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# Pierre de Fermat

(1601—1665) French mathematician

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## amicable numbers

A pair of numbers with the property that each is equal to the sum of the positive divisors of the other. (For the purposes of this definition, a number is not included as one of its own divisors.) ...

## Blaise Pascal

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(1623–1662) French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopherPascal was the son of a respected mathematician and a local administrator in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Early in life Pascal ...

## Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi

(1804–51)  German mathematician responsible for notable developments in the theory of elliptic functions, a class of functions defined by, as it were, inverting certain integrals. Applying them to ...

## dice problems

Probability problems concerning the outcomes of rolling dice. A problem considered at length by Fermat and Pascal concerned the number of times that one must throw a pair of dice before obtaining a ...

## Marin Mersenne

(1588–1648)A key figure of the French 17th century, Mersenne studied, like Descartes, at La Flèche, and subsequently taught in Nevers and Paris. Mersenne was a correspondent of all the great ...

## number theory

The area of mathematics concerning the study of the arithmetic properties of integers and related number systems such as prime numbers. Representations of numbers as sums of squares etc. appear very ...

## Pell's equation

The Diophantine equation x 2=ny 2+1, where n is a positive integer that is not a perfect square. Methods of solving such an equation have been sought from as long ago as the time of Archimedes. ...

## Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet

(1805–59)German mathematician who was professor at the University of Berlin before succeeding Gauss at the University of Göttingen. He proved that in any arithmetic series a, a+d, a+2d,…, where a and ...

## probability

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A numerical value given to the expectation that a particular event will occur. Although in scientific usage it is normally reckoned on a scale of 0 (for impossibility) to 1 (certainty), in forecasts ...

## problem of points

This problem was the subject of the correspondence between Fermat and Pascal that underpins the modern treatment of probability. The problem is as follows.Two gamblers are playing a series of fair ...

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