Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher, physicist, and of course mathematician.

Blaise Pascal

Date of Birth: 6/19/1623 Date of Death: 8/19/1662
Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand, France

Pascal demonstrated his abilities at a very early age, under the guidance of his father, but lived a short life (he died at age 39). Controversy seemed to follow Pascal throughout his life. For instance, Pascal offered a prize for a mathematical contest he proposed. However, Pascal entered under an alias and crowned himself the winner.


Famous Work


Pascal is famous for his contributions to probability. In fact, he is considered to have been at the forefront of field. He took a strong interest in gambling, and is credited with the development of expected value, a fundamental theory used by professional poker players today. Without Pascal, perhaps Texas hold 'em never would have gained the popularity it has today. In addition to professional gamblers, many economists gained valuable information from Pascal, particularly acturarial scientists.

Of course, Pascal's most famouse work...

Pascal's Triangle


If you have heard of Blaise Pascal it is probably because of Pascal's Triangle.


Pascal's triangle has many interesting mathematical connections, but Pascal discovered its connection to the binomial coefficients. Each number is generated by adding the two numbers above it. Look at the patterns below:

Pascal's Triangle

Notice that each row has one more term than the last, and that there are 1's diagonally down each side. As stated before, each number is generated by adding the two numbers above it.

There are countless patterns you can uncover by looking at Pascal's triangle. Which patterns can you find? And if you like patterns, take a look at Fibonacci.

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