Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Four Influential Mathematicians to Inspire You

English: Pisa experiment by Galileo Galilei. D...
Pisa experiment by Galileo Galilei (Wikipedia)
by Danielle N Dalkie

Mathematics has been around forever, and its history is dotted throughout the history of the world.

It is a powerful and important tool that we should all have a basic grasp and understanding of. It helps to explain the world around us.

This post covers four of mathematics most influential theorists, and what they did for the field.

Mathematics currently has no universal definition, but it is the study of quantity, structure, space, change, and so on. Mathematics, unlike many other parts of our society, boils down to black and white, right and wrong.

Mathematical research involves methods of deduction to reveal the correct answer. Man's curious nature has meant that maths has been around since the first written records. It is believed that numeracy and numbers where around before the written word.

Euclid of Alexandria is one of the first and most widely known mathematicians. His greatest work is The Elements. And due to the fact his work is still around, and still discussed and debated today we can safely say he is one of the most prominent and influential mathematicians ever.

There is little is known of Euclid's life except that he taught at Alexandria in Egypt, and therefore some doubt surrounding his actual existence, and whether it was just one person who wrote the famous The Elements. Whatever the case, Euclid's instruction of the rigorous, logical proof for theorems and conjectures, frameworks still used today, his impact can't be denied.

Diophantus is called 'the father of algebra', because of the series of books he wrote called Arithmetica which details algebraic equations and their answers. He was also an Alexandrian Greek mathematician.

Mathematics pretty much followed the status quo through until the Renaissance period when some massively influentially theorists made discoveries that made way for maths today.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) inventor of the telescope and mathematician said, 'The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written.

It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word. Without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.'

Galileo wanted to disprove Aristotle's theory of falling objects. So he got two metal balls - one which was 10 times heavier - and dropped them both, timing them, from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

When Galileo's theory was proven correct, regardless of an object weight - objects fall at the same speed and reach the bottom at the same time. His fellow teachers thought he was lying and tried to say he had used magic of some sort to get the results he desired.

Then came along Leonhard Euler (1707 to 1783), arguably the greatest mathematician of all time. His amazing discoveries meant he introduced many of the abbreviations and their meanings, which we still use today. His research was able to prove, and dis-prove many of the theories and advance many theories that we still use today.

As well as this, he also solved the Seven Bridges of Koenigsberg problem in graph theory and found the Euler Characteristic for connecting the number of vertices, edges and faces of an object. He has been compared to the genius of Einstein.

Whether you want to reach the level of these four influential mathematicians, or simply want to improve your own basic maths skills... hopefully this post will inspire you to do so. Maths has a long and important history and there have been many, many great minds who have worked in this field.

If you want maths assistance for yourself, or your child, you can reach out to companies like Stepping Stone Tutors who provide online and in-home tutoring around the USA. Whilst not everyone can reach the heights of the mathematical genius covered in this post - it is important to have a basic knowledge and understanding.

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