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May, 22

Birth of Richard Wagner - May 22
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was born on May 22, 1813 and died on February 13, 1883.
While primarily known for his operas, Wagner was also a German composer, conductor, theatre director, and essayist.
Wagner's compositions of the later period are particularly reflective for their contrapuntal texture, rich chromaticism, harmonies and orchestration. Furthermore, the elaborate use of leitmotifs, musical themes associated with particular characters, locales or plot elements, are common in his work. Wagner, who pioneered advances in musical language, became a great influential force on the development of European classical music.

Did you know?De MereNPC - De Mere
Antoine Gombaud, Chevalier de Méré was a French writer, born at Poitou in 1607, and died on December 29, 1684. Although he was not a nobleman, he adopted the title Chevalier (Knight) for the character in his dialogues who represented his own views (Chevalier de Méré because he was educated at Méré ). Later his friends began calling him by that name.

Gombaud was an important Salon theorist. Like many 17th century liberal thinkers, he distrusted both heriditary power and democracy. He believed that questions are best resolved in open discussions among witty, fashionable, intelligent people. The school of thought degenerated into dandyism, and died out as an organized philosophy with the French Revolution. Yet today there remain elites in many fields who wield considerable power in ways Gombaud would have appreciated: Beltway insiders, professional art critics, foreign policy "mandarins," Hollywood A-listers and many others. Even academic fields can be swayed by old-boy networks and virtuoso conference presentations.

Gombaud's most famous essays are L'honnête homme (The Honest Man) and Discours de la vraie honnêteté (Discourse on True Honesty), but he is far better known for his contribution to probability theory. He was a amateur mathematician who became interested in problem that dates to medieval times, if not earlier, the problem of the points. Suppose two players agree to pay a certain number of games, say a best of seven series, and are interrupted before they can finish. How should the stake be divided among them if, say, one has one three games and the other has won one?

In keeping with his Salon methods, Gombaud enlisted the Mersenne salon to solve it. Two famous mathematicians, Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat, took up the challenge. In a series of letters they laid the foundation for the modern theory of probability.

Source: Wikipedia

The fortunes and misfortunes of a famous gambler, the Chevalier de Mere, were the origin of an algebraic approach to probability. A noted rake and bon vivant, the Chevalier had made his pile by always betting small favorable odds on getting at least one six in four tosses of a die, then lost it by always betting small odds on getting at least one double six in twenty-four double tosses.

This theme was taken up by James Bernoulli (c. 1712) and later mathematical writers who turned their interest to probability, primarily on behalf of the new insurance industry. Il est tres bon ?rit, wrote Pascal to Fermat about the Chevalier, mais quel dommage, il n'est pas geometre. ["He's a fun guy but, alas, no mathemetician."]

Source: Famous Gamblers