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Full text of "A history of the mathematical theory of probability : from the time of Pascal to that of Laplace"

University of California • Berkeley 

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The favourable reception which has been granted to my History 
of the Calculus of Variations daring the Xineteenth Century has 
encouraged me to undertake another work of the same kind. 
The subject to which I now invite attention has high claims to 
consideration on account of the subtle problems which it involves, 
the valuable contributions to analysis which it has produced, its 
important practical applications, and the eminence of those who 
have cultivated it. 

The nature of the problems which the Tlieory of Probability 
contemplates, and the influence which this Theory has exercised 
on the progress of mathematical science and also on the concerns 
of practical life, cannot be discussed within the limits of a Preface ; 
we may however claim for our subject all the interest wdiicli illus- 
trious names can confer, by the simple statement that nearly 
every gi-eat mathematician within the range of a century and a 
half will come before us in the course of the history. To mention 
only the most distinguished in this distinguished roll — we sliall 
find here — Pascal and Format, worthy to be associated by kindred 
genius and character— De Moivre with his rare powers of analysis, 
which seem to belong only to a later epoch, and which justify the 
honour in which he was held by Newton — Leibnitz and the emi- 
nent school of which he may be considered the founder, a school 
including the Bernoullis and Euler — D'Alembert, one of the most 
conspicuous of those who brought on the French revolution, and 
Condorcet, one of the most illustrious of its victims — Lagrange 
and Laplace who survived until the present century, and may be 
regarded as rivals at that time for the suj^remacy of the mathe- 
matical world. 

I will now give an outline of the contents of the book. 

The first Chapter contains an account of some anticipations 
of the subject which are contained in the writings of Cardan, 
Kepler and Galileo. 

The second Chapter introduces the Chevalier de Mere' who 
having puzzled himself in vain over a problem in chances, 
fortunately turned for help to Pascal : the Problem of Points is 
discussed in the correspondence between Pascal and Format, and 
thus the Theory of Probability begins its career. 


The third Chapter analyses the treatise in which Huygens in 
1659 exhibited what was then known of the subject. Works such 
as this, which present to students the opportunity of becoming 
acquainted with the speculations of the foremost men of the 
time, cannot be too highly commended ; in this respect our sub- 
ject has been fortunate, for the example which was afforded by 
Huygens has been imitated by James Bernoulli, De Moivre and 
Laplace — and the same course might with great advantage be 
pursued in connexion with other subjects by mathematicians in 
the present day. 

The fourth Chapter contains a sketch of the early history of 
the theory of Permutations and Combinations ; and the fifth Chap- 
ter a sketch of the early history of the researches on Mortality 
and Life Insurance. Neither of these Chapters claims to be ex- 
haustive ; but they contain so much as may suffice to trace the 
connexion of the branches to which they relate with the main sub- 
ject of our history. 

The sixth Chapter gives an account of some miscellaneous in- 
vestigations between the years 1670 and 1700. Our attention is 
directed in succession to Caramuel, Sauveur, James Bernoulli, 
Leibnitz, a translator of Huygens's treatise whom I take to be 
Arbuthnot, Roberts, and Craig — the last of whom is notorious for 
an absurd abuse of mathematics in connexion with the probability 
of testimony. 

The seventh Chapter analyses the Ars Conjectandi of James 
Bernoulli. This is an elaborate treatise by one of the greatest 
mathematicians of the age, and although it was unfortunately 
left incomplete, it affords abundant evidence of its author's ability 
and of his interest in the subject. Especially we may notice the 
famous theorem which justly bears the name of James Bernoulli, 
and which places the Theory of Probability in a more commanding 
position than it had hitherto occupied. 

The eighth Chapter is devoted to Montmort. He is not to be 
compared for mathematical power with James Bernoulli or De 
Moivre; nor does he seem to have formed a very exalted idea of 
the true dignity and importance of the subject. But he was en- 
thusiastically devoted to it; he spai^ed no labour himself, and his 
influence direct or indirect stimulated the exertions of Nicolas 
Bernoulli and of De Moivre. 

The ninth Chapter relates to De Moivre, containing a full 
analysis of his Doctrine of Chances, De Moivre brought to bear 
on the subject mathematical powers of the highest order ; these 
powers are especially manifested in the results which he enun- 
ciated respecting the great problem of the Duration of Play. 
Unfortunately he did not publish demonstrations, and Lagrange 


himself more than fifty years later found a good exercise for his 
analytical skill in supplying the investigations ; this circumstance 
compels us to admire De Moivre's powers, and to regret the loss 
which his concealment of his methods has occasioned to mathe- 
matics, or at least to mathematical history. 

De Moivre's Doctrine of Chances formed a treatise on the 
subject, full, clear and accurate ; and it maintained its place as a 
standard work, at least in England, almost down to our own day. 

The tenth Chapter gives an account of some miscellaneous 
investigations between the years 1700 and 17-30. These inves- 
tio-ations are due to Nicolas Bernoulli, Arbuthnot, Browne, Mairan, 
Nicole, Buffon, Ham, Thomas Simpson and John Bernoulli. 

The eleventh Chapter relates to Daniel Bernoulli, containing 
an account of a series of memoirs published chiefly in the volumes 
of the Academy of Petersburg ; the memoirs are remarkable for 
boldness and originality, the first of them contains the celebrated 
theory of Moral Expectation. 

The twelfth Chapter relates to Euler ; it gives an account of 
his memoirs, which relate j^rincipally to certain games of chance. 

The thirteenth Chapter relates to D'Alembert ; it gives a full 
account of the objections which he urged against some of the 
fundamental principles of the subject, and of his controversy with 
Daniel Bernoulli on the mathematical investisj-ation of the ^ain to 
human life which would arise from the extirpation of one of the 
most fatal diseases to which the human race is liable. 

The fourteenth Chapter relates to Bayes ; it explains the me- 
thod by which he demonstrated his famous theorem, which may 
be said to have been the origin of that part of the subject which 
relates to the probabilities of causes as inferred from observed 

The fifteenth Chapter is devoted to Lagrange ; he contributed 
to the subject a valuable memoir on the theory of the errors of 
observations, and demonstrations of the results enunciated by De 
Moivre respecting the Duration of Play. 

The sixteenth Chapter contains notices of miscellaneous inves- 
tigations between the years 1750 and 17^0. This Chapter brings 
before us Kaestner, Clark, Mallet, John Bernoulli, Beguelin, 
Michell, Lambert, Buffon, Fuss, and some others. The memoir 
of Michell is remarkable ; it contains the famous argument for the 
existence of design drawn from the fact of the closeness of certain 
stars, like the Pleiades. 

The seventeenth Chapter relates to Cordorcet, who published a 
large book and a long memoir upon the Theory of Probability. 
He chiefly discussed the probability of the correctness of judg- 
ments determined by a majority of votes ; he has the merit of first 

vlii PREFACE. 

submitting this question to mathematical investigation, but his 
own results are not of great practical importance. 

The eighteenth Chapter relates to Trembley. He wrote several 
memoirs with the main design of establishing by elementary 
methods results which had been originally obtained by the aid of 
the higher branches of mathematics ; but he does not seem to 
have been very successful in carrying out his design. 

The nineteenth Chapter contains an account of miscellaneous 
investigations between the years 1780 and 1800. It includes- the 
following names ; Borda, Malfatti, Bicquilley, the writers in the 
mathematical portion of the Encydopedie Methodique, D'Anieres, 
Waring, Prevost and Lhuilier, and Young. 

The twentieth Chapter is devoted to Laplace ; this contains a 
full account of all his writings on the subject of Probability. First 
his memoirs in chronological order, are analysed, and then the great 
work in which he embodied all his own investigations and much 
derived from other writers. 1 hope it will be found that all the 
parts of Laplace's memoirs and work have been carefully and 
clearly expounded ; I would venture to refer for examples to 
Laplace's method of approximation to integrals, to the Problem of 
Points, to James Bernoulli's theorem, to the problem taken from 
Buffon, and above all to the famous method of Least Squares. 
With respect to the last subject I have availed myself of the 
guidance of Poisson's luminous analysis, and have given a general 
investigation, applying to the case of more than one unknown 
element. I hope I have thus accomplished something towards ren- 
dering the theory of this important method accessible to students. 

In an Appendix I have noticed some writings which came 
under my attention during the printing of the work too late to be 
referred to their proper places. 

I have endeavoured to be quite accurate in my statements, 
and to reproduce the essential elements of the original works 
which I have analysed. I have however not thought it indispen- 
sable to preserve the exact notation in which any investigation 
w^as first presented. It did not appear to me of any importance 
to retain the specific letters for denoting the known and unknown 
quantities of an algebraical problem which any writer may have 
chosen to use. Very often the same problem has been dis- 
cussed by various writers, and in order to compare their methods 
with any facility it is necessary to use one set of symbols through- 
out, although each writer may have preferred his peculiar set. 
In fact by exercising care in the choice of notation I believe that 
my exposition of contrasted methods has gained much in brevity 
and clearness without any sacrifice of real fidelity. 

I have used no symbols which are not common to all mathc- 


matical literature, except \n wliicli is an abbreviation for the pro- 
duct 1 . 2, ...'?i, frequently but not universally employed : some such 
symbol is much required, and I do not know of any which is pre- 
ferable to this, and I have accordingly introduced it in all my 

There are three important authors whom I have frequently 
cited whose works on Probability have passed through more than 
one edition, Montmort, De Moivre, and Laplace : it may save trouble 
to a person who may happen to consult the present volume if I 
here refer to pages 79, 13G, and 495 where I have stated which 
editions I have cited. 

Perhaps it may appear that I have allotted too much space to 
some of the authors whose works I examine, especially the more 
ancient ; but it is difficult to be accurate or interesting if the nar- 
rative is confined to a mere catalogue of titles : and as experience 
shews that mathematical histories are but rarely undertaken, it 
seems desirable that they should not be executed on a meagre 
and inadequate scale. 

I will here advert to some of my predecessors in this depart- 
ment of mathematical history ; and thus it will appear that I have 
not obtained much assistance from them. 

In the third volume of Montucla's Histoire des Mathematiqiies 
pages 380—426 are devoted to the Theory of Probability and the 
kindred subjects. I have always cited this volume simply by the 
name Montucla, but it is of course well known that the third and 
fourth volumes were edited from the author's manuscripts after his 
death by La Landc. I should be sorry to apj^ear ungrateful to 
Montucla; his work is indispensable to the student of mathema- 
tical history, for whatever may be its defects it remains without 
any rival. But I have been much disappointed in what he says 
respecting the Theory of Probability ; he is not copious, nor accu- 
rate, nor critical. Hallaui has characterised him with some severity, 
by saying in reference to a point of mathematical history, " Mon- 
tucla is as superficial as usual :" see a note in the second Chapter 
of the first volume of the History of the Literature of Europe. 

There are brief outlines of the history involved or formally 
incorporated in some of the elementary treatises on the Theory 
of Probability : I need notice only the best, which occurs in the 
Treatise on Probability published in the Library of L^seful Know- 
ledge. This little work is anonymous, but is known to have been 
written by Lubbock and Drinkwater ; the former is now Sir John 
Lubbock, aud the latter changed his name to Drinkwater-Bethune : 
see Professor De Morgan's Arithmetical Books... page 106, a letter 
by him in the Assurance Magazine, Yol. TX. page 238, and another 
letter by him in the Times, Dec. 16, 1862. The treatise is inter- 


esting and valuable, but I have not been able to agree uniformly 
with the historical statements which it makes or implies. 

A more ambitious work bears the title Histoire dii Calcul 
des Prohabilites depuis ses origines jusqud nos jours par Charles 
Gouraud... Paris, 184^8. This consists of 148 widely printed octavo 
pages ; it is a popular narrative entirely free from mathematical 
symbols, containing however some important specific references. 
Exact truth occasionally suffers for the sake of a rhetorical style 
unsuitable alike to history and to science; nevertheless the general 
reader will be gratified by a lively and vigorous exhibition of the 
whole course of the subject. M. Gouraud recognises the value of 
the purely mathematical part of the Theory of Probability, but 
will not allow the soundness of the applications which have been 
made of these mathematical formulse to questions involving moral 
or political considerations. His history seems to be a portion of a 
very extensive essay in three folio volumes containing 1929 pages 
written when he was very young in competition for a prize pro- 
posed by the French Academy on a subject entitled Theorie de la 
Certitude; see the Rapport by M. Franck in the Seances et Tra- 
vaux de V Academie des Sciences morales et politiques, Vol. x. 
pages 372, 382, and Vol. XI. page 139. It is scarcely necessary 
to remark that M. Gouraud has gained distinction in other branches 
of literature since the publication of his work which we have here 

There is one history of our subject which is indeed only a 
sketch but traced in lines of light by the hand of the great 
master himself: Laplace devoted a few pages of the introduction 
to his celebrated work to recording the names of his predecessors 
and their contributions to the Theory of Probability. It is much 
to be regretted that he did not supply specific references through- 
out his treatise, in order to distinguish carefully between that 
which he merely transmitted from preceding mathematicians and 
that which he originated himself. 

It is necessary to observe that in cases where I point out a 
similarity between the investigations of two or more writers I do 
not mean to imply that these investigations could not have been 
made independently. Such coincidences may occur easily and 
naturally without any reason for imputing unworthy conduct to 
those who succeed the author who had the priority in publication. 
I draw attention to this circumstance because I find with regret 
that from a passage in my former historical work an inference has 
been drawn of the kind which I here disclaim. In the case of a 
writer Uke Laplace who agrees with his predecessors, not in one or 
two points but in very many, it is of course obvious that he must 
have borrowed largely, and we conclude that he supposed the 


erudition of his contemporaries would be sufficient to prevent 
them from ascribing to himself more than was justly due. 

It will be seen that I have ventured to survey a very extensive 
field of mathematical research. It has been mv aim to estimate 
carefully and impartially the character and the merit of tlie 
numerous memoirs and works which I have examined; my criti- 
cism has been intentionally close and searching, but I trust never 
irreverent nor unjust. I have sometimes explained fully the 
errors which I detected; sometimes, when the detailed exposition 
of the error would have recpiired more space than the matter 
deserved, I have given only a brief indication which may be 
serviceable to a student of the original production itself I have 
not hesitated to introduce remarks and developments of my 
own whenever the subject seemed to require them. In an 
elaborate German review of my former puljlication on mathe- 
matical history it was suggested that my own contributions were 
too prominent, and that the purely historical character of the 
work was thereby impaired; but I have not been induced to 
change my plan, for I continue to think that such additions as I 
have been able to make tend to render the subject more in- 
telligible and more complete, without disturbing in any serious 
degree the continuity of the history. I cannot venture to expect 
that in such a difficult subject I shall be quite free from error 
either in my exposition of the labours of others, or in my own 
contributions; but I hope that such failures will not be numerous 
nor important. I shall receive most gratefully intimations of any 
errors or omissions whicli may be detected in the work. 

I have been careful to corroborate mv statements bv exact 
quotations from the originals, and these I have given in the lan- 
guages in which they were published, instead of translating them ; 
the course which I have here adopted is I understand more agree- 
able to foreign students into whose hands the book may fall. I 
have been careful to preserve the historical notices and references 
which occurred in the works I studied ; and by the aid of the 
Table of Contents, the Chronological List, and the Index, which 
accompany the present volume, it will be easy to ascertain with 
regard to any proposed mathematician down to the close of the 
eighteenth century, whether he has written au}'thing upon the 
Theory of Probability. 

I have carried the history down to the close of the eighteenth 
century ; in the case of Laplace, however, I have passed beyond this 
limit: but by far the larger part of his labours on the Theory of 
Probability were accomplished during tlie eighteenth century, 
though collected and republished by him in his celebrated work in 
the early part of the present century, and it was therefore conve- 


nient to include a full account of all his researches in the present 
volume. There is ample scope for a continuation of the work 
which should conduct the history through the period which has 
elapsed since the close of the eighteenth century ; and I have 
already made some progress in the analysis of the rich materials. 
But when I consider the time and labour expended on the present 
volume, although reluctant to abandon a long cherished design, 
I feel far less sanguine than once I did that I shall have the 
leisure to arrive at the termination I originally ventured to pro- 
pose to myself 

Although I wish the present work to be regarded princijDally as 
a history, yet there are two other aspects under which it may 
solicit the attention of students. It may claim the title of a com- 
prehensive treatise on the Theory of Probability, for it assumes 
in the reader only so much knowledge as can be gained from 
an elementary book on Algebra, and introduces him to almost 
every process and every species of problem which the literature of 
the subject can furnish; or the work may be considered more spe- 
cially as a commentary on the celebrated treatise of Laplace, — 
and perhaps no mathematical treatise ever more required or more 
deserved such an accompaniment. 

My sincere thanks are due to Professor De Morgan, himself 
conspicuous among cultivators of the Theory of Probability, for 
the kind interest which he has taken in my work, for the loan of 
scarce books, and for the suggestion of valuable references. A 
similar interest was manifested by one prematurely lost to science, 
whose mathematical and metaphysical genius, attested by his 
marvellous work on the Laws of Thought, led him naturally and 
rightfully in that direction which Pascal and Leibnitz had marked 
with the unfading lustre of their approbation; and who by his 
rare ability, his wide attainments, and his attractive character, 
gained the affection and the reverence of all who knew him. 


May, 1865. 



Chapter I. Cardan. Kepler. Galileo . . l 

Commentary on Dante, i. Cardan, Be Ludo Alece, i, Kepler, De Stella 
Nova, 4. Galileo, Considerazione sopra il Giuco del Dadi, 4 ; Lettcre, 5. 

Chapter II. Pascal and Fermat .... 7 

Quotations from Laplace, Poisson, and Boole, 7. De Mare's Problems, 7, 
Problem of Points, 9. De Merc's dissatisfaction, 11. Opinion of Leib- 
nitz, 12. Fermat's solution of the Problem of Points, 13. Roberval, 13. 
Pascal's error, 14. The Arithmetical Triangle, 17. Pascal's design, 20. 
Contemporary mathematicians, 21. 

Chapter III. Huygens 22 

De liatiodniis in Ludo Alece, 22. English translations, 23. Huygens's solu- 
tion of a problem, 24 ; Problems proposed for solution, 25. 

Chapter IV. On Combinations . . . .20 

"William Buckley, 26. Bernardus Bauhusius and Erycius Puteanus, 27. Quo- 
tation from James Bernoulli, 28. Pascal, 29. Schooten, 30. Leibnitz, 
Dissertaiio de Arte Comhinatoria, 31 ; his fruitless attempts, 33. Wallis'3 
Algebra, 34; his errors, 35. 

Chapter V. Mortality and Life Insurance . 37 

John Graunt, 37. Van Hudden and John de Witt, 38, Sir William Petty, 39. 
Correspondence between Leibnitz and James Bernoulli, 40. Halley, 4 1 ; 
his table, 42 ; geometrical illustration, 43. 

