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John Wallis English clergyman and mathematician

John Wallis (1616-1703) : English mathematician and clergyman

John Wallis was an English mathematician and clergyman too. He was a chief cryptographer of parliament and the royal court. John was the founder of the symbol of infinity. He was born in the time of another great English mathematician and scientist Newton. It was a time of prosperity for English mathematics. 

Time and Place of Birth 

John Wallis was born on 23 November 1616, in Ashford, Kent of England. 

Early life 

John Wallis was born to Reverend John Wallis who was a minister in Ashford. John’s mother’s name was Joanna Chapman; she was the second wife of his father. John was just six years old when his father died. After the breakout of the Plague in his region, he moved with his mother to Tenterden.

The first time he showed his great scholar potential here. In 1637 he became a graduate and in 1640 he became a master in arts. 

Adulthood 

He married Susanna Glynde in 1645. They both had three children, two girls, and a boy. At the time of the civil war, John decoded Royalist messages for Parliamentarians by his cryptographic skills. In 1643 his mother died and after her death, John inherited the Kent estate. He became a secretary at the clergy of Westminster. 

Death 

John Wallis died on 8 November 1703, in Oxford, Oxfordshire of England. 

Education and career 

John’s first interaction with the school was in Ashford after that he moved to James Movat’s school in Tenterden in 1625 due to the outbreak of plague. He first encountered mathematics in 1631 at Felsted school. From 1632 to 1640 John studied at Emmanuel College of Cambridge University and became a graduate in 1637 and got his master’s degree in 1640.

Read more : Augustus De Morgan was a British mathematician and logician.

In 1644 he became a secretary of the clergy at Westminster. In 1644 he became a fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge. In 1649 John was appointed to the Sevillian chair of Geometry at Oxford University. In 1650 he became a minister.

In 1657 he became the Keeper of University archives at Oxford University. He was appointed as Royal Chaplain by King Charles II and in 1661 he was appointed as a member of a committee to revise the prayer books. 

Interesting facts about the John Wallis 

  • Apart from infinity, John was the founder of another mathematical sign Greater than or equal to.   
  • John Wallis believed that human memory works better at night. 

Read More : Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian

Mathematical achievement

John Wallis gave contributions to geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. He is known worldwide as the founder of mathematical signs of Infinity and greater than equal to. He was the introducer of the continued fractions. John rejects the idea of negative numbers. He was the inventor of the number line. 

Contribution in mathematics 

Analytic Geometry 

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John published a treatise on conic sections in which they were defined analytically. It was the earliest book in which these curves are considered and defined as curves of the second degree. This work of Wallis helped in removing some of the perceived difficulties and obscurities from the works of Rene Descartes in the Analytic Geometry. 

Integral calculus 

The most important work of Wallis was Arithmetica Infinitorum, in this he systematized and extended the methods of analysis of Descartes and Cavalieri. In this, he developed the standard notion of powers by extending them from positive integers to rational numbers. 

Read More : Sir Andrew John Wiles KBE FRS is an English mathematician and a Royal Society Research Professor

Geometry 

He proved the Pythagorean Theorem by similar triangles. 

Books written by John Wallis 

  • The arithmetic of infinitesimals 
  • The correspondence of John Wallis: Volume II
  • Grammatica Linguae Anglicanae,1653: A scolar press facsimile 
  • The correspondence of John Wallis 

Quotes by John Wallis 

Whereas nature does not admit of more than three dimensions…it may just seem very improper to talk of a solid…drawn into a fourth, fifth, sixth or further dimension. 

John Wallis 

The invention was greedily embraced (and deservedly) by learned Men. 

John Wallis 

These exponents are called logarithms.

John Wallis 

It was always my affection even from a child. 

John Wallis 

Read More : George Boole was a largely self-taught English mathematician, philosopher, and logician

FAQ 

What was John Wallis known for? 

John Wallis is known for giving the infinity sign. 

At what age did John Wallis die?

86 

Who invented the Number line?

John Wallis invented the number line.   

Who was another great mathematician of England at the time of Wallis?

Sir Issac Newton 

Read more : Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer

See also 

John Wallis was one of the greatest mathematicians of England. We can call him the first mathematician of English origin known Worldwide.  

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