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Abraham De Moivre Setting the Stage for Classical Probability and Its Applications by David R. (University of Western Ontario, London, Canada) Bellhouse

Abraham De Moivre Setting the Stage for Classical Probability and Its Applications

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Abraham De Moivre Setting the Stage for Classical Probability and Its Applications by David R. (University of Western Ontario, London, Canada) Bellhouse

Extensively researched, this book traces the life and work of Abraham De Moivre as well as the state of probability and statistics in eighteenth-century Britain. It is the first extensive biography of De Moivre and is based on recently discovered material and translations, including some of De Moivre's letters. The book begins with discussions on De Moivre's early life in France and his initial work in pure mathematics with some excursions into celestial mechanics. It then describes his fundamental contributions to probability theory and applications, including those in finance and actuarial science. The author explores how De Moivre's wide network of personal and professional connections often motivated his research. The book also covers De Moivre's contemporaries and his impact on the field. Written in a clear, approachable style, this biography will appeal to historians and practitioners of the art of probability and statistics in a wide range of applications, including finance and actuarial science.


For those of us who know Abraham De Moivre's name only or largely through his theorem for powers of a complex number and perhaps some vague notion that he had `something to do with probability,
this book will come as a revelation. In telling the story of De Moivre

's life, the book traces a path through some of the most significant mathematical developments of the 17th and 18th centuries, and his name looms large in many aspects of the field. ... this biography tells a lot of the history of mathematics in the 18th century as it influenced, and was influenced by, its subject. -Mark Bollman, MAA Reviews, February 2013

Bellhouse's book is the first extensive intellectual biography of De Moivre; it is excellent. Written on two levels-historical and mathematical-the book deals not only with DeMoivre's work on probability, as one might expect based on the subtitle, but with his integral mathematical work as well. ... Everything in this book is written with mathematical clarity and exactness. ... the book is wholeheartedly recommended to all who like probability, mathematics, history, and fair speeches. This is the kind of definitive text that is a must for every history of mathematics shelf. -Aleksandar M. Nikolic, Mathematical Reviews, 2012h

This is a very thorough biography of Abraham De Moivre. The author (a Canadian professor specializing in the history of statistics and actuarial science) has clearly done a lot of research, including an in-depth study of De Moivre's correspondence with his contemporaries. In addition to biographical details, the book provides an overview of the mathematics developed by De Moivre. ... a very readable book. -Rudi Penne and Paul Levrie, WeetLogs.SciLogs.be, April 2012

This is a very scholarly piece of work, with many references to original documents ... Bellhouse's book should fascinate most academics in that, beside going with the uttermost detail into De Moivre's contributions to probability, it uncovers the way (mathematical) research was done in the 17th and 18th century England ... Another fascinating aspect of the book is the way English (incl. De Moivre) and Continental mathematicians fought and bickered on the priority of discoveries. ... this is a highly pleasant and easily readable [book] on the career of a major mathematician and one of the founding fathers of probability theory. David Bellhouse is to be congratulated on the scholarship exhibited by this book and on the painstaking pursuit of all historical documents related with De Moivre's life. -Christian Robert on his blog, March 2012'

About the Author

David Bellhouse is a professor in the Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences at the University of Western Ontario. His research interests include statistical theory and methods as well as the history of probability, statistics, actuarial science, and mathematics.

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Book Info

Publication date

19th October 2011


David R. (University of Western Ontario, London, Canada) Bellhouse

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A K Peters an imprint of Taylor & Francis Inc


266 pages


Biography: historical, political & military
Biography: science, technology & medicine



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