Chapter YI. Miscellaneous Investigations between 

THE YEARS 1670 AND 1700 -ii 

Caramuel's Matliesis Biceps, 44 ; his errors, 45, 46. Sauveur on Bassette, 46. 
James Bernoulli's two problems, 47. Leibnitz, 47; his error, 48. Of 
the Laws of Chance, ascribed to Motte, 48 ; really by Arbuthnot, 49 ; 
quotation from the preface, 50 ; error, 52 ; problem proposed, 53. 
Francis Roberts, An Arithmetical Paradox, 53, Craig's Theologies Chris- 
tiance Principia Maihematica, 54. Credihility of Human Testimony, 55. 

Chapter YII. Jaihes Bernoulli . . . .56 

Correspondence with Leibnitz, 56 ; Ars Conjectandi, 57. Error of Montucia, ^S. 
Contents of the Ars Conjectandi, 58. Problem of Points, 59. James 
Bernoulli's own method for problems on chances, 60; his solution of a 



problem on Duration of Play, 6i ; he points out a plausible mistake, 63; 
treats of Permutations and Combinations, 64 ; his Numbers, 65 ; Pro- 
blem of Points, 66 ; his problem with a false but plausible solution, 67 ; 
his famous Theorem, 71 ; memoir on infinite series, 73; letter on the game 
of Tennis, 75. Gouraud's opinion, 77. 

Chapter VIII. Montmoet 78 

Fontenelle's Eloge, 78. Two editions of Montmort's book, 79 ; contents of the 
book, 80; De Moivre's reference to Montmort, 81; Montmort treats 
of Combinations and the Binomial Theorem, 82 ; demonstrates a formula 
given by De Moivre, 84 ; sums certain Series, 86 ; his researches on Pha- 
raon, 87; Treize, 91; Bassette, 93. Problem sob ed by a lady, 95. Pro- 
blem of Points, 96; Bowls, 100; Duration of 1 lay, loi ; Her, 106; 
Tas, no. Letter from John Bernoulli, 113. Nicolas Bernoulli's game of 
chance, 116. Treize, 120. Summation of Series, 121. Waldegrave's 
problem, 122, Summation of Series, 125. Malebranche, 126. Pascal, 128. 
Sum of a series, 129. Argument by Arbuthnot and 's Gravesande on 
Divine Providence, 130. James Bernoulli's Theorem, 131. Montmort's 
views on a History of Mathematics, 132. Problems by Nicolas Ber- 
noulli, 133. Petersburg Problem, 134. 

Chapter IX. De Moivre 135 

Testimony of John Bernoulli and of Newton, 135. Editions of the Doc- 
trine of Chances, 136. De Mensura Sortis, 137. De Moivre's approximate 
formula, 138; his Lemma, 138; Waldegrave's problem, 139; Duration 
of Play, 140; Doctrine of Chances, 141; Litroduction to it, 142; con- 
tinued fractions, 143; De Moivre's approximate formula, 144; Duration 
of Play, 147; Woodcock's problem, 147; Bassette and Pharaon, 150; 
Numbers of Bernoulli, 151; Pharaon, 152; Treize or Rencontre, 153; 
Bowls, 159; Problem on Dice, 160; Waldegrave's problem, 162; 
Hazard, 163; Whist, 164; Piquet, 166; Dirration of Play, 167; Recur- 
ring Series, 178; Cuming's problem, 182 ; James Bernoulli's Theorem, 183 ; 
problem on a Run of Events, 184; Miscellanea Analytica, 187; contro- 
versy with Montmort, 188; Stirling's theorem, 189; Arbuthnot's argu- 
ment, 193. 

Chapter X. Miscellaneous Investigations BET^yEEN 

THE YEARS 1700 AND 1750 191? 

Nicolas Bernoulli, 194. Barbeyrac, 196. Arbuthnot's argument on Divine 
Providence, 197. Waldegrave's problem, 199. Browne's translation of 
Huygens's treatise, 199. Mairan on Odd and Even, 200. Nicole, 201. 
BufFon, 203. Ham, 203. Trente-et-quarante, 205. Simpson's Nature and 
Laws of Chance, 206; he adds something to De Moivre's results, 207; 
sums certain Series, 210; his Miscellaneous Tracts, ■21 1. Problem by John 
Bernoulli, 212. 



Chapter XL Daniel Bernoulli . . . .213 

Theory of Moral Expectation, 213; Petersburg Problem, 220; Inclination of 
planes of Planetary Orbits, 122 ; Small-pox, 224; mean dm-ation of mar- 
riages, 229; Daniel Bernoulli's problem, 231 ; Births of boys and girls, 235; 
Errors of observations, 236, 

Chapter XIL Euler 239 

Treize, 239; Mortality, 240; Annuities, 242; Pharaon, 243; Lottery, 2^5; 
Lottery, 247; notes on Lagrange, 249; Lottery, 250; Life Assurance, 256. 

Chapter XIII. D'Alembert 258 

Croix ou Pile, 258; Petersburg Problem, 259; Small-pox, 265; Petersburg 
Problem, 275; Mathematical Expectation, 276; Inoculation, 277; Croix 
ou Pile, 279; Petersburg Problem, 280; Inoculation, 282; refers to 
Laplace, 287; Petersburg Problem, 288; error in a problem, 290. 

Chapter XI Y. Bates 2.94 

Bayes's theorem, 295; his mode of investigation, 296; area of a curve, 298. 
Price's example, 299. Approximations to an area, 300, 

Chapter XV. Lagrange 301 

Theory of errors, 301; Recurring Series, 313; Problem of Points, 315; Dura- 
tion of Play, 316; Annuities, 320. 

Chapter XVI. Miscellaneous Investigations be- 
tween the years iToO AND 1780 . . .321 

Kaestner, 321. Dodson, 322. Hoyle, 322. Clark's Laics of CJiauce, 323. 
Mallet, 325, John Bernoulli, 325. Beguelin, on a Lottery problem, 3 28 ; 
on the Petersburg Problem, 332. Michell, 332. John Bernoulli, 335. 
Lambert, 335. Mallet, 337. Emerson, 343. Buffon, on gambling, 344 ; 
ou the Petersburg Problem, 345 ; his own problem, 347. Fuss, 349. 

Chapter XVIL Condorcet 351 

Dlscours Preliminaire, 351; Essai, 353; first Hj-pothesis, 353; second Hypo- 
thesis, 357; problem on a Run of Events, 361 ; election of candidates for 
an ofl&ce, 370; problems on inverse probability, 37S; Risk which may be 
neglected, 3S6 ; Trial by Jury, 388; advantageous Tribunals, 391; ex- 
pectation, 392 ; Petersburg Problem, 393 ; evaluation of feudal rights, 395 ; 
probability of future events, 398; extraordinary facts, 400; credibility 
of Roman History, 406. Opinions on Condorcet's merits, 409. 



Chapter XVIII, Teembley . . . . • . 411 

Problem of Points, 412; probability of causes, 413; problem of births, 415; 
lottery problem, 421; small-pox, 423; duration of marriages, 426; theory 
of errorS; 428 ; Her, 429. 

Chapter XIX. Miscellaneous Investigations be- 
tween the years 1780 AND 1800 . . . 432 

Prevost, 432. BorJa, 432. Malfatti, 434. Bicquilley, 438. Encyclopedie Me- 
tkodique, 441. D'Anieres, 445, Waring, 446. Ancillon, 453. Prevost and 
Lhuilier, 45 3. Young, 463. 

Chapter XX. Laplace 464 

Memoirs of 1774, 464; recurring series, 464; Duration of Play, 465; Odd 
and Even, 465; probability of causes, 465 ; theory of errors, 468; Peters- 
burg Problem, 470; Memoir of 1773, 473; Odd and Even, 473; Problem 
of Points, 474 ; Duration of Play, 474 ; Inclination of Orbits of Comets, 475 ; 
Memoir of 1781, 476 ; Duration of Play, 476; approximation to integrals, 
478; problem of births, 482; theory of errors, 484; Memoir of 1779, 484 ;. 
Generating Functions, 484; Memoir of 1782, 485; Memoirs of 1783, 485; 
Memoir of 1809, 487; Memoir of 18 10, 489; Connaissance des Terns, 490; 
Problem on Comets, 491; Theorie...des Probalilites, 495; editions of 
it, 495; dedication to Napoleon, 496; Laplace's researches in Physical 
Astronomy, 499^ Pascal's argument, 500; illusions, 501; Bacon, 503; 
Livre I. 505 ; Generating Functions, 505 ; Method of approximation, 512 ; 
examples, 516; Livre II. first Chapter, 527; second Chapter 527; Odd 
and Even, 527; Problem of Points, 528; Fourth Supplement, 532; Walde- 
grave's Problem, 535; Run of Events, 539; Inclination of the Orbits of 
Planets, 542; election of candidates, 547; third Chapter, 548; James 
Bernoulli's Theorem, 548; Daniel Bernoulli's problem, 558; fourth Chap- 
ter, 560; Poisson's problem, 561; Least Squares, 571; history of this 
subject, 588; fifth Chapter, 589. BufFon's problem, 590; sixth Chapter, 592; 
a Definite Integral, 594; seventh Chapter, 598; eighth Chapter, 601 ; 
Small-pox, 60 r; duration of marriages, 602; ninth Chapter, 605 ; exten- 
sion of James Bernoulli's Theorem, 607 ; tenth Chapter, 609 ; inequal- 
ity, 609; eleventh Chapter, 609; first Supplement, 610; second Supple- 
ment, 611; third Supplement, 612; quotation fi-om Poisson, 613. 

Appendix . 614 

John de Witt, 614. Rizzetti, 614. Kahle, 615. 's Gravesande, 616. Quotation 
from John Bernoulli, 616. Mendelsohn, 616. Lhuiher, 618. Waring, 618. 




1. The practice of games of chance must at all times have 
directed attention to some of the elementary considerations of the 
Theory of Probability. Libri finds in a commentary on the Divina 
Commedia of Dante the earliest indication of the different proba- 
bility of the various throws which can be made with three dice. 
The passage from the commentary is quoted by Libri ; it relates to 
the first line of the sixth canto of the Purgatorio. The com- 
mentary was published at Venice in 1477. See Libri, Histoire 
des Sciences Mathematiques en Italie, Vol. ii. p. 188. 

2. Some other intimations of traces of our subject in older 
writers are given by Gouraud in the following passage, unfor- 
tunately without any precise reference. 

Les anciens paraissent avoir eutierement ignore cette sorte de calcul. 
L'eruditioii moderne en a, il est vrai, trouve quelques traces dans un 
poeme en latin barbare intitule : De Vetidq, oeuvre d'un nioine du Bas- 
Empire, dans un commentaire de Dante de la fin du XY^ siecle, et 
dans les ecrits de plusieurs matliematiciens italiens du moyeu age et 

de la renaissance, Pacioli, Tartaglia, Peverone ; Go\irsi\\d,IIisto{re 

du Calcul des Frohahilites, page 3. 

3. A treatise by Cardan entitled De Ludo Alece next claims 
our attention. This treatise was published in 1663, in the first 
volume of the edition of Cardan's collected works, long after 
Cardan's death, which took -place in 1576. 



Montmort says, " Jerome Cardan a donne un Traits De Ludo 
Alese ; mais on n'y trouve que de I'erudition et des reflexions 
morales." Essai d'Analyse.-.ip. XL. Libri says, "Cardan a ecrit 
un traite special de Ludo Alece, ou se trouvent resolues plusieurs 
questions d'analyse combinatoire." Histoire, Vol. ill. p. 176. The 
former notice ascribes too little and the latter too much to 

4. Cardan's treatise occupies fifteen folio pages, each containing 
two columns; it is so badly printed as to be scarcely intelligible. 
Cardan himself was an inveterate gambler ; and his treatise may 
be best described as a gambler's manual. It contains much mis- 
cellaneous matter connected with gambling, such as descriptions of 
games and an account of the precautions necessary to be employed 
in order to guard against adversaries disposed to cheat : the 
discussions relating to chances form but a small portion of the 

5, As a specimen of Cardan's treatise we will indicate the 
contents of his thirteenth Chapter. He shews the number of 
cases which are favourable for each throw that can be made with 
two dice. Thus two and twelve can each be thrown in only one 
way. Eleven can be thrown in two ways, namely, by six appear- 
ing on either of the two dice and five on the other. Ten can be 
thrown in three ways, namely, by five a23pearing on each of the 
dice, or by six appearing on either and four on the other. And 
so on. 

Cardan proceeds, *'Sed in Ludo fritilli undecim puncta adjicere 
decet, quia una Alea potest ostendi."...The meaning apparently is, 
that the person who throws the two dice is to be considered to 
have thrown a given number when one of the dice alone exhibits 
that number, as well as when the number is made up by the sum 
of the numbers on the two dice. Hence, for six or any smaller 
number eleven more ftivourablc cases arise besides those already 

Cardan next exhibits correctly the number of cases which are 
favourable for each throw that can be made with three dice. Thus 
three and eighteen can each be thrown in only one way ; four and 


seventeen can each be thrown in three ways ; and so on. Cardan 
also gives the following list of the number of cases in Fritillo : 

12 34 5 6789 10 11 12 

108 111 115 120 12G 133 33 36 37 36 33 26 

Here we have corrected two misprints by the aid of Cardan's 
verbal statements. It is not obvious what the table means. It 
might be supposed, in analogy with what has already been said, 
that if a person throws three dice he is to be considered to have 
thrown a given number when one of the dice alone exhibits that 
number, or when two dice together exhibit it as their sum, as 
well as when all the three dice exhibit it as their sum : and this 
would agree wdth Cardans remark, that for numbers higher than 
twelve the favourable cases are the same as those already given by 
him for three dice. But this meaning does not agree with Cardan's 
table ; for with this meaning we should proceed thus to find the 
cases favourable for an ace : there are 5^ cases in which no ace 
appears, and there are 6' cases in all, hence there are 6^ — 5^ cases 
in which we have an ace or aces, that is 91 cases, and not 108 as 
Cardan gives. 

The connexion between the numbers in the ordinary mode of 
using dice and the numbers which Cardan gives appears to 
be the following. Let n be the number of cases which are favour- 
able to a given throw in the ordinary mode of using three dice, 
and N the number of cases favourable to the same throw in 
Cardan's mode ; let m be the number of cases favourable to the 
given throw in the ordinary mode of using two dice. Then for any 
throw not less than thirteen, N=n ; for any throw between seven and 
twelve, both inclusive, N = Sni + n ; for any throw not greater than 
six, i\^= 108 + 3?/i + n. There is only one deviation from this law ; 
Cardan gives 26 favourable cases for the throw twelve, and our 
proposed law would give 3 + 25, that is 28. 

We do not, however, see what simple mode of playing with 
three dice can be suo'o-ested which shall oive favourable cases 
agreeing in number with those determined by the above law. 

6. Some further account of Cardan's treatise will be found 



in the Life of Cardan, by Henry Moiiey, Vol. I. pages 92 — 95. 
Mr Morley seems to misunderstand the words of Cardan which he 
quotes on his page 92, in consequence of which he says that 
Cardan " lays it down coolly and philosophically, as one of his first 
axioms, that dice and cards ought to be played for money." In 
the passage quoted by Mr Morley, Cardan seems rather to admit 
the propriety of moderation in the stake, than to assert that there 
must be a stake; this moderation Cardan recommends elsewhere, 
as for example in his second Chapter. Cardan's treatise is briefly 
noticed in the article Prohability of the English Cyclopcedia. 

7. Some remarks on the subject of chance were made by 
Kepler in his work De Stella Kova in pede Serjjentarii, which was 
published in 1606. Kepler examines the different opinions on the 
cause of the appearance of a new star which shone with great 
splendour in 1604, and among these opinions the Epicurean notion 
that the star had been produced by the fortuitous concurrence 
of atoms. The whole passage is curious, but we need not repro- 
duce it, for it is easily accessible in the reprint of Kepler's works 
now in the course of publication ; see Joannis Kepleri Astronomi 
Opera Omnia edidit Dr Ch. Frisch, Vol. ii. pp. 714 — 716. See 
also the Life of Kepler in the Library of Useful Knoiuledge, p. 13. 
The passage attracted the attention of Dugald Stewart ; see his 
Works edited by Hamilton, Vol. I. p. 617. 

A few words of Kepler may be quoted as evidence of the 
soundness of his opinions ; he shows that even such events as 
throws of dice do not happen without a cause. He says, 

Quare hoc jactu Venus cecidit, illo canis 1 Nimh'um lusor liac vice 
tessellam alio latere arripuit, aliter marm condidit, aliter intus agitavit, 
alio impetii animi maniisve projecit, aliter interflavit aura, alio loco 
alvei imj)egit. JSTihil hie est, quod sua causa sic caruerit, si quis ista 
subtilia posset coiisectavi. 

8. The next investigation which we have to notice is that by 
Galileo, entitled Consider azione sopyu il Giuco dei Dadi. The date 
of this piece is unknown; Galileo died in 1642. It appears that 
a friend had consulted Galileo on the following dilBculty : with 
three dice the number 9 and the number 10 can each be produced 
by six different combinations, and yet experience shows that the 


number 10 is oftener thrown than the number 9. Galileo makes 
a careful and accurate analysis of all the cases which can occur, 
and he shows that out of 216 possible cases 27 are favourable 
to the appearance of the number 10, and 25 are favourable to the 
appearance of the number 9. 

The piece will be found in Vol. xiv. pages 293 — 290, of Le 

Opere cU Galileo Galilei, Firenze, 1855. From the Biblio- 

grafia Galileiana given in Vol. XV. of this edition of Galileo's 
works we learn that the piece first aj^peared in the edition of the 
works published at Florence in 1718 : here it occurs in Vol. III. 
pages 119 — 121. 

9. Libri in his Histoire des Sciences Mathematiques en Italie, 
Vol. IV. page 288, has the following remark relating to Galileo : 
..."Ton voit, par ses lettres, qu'il s'etait longtemps occupe d'une 
question delicate et non encore resolue, relative h, la maniere de 
compter les erreurs en raison geometrique ou en proportion 
arithm^tique, question qui touche ^galement au calcul des pro- 
babilites et a Tarithmetique politique." Libri refers to Vol. ii. 
page 00, of the edition of Galileo's works published at Florence 
in 1718 ; there can, however, be no doubt, that he means Vol. iii. 
The letters will be found in Vol. xiv. pages 231 — 284' of Le 
Opere... di Galileo Galilei, Firenze, 1855 ; they are entitled Lettere 
intorno la stwia di un cavallo. We are informed that in those 
days the Florentine gentlemen, instead of wasting their time 
in attention to ladies, or in the stables, or in excessive eraminfr. 
were accustomed to improve themselves by learned conversation 
in cultivated society. In one of their meetings the following 
question was proposed ; a horse is really worth a hundred crowns, 
one person estimated it at ten crowns and another at a thousand ; 
which of the two made the more extra vagrant estimate ? Amoncr 
the persons who were consulted was Galileo ; he pronounced the 
two estimates to be equally extravagant, because the ratio of a 
thousand to a hundred is the same as the ratio of a hundred to 
ten. On the other hand, a priest named Nozzolini, who was also 
consulted, pronounced the higher estimate to be more extravagant 
than the other, because the excess of a thousand above a hundred 
is gi'eater than that of a hundred above ten. Various letters of 


Galileo and Nozzolini are printed, and also a letter of Benedetto 
Castelli, who took the same side as Galileo ; it appears that Galileo 
had the same notion as Nozzolini when the question was first 
23roposed to him, but afterwards changed his mind. The matter 
is discussed by the disputants in a very lively manner, and some 
amusing illustrations are introduced. It does not appear, however, 
that the discussion is of any scientific interest or value, and the 
terms in which Libri refers to it attribute much more importance 
to Galileo's letters than they deserve. The Florentine gentlemen 
when they renounced the frivolities already mentioned might have 
investigated questions of greater moment than that which is here 
brought under our notice. 



