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Pascal

Blaise Pascal (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician and physicist. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a civil servant. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the construction of mechanical calculators, the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure. Pascal also wrote in defence of the scientific method.

Pascal was a mathematician of the first order. He helped create two major new areas of research. He wrote a significant work on the subject of geometry at the age of sixteen, and later probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science. In honour of his scientific contributions, the name Pascal has been given to the SI unit of pressure, to a programming language, and Pascal's law (an important principle of hydrostatics), and Pascal's triangle.

Pascal's development of probability theory was his most influential contribution to mathematics. Originally applied to gambling, today it is extremely important in economics. John Ross writes, "Probability theory and the discoveries following it changed the way we regard uncertainty, risk, decision-making, and an individual's and society's ability to influence the course of future events.”


Last modified: Sunday, 19 February 2012, 4:29 PM