Sunday, 19 March 2017

On This Day in Math - March 19

Pearls of Sluze, *Mathworld Wolfram

There is no reason why the history and philosophy of science should not be taught in such a way as to bring home to all pupils the grandeur of science and the scope of its discoveries.
~Prince Louis-Victor de Broglie

The 78th day of the year; 78 is the smallest number that can be written as the sum of 4 distinct squares in 3 ways.  *What's Special About This Number

78 is the sum of the first twelve integers, and thus a triangular number.

The cube of 78 is equal to the sum of three distinct cubes, 783 = 393 + 523 + 653
(Historically, it seems Ramanujan was inspired by a much smaller such triplet 63 = 33 + 43 + 53

77 and 78 form the fourth Ruth-Aaron pair, named for the number of home runs hit by Babe Ruth, 714, and the number when Aaron broke the record, 715 (he hit more afterward).  They are consecutive numbers that have the same sums of their prime factors (77 = 7*11, 78 = 2*3*13, and 7+11 = 2+3+13).

In 1474, the Venetian Patent Law, the first of its kind in the world, declared that “each person who will make in this city any new and ingenious contrivance, not made heretofore in our dominion, as soon as it is reduced to perfection... It being forbidden to any other in any territory and place of ours to make any other contrivance in the form and resemblance thereof, without the consent and licence of the author up to ten years.” The law was intended to attract inventors and investors to Venice and stimulate new economic activities. *TIS

*Mark Jardine,
1681 Last observation of C/1680 V1, also called the Great Comet of 1680, Kirch's Comet, and Newton's Comet. It has the distinction of being the first comet discovered by telescope. Discovered by Gottfried Kirch on 14 November 1680, New Style, it became one of the brightest comets of the 17th century--reputedly visible even in daytime--and was noted for its spectacularly long tail. Passing only 0.4 AUs from Earth on 30 November, it sped around an incredibly close perihelion of .006 AU (898,000 km) on 18 December 1680, reaching its peak brightness on 29 December as it rushed outward again. It was last observed on 19 March 1681. As of December 2010 the comet was about 252.1 A.U. from the Sun. While the Kirch Comet of 1680-1681 was discovered and subsequently named for Gottfried Kirch , credit must also be given to the Jesuit, Eusebio Kino, who charted the comet’s course. During his delayed departure for Mexico, Kino began his observations of the comet in Cadíz in late 1680. Upon his arrival in Mexico City, he published his Exposisión astronómica de el [sic] cometa (Mexico City, 1681) in which he presented his findings. Kino’s Exposisión astronómica is among one of the earliest scientific treatises published by a European in the New World. Aside from its brilliance, it is probably most noted for being used by Isaac Newton to test and verify Kepler's laws. *Wik

1706 Advertisement in English Tabloid for William Jones's Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos, or A New Introduction to the Mathematics. This is the book in which Jones introduces the symbol pi for the ratio of the circumference to diameter of a circle.
*Review of the State of the English Nation (Cumulation) (London, England), Tuesday, March 19, 1706; Issue 34.

1752 Following the death of her father on March 19, 1752, a new phase of Maria Agnesi’s life began that lasted until her death. She restricted her study to theology and gave her time, effort, and money to devotional and charitable activities. Although continuing to live with her family, she kept a separate apartment, where she cared for a few poor, sick people. From 1759 she lived in a rented house with four of her poor people; and when money was needed for her charitable activity, she sold her gifts from the Empress Maria Theresa to a rich Englishman. Besides caring for the sick and indigent, she often taught catechism to working-class people. *Hubert Kennedy, Eight Mathematical Biographies, Pg 8

1791 Prior to 1784, when Jefferson arrived in France, most if not all of his drawings were made in ink. In Paris, Jefferson began to use pencil for drawing, and adopted the use of coordinate, or graph, paper. He treasured the coordinate paper that he brought back to the United States with him and used it sparingly over the course of many years. He gave a few sheets to his good friend David Rittenhouse, the astronomer and inventor:

"I send for your acceptance some sheets of drawing-paper, which being laid off in squares representing feet or what you please, saves the necessity of using the rule and dividers in all rectangular draughts and those whose angles have their sines and cosines in the proportion of any integral numbers. Using a black lead pencil the lines are very visible, and easily effaced with Indian rubber to be used for any other draught."
A few precious sheets of the paper survive today. *
Jefferson was widely interested in Science. For those who wish to know more about his scientific interest, I can recommend this book

1791 Report made to the Paris Academy of Sciences advocating the metric system, including the decimal subdivision of the circle. The committee consisted of J. C. Borda, J. Lagrange, P. S. Laplace, G. Monge, and de Condorcet. [Cajori, History of Mathematics 266] See April 14, 1790. *VFR
A metric system of angles was brought in, with 400 degrees in a full turn (100 degrees in a right angle). Now the earth would rotate 40 degrees in an hour and, since the metre had been designed so that one quarter meridian was 10 million metres, each degree of latitude would be 100 kilometres long. It was certainly a rational system but its introduction would require all watches, all clocks, all trigonometric tables, all charts etc. to be changed. Condorcet proposed that teams of out of work wig makers should be used to recalculate new mathematical tables with the new units. Why, one might ask, were the wig makers out of work? Well they had been employed by the aristocrats who, following the Revolution, no longer required their services! *SAU

1797 The date of the entry in Gauss’s scientific diary showing that he had already discovered the double periodicity of certain elliptic functions. *VFR Gauss was investigating the lemniscate.

1892 E. Hastings Moore, of Northwestern University, was elected professor of mathematics by the Board of Trustees of the new University of Chicago. *T. W. Goodspeed, The Story of the University of Chicago

1918 "An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States" was enacted on March 19, 1918. It both established standard time zones and set summer DST to begin on March 31, 1918. *WebExhibits 

1937 John von Neumann gave a popular lecture at Princeton on the game of poker. Game Theory became one of his substantial contributions to mathematics. [A. Hodges, Alan Turing. The Enigma, p. 550]The Book that inspired the movie.

In 1958, Britain's first planetarium, the London Planetarium, opened in the west wing of Madame Tussaud's. It is one of the world's largest. The site used was that of the former Cinema and Restaurant added in 1929, that had been destroyed by a German bomb in 1940.*TIS

1953 Frances Crick writes a letter to his son. "Dear Michael, Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery.” This was only two weeks after Crick solved the DNA puzzle and may well be the first written description of the code. The letter, to be auctioned at Christie’s on April 10, is expected to fetch at least $1 million at auction. *NY Times Science

2016 Spring Equinox. Spring officially comes to Possum Trot, Ky at 11:30 P.M. CDT, this evening. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” The spring and fall equinoxes are the only dates with equal daylight and dark as the Sun crosses the celestial equator. At the equinoxes, the tilt of Earth relative to the Sun is zero, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. *Farmer's Almanac

1782 Baron Wilhelm von Biela (19 Mar 1782, 18 Feb 1856 at age 73) Austrian astronomer who was known for his measurement (1826) of a previously known comet as having an orbital period of 6.6 years. Subsequently, known as Biela's Comet, it was observed to break in two (1846), and in 1852 the fragments returned as widely separated twin comets that were not seen again. However, in 1872 and 1885, bright meteor showers (known as Andromedids, or Bielids... current Andromedids are only weakly represented by displays of less than three meteors per hour around November 14. ) were observed when the Earth crossed the path of the comet's known orbit. This observation provided the first concrete evidence for the idea that some meteors are composed of fragments of disintegrated comets.*TIS

1799 William Rutter Dawes (19 Mar 1799, 15 Feb 1868 at age 68) English amateur astronomer who set up a private observatory and made extensive measurements of binary stars and on 25 Nov 1850 discovered Saturn's inner Crepe Ring (independently of American William Bond). In 1864, he was the first to make an accurate map of Mars. He was called "Eagle-eyed Dawes" for the keenness of his sight with a telescope (though otherwise, he was very near-sighted). He devised a useful empirical formula by which the resolving power of a telescope - known as the Dawes limit - could be quickly determined. For a given telescope with an aperture of d cm, a double star of separation 11/d arcseconds or more can be resolved, that is, be visually recognized as two stars rather than one. *TIS

1862 Adolf Kneser (19 March 1862 in Grüssow, Mecklenburg, Germany - 24 Jan 1930 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland)) He is remembered most for work mainly in two areas. One of these areas is that of linear differential equations; in particular he worked on the Sturm-Liouville problem and integral equations in general. He wrote an important text on integral equations. The second main area of his work was the calculus of variations. He published Lehrbruch der Variationsrechnung (Textbook of the calculus of variations) (1900) and he gave the topic many of the terms in common use today including 'extremal' for a resolution curve, 'field' for a family of extremals, 'transversal' and 'strong' and 'weak' extremals *SAU

