In this newsletter:
* Latest news
* Mathematical moments
* Browse with Plus
* Live maths
* Tasty maths
* Harder, better, faster, stronger
Modelling Olympic success
Plus... read more on the Plus blog, including your chance to vote for your
favourite fictional mathematician: http://plus.maths.org/blog
And for all the Plus podcasts, see:
Jean Robert Argand
Born: 18 July 1768 in Geneva, Switzerland
Died: 13 Aug 1822 in Paris, France
Jean-Robert Argand gives hope to all amateur mathematicians. Whilst little
is known about his background, we know that he was an accountant and
bookkeeper in Paris and that as an amateur mathematician he developed the
"Argand diagram" - a geometrical interpretation of complex numbers where
the real part is interpreted as the x-coordinate and the imaginary part as
The Argand diagram is taught to most mathematics students but it is only
through a complex sequence of events that it got the Argand name. The first
to publish this geometrical interpretation of complex numbers was surveyor
Caspar Wessel. The idea appears in Wessel's work in 1787, but it was not
published until 1797, and went unnoticed by the mathematical community
until rediscovered and republished in 1895. You can read more about complex
numbers are how they are represented in our complex number package on Plus:
Argand's work too remained obscure for a long time. He first published it
in 1806 in a book produced at his own expense. The book strangely did not
bear his name.
The story continues with Legendre being sent a copy of Argand's work, which
he then sent on to Francois Francais. After Francais's death in 1810, his
brother Jacques worked on his papers and discovered Argand's book. In 1813
Jacques Francais published a work in the Annales de mathematiques in which
he gave a geometric representation of complex numbers based on Argand's
ideas. Jacques Francais could have claimed these ideas for himself, but
instead ended his paper by saying that the idea was based on the work of an
unknown mathematician. He asked that the mathematician should make himself
known so that he might receive the credit. Argand then responded to Jacques
Despite being remembered for the Argand diagram, Argand's best work was on
the fundamental theorem of algebra. He gave a beautiful proof of the
theorem in his work of 1806 and was the first to state the theorem in the
case where the coefficients were complex numbers. You can read more about
the fundamental theorem of algebra in the Plus article "Maths in space":
In his latter life, Argand did achieve a higher mathematical profile and in
his final publication on combinations he notably used the notation (m, n)
for the combinations of n objects selected from m objects.
See MacTutor for more information:
Browse with Plus
* Rocking out with the Mandelbrot Set
Jonathan Coulton is the contributing troubadour for Popular Science
magazine and releases songs on all manner of scientific topics, including
maths. If you are into nerdy songs about maths, then this tale of the
Mandelbrot set is for you!
* Don't forget to vote for your favourite fictional mathematician!
We all have favourite movie characters, but who is your favourite fictional
mathematician? We have been running this poll for a couple of weeks and
have had a great response. We think we have come up with a list that covers
most well-known fictional mathematicians and are asking for your opinion -
who is your favourite? Let us know if we have missed yours off the list.
* Maths-Art seminars
The Autumn term of the London Knowledge Lab's Maths-Art seminars has just
been announced. Meetings are on the second Tuesday of each month at 6pm,
and no booking is required. November's meeting is a special joint meeting
held in collaboration with the Computer Arts Society - this will take the
form of lectures in the afternoon, with limited capacity so advanced
booking will be required. An evening performance/lecture of live coding
will be open to all without booking.
The schedule is:
1) My mathematical progression - Sequences & series
Textile artist Louise Mabbs (www.louisemabbs.co.uk)
September 9 at 6pm;
2) Of Mind and Eye - Combinations on Canvas
Painter Raymond Brownell (www.raymondbrownell.com);
October 13 at 6pm;
3) Special joint meeting: "RULES: algorithms | structures | intuition"
Afternoon lectures + Performance/lecture of live coding at 6pm.
November 4 at 2.30pm:
4) Dan Piker - December 9 at 6pm
In addition, Raymond Brownell's art will be on exhibition Monday 22nd to
Saturday, 27th September 2008 in the following exhibition:
The Spectrum of Abstraction - United Society of Artists
30 Tottenham St
London W1T 4RJ.
Open weekdays 10am - 5.30pm and Saturday 11am - 1pm.
For more information, visit the website and seminar archive:
Happy reading from the Plus team.
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