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  • I Am Considered to be One of the Great Renaissance Polymaths
    Who Am I?

    by Anthony Parente

    I was born an illegitimate child on September 24, 1501 in the town of Pavia, which is located in the region of Lombardy. My father Fazio was a very gifted lawyer who also was an expert in mathematics. It is said that Leonardo da Vinci would consult my father on matters involving mathematics and that is how they became friends.

    Growing up I learned mathematics from my father. I later entered the University of Pavia and then the University of Padua to study medicine. I received my degree in medicine in 1525. I became a very reputable physician who was sought out by many of Europe's leaders and I was the first to give a clinical description of typhoid fever. After being rejected numerous times I was finally admitted to the College of Physicians in Milan in 1539 where I became rector shortly after I arrived.

    Even though I was a famed physician I am probably best known for my work in mathematics. In 1545 I published the book Ars Magna (The Rules of Algebra), which contained solutions to cubic and quartic equations. The solution to the cubic equation is named after me. This work was the first treatise devoted to algebra.

    I was always in need of money and turned to gambling and chess playing to help with my finances. I was extremely good at determining odds and probability. In fact I wrote the book Liber de ludo aleae (The Book of Games of Chance) in 1560 about games of chance. It was not published until 1663 well after my death. I was the first to develop a mathematical treatment of probability theory.

    In addition to writing mathematical books and practicing medicine I also invented a number of mechanical devices. Two of these devices are the gimble and drive shaft.

    In 1550 I came up with a way to write hidden messages within an ordinary letter. Using a thin metal or a thicker piece of paper you would cut out random rectangular areas. Once you placed this overtop the letter that contained the hidden message it would only reveal the letters or words from that letter that you wanted to read. This method is considered a grille cipher.

    I died on September 21, 1576 in Rome, Italy.

    For those of you who haven't figured out my identity I wish to introduce myself.

    My name is Girolamo Cardano and below you can find books about my life and my accomplishments.

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