1900 Frederic Joliot-Curie (19 Mar 1900; 14 Aug 1958 at age 58) French physicist and physical chemist who became personal assistant to Marie Curie at the Radium Institute, Paris, and the following year married her daughter Irène (who was also an assistant at the institute). Later they collaborated on research, and shared the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements." For example, they discovered that aluminium atoms exposed to alpha rays transmuted to radioactive phosphorus atoms. By 1939 he was investigating the fission of uranium atoms. After WW II he supervised the first atomic pile in France. He succeeded his wife as head of the Radium Institute upon her death in 1956. *TIS

1910 Jacob Wolfowitz (March 19, 1910 – July 16, 1981) was a Polish-born American statistician and Shannon Award-winning information theorist. He was the father of former Deputy Secretary of Defense and World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz.
While a part-time graduate student, Wolfowitz met Abraham Wald, with whom he collaborated in numerous joint papers in the field of mathematical statistics. This collaboration continued until Wald's death in an airplane crash in 1950. In 1951, Wolfowitz became a professor of mathematics at Cornell University, where he stayed until 1970. He died of a heart attack in Tampa, Florida, where he was a professor at the University of South Florida.
Wolfowitz's main contributions were in the fields of statistical decision theory, non-parametric statistics, sequential analysis, and information theory.*Wik

1910 Jerome Namias (19 Mar 1910, 10 Feb 1997 at age 86) American meteorological researcher most noted for having pioneered the development of extended weather forecasts and who also studied the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the El Niño phenomenon. *TIS In 1971 he joined the Scripps Institution and established the first Experimental Climate Research Center. His prognosis of warm weather during the Arab oil embargo of 1973 greatly aided domestic policy response.*Wik

1927 Allen Newell (March 19, 1927 – July 19, 1992) was a researcher in computer science and cognitive psychology at the RAND Corporation and at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, Tepper School of Business, and Department of Psychology. He contributed to the Information Processing Language (1956) and two of the earliest AI programs, the Logic Theory Machine (1956) and the General Problem Solver (1957) (with Herbert A. Simon). He was awarded the ACM's A.M. Turing Award along with Herbert A. Simon in 1975 for their basic contributions to artificial intelligence and the psychology of human cognition *Wik

1951 Arthur T. Benjamin (March 19, 1961; ) is an American mathematician who specializes in combinatorics. Since 1989 he has been a Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College.
He is known for mental math capabilities and mathemagics performances. These have included shows at the Magic Castle and TED. He is also the first mathematician to have been featured on the Colbert Report.
The Mathematical Association of America gave him a regional award for distinguished teaching in 1999 and a national one in 2000. He was the Mathematical Association of America's George Pólya Lecturer for 2006-8. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.
Benjamin was one of the performers at the inaugural San Diego Science Festival on April 4, 2009. He also won the American Backgammon Tour in 1997. *Wik A video of his "mathmagic" is here 
And his new book, The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why, is delightful,

1406 Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun  Al-Ḥaḍrami, May 27, 1332 AD/732 AH – March 19, 1406 AD/808 AH) was a Muslim historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the fathers of modern historiography,sociology and economics.
He is best known for his Muqaddimah (known as Prolegomenon in English), which was discovered, evaluated and fully appreciated first by 19th century European scholarship, although it has also had considerable influence on 17th-century Ottoman historians like Ḥajjī Khalīfa and Mustafa Naima who relied on his theories to analyze the growth and decline of the Ottoman Empire. Later in the 19th century, Western scholars recognized him as one of the greatest philosophers to come out of the Muslim world. *Wik

1862 John Edward Campbell (27 May 1862, Lisburn, Ireland – 1 October 1924, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England) is remembered for the Campbell-Baker-Hausdorff theorem which gives a formula for multiplication of exponentials in Lie algebras. *SAU His 1903 book, Introductory Treatise on Lie's Theory of Finite Continuous Transformation Groups, popularized the ideas of Sophus Lie among British mathematicians.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1905, and served as President of the London Mathematical Society from 1918 to 1920. *Wik

1685 René François Walter de Sluse (2 July 1622 in Visé, Principality of Liège (now Belgium) - 19 March 1685 in Liège, Principality of Liège (now Belgium)) a French mathematician, intellectual and clergyman who wrote many books about mathematics and contributed to the development of mathematics.
Plague in Église Saint-Martin

He studied at a university in Rome, and later moved to Liège. His position in the church prevented him from visiting other mathematicians, but he corresponded with the mathematicians and intellectuals of the day.
He studied calculus and his work discusses spirals, tangents, turning points and points of inflection.
There is a family of curves named after him called the Pearls of Sluze: the curves represented by the following equation with positive integer values of m, n and p:
yn = k(a - x)pxm *Wik
This group of curves was studied by de Sluze between 1657 and 1698. It was Blaise Pascal who named the curves after de Sluze.

