Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Abraham Demoivre

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

DEMOIVRE, ABRAHAM (1G67-1754), an eminent mathematician, was born at Vitry, in Champagne, May 26, 1667 He belonged to a French Protestant family, and was compelled to take refuge in England at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685. Having laid the founda tion of his mathematical studies in France, he prosecuted them further in London, where he read public lectures on natural philosophy for his support. The Principia Malhe- matica of Newton, which chance threw in his way, made him comprehend at once how little he had advanced in the science which he professed ; but he pursued his studies with vigour, and soon became distinguished among first-rate mathematicians. He was among the intimate personal friends of Newton, and his eminence and abilities secured his admission into the Royal Society of London, and after wards into the Academies of Berlin and Paris. His merit was so well known and acknowledged by the Royal Society that they judged. him a fit person to decide the famous con test between Newton and Leibnitz. The life of Demoivre was quiet and uneventful. His old age was spent in obscure poverty, his friends and associates having nearly all passed away before him. He died at London, Novem ber 27, 1754. The Philosophical Transactions of London contain several of his papers, all of them interesting. He also published some excellent works, such as Miscellanea, Analytica de Seriebus et Quadraturis, 1730, in 4 to. This then contained some elegant and valuable improvements on then existing methods, which have themselves, however, long been superseded. But he has been more generally known by his Doctrine of Chances, or Method of Calculating the Probabilities of Events at Play. This work was first printed in 1618, in 4to, and dedicated to Sir Isaac Newton. It was reprinted in 1738, with great alterations and im provements ; and a third edition was afterwards published with additions. He also published a Treatise on Annuities, 1724, in 8vo, dedicated to Lord Carpenter.