Bellhouse, David R. (Author)

Alves Diniz, Marcio (Author)

British Journal for the History of Mathematics

Volume: 36

Issue: 1

Pages: 13-22

The first English translation of Huygens' (1657) De Ratiociniis in Ludo Aleae was anonymously published in 1692; since the early eighteenth century it has been assigned to the Scottish physician John Arbuthnot (1667–1735). We have found evidence showing that Arbuthnot's work on probability was influenced by Archibald Pitcairne (1652–1713) and, most significantly, by David Gregory (1659–1708). Manuscripts found in Gregory's collection at the Edinburgh University Library suggest that Gregory had a key role in the translation. The circumstantial evidence presented in this article reveals that the circle of individuals led by Gregory, Arbuthnot and Pitcairne probably originated earlier than previously established and that the role of Arbuthnot was more important than originally thought. We have also shown that the first developments of probability theory in Great Britain took place in Scotland thanks to David Gregory.

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