CASPAR WESSEL (June 8, 1745,
Vestby – March 25, 1818,
Wessel was born in Jonsrud,
It was the mathematical aspect of surveying that led him to exploring the geometrical significance of complex numbers . His fundamental paper, Om directionens analytiske betegning, was presented in 1797 to the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters . Since it was in Danish and published in a journal rarely read outside of Denmark, it went unnoticed for nearly a century. The same results were independently rediscovered by Argand in 1806 and Gauss in 1831.
One of the more prominent ideas presented in "On the Analytical Representation of Direction " was that of vectors . Even though this was not Wessel's main intention with the publication, he felt that a geometrical concept of numbers, with length and direction, was needed. Wessel's approach on addition was: "Two straight lines are added if we unite them in such a way that the second line begins where the first one ends and then pass a straight line from the first to the last point of the united lines. This line is the sum of the united lines". This is the same idea as used today when summing vectors.
Wessel's priority to the idea of a complex number as a point in the complex plane is today universally recognised. His paper was re-issued in French translation in 1897, and in English in 1999 as On the analytic representation of direction (eds. Bodil ">
* ^ A B O\'Connor, John J. ; Robertson, Edmund F. (October 2000),
"Caspar Wessel", MacTutor History of
* Brun, Viggo (1962). Regnekunsten i det gamle Norge (in Norwegian).
Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. pp. 97–111.
* WorldCat Identities * VIAF : 61663824 * LCCN : n90627359 * ISNI : 0000 0001 0979 2129 * GND : 122240030 * SUDOC : 058928901 * BNF : cb12563002z (data)
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