10. The indications which we have given in tlie preceding 
Chapter of the subsequent Theory of Probability are extremely 
slight; and we find that \vriters on the subject have shewn a jus- 
tifiable pride in connecting the true origin of their science with 
the great name of Pascal. Thus, 

EUe doit la naissance h deux Georaetres frangais du dix-septieme 
si^cle, si fecond en grands hommes et en grandes decouvertes, et peut- 
^tre de tons les siecles celiii qui fait le plus d'honneur a I'esprit 
humain. Pascal et Fermat se proposerent et resolurent quelqucs pro- 
blemes sur les probabilites... Laplace, Tlieorie . . .des Prob. 1st edition, 
page 3. 

XJn probleme relatif aux jeux de liasard, propose a un austere jan- 
seniste par un homme du monde a ete I'origine du calcul des probabilites. 
Poisson, Recherches sur la Prob. page 1. 

The problem which the Chevalier de Mere (a reputed gamester) 
proposed to the recluse of Port Royal (not yet witlidi-awn from the in- 
terests of science by the more distracting contemplation of the "great- 
ness and the misery of man''), was the first of a long series of problems, 
destined to call into existence new methods in matliematical analvsis, 
and to render valuable service in the practical concerns of life." Boole, 
Laws of Thought, page 243. 

11. It appears then that the Chevalier de Mere proposed 
certain questions to Pascal ; and Pascal con^esponded with Fer- 
mat on the subject of these questions. Unfortunately only a 
portion of the correspondence is now accessible. Three letters 


of Pascal to Format on this subject, which were all written in 
165-i, were published in the Varia Opera Mathematica D. Petri 
de Fer7nat... Tolosse, 1679, pages 179 — 188. These letters are 
reprinted in Pascal's works ; in the edition of Paris, 1819, they 
occur in Yol. iv. pages 360 — 888. This volume of Pascal's works 
also contains some letters written by Format to Pascal, which are 
not given in Format's works ; two of these relate to Probabilities, 
one of them is in reply to the second of Pascal's three letters, and 
the other apparently is in reply to a letter from Pascal which 
has not been preserved ; see pages 385 — 388 of the volume. 

We will quote from the edition of Pascal's works just named. 
Pascal's first letter indicates that some previous correspondence 
had occurred which we do not possess ; the letter is dated July 29, 
1654. He begins. 

Monsieur, L'impatience me prend aussi-bieii qu a vous ; et quoique 
je sois encore au lit, je ne puis m'empeclier de vous dire que je re9us 
hier au soir, de la part de M. de Carcavi, votre lettre sur les partis, 
que j'admire si fort, que je ne puis vous le dire. Je n'ai pas le loisir de 
m'etendre ; mais en un mot vous avez trouve les deux partis des des et 
des parties dans la parfaite justesse : j'en suis tout satisfait ; car je ne 
doute plus maintenant que je ne sois dans la verite, apres la rencontre 
admirable oil je me trouve avec vous. J'admire bien da vantage la 
metliode des parties que celle des des ; j'avois vu plusieurs personnes 
trouver celle des des, comme M. le chevalier de Mere, qui est celui qui 
m'a propose ces questions, et aussi M. de Roberval ; mais M. de Mere 
n'avoit jamais pu trouver la juste valeur des parties, ni de biais pour 
y arriver : de sorte que je me trouvois seul qui eusse connu cette 

Pascal's letter then proceeds to discuss the problem to which it 
appears from the above extract he attached the greatest importance. 
It is called in English the Problem of Points, and is thus enun- 
ciated : two players want each a given number of points in order 
to win ; if they separate without playing out the game, how 
should the stakes be divided between them ? 

The question amounts to asking what is the probability which 
each player has, at any given stage of the game, of winning the 
game. In the discussion between Pascal and Fermat it is sup- 


posed that the players have equal chances of whining a single 

12. We will now give an account of Pascal's investigations 
on the Problem of Points ; in substance we translate his words. 

The following is my method for determining the share of each 
player, when, for example, two players play a game of three points 
and each player has staked 32 pistoles. 

Suppose that the first player has gained two points and the 
second player one point ; they have now to play for a point on 
this condition, that if the first player gains he takes all the money 
which is at stake, namely 6^ pistoles, and if the second player 
gains each player has two points, so that they are on terms of 
equality, and if they leave off playing each ought to take 32 
pistoles. Thus, if the first player gains, 64 pistoles belong to 
him, and if he loses, 32 pistoles belong to him. If, then, the 
players do not wish to play this game, but to separate without 
playing it, the first player w^ould say to the second " I am certain of 
32 pistoles even if I lose this game, and as for the other 32 pistoles 
perhaps I shall have them and perhaps you will have them ; the 
chances are equal. Let us then divide these 32 pistoles equally 
and give me also the 32 pistoles of which I am certain." Thus 
the first player wdll have 48 pistoles and the second 16 pistoles. 

Next, suppose that the first player has gained two points and 
the second player none, and that they are about to play for a 
point ; the condition then is that if the first player gains this 
point he secures the game and takes the 64 pistoles, and if the 
second player gains this point the players will then be in the 
situation already examined, in which the first player is entitled 
to 48 pistoles, and the second to 16 pistoles. Thus if they do not 
wish to play, the first player would say to the second " If I gain 
the point I gain 64 pistoles ; if I lose it I am entitled to 48 
pistoles. Give me then the 48 pistoles of which I am certain, 
and divide the other 16 equally, since our chances of gaining the 
point are equal." Thus the first player will have 56 pistoles and 
the second player 8 pistoles. 

Finally, suppose that the first player has gained one point and 


the second player none. If they proceed to play for a point the 
condition is that if the first player gains it the players will be in 
the situation first examined, in which the first player is entitled to 
5Q pistoles ; if the first player loses the point each player has then 
a point, and each is entitled to 32 pistoles. Thus if they do not 
wish to play, the first player would say to the second " Give me 
the 82 pistoles of which I am certain and divide the remainder of 
the 56 pistoles equally, that is, divide 24 pistoles equally." Thus 
the first player will have the sum of 32 and 12 pistoles, that is 
44 pistoles, and consequently the second will have 20 pistoles. 

13. Pascal then proceeds to enunciate two general results 
without demonstrations. We will give them in modern notation. 

(1) Suppose each player to have staked a sum of money 
denoted by A ; let the number of points in the game be n+ 1, and 
suppose the first player to have gained n points and the second 
player none. If the players agree to separate without playing 


any more the first player is entitled to 2 A — ~ . 

(2) Suppose the stakes and the number of points in the game 
as before, and suppose that the first player has gained one point 
and the second player none. If the players agree to separate 
without playing any more, the first player is entitled to 

, 1 . 3 . 5 . . . (2n - 1) 

■^2.4.6... 2/1 • 

Pascal intimates that the second theorem is difficult to prove. 
He says it depends on two propositions, the first of which is purely 
arithmetical and the second of which relates to chances. The 
first amounts in fact to the proposition in modern works on 
Algebra which gives the sum of the co-efficients of the terms in 
the Binomial Theorem. The second consists of a statement of 
the value of the first player's chance by means of combinations, 
from which by the aid of the arithmetical proposition the value 
above given is deduced. The demonstrations of these two results 
may be obtained from a general theorem which will be given later 
in the present Chapter ; see Art. 23. Pascal adds a table which 


exhibits a complete statement of all the cases which can occur in 
a game of six points. 

14. Pascal then proceeds to another topic. He says 

Je n'a pas le temps de vous envoyer la demonstration d'une difficulte 
qui etonnoit fort M. de Mere : car il a tres-bon esprit, mais il n'est pas 
geometre ; c'est, comme vous savez, un grand defaut; etmeme ilne com- 
prend pas qu'une ligne mathematique soit divisible a I'infini, et croit 
fort bien entendre qu'elle est composee de points en nombre fini, et 
jamais je n*ai pu Ten tirer ; si vous pouviez le faire, on le rendroit 
parfait. II me disoit done qu'il avoit trouve faussete dans les nombres 
par cette raison. 

The difficulty is the following. If we undertake to throw a 
six with one die the odds are in favour of doing it in four throws, 
being as 671 to 625 ; if we undertake to throw two sixes with two 
dice the odds are not in favour of doing it in twenty-four throws. 
Nevertheless 24 is to 86, which is the number of cases with two 
dice, as 4 is to 6, which is the number of cases with one die. 
Pascal proceeds 

"Voilk quel etoit son grand scandale, qui lui faisoit dire hautement 
que les propositions n'etoient pas constantes, et que I'arithmetique se 
d^mentoit. Mais vous en verrez bien aisement la raison, par les prin- 
cipes o^ vous etes. 

15. In Pascal's letter, as it is printed in Fermat's works, the 
name de Mere is not given in the passage we have quoted in the 
preceding article ; a blank occurs after the 21. It seems, however, 
to be generally allowed that the blank has been filled up correctly 
by the publishers of Pascal's works : Montmort has no doubt on 
the matter ; see his p. XXXII. See also Gouraud, p. 1 ; Lubbock 
and Drinkwater, p. 41. But there is certainly some difficulty. For 
in the extract which we have given in Art. 11, Pascal states that 
M. de Mere could solve one problem, celle des des, and seems to 
imply that he failed only in the Problem of Points. Montucla 
says that the Problem of Points w^as proposed to Pascal by the 
Chevalier de Mer^, " qui lui en proposa aussi quelques autres sur le 
jeu de des, comme de detemiiner en combien de coups on pent 
parier d'amener une rafle, &c. Ce chevalier, plus bel esprit que 


geom^tre ou analyste, rdsolut a la verite ces derni^res, qui ne sont 
pas bien difficiles ; mais il echoua pour le precedent, ainsi que 
Roberval, a qui Pascal le proposa." p. 384. These words would 
seem to imply that, in Montucla's opinion, M. de Mere was not the 
person alluded to by Pascal in the passage we have quoted in 
Article 14. We may remark that Montucla was not justified in 
suofsrestinof that M. de Mere must have been an indifferent mathe- 
matician, because he could not solve the Problem of Points ; for 
the case of Roberval shews that an eminent mathematician at that 
time might find the problem too difficult. 

Leibnitz says of M. de Mere, " II est vrai cependant que le Che- 
valier avoit quelque genie extraordinaire, meme pour les Mathe- 
matiques ;" and these words seem intended seriously, although in 
the context of this passage Leibnitz is depreciating M. de Merd. 
Leibnitii, Opera Omnia, ed. Dutens, Vol. ii. part 1. p. 92. 

In the Nouveaiix Essais, Li v. IV. Chap. 16, Leibnitz says, 
*' Le Chevalier de Mere dont les Agrements et les autres ouvrages 
ont ete imprimes, homme d'un esprit jDenetrant et qui etoit joueur 
et philosophe." 

It must be confessed that Leibnitz speaks far less favourably of 
M. de Mere in another place. Opera, Vol. V. p. 203. From this pas- 
sage, and from a note in the article on Zeno in Bayle's Dictionary, 
to which Leibnitz refers, it appears that M. de Mere maintained 
that a magnitude was not infinitely divisible : this assists in identi- 
fying him with Pascal's friend who would have been jDerfect had it 
not been for this single error. 

On the whole, in spite of the difficulty which we have pointed 
out, we conclude that M. de Mer^ really was the person who so 
strenuously asserted that the propositions of Arithmetic were in- 
consistent with themselves ; and although it may be unfortunate 
for him that he is now known principally for his error, it is some 
compensation that his name is indissolubly associated with those of 
Pascal and Fermat in the history of the Theory of Probability. 

16. The remainder of Pascal's letter relates to other mathe- 
matical topics. Fermat's reply is not extant ; but the nature of it 
may be inferred from Pascal's next letter. It appears that Fermat 


sent to Pascal a solution of the Problem of Points depending on 

Pascal's second letter is dated August 24th, 1654. He says that 
Fermat's method is satisfactory when there are only two players, 
but unsatisfactory when there are more than two. Here Pascal 
was wrong as we shall see. Pascal then gives an example of 
Fermat's method, as follows. Suppose there are two players, and 
that the first wants two points to win and the second three points. 
The game will then certainly be decided in the course of four 
trials. Take the letters a and h and write down all the combina- 
tions that can be formed of four letters. These combinations are 
the following, 16 in number : 

































































Now let A denote the player who wants two points, and B the 
player who wants three points. Then in these 16 combinations 
every combination in which a occurs twice or oftener represents a 
case favourable to A, and every combination in which h occurs 
three times or oftener represents a case favourable to B. Thus on 
counting them it will be found that there are 11 cases favourable to 
A, and 5 cases favourable to B ; and as these cases are all equally 
likely, -4's chance of winning the game is to -S's chance as 
11 is to 5. 

17. Pascal says that he communicated Fermat's method to 
Roberval, who objected to it on the following ground. In the 
example just considered it is supposed that four trials will be 
made ; but this is not necessarily the case ; for it is quite possible 
that the first player may win in the next two trials, and so the 
game be finished in two trials. Pascal answers this objection by 
stating, that although it is quite possible that the game may be 
finished in two trials or in three trials, yet we are at liberty to 
conceive that the players agree to have four trials, because, even if 
the game be decided in fewer than four trials, no difference will be 

14j pascal and fermat. 

made in the decision by the superfluous trial or trials. Pascal 
j)uts this point very clearly. 

In the context of the first passage quoted from Leibnitz in 
Art. 15, he refers to " les belles pensees de Alea, de Messieurs 
Fermat, Pascal et Huygens, oil Mr. Roberval ne pouvoit ou ne 
vouloit rien comprendre." 

The difficulty raised by Roberval was in effect reproduced by 
D'Alembert, as we shall see hereafter. 

18. Pascal then proceeds to apply Format's method to an 
example in which there are three players. Suppose that the first 
player wants one point, and each of the other players two points. 
The game will then be certainly decided in the course of three 
trials. Take the letters a, h, c and write down all the combinations 
which can be formed of three letters. These combinations are the 
following, 27 in number: 


















































































Let A denote the player who wants one point, and B and C the 
other two players. By examining the 27 cases, Pascal finds 13 
Avhich are exclusively favourable to A, namely, those in which a 
occurs twice or oftener, and those in which a, b, and c each occur 
once. He finds 3 cases which he considers equally favourable to 
A and B, namely, those in which a occurs once and b twice ; and 
similarly he finds 3 cases equally favourable to A and C. On the 
whole then the number of cases favourable to A may be considered 
to be 13 + f + f, that is 16. Then Pascal finds 4 cases which 
are exclusively favourable to B, namely those represented by bbb, 
ebb, bcb, and bbc ; and thus on the whole the number of cases 


favourable to B may be considered to be 4 + |, that is 5^. Simi- 
larly the number of cases favourable to C may be considered to 
be 5^. Thus it would appear that the chances oi A, B, and C are 
respectively as 16, 5i, and 51 

Pascal, however, says that by his own method he had found 
that the chances are as 17, 5, and 5. He infers that the differ- 
ence arises from the circumstance that in Fermat's method it is 
assumed that three trials will necessarily be made, which is not 
assumed in his own method. Pascal was wrong in supposing that 
the true result could be affected by assuming that three trials 
w^ould necessarily be made ; and indeed, as we have seen, in the 
case of two players, Pascal himself had correctly maintained 
against Roberval that a similar assumption was legitimate. 

19. A letter from Pascal to Format is dated August 29th, 1654. 
Format refers to the Problem of Points for the case of three 
players; he says that the proportions 17, 5, and 5 are correct for 
the example which we have just considered. This letter, how- 
ever, does not seem to be the reply to Pascal's of August 24th, but 
to an earlier letter which has not been preserved. 

On the 25th of September Format writes a letter to Pascal, 
in which Pascal's error is pointed out. Pascal had supposed 
that such a combination as ace represented a case equally favour- 
able to A and C\ but, as Format says, this case is exclusively 
favourable to A, because here A gains one point before C gains 
one ; and as A only wanted one point the game is thus decided 
in his favour. When the necessary correction is made, the result 
is, that the chances of A, B, and C are as 17, 5, and 5, as Pascal 
had found by his own method. 

Fermat then gives another solution, for the sake of Roberval, 
in which he does not assume that three trials will necessarilv be 
made; and he arrives at the same result as before. 

In the remainder of his letter Fermat enunciates some of his 
memorable propositions relating to the Theory of Numbers. 

Pascal replied on October 27th, 1654, to Fermat's letter, and 
said that he was entirelv satisfied. 


20. There is another letter £i'oni Fermat to Pascal which is 
not dated. It relates to a simple question which Pascal had pro- 
posed to Fermat. A person undertakes to throw a six with a die 
in eight throws ; supposing him to have made three throws with- 
out success, what portion of the stake should he be allowed to take 
on condition of giving up his fourth throw ? The chance of success 
is J, so that he should be allowed to take J of the stake on con- 
dition of giving up his throw. But suppose that we wish to esti- 
mate the value of the fourth throw before any throw is made. The 
first throw is worth J of the stake ; the second is worth J of what 
remains, that is -^ of the stake ; the third throw is worth i of w^hat 
now remains, that is -ff^ of the stake ; the fourth throw is worth 
J of what now remains, that is -^-ff-Q of the stake. 

It seems possible from Format's letter that Pascal had not dis- 
tinguished between the two cases ; but Pascal's letter, to which 
Format's is a reply, has not been preserved, so that we cannot 
be certain on the point. 

21. We see then that the Problem of Points was the prin- 
cipal question discussed by Pascal and Fermat, and it was certainly 
not exhausted by them. For they confined themselves to the case 
in which the players are supposed to possess equal skill; and their 
methods would have been extremely laborious if applied to any 
examples except those of the most simple kind. Pascal's method 
seems the more refined ; the student will perceive that it depends 
on the same principles as the modern solution of the problem 
by the aid of the Calculus of Finite Differences ; see Laplace, 
Theorie...cles Proh. page 210. 

Gouraud awards to Format's treatment of the problem an 
amount of praise which seems excessive, whether we consider that 
treatment absolutely or relatively in comparison with Pascal's ; see 
his page 9, 

22. We have next to consider Pascal's Traite du triangle 
arithmetique. This treatise was printed about 1G5-4, but not 
pubhshed until 1665 ; see Montucla, p. 387. The treatise will be 
found in the fifth volume of the edition of Pascal's works to which 
we have already referred. 


The Arithmetical Triangle in its simplest form consists of the 


table : 

1 1 







2 3 






3 G 





30 ... 

4 10 






5 15 





6 21 



■ • 

7 28 


• • 

8 3G.. 


%J a • • 

J. • 

• • 

In the successive horizontal rows we have what are now called 
the figurate numbers. Pascal distinguishes them into orders. He 
calls the simple units 1, 1, 1, 1,... which form the first row, num- 
bers of the first order; he calls the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4,... which 
form the second row, numbers of the second order; and so on. 
The numbers of the third order 1, 3, 0, 10,... had already received 
the name oi triangular numbers; and the numbers of the fourth 
order 1, 4, 10, 20,... the name oi pyr^amidal numbers. Pascal says 
that the numbers of the fifth order 1, 5, 15, 35,... had not yet 
received an express name, and he proposes to call them triangulo- 

In modern notation the if^ term of the r*^ order is 

n(ii + l) ... {n + r - 2) 


Pascal constructs the Arithmetical Triangle by the foUowdng 
definition ; each number is the sum of that immediately above it 
and that immediately to the left of it. Thus 

10 = 4 + 0, 35 = 20 + 15, 126 = 70 + 50,... 

The properties of the numbers are developed by Pascal with 
great skill and distinctness. For example, suppose we require the 
sum of the first n terms of the r^^ order : the sum is equal to the 
number of the combinations of n + r — 1 things taken r at a 
time, and Pascal establishes this by an inductive proof 



23. Pascal applies liis Arithmetical Triangle to various subjects ; 
among tliese we have the Problem of Points, the Theory of Com- 
binations, and the Powers of Binomial Quantities. We are here 
only concerned with the application to the first subject. 

In the Arithmetical T^^iangle a line drawn so as to cut off 
an equal number of units from the top horizontal row and the 
extreme left-hand vertical column is called a base. 

The bases are numbered, beginning from the top left-hand 
corner. Thus the tenth base is a line drawn through the num- 
bers 1, 9, 36, 84, 12G, 12G, 84, 36, 9, 1. It will be perceived that 
the r*^ base contains r numbers. 

Suppose then that A wants m points and that B wants n 
points. Take the {m + ii)^^ base; the chance oi A is to the chance 
of B as the sum of the first n numbers of the base, beginning at 
the highest row, is to the sum of the last m numbers. Pascal 
establishes this by induction. 

Pascal's result may be easily she^vn to coincide with that 
obtained by other methods. For the terms in the (m + ti)"^ base 
are the coefficients in the expansion of (1 -f xY'^''~^ by the Binomial 
Theorem. Let m + n — l=r\ then Pascal's result amounts to 
saying that the chance of A is proportional to 

- r (r — 1) r (r — l) ... (r — n-\-2) 

I . z n — 1 

and the chance of B proportional to 

Ij^yj^ r (r-1) ^ ^^^^ ^ r{r-l)...{r- m + 2) 

1.2 ^^1-1 

This agrees with the result now usually given in elementary 
treatises; see Algebra, Chapter Liii. 

24. Pascal then notices some particular examples. (1) Sup- 
pose that A wants one point and B wants n points. (2) Suppose 
that A wants n — 1 points and B wants n points. (3) Suppose 
that A wants n— 2 points and B wants n points. An interesting 
relation holds between the second and third examples, which we 
will exhibit. 


Let M denote the number of cases which are favourable to A , 
and N the number of cases which are favourable to B, Let 
r = 2/1 - 2. 

In the second example we have 

M — N.= . -^ = X say. 

\n— 1 I ;2 — 1 "^ 

Then if 2 aS' denote the whole sum at stake, A is entitled to 
-^ . — ^— , that is to — (2*' +X)\ so that he may be considered 
to have recovered his own stake and to have won the fraction 
^7 of his adversary's stake. 

In the third example we have 
il/ + lY = T-\ 

2 r - 1 2 (?2 - 1) 1 r - 1 1\{n-\\ 

n — \ ?i— 2 \n — 1 In — 1 

Thus we shall find that A may be considered to have recovered 
his own stake, and to have won the fraction ■— j of his adversary's 


Hence, comparing the second and third examples, we see that if 
the player who wins the first point also wins the second point, 
his advantage when he has gained the second point is double what 
it was when he had gained the first point, whatever may be the 
number of points in the game, 

25. We have now analysed all that has been preser\'ed of 
Pascal's researches on our subject. It seems however that he had 
intended to collect these researches into a complete treatise. A 
letter is extant addressed by him Celeberrimce Matheseos Academice 
Parisiensi ; this Academy was one of those voluntary associations 
which preceded the formation of formal scientific societies : see 
Pascal's Works, Vol. iv. p. 356. In the letter Pascal enumerates 
various treatises which he had prepared and which he hoped to 


publish, among wliicli was to be one on chances. His language 
shews that he had a high opinion of the novelty and importance 
of the matter he proposed to discuss ; he says, 

Novissima autem ac penitus intentatse materise tractatio, scilicet de 
compositione alece in hid is ijysi subjeclis, qnod gallico nostro idiomate 
dicitur (/aire les ^;ar^is cles jeux) : ubi ancej)s fortuna sequitate rationis 
ita reprimitur ut utrique lusorum quod jure competit exacte semper 
assignetur. Quod quidem eo fortius ratiocinando quserendnm, quo 
minus tentando investigari possit : ambigiii enim sortis eventus fortiiitse 
contingentise potius quam nattirali necessitati meritb tribuuntur. Ideo 
res hactenus erravit incerta ; nunc autem qu?e experimento rebellis 
fuerat, rationis dominium effugere non potuit : eam quippe tanta se- 
curitate in artem per geometriam reduximus, ut certitudinis ejus 
j^articeps facta, jam audacter prodeat ; et sic matheseos demonstrationes 
cum alese incertitudine jungendo, et qu?e contraria videntur conciliando, 
ab utraque nominationem suam accipiens stupendum hunc titulum jure 
sibi arrogat : alece geometria. 

But the design was probably never accomplished. The letter 
is dated 1651; Pascal died in 1662, at the early age of 39. 

26. Neglecting the trifling hints which may be found in pre- 
ceding writers we may say that the Theory of Probability really 
commenced with Pascal and Format ; and it would be difficult to 
find two names which could confer higher honour on the subject. 

The fame of Pascal rests on an extensive basis, of which 
mathematical and physical science form only a part ; and the 
regret which we may feel at his renunciation of the studies in 
which he gained his earliest renown may be diminished by reflect- 
ing on his memorable Letters, or may be lost in deeper sorrow 
wdien we contemplate the fragments which alone remain of the 
great work on the evidences of religion that was to have engaged 
the efforts of his maturest powers. 

The fame of Format is confined to a narrower range ; but it is 
of a special kind which is without a parallel in the history of 
science. Format enunciated various remarkable propositions in 
the theory of numbers. Two of these are more important than 
the rest; one of them after bafiling the powers of Euler and La- 
grange finally yielded to Cauchy, and tlie other remains still un- 


conquered. The interest which attaches to the propositions is 
increased by the uncertainty which subsists as to whether Fermat 
himself had succeeded in demonstrating them. 

The French government in the time of Louis Philippe assigned 
a grant of money for publishing a new edition of Format's works ; 
but unfortunately the design has never been accomplished. The 
edition which we have quoted in Art. 11 has been reprinted in 
facsimile by Friedlander at Berlin in 1861. 

27. At the time when the Theory of Probability started from 
the hands of Pascal and Fermat, they were the most distinguished 
mathematicians of Europe. Descartes died in 1650, and Newton 
and Leibnitz were as yet unknown ; Newton was born in 1642, 
and Leibnitz in 1646. Huygens was born in 1629, and had 
already given specimens of his powers and tokens of his future 
eminence; but at this epoch he could not have been placed on the 
level of Pascal and Fermat. In England Wall is, born in 1616, 
and appointed Savilian j^rofessor of geometry at Oxford in 1649, 
was steadily rising in reputation, while Barrow, born in 1630, was 
not appointed Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge 
until 1663. 

It might have been anticipated that a subject interesting in. 
itself and discussed by the two most distinguished mathematicians 
of the time would have attracted rapid and general attention ; but 
such does not appear to have been the case. The two great men 
themselves seem to have been indifferent to any extensive publi- 
cation of their investigations; it was sufficient for each to gain 
the approbation of the other. Pascal finally withdrew from science 
and the world ; Fermat devoted to mathematics only the leisure of 
a laborious life, and died in 1665. 

The invention of the Differential Calculus by Newton and 
Leibnitz soon offered to mathematicians a subject of absorbing 
interest ; and we shall find that the Theory of Probability advanced 
but little during the half century which followed the date of the 
correspondence between Pascal and Fermat. 



28. We have now to speak of a treatise by Hu3^gens entitled 
Be Ratiociniis in Ludo Alece. This treatise was first printed by 
Schooten at the end of his work entitled Francisci a Bcliooten 
Exercitationum Mathematicarum Lihri quinque ; it occupies pages 
519... 534 of the volume. The date 1658 is assigned to Schooten's 
work by Montucla, but the only copy which I have seen is dated 

Schooten had been the instructor of Huygens in mathematics ; 
and the treatise which we have to examine was communicated by 
Huygens to Schooten w^ritten in their vernacular tongue, and 
Schooten translated it into Latin. 

It appears from a letter written by Schooten to Wallis, that 
Wallis had seen and commended Huygens's treatise ; see Wallis's 
Algebra, 1693, p. 833. 

Leibnitz commends it. Leibnitii Opera Omnia, ed. Dutens, 
Vol. VI. part 1, p. 318. 

29. In his letter to Schooten which is printed at the beginning 
of the treatise Huygens refers to his predecessors in these words : 
Sciendum verb, quod jam pridem inter prsestantissimos totd 
Gallia Geometras calculus hie agitatus fuerit, ne quis indebitam 
mihi primse inventionis gloriam hac in re tribuat. Huygens ex- 
presses a very high opinion of the importance and interest of the 
subject he was bringing under the notice of mathematicians. 

30. The treatise is reprinted with a commentary in James 
Bernoulli's Ars Conjectandi, and forms the first of the four parts 

huvgp:ns. 2.3 

of which that work is composed. Two English translations of the 
treatise have been published ; one which has been attributed to 
Motte, but which was probably by Arbuthnot, and the other by 
W. Browne. 

31. The treatise contains fourteen propositions. The first pro- 
position asserts that if a player has equal chances of gaining a sum 
represented by a or a sum represented by b, his expectation is 
^ (a + b). The second proposition asserts that if a player has equal 
chances of gaining a or 6 or c, his expectation is J (a + 6 + c). The 
third proposition asserts that if a player has 2^ chances of gaining a 

and q chances of gaining b, his expectation is — . 

i^ + 2' 

It has been stated with reference to the last proposition : 

*' Elementary as this truth may now appear, it was not received 

altogether without opposition." Lubbock and Drinhwater, p. 42. 

It is not obvious to what these words refer; for there does not 

appear to have been any opposition to the elementary principle, 

except at a much later period by D'Alembert. 

82. The fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh propositions discuss 
simple cases of the Problem of Points, when there are two players ; 
the method is similar to Pascal's, see Art. 12. The eiirhth and 
ninth propositions discuss simple cases of the Problem of Points 
when there are ^/i?'e^ players ; the method is similar to that for two 

83. Huygens now proceeds to some questions relating to dice. 
In his tenth proposition he investigates in how many throws a 
player may undertake to throw a six with a single die. In his 
eleventh proposition he investigates in how many throws a player 
may undertake to throw twelve with a pair of dice. In his 
twelfth proposition he investigates how many dice a player must 
have in order to undertake that in one throw two sixes at least 
may appear. The thirteenth proposition consists of the following 
problem. A and B play with two dice ; if a seven is thrown, 
^1 wins; if a ten is thrown, B Avins; if any other number is 
thrown, the stakes are divided : compare the chances of A and B. 
They are shewn to be as 13 is to 11. 

24 ^ HUYGENS. 

84. The fourteenth proposition consists of the following 
problem. A and B play with two dice on the condition that A 
is to have the stake if he throws six before B throws seven, and 
that B is to have the stake if he throws seven before A throws 
six ; ^ is to begin, and they are to throw alternately ; compare 
the chances of A and B. 

We will give the solution of Huygens. Let B's chance be 
worth X, and the stake a, so that a — a? is the worth of ^'s chance ; 
then whenever it is ^.'s turn to throw x will express the value 
of B's chance, but when it is i>'s own turn to throw his chance 
will have a different value, say ?/. Suppose then A is about to 
throw ; there are 36 equally likely cases ; in 5 cases A wins and B 
takes nothing, in the other 81 cases A loses and B's turn comes 
on, which is worth y by supposition. So that by the third propo- 
sition of the treatise the expectation of B is ^ — - , that is, 

^2l, Thus 
So 81?/ 

Now suppose B about to throw, and let us estimate ^'s chance. 
There are S6 equally likely cases ; in 6 cases B wins and A takes 
nothing ; in the other 80 cases B loses and ^'s turn comes on 
again, in which case B's chance is worth x by supposition. So 

that the expectation of B is — ^j^ — . Thus 



From these equations it will be found that x = -^ , and thus 


a — x=^ 


, so that ^'s chance is to ^'s chance as 80 is to 81. 

85. At the end of his treatise Huygens gives five problems 
without analysis or demonstration, which he leaves to the reader. 
Solutions are given by Bernoulli in the Ars Conjectandi. The 
following are the problems. 

(1) A and B play with two dice on this condition, that A gains 
if he throws six, and B gains if he throws seven. A first has one 


throw, then B has two throAvs, then A two throws, and so on until 
one or the other gains. Shew that ^'s chance is to J5's as 10355 to 

(2) Three players A, B, C take twelve balls, eight of which 
are black and four white. They play on the following condition ; 
they are to draw blindfold, and the first who draws a white ball 
wins. A is to have the first turn, B the next, G the next, then 
A again, and so on. Determine the chances of the players. 

Bernoulli solves this on three suppositions as to the meaning ; 
first he supposes that each ball is replaced after it is drawn ; 
secondly he supposes that there is only one set of twelve balls, 
and that the balls are not replaced after being drawn ; thirdly he 
supposes that each player has his own set of twelve balls, and that 
the balls are not replaced after being drawn. 

(3) There are forty cards forming four sets each of ten cards ; 
A plays with B and undertakes in drawing four cards to obtain 
one of each set. Shew that ^'s chance is to -S's as 1000 is to 8139. 

(4) Twelve balls are taken, eight of which are black and four 
are white. A pla3^s with B and undertakes in drawing seven balls 
blindfold to obtain three white balls. Compare the chances of 
A and B. 

(5) A and B take each twelve counters and play with three 
dice on this condition, that if eleven is throAA-n A gives a counter 
to B, and if fourteen is thrown B gives a counter to A ; and he 
wins the game who first obtains all the counters. Shew that A 's 
chance is to ^'s as 244140625 is to 282429536481. 

oQ>. The treatise by Huygens continued to form the best 
account of the subject until it was superseded by the more elabo- 
rate works of James Bernoulli, Montmort, and De Moivre. Before 
we speak of these we shall give some account of the history of the 
theory of combinations, and of the inquiries into the laws of 
mortality and the principles of life insurance, and notices of 
various miscellaneous investigations. 



87. The theory of combinations is closely connected witli the 
theory of probability ; so that we shall find it convenient to imi- 
tate Montucla in giving some account of the writings on the 
former subject up to the close of the seventeenth century. 

88. The earliest notice we have found respecting combinations 
is contained in Wallis's Algebra as quoted by him from a work by 
William Buckley; see Wallis's Algebra 1693, page 489. Buckley 
was a member of King's College, Cambridge, and lived in the time 
of Edward the Sixth. He wrote a small tract in Latin verse con- 
taining the rules of Arithmetic. In . Sir John Leslie's Pliilosophj 
of Arithmetic full citations are given from Buckley's work; in 
Dr. Peacock's History of A rithmetic a citation is given ; see also 
De Morgan's Arithmetical Books from the invention of Printing .. . 

Wallis quotes twelve lines which form a Regula Comhinationis, 
and then explains them. We may say briefly that the rule 
amounts to assigning the whole number of combinations which can 
be formed of a given number of things, when taken one at a time, 
or two at a time, or three at a time,. . . and so on until they are taken 
all together. The rule shews that the mode of proceeding was 
the same as that which we shall indicate hereafter in speaking 
of Schooten ; thus for four things Buckley's rule gives, like Schoo- 
ten's, 1 + 2 + 4 + 8, that is 15 combinations in all. 

By some mistake or misprint Wallis apparently overestimates 
the age of Buckley's work, when he says *' . . . in Arithmetica sua, 

lUUHUsius. 27 

versibus scripta ante annos plus minus 190;" in the ninth Chapter 
of the Algebra the date of about 1550 is assigned to Buckley's 

89. We must now notice an example of combinations which 
is of historical notoriety although it is very slightly connected 
with the theory. 

A book was published at Antwerp in 1617 by Erycius Pu- 
teanus under the title, Erycii Puteani Fietatis TJiaumata in 
Bernardi Bauhusii ^ Societate Jesu Proteum Parthenium. The 
book consists of IIG quarto pages, exclusive of seven pages, not 
numbered, which contain an Index, Censura, Summa Privilegii, 
and a typographical ornament. 

It appears that Bernardus Bauhusius composed the following 
line in honour of the Virgin Mary : 

Tot tibi sunt dotes, Virgo, quot sidera copIo. 

This verse is arranged in 1022 different ways, occupying 48 pages 
of the work. First we have 54 arrangements commencing Tot tibi; 
then 25 arrangements commencing Tot sunt; and so on. Although 
these arrangements are sometimes ascribed to Puteanus, they ajD- 
pear from the dedication of the book to be the work of Bauhusius 
himself; Puteanus supplies verses of his own and a series of chap- 
ters in prose which he calls Thaumata, and which are distinguished 
by the Greek letters from A to O inclusive. The number 1022 is 
the same as the number of the stars accordino- to Ptolemy's Cata- 
logue, wdiich coincidence Puteanus seems to consider the great 
merit of the labours of Bauhusius ; see his page 82. 

It is to be observed that Bauhusius did not profess to include 
all the possible arrangements of his line; he expressly rejected those 
which would have conveyed a sense inconsistent with the glory of 
the Virgin Mary. As Puteanus sa3\s, page 103, 
Dicere horruit Vates : 

Sidera tot ca?lo, Virgo, quot sunt tibi Dotes, 

imb in hunc sensum producere Proteum recusavit, ne laudem immi- 
nueret. Sic igitur contraxit versuum numerum ; ut Dotium augeret. 

