Abraham de Moivre

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Abraham de Moivre (26 May 1667 in Vitry-le-François, Champagne, France – 27 November 1754 in London, England; French pronunciation: [abʁam də mwavʁ]) was a French mathematician famous for de Moivre's formula, which links complex numbers and trigonometry, and for his work on the normal distribution and probability theory. He was a friend of Isaac Newton, Edmund Halley, and James Stirling. Among his fellow Huguenot exiles in England, he was a colleague of the editor and translator Pierre des Maizeaux.

De Moivre wrote a book on probability theory, The Doctrine of Chances, said to have been prized by gamblers. De Moivre first discovered Binet's formula, the closed-form expression for Fibonacci numbers linking the nth power of φ to the nth Fibonacci number.

Contents

Life

Early years

Abraham de Moivre was born in Vitry in Champagne on May 26, 1667. His father, Daniel de Moivre, was a surgeon and although middle class he believed in the value of education. Although his parents were Protestant, he first attended the Catholic school of the Christian Brothers in Vitry which was unusually tolerant given the religious tensions in France at the time. When he was eleven, his parents sent him to the Protestant Academy at Sedan, where he spent four years studying Greek under Jacques du Rondel. The Protestant Academy of Sedan had been founded in 1579 at the initiative of Françoise de Bourbon, widow of Henri-Robert de la Marck; in 1682 the Protestant Academy at Sedan was suppressed and de Moivre enrolled to study logic at Saumur for two years. Although mathematics was not part of his course work, de Moivre read several mathematical works on his own including Elements de mathematiques by Father Prestet and a short treatise on games of chance, De Ratiociniis in Ludo Aleae, by Christiaan Huygens. In 1684 he moved to Paris to study physics and for the first time had formal mathematics training with private lessons from Jacques Ozanam.

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