Person: Shanks, William
William Shanks is famed for his calculation of $\pi$ to 707 places in 1873, which unfortunately was only correct for the first 527 places.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Shanks used his leisure hours working on mathematics, particularly on calculating the decimal expansion of π.
- He was influenced to undertake this task by William Rutherford from Edinburgh.
- In 1853 Shanks published a book entitled Contributions to mathematics, comprising chiefly the rectification of the circle.
- In the same year William Rutherford gave 440 decimal places in the expansion of π and, later in the same year, Shanks, in a collaboration with Rutherford, gave 530 places.
- This was a busy year for Shanks, for also in 1853 he gave 607 decimal places in the expansion of π which had been independently checked as correct to the first 500 of those places.
- At this point Shanks rested in his calculations of the decimal expansion of π, but he continued to write mathematical works.
- Between 1854 and 1874 Shanks published nine mathematical memoirs in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.
- Shanks is famed for his calculation of π to 707 places in 1873, which, unfortunately, was only correct for the first 527 places.
- Shanks also calculated eee and Euler's constant γ to a great many decimal places.
- He found that his value disagreed with that of Shanks in the 528th place.
- Ferguson discovered that Shanks had omitted two terms which caused his error.
- Shanks spent many long tedious days calculating; he would calculate new digits all morning and then he would spend all afternoon checking his morning's work.
Born 25 January 1812, Corsenside (8, km NE of Bellingham), Northumberland, England. Died 13 June 1882, Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin England, Number Theory, Puzzles And Problems, Special Numbers And Numerals
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive