# Rene Descartes

French mathematician, scientist and philosopher, Rene Descartes was born in La Haye, Tourine in France on 30 March 1596. He was also known as Renatus Cartesius. He developed an early interest in mathematics that remained with him throughout his life.

He has been called the father of modern philosophy and is most widely remembered for the axiom: “Cogito, ergo sum” ( I think,therefore I am)”.

From the age of eight, Descartes, an exceptionally intelligent boy, he liked mathematics because of the certainty of its proofs and the evidence of its reasoning.

He attended the newly-opened Royal College of La Fleche where for the next 10 years he received a Jesuit education, showing a distinct interest in mathematics.

In 1616 at the age of 20 he took a degree in Law at the University of Poitiers. For the next 12 years he travelled extensively and at one time joined the army of the Duke of Baaria during the early stages of the Thirty Years’ War.

In 1628 he settled in Holland where he lived until 1649.

During this period he completed the works that made him famous in his own time and influenced succeeding ages.** “ The Discourse of Method”** his most widely read work, presents four rules for the pursuit of knowledge.

- They are to accept nothing as true unless clearly recognized as such.
- To solve problems systematically by analyzing them part by part.
- To proceed from simple to more complex considerations.
- To review everything thoroughly to make sure that nothing has been omitted.

Descartes’ supreme achievements are his philosophy and his invention of analytic geometry, the latter shared with fellow mathematician Pierre-Simon de Fermat. His contributions to algebra include improved notation, the method of undetermined coefficients and the rule of signs. His analysis of the cycloid introduces the concept of instantaneous axis while his theorem of polyhedral anticipates Euler’s.

Insisting on clear and logical thinking, Descartes believed that all experience is organized according to laws that are basically mathematical. So diverse was his intellectual capacity that philosophers, physicists and mathematicians all look upon Descartes as one of the greatest geniuses in their field. And each group is correct his brilliance spanned many subjects.

In 1649 Descartes left Amsterdam to serve as instructor to Queen Christiana in Stockholm, Sweden. He died on February 11, 1650 of complications from a severe chill.

## René Descartes

## Great Mathematicians

- Blaise Pascal

Mathematician, physicist, religious philosopher and writer, Blaise Pascal was born in Clermont - Ferrand France, in June 19, 1623 and died aged 39 in Paris in August 19, 1662.

- George Boole

George Boole was a mathematician who helped to establish modern symbolic logic. The design of modern digital computer circuits is based on his algebra of logic called Boolean Algebra. - Female Mathematicians
Information about 5 women who have made a remarkable contribution in the field of mathematics, the list includes Hypatia, Emy Noether, Sonya Kovalevskaya, Maria Gaetana Agnesi and Mary Fairfax Sommerville.

## More by this Author

- 6
Leonardo Fibonacci was the greatest European mathematician of the Middle ages. He was born in Pisa in Italy circa 1170 and died some time after 1240. He introduced the Fibonacci numbers and the Fibonacci sequence for...

- 29
Information about 5 women who have made a remarkable contributions in the field of mathematics, the list includes Hypatia, Emy Noether, Sonya Kovalevskaya, Maria Gaetana Agnesi and Mary Fairfax Sommerville.

- 0
Filipino proverbs, or salawikain, echo the values of the Philippines. The values and lessons they impart to us still hold truth to this day.

## Comments 3 comments

Pretty amazing. He touched each generation that came after him. Thanks for the history lesson.

Thank you for the excellent bio on the genius, Descartes. All genuises are flawed, of course. But genius nonetheless.

Another great man and once again thanks for the history