Bernard Frénicle de Bessy

Mathematician, Deceased Person

1605 – 1675

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Who was Bernard Frénicle de Bessy?

Bernard Frénicle de Bessy, was a French mathematician born in Paris, who wrote numerous mathematical papers, mainly in number theory and combinatorics. He is best remembered for Des quarrez ou tables magiques, a treatise on magic squares published posthumously in 1693, in which he described all 880 essentially different normal magic squares of order 4. The Frénicle standard form, a standard representation of magic squares, is named after him. He solved many problems created by Fermat and also discovered the cube property of the number 1729, later referred to as a taxicab number.

Bessy was a member of many of the scientific circles of his day, including the French Academy of Sciences, and corresponded with many prominent mathematicians, such as Mersenne and Pascal. Bessy was also particularly close to Fermat, Descartes and Wallis, and was best known for his insights into number theory.

He challenged Christiaan Huygens to solve the following system of equations in integers,

x² + y² = z², x² = u² + v², x − y = u − v.

A solution was given by Théophile Pépin in 1880.

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Also known as
  • Bernard Frenicle de Bessy
  • France
Jan 17, 1675

on July 23, 2013


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