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Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich

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18 May 1711

Ragusa, Dalmatia (now Dubrovnik, Croatia)

13 Feb 1787

Milan, Italy

Ruggero Boscovich studied at the Collegium Romanum in Rome and was appointed professor of mathematics there in 1740. He was one of the first in continental Europe to accept Newton 's gravitational theories and he wrote 70 papers on optics, astronomy, gravitation, meteorology and trigonometry.

His main work was in mathematical physics. In his study of the shape of the Earth he used the idea of minimising the sum of the absolute values of the deviations. His solution to this minimising problem took a geometric form. Boscovich was the first to give a procedure to compute a planet's orbit from 3 observations of its position and he also gave a procedure for determining the equator of a planet from 3 observations of a surface feature.

Boscovich became professor of mathematics at Pavia in 1764 and was director of Brera Observatory. He led an expedition to California in 1769 to observe a transit of Venus. From 1773 to 1783 he worked in Paris.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland