of two integers (numbers), the largest number that divides them both without a remainder. It is named after the ancient Greek mathematicianEuclid, who first described it in his Elements (c. 300 BC). It is an example of an algorithm, a step-by-step procedure for performing a calculation according to well-defined rules, and is one of the oldest algorithms in common use. It can be used to reduce fractions to their simplest form, and is a part of many other number-theoretic and cryptographic calculations.
The Euclidean algorithm is based on the principle that the greatest common divisor of two numbers does not change if the larger number is replaced by its difference with the smaller number. For example, 21 is the GCD of 252 and 105 (as 252 = 21 × 12 and 105 = 21 × 5), and the same number 21 is also the GCD of 105 and 252 − 105 = 147. Since this replacement reduces the larger of the two numbers, repeating this process gives successively smaller pairs of numbers until the two numbers become equal. When that occurs, they are the GCD of the original two numbers. By reversing the steps or using the extended Euclidean algorithm, the GCD can be expressed as a linear combination of the two original numbers, that is the sum of the two numbers, each multiplied by an integer (for example, 21 = 5 × 105 + (−2) × 252). The fact that the GCD can always be expressed in this way is known as Bézout's identity. (Full article...)
In Euclidean plane geometry, Apollonius's problem is to construct circles that are tangent to three given circles in a plane (Figure 1). Apollonius of Perga (c. 262 BC – c. 190 BC) posed and solved this famous problem in his work Ἐπαφαί (Epaphaí, "Tangencies"); this work has been lost, but a 4th-century AD report of his results by Pappus of Alexandria has survived. Three given circles generically have eight different circles that are tangent to them (Figure 2), a pair of solutions for each way to divide the three given circles in two subsets (there are 4 ways to divide a set of cardinality 3 in 2 parts).
In the 16th century, Adriaan van Roomen solved the problem using intersecting hyperbolas, but this solution does not use only straightedge and compass constructions. François Viète found such a solution by exploiting limiting cases: any of the three given circles can be shrunk to zero radius (a point) or expanded to infinite radius (a line). Viète's approach, which uses simpler limiting cases to solve more complicated ones, is considered a plausible reconstruction of Apollonius' method. The method of van Roomen was simplified by Isaac Newton, who showed that Apollonius' problem is equivalent to finding a position from the differences of its distances to three known points. This has applications in navigation and positioning systems such as LORAN. (Full article...)
Title page of the first edition of Wright's Certaine Errors in Navigation (1599)
Edward Wright (baptised 8 October 1561; died November 1615) was an English mathematician and cartographer noted for his book Certaine Errors in Navigation (1599; 2nd ed., 1610), which for the first time explained the mathematical basis of the Mercator projection by building on the works of Pedro Nunes, and set out a reference table giving the linear scale multiplication factor as a function of latitude, calculated for each minute of arc up to a latitude of 75°. This was in fact a table of values of the integral of the secant function, and was the essential step needed to make practical both the making and the navigational use of Mercator charts.
In mathematics, the logarithm is the inverse function to exponentiation. That means that the logarithm of a number x to the baseb is the exponent to which b must be raised to produce x. For example, since 1000 = 103, the logarithm base 10 of 1000 is 3, or log10 (1000) = 3. The logarithm of x to baseb is denoted as logb (x), or without parentheses, logbx, or even without the explicit base, log x, when no confusion is possible, or when the base does not matter such as in big O notation.
A finite symmetric group consists of all permutations of a finite set. Each affine symmetric group is an infinite extension of a finite symmetric group. Many important combinatorial properties of the finite symmetric groups can be extended to the corresponding affine symmetric groups. Permutation statistics such as descents and inversions can be defined in the affine case. As in the finite case, the natural combinatorial definitions for these statistics also have a geometric interpretation. (Full article...)
Feynman developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions describing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams. During his lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the world. In a 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the British journal Physics World, he was ranked the seventh-greatest physicist of all time. (Full article...)
Logic studies arguments, which consist of a set of premises together with a conclusion. An example is the argument from the premises "it's Sunday" and "if it's Sunday then I don't have to work" to the conclusion "I don't have to work". Premises and conclusions express propositions or claims that can be true or false. An important feature of propositions is their internal structure. For example, complex propositions are made up of simpler propositions linked by logical vocabulary like (and) or (if...then). Simple propositions also have parts, like "Sunday" or "work" in the example. The truth of a proposition usually depends on the meanings of all of its parts. However, this is not the case for logically true propositions. They are true only because of their logical structure independent of the specific meanings of the individual parts. (Full article...)
In mathematics, 0.999... (also written as 0.9, 0..9 or 0.(9)) is a notation for the repeating decimal consisting of an unending sequence of 9s after the decimal point. This repeating decimal is a numeral that represents the smallest number no less than every number in the sequence (0.9, 0.99, 0.999, ...); that is, the supremum of this sequence. This number is equal to1. In other words, "0.999..." is not "almost exactly" or "very, very nearly but not quite" 1 – rather, "0.999..." and "1" represent exactly the same number.