40. The line due to Bauhusius on account of its numerous 
an-angements seems to have attracted gi'eat attention during the 
following century ; the discussion on the subject was finally settled 


by James Bernoulli in his Ars Coiijectandi, where he thus details 
the history of the problem. 

. , . Quemadmodum cernere est in hexametro a Bernli. Bauhusio Jesuita 
Lovaniensi in laudem Virginis Deiparse constructo : 

Tot tihi sunt Dotes, Virgo, quot sidera ccdo ; 
qiiem dignnm peculiari opera duxerunt plures Viri celebres. Erycius 
Puteanus in libello, quern. Tliaumata Pietatis inscripsit, variationes ejus 
utiles integris 48 paginis enumerat, easque numero stellarum, quarum 
vulgb 1022 recensentur, accommodat, omissis scrupulosius illis, quse di- 
cere videntur, tot sidera cselo esse, quot Marine dotes; nam Mariae 
dotes esse multo plures. Eundem numerum 1022 ex Puteano repetifc 
Gerh. Yossius, cap. 7, de Scient. Matliemat. Prestetus Gallus in prima 
editione Element. Matliemat. pag. 358. Proteo huic 2196 variationes 
attribuit, sed facta revisione in altera edit. torn. pr. pag. 133. numerum 
earum dimidio fere auctum ad 3276 extendit. Industrii Actorum Lips. 
Collectores m. Jun. 1686, in recensione Tractatus Wallisiani de Algebra, 
numerum in qusestione (quem Auctor ipse definire non fuit ausus) ad 
2580 determinant. Et ipse postmodum Wallisius in edit, latina operis 
sui Oxon. anno 1693. impressa, pagin. 494. eundem ad 3096 profert. 
Sed omnes adliuc a vero deficientes, ut delusam tot Yirorum post 
adhibitas quoque secundas curas in re levi perspicaciam meritb mireris. 
Ars Conjectandi, page 78. 

James Bernoulli seems to imply that the two editions of 
Wallis's Algebra differ in their enumeration of the arrangements 
of the line due to Bauhusius ; but this is not the case : the two 
editions agree in investigation and in result. 

James Bernoulli proceeds to say that he had found that there 
could be 3312 arrangements without breaking the law of metre; 
this excludes spondaic lines but includes those which have no 
caesura. The analysis which produces this number is given. 

41. The earliest treatise on combinations which we have ob- 
served is due to Pascal. It is contained in the work on the 
Arithmetical Triangle which we have noticed in Art. 22; it will 
also be found in the fifth volume of Pascal's works, Paris 1819, 
pages 86—107. 

The investigations of Pascal on combinations depend on his 
Arithmetical Triangle. The following is his principal result; we 
express it in modern notation. 


Take an Arithmetical Triangle with r numbers in its base; 
then the sum of the numbers in the _29"' horizontal row is equal to 
the multitude of the combinations of r things taken p at a time. 
For example, in Art 22 we have a triangle with 10 numbers in 
its base ; now take the numbers in the 8th horizontal column ; 
their sum is 1 4-8 + 36, that is 45; and there are 45 combinations 
of 10 things taken 8 at a time. Pascal's proof is inductive. It 
may be observed that multitudo is Pascal's word in tlie Latin of 
his treatise, and multitude in the French version of a part of the 
treatise which is given in pages 22 — 30 of the volume. 

From this he deduces various inferences such as the followino-. 
Let there be n things ; the sum of the multitude of the combinations 
which can be formed, one at a time, two at a time,... , up to n at 
a time, is 2''— 1. 

At the end Pascal considers this problem. Datis duobus numeris 
inaequalibus, invenire quot modis minor in majore combinetur. 
And from his Arithmetical THangle he deduces in effect the follow- 
ing result ; the number of combinations of r things taken p at 
a time is 

(^+1) (p + 2) (;; + 3)...r 


After this problem Pascal adds. 

Hoc problemate tractatum liiiuc absolvere constitiieram, non tamen 
omniiio sine molestia, cum niulta alia parata liabeam ; sed ubi tanta 
ubertas, vi moderanda eat fames : his ergo pauca hsec subjiciam. 

Eruditissimus ac milii charisimus, D.D. de Ganieres, circa combina- 
tiones, assiduo ac peiiitili labore, more suo, incumbens, ac indigens 
facili constructione ad inveniendum quoties numerus datus in alio dato 
combinetur, hanc ipse sibi praxim instituit. 

Pascal then gives the rule ; it amounts to this ; the num- 
ber of combinations of r things taken |) at a time is 

r (>'- 1)... {r-p+ 1) 

■ {p ■ 

This is the form with which we are now most familiar. It 
may be immediately shewn to agree with the form given before 
by Pascal, by cancelling or introducing factors into both numerator 
and denominator. Pascal however savs, Excellentem hanc solu- 

.so SniOOTEN. 

tionem ipse mihi ostendit, ac etiam demonstranJam proposiiit, ipsam 
ego san^ miratus sum, sed difficultate territus vix opus suscepi, 
et ipsi authori relinquendum existimavi; attamen trianguli arith- 
metici auxilio, sic proclivis facta est via. Pascal then establishes 
the correctness of the rule by the aid of his Arithmetical Triangle; 
after which he concludes thus, Hac demonstratione assecuta, jam 
reliqua quae invitus supprimebam libenter omitto, adeo dulce est 
amicorum memorari. 

42. In the work of Schooten to which w^e have already re- 
ferred in Art. 28 we find some very slight remarks on combinations 
and their applications; see pages 873 — 403. Schooten's first sec- 
tion is entitled, Ratio inveniendi electiones omnes, qu^ fieri pos- 
sunt, data multitudine rerum. He takes four letters a, h, c, d, 
and arranges them thus, 


h. ah. 

c. ac. he. ahc. 

d. ad. hd. abd. cd. acd. bed. abed. 

Thus he finds that 15 elections can be made out of these four 
letters. So he adds, Hinc si per a designatur unum malum, jDer b 
unum pirum, per c unum prunum, et per d unum cerasum, et ipsa 
alitor atque alitor, ut supra, eligantur, electio eorum fieri poterit 15 
diversis modis, ut sequitur 

Schooten next takes five letters ; and thus he infers the result 
which we should now express by saying that, if there are n letters 
the whole number of elections is 2"— 1. 

Hence if a, b, c, d are prime factors of a number, and all dif- 
ferent, Schooten infers that the number has 15 divisors excludinsf 
unity but including the number itself, or 1 6 including also unity. 

Next suppose some of the letters are repeated; as for example 
suppose we have a, a, b, and c ; it is required to determine how 
many elections can be made. Schooten arranges the letters thus, 


a. aa. 

h. ah. aab. 

c. ac. aac. be. ahc. aabc. 
We have thus 2 + 3 + 6 elections. 


Similarly if the proposed letters are a, a, a, b, h, it is found 
that 11 elections can be made. 

In his following sections Schooten proceeds to apply these 
results to questions relating to the number of divisors in a number. 
Thus, for example, supposing a, h, c, d, to be different prime 
factors, numbers of the following forms all have 16 divisors, 
ahcd, a^hc, a^b^, a^b, a)^. Hence the question may be asked, what is 
the least number which has 10 divisors? This question must 
be answered by trial ; we must take the smallest prime numbers 
2, 8,. . . and substitute them in the above forms and pick out the least 
number. It will be found on trial that the least number is 2^. 3. 5, 
that is 120. Similarly, suppose we require the least number which 
has 24 divisors. The suitable forms of numbers for 24 divisors 
are ci^bcd, a^¥c, oJ'bc, a^¥, a'b'^, o}^h and a^^. It will be found on 
trial that the least number is 2^ 3^. 5, that is 360. 

Schooten has given two tables connected with this kind of 
question. (1) A table of the algebraical forms of numbers which 
have any given number of divisors not exceeding a hundred ; and 
in this table, when more than one form is given in any case, the 
first form is that which he has found by trial will give the least 
number with the corresponding number of divisors. (2) A table 
of the least numbers which have any assigned number of divisors 
not exceeding a hundred. Schooten devotes ten pages to a list of 
all the prime numbers under 10,000. 

43. A dissertation was pubHshed by Leibnitz in 1666, entitled 
Dissertatio de Arte Combinatoma; part of it had been previously 
published in the same year under the title of Disputatio arith- 
metica de comjilexionihus. The dissertation is interesting as the 
earliest work of Leibnitz connected with mathematics ; the con- 
nexion however is very slight. The dissertation is contained in 
the second volume of the edition of the works of Leibnitz by 
Dutens ; and in the first volume of the second section of the 
mathematical works of Leibnitz edited by Gerhardt, Halle, 1858. 
The dissertation is also included in the collection of the philoso- 
phical writings of Leibnitz edited by Erdmann, Berlin, 1840. 

44. Leibnitz constructs a table at the beginning of his dis- 


sertation similar to Pascal's Arithmetical Triangle, and applies it 
to find the number of the combinations of an assigned set of things 
taken two, three, four,... together. In the latter part of his disser- 
tation Leibnitz shews how to obtain the number of permutations 
of a set of things taken all together ; and he forms the product of 
the first 24* natural numbers. He brings forward several Latin 
lines, including that which we have already quoted in Art. 39, 
and notices the great number of arrangements which can be 
formed of them. 

The greater part of the dissertation however is of such a 
character as to confirm the correctness of Erdmann's judgment in 
including it among the philosophical works of Leibnitz. Thus, 
for example, there is a long discussion as to the number of moods 
in a syllogism. There is also a demonstration of the existence of 
the Deity, which is founded on three definitions, one postulate, 
four axioms, and one result of observation, namely, aliquod corpus 

4iD. We will notice some points of interest in the dissertation. 

(1) Leibnitz proposes a curious mode of expression. When 
a set of things is to be taken two at a time he uses the S3rmbol 
com2natio (combinatio) ; when three at a time he uses conSnatio 
(conternatio) ; when four at a time, con4natio, and so on. 

(2) The mathematical treatment of the subject of combina- 
tions is far inferior to that given by Pascal ; probably Leibnitz 
had not seen the work of Pascal. Leibnitz seems to intimate 
that his predecessors had confined themselves to the combina- 
tions of things two at a time, and that he had himself extended 
the subject so far as to shew how to obtain from his table the 
combinations of things taken together more than two at a time ; 
generaliorem modum nos deteximus, specialis est vidgatus. He 
gives the rule for the combination of things two at a time, namely, 

that which we now express by the formula ^ — -^ ; but he does 

not give the similar rule for combinations three, four,... at a time, 
which is contained in Pascal's work. 

(3) After giving his table, which is analogous to the Arith- 


metical Triangle, he adds, "Adjiciemus hie Theoremata quorum 
TO on ex ipsa tabula manifestum est, to Slotl ex tabulae funda- 
niento." The only theorem here that is of any importance is that 
which we should now express thus : if n be prime the number of 
combinations of n things taken r at a time is divisible by n. 

(4) A passage in which Leibnitz names his predecessors may 
be quoted. After saying that he had partly furnished the matter 
himself and partly obtained it from others, he adds, 

Quis ilia primus detexerit ignoramus. Scliwentenis Belie. 1. 1, Sect. 1, 
prop. 32, apud Hieronymum Cardanum, Johannem Buteonem et 
Nicolaum Tartaleam, extare dicit. In Cardani tameu Practica Arith- 
metica quae prodiit Mediolani anno 1539, nihil reperimus. Inprimis 
dilucide, quicquid dudum habetur, proposuit Christoph. Clavius in Com. 
supra Joh. de Sacro Bosco Spliaer. edit. Bomte forma 4ta anno 1785. 
p. 33. seqq. 

With respect to Schwenter it has been observ^ed, 

Schwenter probably alluded to Cardan s book, " De Proportionibus," 
in which the figurate numbers are mentioned, and their use shown in 
the extraction of roots, as employed by Stifel, a German algebraist, 
who wrote in the early part of the sixteenth century. Lubbock and 
Drinkwater, page 45. 

(5) Leibnitz uses the symbols -1 = in their present sense ; 

he uses -— ^ for multiplication and --^ for division. He uses the 
word productiun in the sense of a sum : thus he calls 4 the pro- 
ductum of 3 + 1. 

46. The dissertation shews that at the age of twenty years 
the distinguishing characteristics of Leibnitz were strongly de- 
veloped. The extent of his reading is indicated by the numerous 
references to authors on various subjects. We see evidence too 
that he had already indulged in those dreams of impossible achieve- 
ments in which his vast powers were uselessly squandered. He 
vainly hoped to produce substantial realities by combining the 
precarious definitions of metaphysics with the elementary tniisms 
of logic, and to these fruitless attempts he gave the aspiring titles 
of universal science, general science, and philosophical calculus. 
See Erdmann, pages 82 — 91, especially page 84. 


34 ^yALLIS. 

47. A discourse of coinhinations, alternations, and aliquot 
parts is attached to the English edition of Wallis's Algebra pub- 
lished in 1685. In the Latin edition of the Algebra, published in 
1693, this j^art of the work occupies pages 485 — 529. 

In referring to Wallis's Algebra we shall give the pages of the 
Latin edition ; but in quoting from him we shall adopt his own 
English version. The English version was reprinted by Maseres in 
a volume of reprints which was published at London in 1795 under 
the title of The Doctrine of Permutations and Gomhinations, being 
an essential and fundamental part of the Doctrine of Chances. 

48. "Wallis's first Chapter is Of the variety of Elections, or 
Choise, in taking or leaving One or more, out of a certain Num- 
her of things proposed. He draws up a Table which agrees 
with Pascal's Arithmetical Triangle, and shews how it may be 
used in finding the number of combinations of an assigned set 
of things taken two, three, four, five,... at a time. Wallis does 
not add any thing to what Pascal had given, to whom however 
he does not refer ; and Wallis's clumsy parenthetical style con- 
trasts very unfavourably with the clear bright stream of thought 
and language which flowed from the genius of Pascal. The 
chapter closes with an extract from the Arithmetic of Buckley 
and an explanation of it ; to this we have aU'eady referred in 
Art. 38. 

49. Wallis's second Chapter is Of Alternations, or the different 
change of Order, in any Number of things ptroposed. Here he 
gives some examples of what are now usually called permutations ; 
thus if there are four letters a, h, c, d, the number of permutations 
when they are taken all together is 4 x 3 x 2 x 1. Wallis accord- 
ingly exhibits the 24 permutations of these four letters. He forms 
the product of the first twenty-four natural numbers, which is the 
number of the permutations of twenty-four things taken all toge- 

Wallis exhibits the 24 permutations of the letters in the word 
Roma taken all together ; and then he subjoins, *' Of which (in 
Latin) these seven are only useful; Roma, ramo,oram,mora, maro, 
armo, amor. The other forms are useless ; as affording no (Latin) 
word of known signification." 


Wallis then considers the case in which there is some repetition 
among the quantities of which we require the permutations. He 
takes the letters which compose the word Messes. Here if there 
were no repetition of letters the number of permutations of the 
letters taken all together would^ be 1x2x3x4x5x0, that is 
720 ; but as Wallis explains, owing to the occurrence of the letter 
e twice, and of the letter s thrice, the number 720 must be divided 
by 2 X 2 X 3, that is by 12. Thus the number of permutations is 
reduced to 60. Wallis exhibits these permutations and then sub- 
joins, " Of all which varieties, there is none beside messes itself, 
that affords an useful AnagTam." The chapter closes with Wallis's 
attempt at determining the number of arrangements of the verse 

Tot tibi sunt dotes, virgo, quot sidera caelo. 

The attempt is followed by these w^ords, " I will not be posi- 
tive, that there may not be some other Changes : (and then, those 
may be added to these :) Or, that most of these be twice repeated, 
(and if so, those are to be abated out of the Number :) But I do 
not, at present, discern either the one and other." 

Wallis's attempt is a very bad specimen of analysis ; it involves 
both the errors he himself anticipates, for some cases are omitted 
and some counted more than once. It seems strange that he 
should have failed in such a problem considering the extraordinary 
powers of abstraction and memory which he possessed ; so that 
as he states, he extracted the square root of a number taken at 
random wdth 53 figures, in tenebris decumbens, sola fretus 
memoria. See his Algebra, page 150. 

50. Wallis's third Chapter is Of the Divisors and Aliquot 
paints, of a Number i^roposed. This Chapter treats of the resolu- 
tion of a number into its prime factors, and of the number of 
divisors Avhich a given number has, and of the least numbers 
which have an assigned number of divisors. 

51. Wallis's fourth Chapter is Monsieur Fermafs Problems con- 
cerning Divisors and Aliquot Parts. It contains solutions of two 
problems which Fermat had proposed as a challenge to Wallis and 
the English mathematicians. The problems relate to what is now 
called the Theory of Numbers. 




52. Thus the theory of combinations is not applied by Wallis 
in any manner that materially bears upon our subject. In fact 
the influence of Format seems to have been more powerful than 
that of Pascal ; and the Theory of Numbers more cultivated than 
the Theory of Probability. 

The judgment of Montmort seems correct that nothing of any 
importance in the Theory of Combinations previous to his own 
Avork had been added to the results of Pascal. Montmort, on his 
page XXXV, names as writers on the subject Prestet, Tacquet, and 
Wallis. I have not seen the works of Prestet and Tacquet ; 
Gouraud refers to Prestet's Nouveaux elements de mathematiqiies, 
2® ed., in the following terms, Le pere Prestet, enfin, fort habile 
geom^tre, avait explique avec infiniment de clart^, en 1689, les 
principaux artifices de cet art ingenieux de composer et de varier 
les grandeurs. Gouraud, page 23. 



53. The history of the investigations on the laws of mortality 
and of the calculations of life insurances is sufficiently important 
and extensive to demand a separate work ; these subjects were 
originally connected with the Theory of Probability but may now 
be considered to form an independent kingdom in mathematical 
science : we shall therefore confine ourselves to tracing their 

54. According to Gouraud the use of tables of mortality was 
not quite unknown to the ancients: after speaking of such a 
table as unkno'svn until the time of John de Witt he subjoins 
in a note, 

Inconnue du moins des modernes. Car il paraitrait par un passage 
du Digeste, ad legem Falcidlam, xxxv. 2, 68, que les Romains n'en 
ignoraieut pas absolument I'usage. Voyez "k ce sujet M. Y. Leclerc, 
Des Journaux chez les Romains, p. 198, et une curieuse dissertation: 
De prohabilitate vitce ejusqite usu forensi, etc., d'un certain Schmelzer 
(Goettingue, 1787, in-8). Gouraud, page 14. 

55. The first name which is usually mentioned in connexion 
with our present subject is that of John Graunt : I borrow a 
notice of him from Lubbock and Drinkwater, page 4-i. After 
referrino: to the reoisters of the annual numbers of deaths in 
London which began to be kept in 159:^, and which with some 


intermissions between 1d94< and 1603 have since been regularly 
continued, they proceed thus. 

