Date: | Wednesday, May 2, 2018 |
Speaker: | Prof. Colin McKinney
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Wabash College mckinnec AT wabash DOT edu |
Title: | The Four Curves of Alexis Clairaut |
Abstract: | In 1726, at the age of twelve, Alexis Clairaut presented four families of curves to the Paris Academy of Sciences. The work was later published in the Miscellanea Berolinensia in 1734. The first family of curves is similar to those generated by Descartes' mesolabe compass in La Géométrie. In this talk, we will discuss aspects of Clairaut's mathematical education, and how they influenced his work. We will also discuss some of the details of his construction of each of the four families of curves, his classification of algebraic curves in terms of degree and genus, and the applications of his curves to the ancient problem of finding means proportional. |