There are many ways of showing this equality, from intuitive arguments to mathematically rigorousproofs. The technique used depends on the target audience, background assumptions, historical context, and preferred development of the real numbers, the system within which 0.999... is commonly defined. In other systems, 0.999... can have the same meaning, a different definition, or be undefined. (Full article...)
In 1863, Yale awarded Gibbs the first American doctorate in engineering. After a three-year sojourn in Europe, Gibbs spent the rest of his career at Yale, where he was a professor of mathematical physics from 1871 until his death in 1903. Working in relative isolation, he became the earliest theoretical scientist in the United States to earn an international reputation and was praised by Albert Einstein as "the greatest mind in American history." In 1901, Gibbs received what was then considered the highest honor awarded by the international scientific community, the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London, "for his contributions to mathematical physics." (Full article...)
One of Molyneux's celestial globes, which is displayed in Middle Temple Library – from the frontispiece of the Hakluyt Society's 1889 reprint of A Learned Treatise of Globes, both Cœlestiall and Terrestriall, one of the English editions of Robert Hues' Latin work Tractatus de Globis (1594)
Molyneux was known as a mathematician and maker of mathematical instruments such as compasses and hourglasses. He became acquainted with many prominent men of the day, including the writer Richard Hakluyt and the mathematicians Robert Hues and Edward Wright. He also knew the explorers Thomas Cavendish, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and John Davis. Davis probably introduced Molyneux to his own patron, the London merchant William Sanderson, who largely financed the construction of the globes. When completed, the globes were presented to Elizabeth I. Larger globes were acquired by royalty, noblemen and academic institutions, while smaller ones were purchased as practical navigation aids for sailors and students. The globes were the first to be made in such a way that they were unaffected by the humidity at sea, and they came into general use on ships. (Full article...)
The best known upper bound on the size of a square-difference-free set of numbers up to is only slightly sublinear, but the largest known sets of this form are significantly smaller, of size . Closing the gap between these upper and lower bounds remains an open problem. The sublinear size bounds on square-difference-free sets can be generalized to sets where certain other polynomials are forbidden as differences between pairs of elements. (Full article...)
The Borromean rings are named after the Italian House of Borromeo, who used the circular form of these rings as an element of their coat of arms, but designs based on the Borromean rings have been used in many cultures, including by the Norsemen and in Japan. They have been used in Christian symbolism as a sign of the Trinity, and in modern commerce as the logo of Ballantine beer, giving them the alternative name Ballantine rings. Physical instances of the Borromean rings have been made from linked DNA or other molecules, and they have analogues in the Efimov state and Borromean nuclei, both of which have three components bound to each other although no two of them are bound. (Full article...)
A reversible cellular automaton is a cellular automaton in which every configuration has a unique predecessor. That is, it is a regular grid of cells, each containing a state drawn from a finite set of states, with a rule for updating all cells simultaneously based on the states of their neighbors, such that the previous state of any cell before an update can be determined uniquely from the updated states of all the cells. The time-reversed dynamics of a reversible cellular automaton can always be described by another cellular automaton rule, possibly on a much larger neighborhood.
Several methods are known for defining cellular automata rules that are reversible; these include the block cellular automaton method, in which each update partitions the cells into blocks and applies an invertible function separately to each block, and the second-order cellular automaton method, in which the update rule combines states from two previous steps of the automaton. When an automaton is not defined by one of these methods, but is instead given as a rule table, the problem of testing whether it is reversible is solvable for block cellular automata and for one-dimensional cellular automata, but is undecidable for other types of cellular automata. (Full article...)
Regular numbers are numbers that evenly divide powers of 60 (or, equivalently, powers of 30). Equivalently, they are the numbers whose only prime divisors are 2, 3, and 5. As an example, 602 = 3600 = 48 × 75, so as divisors of a power of 60 both 48 and 75 are regular.
These numbers arise in several areas of mathematics and its applications, and have different names coming from their different areas of study.
In number theory, these numbers are called 5-smooth, because they can be characterized as having only 2, 3, or 5 as their prime factors. This is a specific case of the more general k-smooth numbers, the numbers that have no prime factor greater than k.* In the study of Babylonian mathematics, the divisors of powers of 60 are called regular numbers or regular sexagesimal numbers, and are of great importance in this area because of the sexagesimal (base 60) number system that the Babylonians used for writing their numbers, and that was central to Babylonian mathematics.
Ross taught at several institutions including St. Louis University before becoming chair of University of Notre Dame's mathematics department in 1946. He started a teacher training program in mathematics that evolved into the Ross Mathematics Program in 1957 with the addition of high school students. The program moved with him to Ohio State University when he became their department chair in 1963. Though forced to retire in 1976, Ross ran the summer program until 2000. He had worked with over 2,000 students during more than forty summers. (Full article...)
