René Descartes

Leonhard Euler

Pierre de Fermat

Carl Friedrich Gauss

Sophia Kowalewskaja

Leonardo da Vinci

Isaac Newton

Emmy Noether

Pythagoras of Samos

Bertrand Russell

François Vieta

Mandelbrot and Sierpinski

Thales von Milet


Books and Links



Dido's Problem



Smart Joe

Fuzzy Logic



François Vieta

François Vieta lived during the 16th century in France. He was a lawyer and also decyphered encoded messages for the kings of France (Henry III and IV).

Vieta lived in a time of violent religious wars between Catholics and Protestants called Huguenots. Even though Vieta was a Catholic, he also worked as a lawyer for a Protestant family.

Mathematics was only a hobby of his, but nevertheless Vieta was of great importance and influence. He is sometimes called the father of algebra because he introduced literal coefficient for variables and he systematically used symbols, for example the + and - signs which until then where described in words.

Thanks to the introduction of literal coefficients for variables and unknowns he was able to solve equations in a general, non-numeric way. This was a very important step in the development of math. For example, for the equation ax² + bx + c = 0 you can find a general solution without having to go through it again and again with different numbers. (The drawback of such a genial abstraction is that you obtain mechanized solutions which might make you stop thinking about what you really are dealing with.)

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