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Portal:Mathematics

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The Mathematics Portal


Mathematics is the study of numbers, quantity, space, pattern, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.

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Blaise pascal.jpg
Blaise Pascal
Image credit: User:Anarkman

Blaise Pascal (pronounced [blez pɑskɑl]), (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the construction of mechanical calculators, the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote powerfully in defense of the scientific method.

A mathematician of the first order, Pascal helped create two major new areas of research. He wrote a significant treatise on projective geometry at the age of sixteen and corresponded with Pierre de Fermat from 1654 on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science.

Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he abandoned his scientific work and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. However, he had suffered from ill-health throughout his life and his new interests were ended by his early death two months after his 39th birthday.

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animation showing a roughly star-shaped graph being traced out as a smaller circle rolls around inside of a larger circle

A hypotrochoid is a curve traced out by a point "attached" to a smaller circle rolling around inside a fixed larger circle. In this example, the hypotrochoid is the red curve that is traced out by the red point 5 units from the center of the black circle of radius 3 as it rolls around inside the blue circle of radius 5. A special case is a hypotrochoid with the inner circle exactly one-half the radius of the outer circle, resulting in an ellipse (see an animation showing this). Mathematical analysis of closely-related curves called hypocycloids lead to special Lie groups. Both hypotrochoids and epitrochoids (where the moving circle rolls around on the outside of the fixed circle) can be created using the Spirograph drawing toy. These curves have applications in the "real world" in epicyclic and hypocycloidal gearing, which were used in World War II in the construction of portable radar gear and may be used today in 3D printing.

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The Mathematics WikiProject is the center for mathematics-related editing on Wikipedia. Join the discussion on the project's talk page.

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General Foundations Number theory Discrete mathematics
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Algebra Analysis Geometry and topology Applied mathematics
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Index of mathematics articles

ARTICLE INDEX: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z (0–9)
MATHEMATICIANS: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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