Tag Archives: l’Hopital

Math Man!

Guess whose birthday* it is today?

Hint 1: He was a Swiss mathematician born in 1667
Hint 2: He tutored l’Hopital in mathematics
Hint 3: Most of his family members were mathematicians as well

Give up?


So why is he awesome?

Not only did he tutor l’Hopital—which eventually led to l’Hopital publishing the first formal book on calculus**–but he also tutored Euler when Euler was young. In fact, he was the one who convinced Euler’s father that he had the makings of a great mathematician, thus steering him away from a life of a pastor.

For a majority of his life, he was in a highly competitive relationship with his equally mathematically talented brother, Jakob. When his brother died of tuberculosis, Bernoulli’s jealousy actually shifted to his son (another mathematician!) and they had a few good disputes about who came up with what papers and ideas.

One super awesome thing about Bernoulli, though, was that he was one of the few who stayed on Leibniz’ side of the whole calculus dispute with Newton. He showed his support by demonstrating several problems that could be solved using Leibniz’ methods, but not Newton’s. Go Bernoulli!



*He was born on July 27th by old style dates; by new style, he was born on August 6th.
**The book was basically all of Bernoulli’s teachings written up formally, which ticked Bernoulli off quite a bit even though l’Hopital mentioned him in the book.

In This Blog: L’Hopital Frets over Getting Apples for Newton

Last night I dreamt I was in France. It was the late 17th century and I was in this huge cathedral just kind of chilling. I was confused because I knew I was supposed to be attending mass at St. Mary’s Church in Moscow, but I had somehow royally screwed up and ended up in France.

I’m sitting in a pew when this dude comes running up the main aisle. I didn’t know who he was at first, but as he got closer I noticed he was wearing a “Hello! My name is L’Hopital” nametag. He’s in the middle of totally freaking out and he’s got this empty basket slung on his arm that keeps changing colors as he’s running around.

Somehow in the dream I know that this is before l’Hopital’s Rule comes into existence, so I think in the dream that it’s my duty to keep him calm so that he’ll live long enough to publish his calculus textbook.

So I say, “Hey l’Hopital, what’s up?” And he goes on this long rant about how it’s his job to gather all these rare apples and transport them to Newton in England. He’s like on the verge of tears so I offer to help him. There’s an apple tree in the front of the church so I point him in that direction (I think it’s weird that he didn’t see that on his own) and together we start harvesting these weird-looking apples. The whole time we’re doing so he just keeps ranting about how he’s a famous mathematician and it shouldn’t fall to him to gather these apples.

This goes on for what seems like five hours (even though it was probably like microseconds in real time), and the basket is finally full. l’Hopital’s finally calmer now that he’s got the apples he needed, and he actually turns to me and thanks me. Then he looks around all deviously and whispers, “let’s make a pie out of five or six of these apples. Newton will never know! I can fill the shipping box with oranges so it weighs the same, and by the time he gets it I’ll be dead anyway, so who cares?”

And of course what am I thinking during all of this? “Holy freaking crap, I get to make pie with a famous mathematician!”

(Also, the pie was tasty.)


Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to my brain.


One of our homework problems was to solve one of the examples that l’Hopital used in his original calculus textbook.

It took me a bit to figure it out ’cause I’m dumb, but after I finished it I actually wanted to find the original example in the original work. Surprisingly, it didn’t take too long to find. INTERNET POWERZ!

L’Hopital was French. His textbook is, therefore, obviously in French. Curse my unilingualism! I understand the numbers, though, haha.


How cool is it that we got to do this example? Seriously. I really, really hope they offer History of Mathematics class next fall.

Haha. Again, apologies for all the math-related blogs lately. But in all honesty, my life is about 60% math, 15% computer science, and 25% teaching statistics right now. A portion of one of those percentages will yield to some writing in a bit, but for now this is how it is.

If I’m annoying you, just ignore me for the rest of the semester.

Dear Calculus II:

What right do you have to be so damn awesome?

L’Hopital’s rule* just made my day. It is the COOLEST FREAKING THING, man!

All of my readers who have had more advanced math are probably thinking “holy freaking crap, Claudia, shut UP with this fascination with all these things everybody else already knows,” to which I say, “NEVER! This stuff is beautiful and powerful and wondrous and gives me tinglies and should give you tinglies as well because IT ALL WORKS TOGETHER AND IT’S MIND-BLOWING HOW THE UNIVERSE FUNCTIONS SO SMOOTHLY WHEN THERE’S SO DAMN MUCH OF IT!

Also, how in the hell can anyone fall asleep in Discrete Math? Multinomial Theorem = one sexy mofo. But I still suck at permutations/combinations. You’d think with all the stats stuff that such things would be somewhat intuitive to me now, but no.

Okay, enough blogging. Gotta get back to CALC!

*Actually, the rule was most likely developed by Johann Bernoulli; he had tutored L’Hopital and L’Hopital published the rule in his own textbook in 1696 under his own name (though he noted his debt to Bernoulli in the preface). This ticked Bernoulli off and there are letters he sent to Leibniz in which he complained about L’Hopital publishing the rule without proper acknowledgement. Sigh. Calculus, man.

Edit: woah, L’Hopital died on my birthday in 1704 and Bernoulli died on my grandpa’s birthday in 1748. Freaky.