Mathematicians of December

December is almost over, hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that you are enjoying the last bits of preparations for New Years Eve. Also, I am on holiday (school holiday for 2 weeks) and I have a couple of posts prepared for the start of the year, which I am extremely excited for. Anyway, I am talking randomly, lets get to the mathematicians.

Ada Lovelace, born on 10 December 1815, is one of the most known woman mathematician and computer scientist of all times. From my point of view, she is one of the few woman scientists that organizations use a lot in campaigns on getting girls into STEM subjects. She was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first ever algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.

I remember that while reading Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, it said that Alan Turing was reading a lot about Ada and that he considered her a genius at that time. His interest in her is kind of obvious because one of her desires was very similar to his. In 1844, she commented to a friend Woronzow Greig about her desire to create a mathematical model for how the brain gives rise to thoughts and nerves to feelings (“a calculus of the nervous system”). She never achieved this, however.

Also, I have to quickly mention Charles Babbage, born on 26 December 1791, was an English polymath. He invented the principle of the analytical engine, the forerunner of the modern electronic computer. These two mathematicians are extremely related.

Talking about these 2 mathematicians, I want to mention The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious set of adventures and it is great.


Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar, born on 22 December 1887, was an Indian mathematician and autodidact who lived during the British Raj. I find him extremely interesting especially because he had almost no formal training in pure mathematics, but he made substantial contributions to so many topics (mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions). Ramanujan initially developed his own mathematical research in isolation; it was quickly recognized by Indian mathematicians. When his skills became obvious and known to the wider mathematical community, centred in Europe at the time, he began a partnership with the English mathematician G. H. Hardy. The Cambridge professor realized that Ramanujan had produced new theorems in addition to rediscovering previously known ones.

If you think about how much he did during his short life, you will surely be shocked. It turns up that he independently compiled nearly 3,900 results (mostly identities and equations), from which nearly all have now been proven correct. I will mention just some of his original and highly unconventional results: Ramanujan prime and the Ramanujan theta function, which have inspired a vast amount of further research. There is even a peer- reviewed scientific journal (The Ramanujan Journal) that was established to publish work in all areas of mathematics influenced by Ramanujan.

If you want to find out more about him, I recommend the movie The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015). Also the book the movie is based on, was recommended to me a thousand times: The Man who Knew Infinity: Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel. 


I will stop the post here, but I have to mention just a couple of great mathematicians I will talk about in the future: Leopold Kronecker (major contributions in elliptic functions and the theory of algebraic numbers), Jacob Bernoulli (first to use the term integral and an early user of polar coordinates) and Isaac Newton, who doesn’t need a lot of introduction.

Source: Wikipedia; 

Hope you enjoyed this short post and that you had a great December. Have a great week. Let me know if you would like to read more similar ones.  You can find me on Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  Twitter and Instagram. I will try to post there as often as possible.

Don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy!

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