Fermat and the first mathematization of gambling. (Fermat et les prémices d’une mathématisation du hasard.) (French) Zbl 1178.01012

This is a meticulous study of the celebrated correspondence between Pascal and Fermat (1654) on games of chance. Its reading is somewhat time-consuming (demanding first of all to understand and get used to the author’s notation) but necessary for anyone concerned with that topic. The author argues that five of their letters are missing but that the letter from Fermat to Pascal dated by the year (1654) only and included for example in Vol. 1 of Pascal’s “Oeuvres complètes” (Paris, 1998) was actually written by someone else.
He also notes that Pascal had probably edited the first version of his “Traité du triangle arithmétique”, in Latin, in 1652–1653 and that a new edition of the works of Fermat “est en cours de publication”.
Reviewer’s remark: In the appended Bibliography, Hold’s name is mistakenly written as Wald.


01A45 History of mathematics in the 17th century
Full Text: DOI EuDML


[1] About (Pierre-José), Boy (Michel).— La correspondance de Blaise Pascal et de Pierre de Fermat. La géométrie du hasard ou le début du calcul des probabilités, Les cahiers de Fontenay 32, sept. 1983, 92 p (1983).
[2] Coumet (Ernest).— Sur le « calcul ès jeux de hasard » de Huygens : dialogues avec les mathématiciens français (1655-1657), dans Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, éd, Huygens et la France, Paris : Vrin, 1982, p. 123-138 (1982).
[3] Fermat (Pierre de).— Œuvres complètes, éditées par Paul Tannery et Charles Henry puis C. de Waard, 4 tomes, Paris : Gauthier-Villars, 1891-1922.
[4] Wald (Anders).— A history of probability and statistics and their applications before 1750, New York : John Wiley & Sons, (1990). · Zbl 0731.01001
[5] Kyriacopoulos (Laurent).— Peut-on tout de même parler d’un « triangle de Pascal » ?, Revue d’Histoire des Mathématiques 6.2, p. 167-217 (2000). · Zbl 1030.01016
[6] Mesnard (Jean).— Pascal et les Roannez, Paris : Desclée de Brouwer, (1965).
[7] Meusnier (Norbert).— L’émergence d’une mathématique du probable au XVIIe siècle, Revue d’Histoire des Mathématiques 2.1, p. 119-147 (1996). · Zbl 0867.01008
[8] Pascal (Blaise).— Œuvres complètes, éditées par Jean Mesnard, 4 tomes, Paris : Desclée de Brouwer, (1964).
[9] Œuvres complètes (tome I), éditées par Michel Le Guern, Paris : Gallimard, coll. La Pléiade, (1998).
This reference list is based on information provided by the publisher or from digital mathematics libraries. Its items are heuristically matched to zbMATH identifiers and may contain data conversion errors. It attempts to reflect the references listed in the original paper as accurately as possible without claiming the completeness or perfect precision of the matching.