Home > Mathematician of the Week Archive Detail

<< Prev 9/13/2009 Next >>

In 1632, I entered Emmanuel College in Cambridge to study medicine and philosophy.

Yet, in 1649, I was named Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford...which I held until my death.

Cromwell appointed me to this professorship, despite my politics, primarily because I had served as a cryptologist for the Parlimentarians during the Civil War.

Thomas Hobbes and I had a constant controversy initiated by my refutation of his procedures for squaring the circle.

My most famous work, Arithmetica Infinitorum, extensively discussed series, figurate numbers, and geometric quadrature.

Side claims to mathematical fame include the introduction of the current symbol for infinity, finding areas by adding an infinite number of parallel lines (i.e. slices), representing complex numbers on a plane, conics, rolling cycloids, and my special formula 4/π = (3x3x5x5x7x7x...)/(2x4x4x6x6x...).

Answer: John Wallis (1616 - 1703)