They were first intended to make known the progress of the plague ; 
and it was not till 1662 that Captain Graunt, a most acute and intel- 
ligent man, conceived the idea of rendering them subservient to the 
ulterior objects of determining the population and growth of the me- 
tropolis ; as before his time, to use his own words, " most of them who 
constantly took in the weekly bills of mortality, made little or no use 
of them than so as they might take the same as a text to talk upon in 
the next company; and withal, in the plague time, how the sickness 
increased or decreased, that so the rich might guess of the necessity of 
their removal, and tradesmen might conjecture what doings they were 
like to have in their respective dealings." Graunt was careful to pub- 
lish with his deductions the actual returns from which they were 
obtained, comparing himself, when so doing, to "a silly schoolboy, 
coming to say his lesson to the world (that peevish and tetchie master,) 
who brings a bundle of rods, wherewith to be whipped for every mistake 
he has committed." Many subsequent writers have betrayed more fear 
of the punishment they might be liable to on making similar disclosures, 
and have kept entirely out of sight the sources of their conclusions. 
The immunity they have thus purchased from contradiction could not 
be obtained but at the expense of confidence in their results. 

These researches procured for Graunt the honour of being chosen a 
fellow of the Koyal Society, . . . 

Gouraud says in a note on his page 16, 

...John Graunt, homme sans geometric, mais qui ne manquait ni 
de sagacite ni de bon sens, avait, dans une sorte de traite d'Arithme- 
tique politique intitule: Natural and 'political observations .. .made itpon 
the hills of mortality^ etc., rassemble ces difierentes listes, et donne meme 
i^ihid. chap, xi.) un calcul, a la verite fort grossier, mais du moins fort 
original, de la mortalite probable \ chaque age d'un certain nombre 
d'individus supposes n6s viables tons au meme instant. 

See also the AtJienceum for October 31st, 1863, page 537. 

56. The names of two Dutchmen next present themselves, 

Van Hudden and John de Witt. Montucla says, page 407, 

Le probleme des rentes viageres fut traite par Van Hudden, qui 
quoique geometre, ne laissa pas que d'etre bourguemestre d' Amsterdam, 


et par le c61ebre pensionnaire d'Hollande, Jean de Witfc, iin dea pre^ 
miers promoteurs de la geometrie de Descartes. Jlgnore le titre de 
I'ecrit de Hudden, mais celui de Jean de Witt etoit intitule : De vardye 
van de lif-renten na j^^oportie van de los-renten, ou la Valeur des rentes 
viageres en raison des ventes lihres ou remboursahles (La Haye, 1C71). 
lis etoient I'un et I'autre plus a portee que personne d'en sentir I'impor- 
tance et de se procurer les depouillemens necessaires de registres de inor- 
talitc; aussi Leibnitz, passant en Hollande quelques annees apres, fit 
tout son possible pour se procurer I'ecrit de Jean de Witt, mais il ne 
pent y parvenir; il n'etoit cependant pas absolument perdu, car M. Ni- 
colas Struyck {Inleiding tot het algemeine geography, &c. Amst. 1740, 
in 4o. p. 345) nous apprend qu'il en a eu un exemj)laire entre les mains; 
il nous en donne un precis, par lequel on voit combien Jean de Witt 
raisonnoit juste sur cette matiere. 

Le chevalier Petty, Anglois, qui s'occupa beaucoup de calculs poli- 
tiques, entrevit le probleme, mais il n'etoit pas assez geometre pour le 
traiter fructueusement, en sorte que, jusqu'a Halley, I'Angleterre et la 
France qui emprunterent tant et ont tant empruntc de2:)uis, le firent 
comme des aveugles ou comme de jeunes debauclics. 

57. Witli respect to Sir William Petty, to whom Montucla 
refers, we may remark that his writings do not seem to Iiave been 
very important in connexion with our present subject. Some 
account of them is given in the article A rithmetique Politique of 
the original French Encyclopedie ; the article is reproduced in 
the Encyclopedie Methodique. Gouraud speaks of Petty thus in a 
note on his page 1 6, 

Apres Graunt, le chevalier W. Petty, dans differents essais d'eco- 
nomie politique, oi\ il y avait, il est vrai, plus d 'imagination que de 
jugement, s'etait, de 1682 a 1687, occupe de semblables recherclies. 

58. W^ith respect to Van Hudden to whom Montucla also 
refers we can only add that his name is mentioned with appro- 
bation by Leibnitz, in conjunction with that of John de Witt, 
for his researches on annuities. See Leihnitii Opera Omnia, ed. 
Dutens, Vol. II. part 1, page 93 ; Vol. Yl. part 1, page 217. 

69. With respect to the work of John de Witt we have 
some notices in the correspondence between Leibnitz and James 
Bernoulli; but these notices do not literallv confirm Montucla's 


statement respecting Leibnitz : see Leihnizens Matliematische 
Schriften herausgegehen von C. I. Gerhardt, Erste Abtheilung. 
Band ill. Halle 1855. James Bernoulli says, page 78, 

Nuper in Menstruis Excerptis Hanoverae imjoressis citatum, inveni 
Tractatum quendam mihi ignotum Pensionarii de Wit von Subtiler 
Ausreclinung des valoris der Leib-Renten. Fortasse is quaedam hue 
facientia liabet; quod si sit, copiam ejus mihi alieunde fieri percuperem. 

In liis reply Leibnitz says, page 84, 

Pensionarii de Wit libellus exiguus est, ubi aestimatione ilia nota 
utitur a possibilitate casuum aequalium aequali et liinc ostendit re- 
ditus ad vitam sufiicientes pro sorte a Batavis solvi. Ideo Belgice 
scripserat, ut aequitas in vulgus apjDareret. 

In his next letter, page 89, James Bernoulli says that De 
Witt's book will be useful to him; and as he had in vain tried 
to obtain it from Amsterdam he asks for the loan of the copy 
which Leibnitz possessed. Leibnitz replies, page 93, 

Pensionarii Wittii dissertatio, vel potius Scheda impressa de re- 
ditibus ad vitam, sane brevis, extat quidem inter chartas meas, sed cum 
ad Te mittere vellem, reperire nondum potui. Dabo tamen operam ut 
nanciscare, ubi primum domi eruere licebit alicubi latitantem. 

James Bernoulli again asked for the book, page 95. Leibnitz 
replies, page 99, 

Pensionarii Wittii scriptum nondum satis quaerere licuit inter char- 
tas; non dubito tamen, quin sim tandem reperturus, ubi vacaverit. 
Sed vix aliquid in eo novum Tibi occurret, cum fundamentis iisdem 
ubique insistat, quibus cum alii viri docti jam erant usi, tum Paschalius 
in Triangulo Aritlimetico, et Hugenius in diss, de Alea, nempe ut 
medium Arithmeticum inter aeque incerta sumatur; quo fundamento 
etiam rustic! utuntur, cum praediorum pretia aestimant, et rerum fis- 
calium curatores, cum reditus praefecturarum Principis medios consti- 
tuunt, quando se offert conductor. 

In the last of his letters to James Bernoulli which is given, Leib- 
nitz implies that he has not yet found the book ; see page 103. 

We find from pages 767, 769 of the volume that Leibnitz 
attempted to procure a copy of De Witt's dissertation by the aid 
of John Bernoulli, but without success. 

These letters were written in the years 1703, 1704, 1705. 


60. The political fame of John de Witt has overpowered 
that which he might have gained from science, and thus his mathe- 
matical attainments are rarely noticed. We may therefore add 
that he is said to have published a work entitled Elementa linea- 
rum curvarum, Leyden 1650, which is commended by Condorcet ; 
see Condorcet's Essai...d'Analyse... i>age CLXXXiv. 

CI. We have now to notice a memoir by Halley, entitled An 
estimate of the Degrees of the Mortality of Mankind, dravm from 
carious Tables of the Births and Funerals at the City of Breslaiv; 
with an Attempt to ascertain the Price of Annuities upon Lives. 

This memoir is published in Vol. xvil. of the Philosophical 
Transactions, 1693 ; it occupies pages 596 — 610. 

This memoir is justly celebrated as having laid the foundations 
of a correct theory of the value of life annuities. 

62. Halley refers to the bills of mortality which had been 
published for London and Dublin ; but these bills were not suit- 
able for drawing accurate deductions. 

First, In that the Number of the People was wanting. Secondly, 
That the Ages of the People d}dng was not to be had. And Lastly, 
That both London and Dublin by reason of the great and casual 
Accession of Strangers who die therein, (as appeared in both, by the 
great Excess of the Funerals above the Births) rendered them incapable 
of being Standards for this purpose; which requires, if it were possible, 
that the People we treat of should not at all be changed, but die where 
they were born, without any Adventitious Increase from Abroad, or 
Decay by Migration elsewhere. 

63. Halley then intimates that he had found satisfactory data 
in the Bills of Mortality for the city of Breslau for the years 
1687, 88, 89, 90, 91 ; which *'had then been recently communi- 
cated by Neumann (probably at Halley's request) through Justell, 
to the Royal Society, in whose archives it is supposed that copies 
of the original registers are still preserved." Lubbock and Drink- 
luater, page 45. 

64. The Breslau registers do not appear to have been pub- 
lished themselves, and Halley gives only a very brief introduction 


to the table which he deduced from them. Halley's table is in the 
following form: 





The left-hand number indicates ages and the right-hand num- 
ber the corresponding number of persons alive. We do not feel 
confident of the meaning of the table. Montucla, page 408, under- 
stood that out of 1000 persons born, 855 attain to the age of one 
year, then 798 out of these attain to the age of two years, and 
so on. 

Daniel Bernoulli understood that the number of infants born 
is not named, but that 1000 are supposed to reach one year, then 
855 out of these reach two years, and so on. Hist de VAcad. ... 
Paris, 1760. 

^D. Halley proceeds to shew the use of his table in the calcu- 
lation of annuities. To find the value of an annuity on the life of 
a given person we must take from the table the chance that he 
will be alive after the lapse of n years, and multiply this chance 
by the present value of the annual payment due at the end of 
n years ; we must then sum the results thus obtained for all values 
of n from 1 to the extreme possible age for the life of the given 
person. Halley says that " This will without doubt appear to 
be a most laborious Calculation." He gives a table of the value 
of an annuity for every fifth year of age up to the seventieth. 

^Q. He considers also the case of annuities on joint lives, or 
on one of two or more lives. Suppose that we have two persons, 
an elder and a younger, and we wish to know the probability 
of one or both being alive at the end of a given number of years. 
Let N be the number in the table opposite to the present age of 
the younger person, and R the number opposite to that age in- 
creased by the given number of years ; and let N=R-\- Y, so that 
Y represents the number who have died out of N in the given 
number of years. Let n, r, y denote similar quantities for the 
elder age. Then the chance that both will be dead at the end 



of the given number of years is —■ ; the chance that the younger 


will be alive and the elder dead is -r^ ; and so on. 

Halley gives according to the fashion of the time a geometri- 
cal illustration. 



E _C 



Let AB or CD represent N, and DE or BH represent R, 
so that EC or HA represents F. Similarly AC, AF, CF may 
represent n, r, y. Then of course the rectangle ECFG represents 
Ty, and so on. 

In like manner, Halley first gives the proposition relating to 
three lives in an algebraical form, and then a geometrical illus- 
tration by means of a parallelepiped. We find it difficult in 
the present day to understand how such simple algebraical pro- 
positions could be rendered more intelligible by the aid of areas 
and solids. 

67. On pages 654^ — 6oQ of the same volume of the Pliiloso- 
pMcal Transactions we have Some further Considerations on the 
Breslaiu Bills of Mortality. By the same Hand, d'C. 

68. De Moivre refers to Halley's memoir, and republishes 
the table; see Be Moivre's Doctrine of Chances, pages 261, ^^o. 


Between the yeaes 1670 and 1700. 

69. The present chapter will contain notices of various con- 
tributions to our subject, which were made between the publi- 
cation of the treatise by Huygens and of the more elaborate 
works by James Bernoulli, Montmort, and De Moivre. 

70. A Jesuit named John Caramuel published in 1670, under 
the title of Mathesis Bicej^s, two folio volumes of a course of 
Mathematics ; it appears from the list of the author's works at the 
beginning of the first volume that the entire course was to have 
comprised four volumes. 

There is a section called Gomhinatoria which occupies pages 
921 — 1036, and part of this is devoted to our subject. 

Caramuel gives first an account of combinations in the modern 
sense of the word; there is nothing requiring special attention 
here : the work contains the ordinary results, not proved by general 
symbols but exhibited by means of examples. Caramuel refers 
often to Clavius and Izquierdus as his guides. 

After this account of combinations in the modern sense Cara- 
muel proceeds to explain the Ars Lidliana, that is the method of 
affording assistance in reasoning, or rather in disputation, proposed 
by Raymond Lully. 

71. Afterwards we have a treatise on chances under the title 
of Kyheia, quce Combinatorioe genus est, de Alea, et Ludis FortuncB 


serio disputans. This treatise includes a reprint of tlie treatise of 
Huygens, which however is attributed to another person. Cara- 
muel says, page 984, 

Dum hoc Syntagma Perilhistri Domino N. Viro eruditissimo com- 
municarem, ostendit etiam mihi ingeniosam quamdam de eodem argu- 
ment© Diatribam, quam ^ Christiano Severino Longomontano fuisse 
scriptam putabat, et, quia est curiosa, et brevis, debuit huic Qusestioni 

In the table of contents to his work, page xxviii, Caramuel 
speaks of the tract of Huygens as 

Diatribe ingeniose a Longomontano, ut putatur, de hoc eodem argu- 
mento scripta : nescio an evulgata. 

Longomontanus was a Danish astronomer who lived from 15G2 
to 1647. 

72. Nicolas Bernoulli speaks very severely of Caramuel. He 
says XJn Jesuite nomme Caramuel, que j'ai citd dans ma These... 
mais comme tout ce qu'il donne n'est qu'un amas de paralogismes, 
je ne le compte pour rien. Montmort, p. 387. 

By his T}ie$e Nicolas Bernoulli probably means his Specimina 
Artis conjectandi..., which will be noticed in a subsequent Chapter, 
but Caramuel's name is not mentioned in that essay as reprinted 
in the A da Erud. . . . Suppl. 

John Bernoulli in a letter to Leibnitz speaks more favourably 
of Caramuel ; see page 715 of the volume cited in Art. 59. 

73. Nicolas Bernoulli has exaggerated the Jesuit's blunders. 
Caramuel touches on the following points, and correctly : the 
chances of the throws with two dice ; simple cases of the Problem 
of Points for two players ; the chance of throwing an ace once at 
least in two throws, or in three throws ; the game of Passe-dix. 

He goes Avrong in trying the Problem of Points for three 
players, which he does for two simple cases ; and also in two other 
problems, one of which is the fourteenth of Huygens's treatise, and 
the otlier is of exactly the same kind. 

Caramuel's method with the fourteenth problem of Huygens's 
treatise is as follows. Suppose the stake to be 36 ; then A's chance 


5 5 

at his first throw is ^ , and ^ x 86 = 5 ; thus taking 5 from 86 we 

may consider 81 as left for B. Now B's chance of success in a single 

throw is ^ ; thus — x 81, that is 5 J, may be considered the value 
oO oO 

of his first throw. 

Thus Caramuel assigns 5 to J. and 5 J to B, as the value of 

their first throws respectively ; then the remaining 25f he proposes 

to divide equally between A and B. This is wrong : he ought to 

have continued his process, and have assigned to A for his second 

5 6 

throw ^ of the 25f , and then to B for his second throw -^ of the 

remainder ; and so on. Thus he Avould have had for the shares of 
each player an infinite geometrical progression, and the result 
would have been correct. 

It is strange that Caramuel went wrong when he had the 
treatise of Huygens to guide him ; it seems clear that he followed 
this oruidance in the discussion of the Problem of Points for Uvo 
players, and then deserted it. 

74. In the Journal des Scavans for Feb. 1679, Sauveur gave 
some formulae without demonstration relating to the advantage of 
the Banker at the game of Bassette. Demonstrations of the for- 
mulae will be found in the Ars Conjectandi of James Bernoulli, 
pages 191 — 199. I have examined Sauveur's formulae as given 
in the Amsterdam edition of the Journal. There are six series 
of formulae ; in the first five, which alone involve any difficulty, 
Sauveur and Bernoulli agree : the last series is obtained by simply 
subtracting the second from the fifth, and in this case by mistake 
or misprint Sauveur is wrong. Bernoulli seems to exaggerate the 
discrepancy when he says, Qu5d si quis D.ni Salvatoris Tabellas 
cum hisce nostris contulerit, deprehendet illas in quibusdam locis, 
praesertim ultimis, nonnihil emendationis indigere. Montucla, 
page 390, and Gouraud, page 17, seem also to think Sauveur more 
inaccurate than he really is. 

An eloge of Sauveur by Fontenelle is given in the volume 
for 1716 of the Hist, de F Acad.... Paris. Fontenelle says that 
Bassette was more beneficial to Sauveur than to most of those who 


played at it with so much fury ; it was at the request of the Marquis 
of Dangeau that Sauveur undertook the investigation of the 
chances of the game. Sauveur was in consequence introduced at 
court, and had the honour of explaining his calculations to the 
King and Queen. See also Montmor^t, page xxxix. 

75. James Bernoulli proposed for solution two problems in 
chances in the Journal des Sgavans for 1685. They are as 
follows : 

1. A and B play with a die, on condition that he who first 
throws an ace wins. First A throws once, then B throws once, 
then A throws twice, then B throws twice, then A throws three 
times, then B throws three times, and so on until ace is thrown. 

2. Or first A throws once, then B twice, then A three times, 
then B four times, and so on. 

The problems remained unsolved until James Bernoulli himself 
gave the results in the Acta Eruditorum for 1690. Afterwards in 
the same volume Leibnitz gave the rcsidts. The chances involve 
infinite series which are not summed. 

James Bernoulli's solutions are reprinted in the collected 
edition of his works, Geneva, 17^4 ; see pages 207 and 430. The 
problems are also solved in the Ars Conjectandi, pages 52 — oG. 

76. Leibnitz took great interest in the Theory of Probability 
and shewed that he was fully alive to its importance, although he 
cannot be said himself to have contributed to its advance. There 
was one subject which especially attracted his attention, namely 
that of games of all kinds ; he himself here found an exercise for 
his inventive powers. He believed that men had noAvhere shewn 
more ingenuity than in their amusements, and that even those of 
children might usefully engage the attention of the greatest mathe- 
maticians. He wished to have a systematic treatise on games, 
comprising first those which depended on numbers alone, secondly 
those which depended on position, like chess, and lastly those 
which depended on motion, like billiards. This he considered 
would be useful in bringing to perfection the art of invention, or 


as he expresses it in another place, in bringing to perfection the 
art of arts, which is the art of thinking. 

