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LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Camelot of Mathematics

To the Editors:

Thank you for Dan Silver’s highly entertaining article in the September–October issue, “Mathematical Induction and the Nature of British Miracles.” England in the 1800s must have been a Camelot of mathematics, featuring an extraordinary population of brilliant eccentrics. In future excursions there, you might look for reasons to include Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace. I know she worked on continued fractions and also maybe on the concept of induction. I don’t know how much of that work ended up being published.

Paul Zeiger
Boulder, CO

Dr. Silver responds:

Ada Lovelace was tutored in mathematics by Augustus De Morgan, whose love of inductive learning I detailed in the article. I had asked Christopher Hollings, departmental lecturer in mathematics and its history at the University of Oxford, to look into their extant notes, hoping to find evidence that De Morgan had taught her about induction. Unfortunately, no evidence of that was found. Nevertheless, Ada Lovelace was a fascinating person. If I ever find a new angle on her life and work, then you can be sure that I will write about her.


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