William Brouncker (1620 - 1684)

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Death: Died
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About William Brouncker


William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker, PRS (1620 – 5 April 1684) was an English mathematician.


Brouncker obtained a DM at the University of Oxford in 1647. He was one of the founders and the first President of the Royal Society. In 1662, he became Chancellor to Queen Catherine, then head of the Saint Catherine's Hospital.

He was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Navy in 1664 and his career can be traced in the Diary of Samuel Pepys; despite frequent disagreements Pepys on the whole respected Brouncker more than most of his colleagues. Brouncker never married but lived for many years with the actress Abigail Williams (much to Pepys' disgust) and left most of his property to her. His title passed to his brother Henry, one of the most detested men of the era.


His mathematical work concerned in particular the calculations of the lengths of the parabola and cycloid, and the quadrature of the hyperbola, which requires approximation of the natural logarithm function by infinite series. He was the first European to solve what is now known as Pell's equation. He was the first in England to take interest in generalized continued fractions and, following the work of John Wallis, he provided development in the generalized continued fraction of pi.

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William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker's Timeline

Age 64