1501 – Cardano – bio

Girolamo Cardano was born in northern Italy in 1501 and was a mathematician. His father was a lawyer who also gave university lectures on geometry and was consulted by Leonardo Da Vinci on the subject. Cardano indulged in gambling which enhanced his understanding of probability. The gambling habit also wrecked his personal life and earned him the nickname, “the gambler”.

In 1539, Cardano was able to convince Tartaglia to tell him the method for solving cubic equations, as long as he promised to not reveal it until Tartaglia had published the method. In the course of working on solutions for both cubic and quartic equations, he became interested in the square roots of negative numbers. These are now known as “imaginary numbers” and in combination with real numbers as “complex numbers”. Both forms of numbers have become important in quantum mechanics and other areas of science and engineering.

In 1540, Cardanos assistant, Ferrari, solved the quartic equation. In 1545, Cardano published Ars Magna containing solutions to both the cubic and quartic equations, after being convinced that del Ferro had actually solved the cubic equation before Tartaglia.

Cardano also produced the first major study of probability and made contributions to mechanics, hydrodynamics and several other fields.

PRECURSOR:
-0575 – Pythagoras
-0325 – Euclid
0010 – Heron
1048 – Omar Khayyam

CONCURRENT:
1452 – Da Vinci
1500 – Fontana/Tartaglia
1522 – Ferrari
1526 – Bombelli
1545 – Ars Magna

SUBSEQUENT:
1596 – Descartes
1707 – Euler
1765 – Ruffini
1770 – Elements of Algebra
1777 – Gauss
1802 – Abel
1805 – Hamilton
1811 – Galois

SEE ALSO:
timeline of algebra
Timeline of Trigonometry

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