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Blaise Pascal

Updated on August 22, 2016
Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal
Arithmetic machine constructed by Blaise Pascal.
Arithmetic machine constructed by 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.

As a child he was tutored by his father, who first avoided teaching mathematics to Pascal for fear that it might overstrain his young mind. But Pascal was curious to know what geometry was all about and taught it to himself.

Blaise Pascal did not attend school but learned classics from his father. He began to study geometry at the age of 12 when he discovered a theorem on his own.

He proved to be a math prodigy and at the age of 16 discovered one of the basic theorems of projective geometry. At 18 he invented the first mechanical adding machine. Some of the principles used in its making are still used in mechanical calculators. Five years later he published an essay on mathematics that was highly regarded in the academic community and praised by Descartes.

Working with his friend Pierre-Simon de Fermat, Pascal formulated the modern theory of probability and combinatorial analysis. Their probability theory arose from an attempt to deal mathematically with a gambling problem. While working on this, Pascal investigated and wrote extensively on a number system that we now call Pascal‘s triangle.

Pascal's triangle is a ready reference for finding the odds governing combinations.  each number within the triangle is obtained by adding the two numbers immediately above it.
Pascal's triangle is a ready reference for finding the odds governing combinations. each number within the triangle is obtained by adding the two numbers immediately above it.

Pascal triangle is a triangular array of numbers that dates back to ancient China. Over the centuries mathematicians have discovered in this triangle many different number patterns related to situations in arithmetic, algebra, geometry and other branches of mathematics. It is frequently used to determine probabilities and to solve problems involving permutations and combinations.

He is regarded as the founder of the Theory of Probability. He also invented the first digital calculator to assist his mathematician father in local administration.

Studies in geometry, hydrodynamics, hydrostatics and atmospheric pressure led him to invent the syringe and the hydraulic press.

Pascal’s principle also called Pascal’s Law states that in a stationary fluid in a closed container, a pressure change in one part is transmitted without loss to every portion of the fluid and to the walls of the container.

In his "Essai Pour Les Coniques" written in 1640, he stated his "mystic hexagram" theorem:

"If a hexagram be inscribed in a conic, then the points of intersection of the three pairsnof opposite sides are collinear and the converse applies".

Blaise Pascal ‘provincial letters’ composed after he quit science for theology are examples of beautiful French prose.

More Great Mathematicians

  • 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.

  • Rene Descartes

    French mathematician, scientist and philosopher, Rene Descartes was born in La Haye, Tourine in France on 30 March 1596.

  • 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.


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    • profile image

      Juliana 

      6 years ago

      thanks so much i cant thank you enough you helped on my math essay

    • profile image

      Alicia A. Balagapo 

      7 years ago

      Great. So informative. Thanks.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      9 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Wonderful hub, sad his life was so short. Thanks for this series, I am enjoying it very much.

    • R Burow profile image

      R Burow 

      9 years ago from Florida, United States

      I absolutely love the quote."The heart has reasons, that reason can not know." Thanks for the fantastic hub.

    • Horrya profile image

      Horrya 

      9 years ago

      Great hub ! Thanks !

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