1922 George Ballard Mathews, FRS (February 23, 1861 — March 19, 1922) was a London born mathematician who specialized in number theory.
After receiving his degree (as Senior Wrangler) from St John's College, Cambridge in 1883, he was elected a Fellow of St John's College. *Wik Mathews also wrote Algebraic equations (1907) which is a clear exposition of Galois theory, and Projective geometry (1914). This latter book develops the subject of projective geometry without using the concept of distance and it bases projective geometry on a minimal set of axioms. The book also treats von Staudt's theory of complex elements as defined by real involutions. The book contains a wealth of information concerning the projective geometry of conics and quadrics. *SAU

1930 Henry Faulds (1 Jun 1843, 19 Mar 1930 at age 86) Scottish physician who, from 1873, became a missionary in Japan, where he worked as a surgeon superintendent at a Tokyo hospital, taught at the local univeristy, and founded the Tokyo Institute for the Blind. In the late 1870s, his attention was drawn to fingerprints of ancient potters remaining on their work that he helped unearth at an archaeological dig site in Japan. He commenced a study of fingerprints, and became convinced that each individual had a unique pattern. He corresponded on the subject with Charles Darwin, and published a paper about his ideas in Nature (28 Oct 1880). When he returned to Britain in 1886, he unsuccessfully offered his fingerprinting identification scheme for forensic uses to Scotland Yard. Undeserved confusion on priority for the discovery with Francis Galton and Sir William J. Herschel lasted until 1917. *TIS

1978 Gaston Maurice Julia (February 3, 1893 – March 19, 1978) was a French mathematician who devised the formula for the Julia set. His works were popularized by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot; the Julia and Mandelbrot fractals are closely related.*Wik A report of his bravery during WWI during which he lost his nose:
January 25, 1915, showed complete contempt for danger. Under an extremely violent bombardment, he succeeded despite his youth (22 years) to give a real example to his men. Struck by a bullet in the middle of his face causing a terrible injury, he could no longer speak but wrote on a ticket that he would not be evacuated. He only went to the ambulance when the attack had been driven back. It was the first time this officer had come under fire.
When only 25 years of age, Julia published his 199 page masterpiece Mémoire sur l'iteration des fonctions rationelles which made him famous in the mathematics centres of his day. The beautiful paper, published in Journal de Math. Pure et Appl. 8 (1918), 47-245, concerned the iteration of a rational function f. Julia gave a precise description of the set J(f) of those z in C for which the nth iterate f n(z) stays bounded as n tends to infinity. (These are the Julia Sets popularized by Mandelbrot) *SAU

1984 Richard Ernest Bellman (August 26, 1920 – March 19, 1984) was an American applied mathematician, celebrated for his invention of dynamic programming in 1953, and important contributions in other fields of mathematics. A Bellman equation, also known as a dynamic programming equation, is a necessary condition for optimality associated with the mathematical optimization method known as dynamic programming. Almost any problem which can be solved using optimal control theory can also be solved by analyzing the appropriate Bellman equation. The Bellman equation was first applied to engineering control theory and to other topics in applied mathematics, and subsequently became an important tool in economic theory. The "Curse of dimensionality", is a term coined by Bellman to describe the problem caused by the exponential increase in volume associated with adding extra dimensions to a (mathematical) space.*Wik

1987 Louis Victor Pierre Raymond duc de Broglie (15 Aug 1892,19 Mar 1987 at age 94) was a French physicist best known for his research on quantum theory and for his discovery of the wave nature of electrons. De Broglie was of the French aristocracy - hence the title "duc" (Prince). In 1923, as part of his Ph.D. thesis, he argued that since light could be seen to behave under some conditions as particles (photoelectric effect) and other times as waves (diffraction), we should consider that matter has the same ambiguity of possessing both particle and wave properties. For this, he was awarded the 1929 Nobel Prize for Physics. *TIS
He is buried in the Cimetière de Neuilly-sur-Seine (Ancien),Hauts-de-Seine, Ile-de-France Region, France. (Just outside Paris)

2011 J(ames) Laurie Snell, (January 15th, 1925, Wheaton, Illinois; March 19, 2011, Hanover, New Hampshire) was an American mathematician.
A graduate of the University of Illinois, he taught at Dartmouth College until retiring in 1995. Among his publications was the book "Introduction to Finite Mathematics", written with John George Kemeny and Gerald L. Thompson, first published in 1956 and in multiple editions since.
The Snell envelope, used in stochastics and mathematical finance, is the smallest supermartingale dominating the price process. Snell has published the related theory 1952 in the paper Applications of martingale system theorems.*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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