See Leihnitii Opera Omnia, ed. Dutens, Vol. v. pages 17, 22, 28, 
29, 203, 206. Vol. Vi. part 1, 271, 304. Erdmann, page 175. 

See also Opera Omnia, ed. Dutens, Vol. vi. part 1, page 36, 
for the design which Leibnitz entertained of writing a work on 
estimating the probability of conclusions obtained by arguments. 

77. Leibnitz however furnishes an example of the liability to 
error which seems peculiarly characteristic of our subject. He 
says. Opera Omnia, ed. Dutens, Vol. vi. part 1, page 217, 

...par exemple, avec deux des, il est aussi faisable de jetter douze 
points, que d'en jetter onze ; car Tun et I'autre no se peut faire que 
d'une seule manierej mais il est trois fois plus faisable d'en jetter 
sept; car cela se peut faire en jettant six et un, cinq et deux, quatre 
et trois; et une combinaison ici est aussi faisable que I'autre. 

It is true that eleven can only be made up of six and five ; but 
the six may be on either of the dice and the five on the other, so 
that the chance of throwing eleven with two dice is twice as great 
as the chance of throwing twelve : and similarly the chance of 
throwing seven is six times as great as the chance of throwing 

78. A work entitled Of the Laws of Chance is said by Montu- 
cla to have appeared at London in 1692; he adds mais n'ayant 
jamais rencontr^ ce livre, je ne puis en dire davantage. Je le 
soupconne n^anmoins de Benjamin Motte, depuis secretaire de 
la society royale. Montucla, page 391. 

Lubbock and Drink water say respecting it, page 43, 
This essay, which was edited, and is generally supposed to have 
been written by Motte, the secretary of the Koyal Society, contains 
a translation of Huyghens's treatise, and an ajDplication of his princi- 
ples to the determination of the advantage of the banker at pharaon, 
hazard, and other games, and to some questions relating to lotteries. 

A similar statement is made by Galloway in his Treatise on 
Prohahility, page 5. 

79. It does not appear however that there was any fellow 
of the Royal Society named Motte; for the name does not occur 


in the list of fellows given in Thomson's History of the Royal 

I have no doubt that the work is due to Arbuthnot. For 
there is an English translation of Huygens's treatise by W. 
Browne, published in 1714 ; in his Advertisement to the Reader 
Browne says, speaking of Huygens's treatise, 

Besides the Latin Editions it has pass'd thro', the learned Dr 
Arbuthnott publish'd an English one, together with an Application 
of the General Doctrine to some pai-ticular Games then most in use; 
which is so intirely dispers'd Abroad, that an Account of it is all we 
can now meet with. 

This seems to imply that there had been no other transla- 
tion except Arbuthnot's; and the words ''an Application of the 
General Doctrine to some particular Games then most in use" 
agree very well with some which occur in the work itself: ''It 
is easy to apply this method to the Games that are in use amongst 
us." See page 28 of the fourth edition. 

Watt's Bihliotheca Britannica, under the head Arbuthnot, places 
the work with the date 1G92. 

80. I have seen only one copy of this book, which was lent 
to me by Professor De Morgan. The title page is as follows: 

Of the laws of chance, or, a method of calculation of the hazards 
of game, plainly demonstrated, and applied to games at present most 
in use; which may be easily extended to the most intricate cases of 
chance imaginable. The fourth edition, ro^is'd by John Ham. By 
whom is added, a demonstration of the gain of the banker in any 
circumstance of the game call'd Pharaon; and how to determine the 
odds at the Ace of Hearts or Fair Chance; with the arithmetical 
solution of some questions relating to lotteries; and a few remarks 
upon Hazard and Backgammon. London. Printed for B. Motte and 
C. Bathurst, at the Middle-Temple Gate in Fleet-street, jt.dcc.xxxviii. 

81. I proceed to describe the work as it appears in the 
fourth edition. 

The book is of small octavo size; it may be said to consist of 
two parts. The first part extends to page 49 ; it contains a trans- 
lation of Huygens's treatise with some additional matter. Page 50 
is blank ; page 51 is in fact a title page containing a reprint 



of part of the title we have already given, namely from "a de- 
monstration" down to "Backgammon." 

The words which have been quoted from Lubbock and Drink- 
water in Art. 78, seem not to distinguish between these two 
parts. There is nothing about the " advantage of the banker 
at Pharaon" in the first part; and the investigations which are 
given in the second part could not, I believe, have appeared so 
early as 1692: they seem evidently taken from De Moivre. De 
Moivre says in the second paragraph of his preface, 

I had not at that time read anything concerning this Subject, hut 
Mr. Huygens's Book, de Eatiociniis in Ludo Alese, and a little Eng- 
lish Piece (which was properly a Translation of it) done by a very in- 
genious Gentleman, who, tho' capable of carrying the matter a great 
deal farther, was contented to follow his Original; adding only to it 
the computation of the Advantage of the Setter in the Play called 
Hazard, and some few things more. 

82. The work is preceded by a Preface written with vigour 
but not free from coarseness. We will give some extracts, which 
show that the writer was sound in his views and sagacious in 
his expectations. 

It is thought as necessary to write a Preface before a Book, as 
it is judg'd civil, when you invite a Friend to Dinner to proffer him 
a Glass of Hock beforehand for a Whet: And this being maim'd 
enough for want of a Dedication, I am resolv'd it shall not want an' 
Epistle to the Beader too. I shall not take upon me to determine, 
whether it is lawful to play at Dice or not, leaving that to be disputed 
betwixt the Fanatick Parsons and the Sharpers ; I am sure it is lawful 
to deal with Dice as with other Epidemic Distempers; 

A great part of this Discourse is a Translation from Mons. Huy- 
gens's Treatise, De ratiociniis in ludo Alese; one, who in his Improve- 
ments of Philosophy, has but one Superior, and I think few or no 
equals. The whole I undertook for my own Divertisement, next to 
the Satisfaction of some Friends, who would now and then be wran- 
gling about the Proportions of Hazards in some Cases that are here 
decided. All it requir'd was a few spare Hours, and but little Work 
for the Brain; my Design in publishing it, was to make it of more 
general Dse, and perhaps persuade a raw Squire, by it, to keep his 
Money in his Pocket; and if, upon this account, I should incur the 


Clamours of the Sharpers, I do not m^^ch regard it, since they are 
a sort of People the World is not bound to provide for 

...It is impossible for a Die, with snch determin'd force and di- 
rection, not to fall on such a determin'd side, and therefore I call that 
Chance which is nothing but want of Art ; 

The Reader may here observe the Force of Numbers, which can 
be successfully applied, even to those things, which one would imagine 
are subject to no Rules. There are very few things which we know, 
which are not capable of Ijeing reduc'd to a Mathematical Reasoning; 
and when they cannot, it's a sign our Knowledge of them is very small 
and confus'd; and where a mathematical reasoning can be had, it's as 
great folly to make use of any other, as to grope for a thing in the 
dark, when you have a Candle standing by you. I believe the Cal- 
culation of the Quantity of Probability might be improved to a very 
useful and pleasant Speculation, and applied to a great many Events 
which are accidental, besides those of Games ; 

...There is likewise a Calculation of the Quantity of Probability 
founded on Experience, to be made use of in Wagers about any thing; 
it is odds, if a Woman is with Child, but it shall be a Boy; and if 
you would know the just odds, you must consider the Proportion in 
the Bills that the Males bear to the Females: The Yearlv Bills of 
Mortality are observed to bear such Proportion to the live People as 
1 to 30, or 2Q; therefore it is an even Wager, that one out of thir- 
teen dies within a Year (which may be a good reason, tho' not the 
true, of that foolish piece of Superstition), because, at this rate, if 1 
out of 26 dies, you are no loser. It is but 1 to 18 if you meet a 
Parson in the Street, that he proves to be a Non-Juror, because there 
is but 1 of 36 that are such. 

83. Pages 1 to 25 contain a translation of Huygens's treatise 
including the five problems which he left unsolved. Respecting 
these our author says 

The Calculus of the preceding Problems is left out by Mons. Huy- 
gens, on purpose that the ingenious Reader may have the satisfiiction of 
applying the former method himself; it is in most of them more labo- 
rious than difficult : for Example, I have pitch'd upon the second and 
third, because the rest can be solv'd after the same Method. 

Our author solves the second problem in the first of the 
three senses which it may bear according to the Ars Conjectandi, 



and he arrives at the same result as James Bernoulli on page 58 
of the Ars Conjectandi. Our author adds, 

I have suppos'd here the Sense of the Problem to be, that when any- 
one chus'd a Counter, he did not diminish their number; but if he 
miss'd of a white one, put it in again, and left an equal hazard to him 

who had the following choice; for if it be otherwise suppos'd, ^'s share 

55 9 

will be Y9^ » which is less than Yq • 


This result ^-^ however is wrong in either of the other two 

senses which James Bernoulli ascribes to the problem, for which he 

77 101 
obtains j^ and z-^ respectively as the results ; see Art. 35. 

84. Then follow some other calculations about games. We 
have some remarks about the Boyal-Oak Lottery which are analo- 
gous to those made on the Play of the Royal Oak by De Moivre 
in the Preface to his Doctrine of Chances. 

A table is g^iven of the number of various throws which can be 
made with three dice. Pages 84 — 39 are taken from Pascal ; they 
seem introduced abruptly, and they give very little that had not 
already occurred in the translation of Huygens's treatise. 

85. Our author touches on Whist ; and he solves two problems 
about the situation of honours. These solutions are only approxi- 
mate, as he does not distinguish between the dealers and their 
adversaries. And he also solves the problem of comparing the 
chances of two sides, one of which is at eight and the other at 
nine; the same remark applies to this solution. He makes the 
chances as 9 to 7; De Moivre by a stricter investigation makes 
them nearly as 25 to 18. See Doctrine of Chances, page 176. 

86. Our author says on page 43, 

All the former Cases can be calculated by the Theorems laid down 
by Monsieur Huygens; but Cases more compos'd require other Prin- 
ciples; for the easy and ready Computation of which, I shall add one 
Theorem more, demonstrated after Monsieur Huygens's method. 

The theorem is : " if I have p Cliances for a, q Chances for h, 


and r Chances for c, then my hazard is worth ^J- — — " Our 

]_)^- q + r 

author demonstrates this, and intimates that it may be extended 

to the case when there are also s Chances for d, &c. 

Our author then considers the game of Hazard. He gives an 
investigation similar to that in De Moivre, and leading to the 
same results; see Doctrine of Chances, page IGO. 

87. The first part of the book concludes thus : 

All those Problems suppose Chances, which are in an equal proba- 
bility to happen; if it should be suppos'd otherwise, there will arise 
variety of Cases of a quite different nature, which, perhaps, 'twere not 
unpleasant to consider : I sliall add one Problem of that kind, leaving 
the Solution to those who think it merits their pains. 

In Parallel ipipedo cujus latera sunt ad iuvicem in ratione a,b,c: 
Invenire quota vice quivis suscipere potest, ut datum quodvis planum, 
v.g. aSjaciat. 

The problem was aftersvards discussed by Thomas Simpson ; it 
is Problem xxvil, of his Nature and Laius of CJiance. 

88. It will be convenient to postpone an account of the second 
part of the book until after we have examined the works of De 

89. We next notice An Arithmetical Paradox, concerning the 
Chances of Lotteries, by the Honourable Francis Roberts, Esq. ; 
Fellow of the R S. 

This is published in Vol. xvii. of the Philosophical Trans- 
actions, 1693 ; it occupies pages 677 — 681. 

Suppose in one lottery that there are three blanks, and three 
prizes each of 16 pence ; suppose in another lottery that there are 
four blanks, and two prizes each of 2 shilliugs. Now for one 
drawing, in the first lottery the expectation is ^ of 16 pence, and in 
the second it is J of 2 shillings ; so that it is 8 pence in each case. 
The paradox which Roberts finds is this ; suppose that a gamester 
pays a shilling for the chance in one of these lotteries ; then 
although, as we have just seen, the expectations are equal, yet the 
odds against him are 3 to 1 in the first lottery, and only 2 to 1 in 
the second. 


The paradox is made by Roberts himself, by his own arbitrary 
definition of odds. 

Supposing a lottery has a blanks and h prizes, and let each 
prize be r shillings ; and suppose a gamester gives a shilling for 
one drawing in the lottery; then Roberts says the odds against 

a 1 

him are formed by the product of j ^^^ T > ^^^^ '^^) "tl^® ^^^^ 

are as a to Z> (r — 1). This is entirely arbitrary. 

The mere algebra of the paper is quite correct, and is a curious 
specimen of the mode of work of the day. 

The author is doubtless the same whose name is spelt Robartes 
in De Moivre's Preface. 

90. I borrow from Lubbock and Drinkwater an account of a 
work which I have not seen ; it is given on their page 45. 

It is not necessary to do more than mention an essay, by Craig, on 
the probability of testimony, which appeared in 1699, under the title 
of "Theologi£e Cliristianse Principia Mathematica." This attempt to 
introduce mathematical language and reasoning into moral subjects can 
scarcely be read with seriousness ; it has the appearance of an insane 
parody of Newton's Principia, which then engrossed the attention of the 
mathematical world. The author begins by stating that he considers 
the mind as a movable, and arguments as so many moving forces, by 
which a certain velocity of suspicion is produced, &c. He proves 
gravely, that suspicions of any history, transmitted through the given 
time (cceteris ^9aH62^s), vary in the duplicate ratio of the times taken 
from the beginning of the history, with much more of the same kind 
with respect to the estimation of equable pleasure, uniformly accele- 
rated pleasure, pleasure varying as any power of the time, &c. &c. 

It is stated in biographical dictionaries that Craig's work was 
reprinted at Leipsic in 1755, with a refutation by J. Daniel Titius ; 
and that some Anwiadversiones on it were published by Peterson 
in 1701. 

Prevost and Lhuilier notice Craig's work in a memoir published 
in the Memoires de VAcad... .Beiiin, 1797. It seems that Craig con- 
cluded that faith in the Gospel so far as it depended on oral tra- 
dition expired about the year 800, and that so far as it depended 
on written tradition it would expire in the year 3150. Peterson 

CEAIG. 55 

by adopting a different law of diminution concluded that faith 
would expire in 1789. 

See Montmort, page XXXVIII. ; also the Athenceum for Nov, 7th, 
1863, page Gil. 

91. A Calctdation of the C^'edihility of Human Testimony is 
contained in Vol. xxi. of the Philosophical Transactions; it is the 
volume for 1699 : the essay occupies pages 359 — 365. The essay 
is anonymous ; Lubbock and Drinkwater suggest that it may be 
by Craig. 

The views do not agree with those now received. 

First suppose we have successive witnesses. Let a report be 
transmitted through a series of n witnesses, whose credibilities are 
Pi' P^y-'Pn' the essay takes the jDroduct j^^j^g '"Pn ^s representing 
the resulting probability. 

Next, suppose we have concurrent witnesses. Let there be two 
witnesses ; the first witness is supposed to leave an amount of un- 
certainty represented by 1 —p{, of this the second witness removes 
the fraction p^, and therefore leaves the fraction (1 —p^ (1 — p^ : 
thus the resulting probability is ^ — 0- — 2\) 0- ~2^2)- Sii^^iiarly 
if tliere are three concurrent testimonies the resulting probability 
is 1 — (1 —2\) (1 — i^a). 0- —P^) '} ^^^^ s^ 0^ ^^^' '^ greater number. 

The theory of this essay is adopted in the article Prohahilite 
of the original French Encyclopedie, which is reproduced in the 
Encyclopedie Methodique: the article is unsigned, so that we must 
apparently ascribe it to Diderot. The same theory is adopted by 
Bicquillcy in his work Bu Calcul des Frohahilites. 



92. We now propose to give an account of the Ars Conjec- 
tandi of James Bernoulli. 

James Bernoulli is the first member of the celebrated family 
of this name who is associated with the history of Mathematics. 
He was born 27th December, 1654, and died 16th August, 1705. 
For a most interesting and valuable account of the whole family 
we may refer to the essay entitled Die Mathematiker Bernoulli. . . 
von Frof. Dr. Peter Merian, Basel, 1860. 

93. Leibnitz states that at his request James Bernoulli studied 
the subject. Feu Mr. Bernoulli a cultive cette mati^re sur mes 
exhortations; Leibnitii Opera Omnia, ed. Dutens, Vol. Vl. part 1, 
page 217. But this statement is not confirmed by the correspond- 
ence between Leibnitz and James Bernoulli, to which we have 
already referred in Art. 59. It appears from this correspondence 
that James Bernoulli had nearly completed his work before he 
was aware that Leibnitz had heard any thing about it. Leibnitz 
says, page 71, 

Audio a Te doctrinam de aestimandis probabilitatibus (quam ego 
magni facio) non parum esse excultam. Vellem aliqiiis varia ludendi 
genera (in quibus pulchra hujus doctrinae specimina) mathematice trac- 
taret. Id simul amoenum et utile foret nee Te aut quocunque gra- 
^issimo Mathematico indignum. 

James Bernoulli in reply says, page 77, 

Scire libenter velim, Amplissime Vir, a quo habeas, quod Doctrina 
de probabilitatibus aestimandis a me excolatur. Yerum est me a plu- 


ribus retro annis hujusmodi speciilatlonibus magnopere delectari, ut vix 
piitem, quemquani plura super his meclitatum esse. Animus etiam 
erat, Tractatum quendam conscribendi de hac materia ; sed saepe per 
integros annos seposui, quia naturalis meus torjoor, quem accessoria vale- 
tiidinis meae infirmitas immane quantum auxit, facit ut aegerrime ad 
Bcribendum accedam ; et saepe mihi optarem amanuensem, qui cogitata 
mea leviter sibi indicata plene divinare, scriptisque consignare posset. 
Absolvi tamen jam maximam Libri partem, sed deest adliuc praecipua, 
qua artis conjee tandi principia etiam ad civilia, moralia et oeconomia 
applicare doceo... 

James Bernoulli then proceeds to speak of the celebrated 
theorem which is now called by his name. 

Leibnitz in his next letter brings some objections against the 
theorem ; see page 83 : and Bernoulli replies ; see page 87. Leib- 
nitz returns to the subject; see page 9-i: and Bernoulli briefly 
replies, page 97, 

Quod Yerisimilitudines spectat, et earum augmentum pro aucto soil, 
observationum numero, res omnino se habet ut scripsi, et certus sum 
Tibi placituram demonstration em, cum publicavero. 

