Person: Fincke, Thomas
Thomas Fincke was a Danish doctor who wrote a textbook on geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- His parents, Raadmand Jacob Fincke and Anna thor Smede (or Thorsmede), came from the most respected families in Flensburg.
- Thomas attended a newly founded Lutheran Latin school in Flensburg from 1570 to 1577 when he was 16 years old.
- As a consequence, mathematics was one of the major subjects that Fincke studied.
- After leaving the Academy, Fincke enrolled at the University of Heidelberg in February 1582 and then, after a semester there, he enrolled for a semester at the University of Leipzig in the summer of 1582.
- Having published such an important mathematical work, one might assume that Fincke would go on to still greater mathematical achievements.
- Fincke made a big impression in Padua and, although he was only twenty-six years old when he left, his achievements in founding a medical library were so highly appreciated that a marble pillar with inscribed commemorative plaque was put in the local church 'Santa Sofia' in his honour.
- Certainly Fincke did not return directly to Flensburg from Basel but rather made further study trips through Austria, Hungary and Bohemia before settling into a medical practise in his home town of Flensburg.
- Around the time of his marriage, Fincke received an offer of the Chair of Mathematics at the University of Copenhagen from Chancellor Niels Kaas, one of Fincke's patrons.
- On the 28 July 1602, Peder Sørensen, the professor of medicine at Copenhagen died and in April of the following year Fincke was appointed to fill this chair.
- The book introduces the terms 'tangents' and 'secants' and Fincke devised new formulae such as the law of tangents.
- The abbreviations Fincke used for the standard trigonometric functions mark the beginning of the notation which is current today.
- Fincke's book was recommended by Clavius, Napier and Pitiscus all of whom adopted much from it.
- Their eldest son, Jacob Fincke (1592-1663), went on to become Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Copenhagen.
Born 6 January 1561, Flensburg, Schleswig (now Germany). Died 24 April 1656, Copenhagen, Denmark.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Analysis, Astronomy, Geometry, Origin Germany
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive