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Mathematical Treasure: De Morgan’s Probability for Insurers

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Augustus De Morgan (1806-1871) was a British mathematician and logician. He was a versatile contributor to mathematics with many published works. One of these works specifically written for the growing British insurance business was An Essay on Probabilities and their Application to Life Contingencies and Insurance Offices (1838). The illustration on the title page features a young woman (the muse of business and trade?) sitting on wares to be shipped and looking out to sea and its perils.

In the first five pages of his Preface, De Morgan presented a brief history of the development of the mathematics of probability and its applications.

This material is obtained through the courtesy of the University of California Libraries. A complete digital copy can be read on the UC Libraries’ Internet Archive.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: De Morgan’s Probability for Insurers," Convergence (August 2016)