In mathematics, the Erdős–Ko–Rado theorem limits the number of sets in a family of sets for which every two sets have at least one element in common. Paul Erdős, Chao Ko, and Richard Rado proved the theorem in 1938, but did not publish it until 1961. It is part of the field of combinatorics, and one of the central results of extremal set theory. The theorem applies to families of sets that all have the same size, , and are all subsets of some larger set of size . One way to construct a family of sets with these parameters, each two sharing an element, is to choose a single element to belong to all the subsets, and then form all of the subsets that contain the chosen element. The Erdős–Ko–Rado theorem states that when is large enough for the problem to be nontrivial () this construction produces the largest possible intersecting families. When there are other equally-large families, but for larger values of only the families constructed in this way can be largest. (Full article...)
The current understanding of the unit impulse is as a linear functional that maps every continuous function (e.g., ) to its value at zero of its domain (), or as the weak limit of a sequence of bump functions (e.g., ), which are zero over most of the real line, with a tall spike at the origin. Bump functions are thus sometimes called "approximate" or "nascent" delta distributions. (Full article...)
The edges of the minimum spanning tree meet at angles of at least 60°, at most six to a vertex. In higher dimensions, the number of edges per vertex is bounded by the kissing number of tangent unit spheres. The total length of the edges, for points in a unit square, is at most proportional to the square root of the number of points. Each edge lies in an empty region of the plane, and these regions can be used to prove that the Euclidean minimum spanning tree is a subgraph of other geometric graphs including the relative neighborhood graph and Delaunay triangulation. By constructing the Delaunay triangulation and then applying a graph minimum spanning tree algorithm, the minimum spanning tree of given planar points may be found in time , as expressed in big O notation. This is optimal in some models of computation, although faster randomized algorithms exist for points with integer coordinates. For points in higher dimensions, finding an optimal algorithm remains an open problem. (Full article...)
In mathematics, a binary operation is commutative if changing the order of the operands does not change the result. It is a fundamental property of many binary operations, and many mathematical proofs depend on it. Most familiar as the name of the property that says something like "3 + 4 = 4 + 3" or "2 × 5 = 5 × 2", the property can also be used in more advanced settings. The name is needed because there are operations, such as division and subtraction, that do not have it (for example, "3 − 5 ≠ 5 − 3"); such operations are not commutative, and so are referred to as noncommutative operations. The idea that simple operations, such as the multiplication and addition of numbers, are commutative was for many years implicitly assumed. Thus, this property was not named until the 19th century, when mathematics started to become formalized. A similar property exists for binary relations; a binary relation is said to be symmetric if the relation applies regardless of the order of its operands; for example, equality is symmetric as two equal mathematical objects are equal regardless of their order. (Full article...)
In mathematics, the derivative shows the sensitivity of change of a function's output with respect to the input. Derivatives are a fundamental tool of calculus. For example, the derivative of the position of a moving object with respect to time is the object's velocity: this measures how quickly the position of the object changes when time advances.
The derivative of a function of a single variable at a chosen input value, when it exists, is the slope of the tangent line to the graph of the function at that point. The tangent line is the best linear approximation of the function near that input value. For this reason, the derivative is often described as the "instantaneous rate of change", the ratio of the instantaneous change in the dependent variable to that of the independent variable. (Full article...)
There are several variants of Penrose tilings with different tile shapes. The original form of Penrose tiling used tiles of four different shapes, but this was later reduced to only two shapes: either two different rhombi, or two different quadrilaterals called kites and darts. The Penrose tilings are obtained by constraining the ways in which these shapes are allowed to fit together in a way that avoids periodic tiling. This may be done in several different ways, including matching rules, substitution tiling or finite subdivision rules, cut and project schemes, and coverings. Even constrained in this manner, each variation yields infinitely many different Penrose tilings. (Full article...)
The four color theorem states that given any plane separated into regions, such as a political map of the counties of a state, the regions may be colored using no more than four colors in such a way that no two adjacent regions receive the same color. Two regions are called adjacent if they share a border segment, not just a point. "Color by Number" worksheets and exercises, which combine learning art and math for people of young ages, are a good example of the four color theorem.
It is often the case that using only three colors is inadequate. This applies already to the map with one region surrounded by three other regions (even though with an even number of surrounding countries three colors are enough) and it is not at all difficult to prove that five colors are sufficient to color a map.
The four color theorem was the first major theorem to be proven using a computer, and the proof is disputed by some mathematicians because it would be infeasible for a human to verify by hand (see computer-aided proof). Ultimately, in order to believe the proof, one has to have faith in the correctness of the compiler and hardware executing the program used for the proof.
The lack of mathematical elegance was another factor, and to paraphrase comments of the time, "a good mathematical proof is like a poem — this is a telephone directory!" (Full article...)