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Before the beginning of the sixteenth century, mathematics was coupled with certainty and reserved by natural philosophers and mathematicians for the serious things in life, either to understand the abstract notions of number theory and geometry or applied to explain the practical and functional, such as surveying and other building practices (especially for cathedrals). The mathematical enlightenment of a theory of probability was on the verge of emerging by the sixteenth century in a collection of unpublished papers of a physician, mathematician and gambler, better known for his 1545 published book, Ars Magna (The Great Art), an account of everything known about the theory of algebraic equations up to the time. A century later, this person’s papers would be recognized as containing the essential elements in understanding the nature of chance and modern probability. Who was he?
Author: Joseph Mazur |