(January 6, 1655 – August 16, 1705)

Jacob was the math-patriarch of the Bernoullis: a Swiss family which awed Europe with generations of brilliant mathematicians. He tutored his younger brother, Johann, thereby paving the way for what I call the “Bernoulli Mathematical Dynasty”. And despite later disputes with Johann, (which were mostly instigated and exacerbated by Johann), the family dominated European mathematics for decades. Jacob reigned supreme in Statistics. But that did not stop him from making inroads in Analysis, Algebra, Geometry and Number Theory. He realized (before most people did) what a powerful tool Calculus is. This inspired him to research Leibniz’s works. And by so doing, he developed various integral and differential methodologies. His eventual mastery of calculus proved useful during the “precedence squabbles” between its co-inventors: Isaac Newton and Gottfried von Leibniz. Bernoulli sided with Leibniz due to his better, elaborate and more intuitive abstraction of the subject. Also aware of Robert Hooke’s ingenious works on catenary curve problems, as well as Christiaan Huygens’ geometrical proof which concluded that tautochrone curves are cycloid, he built on that by using calculus to solve a related problem of brachistochrone curve. Admired across Europe, his novelties in Probability, Polynomials, etc., led to several theorems and concepts being named after him. He also left indelible marks on Infinite Series; and received praises for reinventing the Polar Coordinates. These blueprints provided his successors with the solid pathways on which to chart future courses. After his death in 1705, these Latin words: Mathematicus Incomparabilis, were inscribed on his tombstone.

6 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment