Great Mathematicians & Their Discoveries

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Mathematics has been studied, to some degree, since before the written word came into existence. Over the years, many people have contributed to the field, often relating it to other fields, like philosophy and physics. Of the many influential mathematicians throughout history, a relatively small number were able to contribute lasting and important theories.

Pythagoras and his Theorem

  • Pythagoras was a philosopher and mathematician who made numerous contributions to the field. The distinction between even and odd numbers is attributed to Pythagorean teaching, as are prime and composite numbers. Probably the most celebrated aspect of Pythagoras’s contributions to mathematics is the Pythagorean Theorem. This deals with a right triangle and reads: a^2 plus b^2 equals c^2. C is the length of the side opposite the right angle. A and B can be either of the other two sides.

Julius Plücker

  • Julius Plücker was born in Germany and made important contributions to geometry during the early and mid-1800s. First, he invented line geometry. Prior to that, geometry only consisted of the study of individual points. He also invented enumerative geometry, which is a form of algebraic geometry concerned with counting the number of solutions to a geometric problem. Later in his career, he also contributed to theories surrounding geometries of more than three dimensions.

Albert Einstein

  • Albert Einstein made numerous contributions to mathematics and physics, most notably the theory of relativity. An earlier contribution was a mathematical formula that explained that the visible motions of particles suspended in liquid was due to the invisible motion of the water molecules. Arguably one of his most famous contributions was the formula E=mc^2. This is the formula used to calculate the amount of energy a given mass is equal to. The formula says that this amount of energy can be gotten by multiplying mass times the square of the speed of light.

Isaac Newton

  • Isaac Newton is often regarded as one of the most important mathematicians in English history. He made his greatest contributions in a relatively short amount of time, from 1664 to 1666. During this time, he invented calculus, worked on spectrums and discovered the law of universal gravitation. He wrote “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” which discussed his three laws of motion, and “The Universal Arithmetic,” which advanced the theory of equations. He also wrote many papers on calculus, analytical geometry, optics and curves.

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