Simon Stevin

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Simon Stevin (1548/49 – 1620) was a Flemish mathematician and military engineer. He was active in a great many areas of science and engineering, both theoretical and practical. He also translated various mathematical terms into Dutch, making it one of the few European languages in which the word for mathematics, wiskunde ("the art of what is certain"), was not derived from Greek (via Latin).

Contents

Biography

Stevin was born out-of-wedlock in Bruges, Flanders (now Belgium) around the year 1548, to unmarried parents, Antheunis (Anton) Stevin and Catelyne van der Poort. His father is believed to have been a cadet son of a mayor of Veurne, while his mother Cathelijne (or Catelyne) was the daughter of a burgher family from Ypres. Simon's mother Cathelijne was later married to a man who was involved in the carpet and silk trade. Through her marriage Cathelijne became a member of a family who were Calvinists and it is presumed that Simon was brought in the Calvinist faith.[1] Very little has been recorded about his life. Even the exact date of birth and the date and place of his death (The Hague or Leiden) are uncertain. It is known that he left a widow with two children; and one or two hints scattered throughout his works inform us that he began life as a merchant's clerk in Antwerp, that he travelled in Poland, Denmark and other parts of northern Europe. After his travels, in 1581, while in his thirties, he moved to Leiden where he attended the Latin school and at the age of 35 (1583) entered the University of Leiden where he befriended William of Orange's second son, Maurits (Maurice), the Count Of Nassau.[1] Following William of Orange's assassination and Prince Maurice of Nassau's assumption of his father's office, he became an advisor and tutor of Maurice, who asked his advice on many occasions, and made him a public officer – at first director of the so-called "waterstaet" (the government authority for public works), and later quartermaster-general of the army of the States-General.

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