94. The last letter from James Bernoulli to Leibnitz is dated 
3rd June, 1705. It closes in a most painful manner. We here see 
him, who was perhaps the most famous of all who have borne 
his famous name, suffering under the combined sorrow arising from 
illness, from the ingratitude of his brother John who had been 
his pupil, and from the unjust suspicions of Leibnitz who may 
be considered to have been his master : 

Si inimor vere narrat, redibit cei'te frater meus Basileam, non tamen 
Graecam (cum ipse sit dva\<jidf3-r]Tos) sed meam potius stationem (quara 
brevi cum vita me derelicturum, forte non vane, existimat) occupatunis. 
De iniquis suspicionibus, quibus me immerentem onerasti in Tuis pe- 
nultimis, alias, ubi plus otii nactus fuero. Nimc vale et fave etc. 

95. Tlie Ars Conjectandi was not published until eight years 
after the death of its author. The volume of the Hist, de 
r A cad.... Pains for 1705, published in 1706, contains Fontenelle's 
Eloge of James Bernoulli. Fontenelle here gave a brief notice, 
derived from Hermann, of the contents of the Ars Conjectandi 
then unpublished. A brief notice is also give in another Eloge of 


James Bernoulli wliicli appeared in the Journal des Bgavans 
for 1706: this notice is attributed to Saurin by Montmort; see his 
page IV. 

References to the work of James Bernoulli frequently occur in 
the correspondence between Leibnitz and John Bernoulli ; see the 
work cited in Art. 59, pages 367, 377, 836, 8i5, 847, 922, 923, 
925, 931. 

96. The A^^s Conjectandi was published in 1713. A preface 
of two pages was supplied by Nicolas Bernoulli, the son of a 
brother of James and John. It appears from the preface that 
the fourth part of the work was left unfinished by its author ; the 
publishers had desired that the work should be finished by John 
Bernoulli, but the numerous engagements of this mathematician 
had been an obstacle. It was then proposed to devolve the task 
on Nicolas Bernoulli, who had already turned his attention to 
the Theory of Probability. But Nicolas Bernoulli did not con- 
sider himself adequate to the task; and by his advice the work 
was finally published in the state in which its author had left it; 
the words of Nicolas Bernoulli are, Suasor itaque fui, ut Tractatus 
iste qui maxima ex parte jam impressus erat, in eodem quo eum 
Auctor reliquit statu cum publico communicaretur. 

The Ars Conjectandi is not contained in the collected edition 
of James Bernoulli's works. 

97. TYvqAvs Conjectandi, including a treatise on infinite series, 
consists of 306 small quarto pages besides the title leaf and the 
preface. At the end there is a dissertation in French, entitled 
Lettre d un Amy, sur les Parties du Jeu de Paume which occu- 
pies 35 additional pages. Montucla speaks of this letter as the 
work of an anonymous author ; see his page 391 : but there can 
be no doubt that it is due to James Bernoulli, for to him Nicolas 
Bernoulli assigns it in the preface to the J.rs Conjectandi, and 
in his correspondence with Montmort. See Montmort, page 333. 

98. The Ars Conjectandi is divided into four parts. The 
first part consists of a reprint of the treatise of Huygens De Ra- 
tiociniis in Ludo Alece, accompanied with a commentary by James 
Bernoulli. The second part is devoted to the theory of permu- 
tations and combinations. The third part consists of the solution 


of various problems relating to games of chance. The fourth part 
proposed to apply the Theory of Probability to questions of interest 
in morals and economical science. 

We may observe that instead of the ordinary symbol of 
equality, = James Bernoulli uses x, which Wallis ascribes to Des 
Cartes; see Walliss Algebra, 1693, page 138. 

99. A French translation of the first part of the Ars Con- 
jectandi was published in 1801, under the title of LArt de 

Conjecturer, Tradidt du Latin de Jacques Bernoulli; Avec des 
Observations, Eclair cissemens et Additions. Far L. G. F. Vastel,... 
Caen. 1801. 

The second part of the Ars Conjectandi is included in the 
volume of reprints which we have cited in Art. 47; Maseres in 
the same volume gave an English translation of this part. 

100. The first part of the Ars Conjectandi occupies pages 
1 — 71 ; with respect to this part we may observe that the com- 
mentary by James Bernoulli is of more value than the original 
treatise by Huygens. The commentary supplies other proofs of 
the fundamental propositions and other investigations of the pro- 
blems; also in some cases it extends them. We will notice the 
most important additions made by James Bernoulli. 

101. In the Problem of Points with two players, James 
Bernoulli gives a table which furnishes the chances of the two 
players when one of them wants any number of points not 
exceeding nine, and the other wants any number of points not 
exceeding seven ; and, as he remarks, this table may be j^rolonged 
to any extent; see his page 16. 

102. James Bernoulli gives a long note on the subject of 
the various throws which can be made with two or more dice, 
and the number of cases favourable to each throw. And we may 
especially remark that he constructs a large table which is equi- 
valent to the theorem we now express thus : the number of ways 
in which ni can be obtained by throwing n dice is equal to the 
co-efficient of ^'" in the development of {x + x^ -{- x^ -\- x^ ^ x° -\- x^ 
in a series of powers of x. See his page 21;. 


103. The tenth problem is to find in how many trials one 
may undertake to throw a six with a common die. James Bernoulli 
gives a note in reply to an objection which he suggests might 
be urged against the result; the reply is perhaps only intended 
as a popular illustration : it has been criticized by Prevost in the 
NoiLveaux Memoir es de FA cad.... Berlin for 1781. 

104. James Bernoulli gives the general expression for the 

chance of succeeding m times at least in n trials, when the chance 

of success in a single trial is known. Let the chances of success 

b c 

and failure in a single trial be - and - respectively: then the 

required chance consists of the terms of the expansion of - + — ) 

from ( - j to the term which involves - j [ - J , both inclusive. 

This formula involves a solution of the Problem of Points for 
two players of unequal skill; but James Bernoulli does not ex- 
plicitly make the application. 

105. James Bernoulli solves four of the five problems which 
Huygens had placed at the end of his treatise ; the solution of the 
fourth problem he postpones to the third part of his book as it 
depends on combinations. 

106. Perhaps however the most valuable contribution to the 
subject which this part of the work contains is a method of solving 
problems in chances which James Bernoulli speaks of as his own, 
and which he frequently uses. We will give his solution of the 
problem which forms the fourteenth proposition of the treatise 
of Huygens : we have already given the solution of Huygens him- 
self; see Art. 34. 

Instead of two players conceive an infinite number of players 
each of whom is to have one throw in turn. The game is to 
end as soon as a player whose turn is denoted by an odd number 
throws a six, or a player whose turn is denoted by an even number 
throws a seven, and such player is to receive the whole sum at 
stake. Let h denote the number of ways in which six can be 
thrown, c the number of ways in which six can fail; so that 6 = 5, 


and c = 31 ; let e denote the number of ways in which seven can 
be thrown, and /the number of ways in which seven can fail, so 
that e = 6, and /= 30 ; and let a = 6 4- c = e +/ 

Now consider the expectations of the different players ; they 
are as follows: 












2 > 




For it is obvious that - expresses the expectation of the first 

player. In order that the second player may win, the first throw 

must fail and the second throw must succeed ; that is there are ce 

favourable cases out of o^ cases, so the expectation is -2 . In 

order that the third player may win, the first throw must fail, 

the second throw must fail, and the third throw must succeed; 

that is there are cfh favourable cases out of a^ cases, so the ex- 

pectation is — . And so on for the other players. Now let a 

single player. A, be substituted in our mind in the place of the 

first, third, fifth,...; and a single player, B, in the place of the 

second, fourth, sixth.... We thus arrive at the problem proposed 

by Huygens, and the expectations of A and B are given by two 

infinite geometrical progressions. By summing these progressions 

we find that ^'s expectation is -3 — -, and 5's expectation is 


; the proportion is that of 30 to 81, which agrees with 

the result in Art. 31. 

107. The last of the five problems which Huygens left to be 
solved is the most remarkable of all ; see Art. 35. It is the first 
example on the Duration of Play, a subject which afterwards 
exercised the highest powers of De Moi\Te, Lagrange, and Laplace. 
James Bernoulli solved the problem, and added, without a demon- 
stration, the result for a more general problem of which that of 
Huygens was a particular case; see Ars Conjectandi page 71. 


Suppose A to have m counters, and B to have n counters ; let their 
chances of winning in a single game be as a to 6 ; the loser in each 
game is to give a counter to his adversary : required the chance of 
each player for winning all the counters of his adversary. In the 
case taken by Huygens m and n were equal. 

It will be convenient to give the modern form of solution of 
the problem. 

Let u^ denote J.'s chance of winning all his adversary's count- 
ers when he has himself w counters. In the next game A must 
either win or lose a counter; his chances for these two contin- 
gencies are r and t- respectively: and then his chances 

of winning all his adversary's counters are u^_^_^ and u^_^ respectively. 


_ a h 

This equation is thus obtained in the manner exemplified by 
Huygens in his fourteenth proposition; see Art. 34. 

The equation in Finite Differences may be solved in the or- 
dinary way; thus we shall obtain 

where C^ and C^ are arbitrary constants. To determine these 
constants we observe " that ^'s chance is zero when he has no 
counters, and that it is unity when he has all the counters. Thus 
u^ is equal to when x is 0, and is equal to 1 when x is m + n. 
Hence we have 

0=0.+ a„ 1 = 0.+ c,g) 



therefore ^i — ~ ^2~ 

m+n 1 m+n ' 

Hence u^ = 

^m+n _ ^m+n-:c J^, 

X rn-^n J vi+n 

To determine ^'s chance at the beginning of the game we 
must put x = m; thus we obtain 

7/ = 


In precisely tlie same manner we may find jS's chance at any 

stage of the game ; and his chance at the beginning of the game 

will be 

h"" (g^ - If) 

It will be observed that the sum of the chances of A and B at 
the beginning of the game is unitif. The interpretation of this 
result is that one or other of the players must eventually win 
all the counters; that is, the play must terminate. This might 
have been expected, but was not assumed in the investigation. 

The formula which James Bernoulli here gives will next come 
before us in the correspondence between Nicolas Bernoulli and 
Montmort; it was however first published by De Moi\Te in his 
De Mensiira Soiiis, Problem ix., where it is also demonstrated. 

108. We may observe that Bernoulli seems to have found, 
as most who have studied the subject of chances have also found, 
that it was extremely easy to fall into mistakes, especially by 
attempting to reason without strict calculation. Thus, on his 
page 15, he points out a mistake into which it would have been 
easy to fall, nisi nos calculus aliud clocuisset He adds, 

Qao ipso proin monemiir, ut cauti siraiis in jiidicando, 'nee ratio- 
cinia nostra super qiiacunque statim aiialogia in rebus deprehensji fun- 
dare suescamus; quod ipsum tamen etiam ab iis, qui vel maxinie sapere 
videntur, nimis frequenter fieri solet. 

Again, on his page 27, 

Quae quideiu eum in finem hie adduce, ut palam fiat, quam parum 
fideudum sit ejusmodi ratiociniis, qu?e corticem tantuiu attingunt, nee 
in ipsam rei naturam altius penetrant; tametsi in toto vitse usu etiam. 
apud sapientissimos quosque nihil sit frequentius. 

Again, on his page 29, he refers to the difficulty which Pascal 
says had been felt by M. de * * * *, whom James Bernoulli calls 
Anonymus quidam coetera subacti judicii Yir, sed Geometriae 
expers. . James Bernoulli adds, 

Hac enim qui imbuti sunt, ejusmodi erai'Tto^avetai minime moran- 
tur, probe conscii dari innumera, qua3 admoto calculo aliter se habere 
comperiuntur, quam initio apparebaut; ideoque sedulb cavent, juxta id 
quod semel iterumque monui, ne quicquam analogiis temere tribuant. 


109. The second part of the Ars Conjectandi occupies pages 
72 — ] 87 : it contains the doctrine of Permutations and Combina- 
tions. James Bernoulli says that others have treated this subject 
before him, and especially Schooten, Leibnitz, Wallis and Prestet ; 
and so he intimates that his matter is not entirely new. He con- 
tinues thus, page 73, 

...tametsi qusedam non contemnenda de nostro adjecimus, inprimis 
demonstrationem generalem et facilem proprietatis numerorum figura- 
torum, cui csetera pleraque innituntur, et quam nemo quod sciam ante 
nos dedit eruitve. 

110. James Bernoulli begins by treating on permutations; 
he proves the ordinary rule for finding the number of permuta- 
tions of a set of things taken all together, when there are no 
repetitions among the set of things and also when there are. He 
gives a full analysis of the number of arrangements of the verse 
Tot tibi sunt dotes, Virgo, quot sidera coeli ; see Art. 40. He then 
considers combinations ; and first he finds the total number of ways 
in which a set of things can be taken, by taking them one at a 
time, two at a time, three at a time, ...He then proceeds to find 
what we should call the number of combinations of n things taken 
r at a time ; and here is the part of the subject in which he 
added most to the results obtained by his predecessors. He 
gives a figure which is substantially the same as Pascal's Arith- 
metical Triangle; and he arrives at two results, one of which 
is the well-known form for the nth. term of the rth order of 
figurate numbers, and the other is the formula for the sum of 
a given number of terms of the series of figurate numbers of a 
given order ; these results are expressed definitely in the modern 
notation as we now have them in works on Algebra. The mode of 
proof is more laborious, as might be expected. Pascal as we have 
seen in Arts. 22 and 41, employed without any scruple, and indeed 
rather with approbation, the method of induction : James Bernoulli 
however says, page 95,... modus demonstrandi per inductionem 
parum scientificus est. 

James Bernoulli names his predecessors in investigations on 
figurate numbers in the following terms on his page 95 : 

Multi, ut hoc in transitu notemus, numerorum figuratorum contem- 


plafcionibua vacarunt (quos inter Faulliaberus et Remmelini TJlmenEes, 
Wallisius, Mercator in Logarithmotechnia, Prestetus, aliique)... 

111. We may notice that James Bernoulli gives incidentally 
on his page 89 a demonstration of the Binomial Theorem for the 
case of a positive integral exponent. Maseres considers this to 
be the first demonstration that appeared ; see page 283 of the 
work cited in Ai't. 47. 

112. From the summation of a series of figurate numbers 
James Bernoulli proceeds to derive the summation of the powers 
of the natural numbers. He exhibits definitely 2?i, Sn^ 2n^... 
up to Xw^" ; he uses the sj^mbol / where we in modern books use S. 
He then extends his results by induction without demonstration, 
and introduces for the first time into Analysis the coefficients since 
so famous as the numbers of Bernoulli. His general formula is that 

^ , n'"-' n' c . ^_, c(c-l)(c-2) J, ,_^ 

c(c-l)(c-2)(c-3)(o-4) _, 

"^ '^'" 

where ^ = 6 ' ^ = " SO ' ^ = A' ^ = - i' - 

He gives the numerical value of the sum of the tenth powers 
of the first thousand natural numbers ; the result is a number 
with thirty-two figures. He adds, on his page 98, 

E quibus apparet, quam inutilis censenda sit opera Jsmaelis Bul- 
lialdi, quam conscribendo tarn spisso volumini Arithmeticae sufe Infijii- 
torum impendit, ubi niliil prgestitit aliud, quam ut primarum tantum 
sex potestatum summas (partem ejus quod unica nos consecuti sumus 
pagina) immense labore demonstratas exhiberet. 

For some account of Bulliald's sjnssum volumen, see Wallis's 
Algebra, Chap. LXXX. 

113. James Bernoulli gives in his fourth Chapter the rule 
now well known for the number of the combinations of ti thiners 


taken c at a time. He also draws various simple inferences from 
the rule. He digresses from the subject of this part of his book to 
resume the discussion of the Problem of Points ; see his page 107. 
He gives two methods of treating the problem by the aid of 
the theory of combinations. The first method shews how the 
table which he had exhibited in the first part of the A7'S Con- 
jectandi might be continued and the law of its terms expressed; 
the table is a statement of the chances of A and B for winning 
the game when each of them wants an assigned number of points. 
Pascal had himself given such a table for a game of six points ; 
an extension of the table is given on page 16 of the Ars Con- 
jectandi, and now James Bernoulli investigates general expressions 
for the component numbers of the table. From his investigation 
he derives the result which Pascal gave for the case in which one 
player wants one point more than the other player. James Ber- 
noulli concludes this investigation thus ; Ipsa solutio Pascaliana, 
quae Auctori suo tantopere arrisit. 

James Bernoulli's other solution of the Problem of Points is 
much more simple and direct, for here he does make the application 
to which we alluded in Art. 101^ Suppose that A wants m points 
and B wants 7i points ; then the game will certainly be decided in 
m + n — 1 trials. As in each trial A and B have equal chances 
of success the whole number of possible cases is 2"'"^""\ And 
A wins the game if B gains no point, or if B gains just one point, 
or just two points,... or any number up to w — 1 inclusive. Thus 
the number of cases favourable to A is 

! + ;. + _-_ + ^ + ... + ^^^ ^ 

where //< = m -f w — 1 . 

Pascal had in effect advanced as far as this; see Art. 23: but 
the formula is more convenient than the Arithmetical Triangle. 

114. In his fifth Chapter James Bernoulli considers another 
question of combinations, namely that which in modern treatises is 
enunciated thus : to find the number of homogeneous products of 
the r^^ degree which can be formed of n symbols. In his sixth 
Chapter he continues this subject, and makes a slight reference to 


the doctrine of the number of divisors of a given number; for 
more information he refers to the works of Schooten and WaUis, 
which we have already examined ; see Arts. 42, 47. 

115. In his seventh Chapter James Bernoulli gives the for- 
mula for what we now call the number of permutations of n things 
taken c at a time. In the remainder of this part of his book he 
discusses some other questions relating to permutations and com- 
binations, and illustrates his theory by examples. 

116. The third part of the Ars Conjectandi occupies pages 
138 — 209; it consists of twenty-four problems which are to illus- 
trate the theory that has gone before in the book. James Ber- 
noulli gives only a few lines of introduction, and then proceeds to 
the problems, which he says, 

...nullo fere habito selectu, prout in adversariis reperi, proponam, prre- 
niissis etiam vel intersj)ersis nonnuUis facilioribus, et in quibua nidlus 
combiiiationum usus apparet. 

117. The fourteenth problem deserves some notice. There 
are two cases in it, but it will be sufficient to consider one of 
them. A is to throw a die, and then to repeat his throw as many 
times as the number thrown the first time. A is to have the 
whole stake if the sum of the numbers given by the latter set of 
throws exceeds 12; he is to have half the stake if the sum is 
equal to 12; and he is to have nothing if the sum is less than 
12. Required the value of his expectation. It is found to be 

^Y^^rr , Avliich is rather less than ^ . After giving the connect 

solution James Bernoulli gives another which is plausible but 
false, in order, as he says, to impress on his readers the necessity 
of caution in these discussions. The following is the false solution. 

A has a chance equal to -x of throwing an ace at his first trial; 

in this case he has only one throw for the stake, and that throw 
may give him with equal probabihty any number between 1 and 6 

inclusive, so that we may take ^ (1 + 2 + 34-44-5+6), that is 

31, for his mean throw. We may observe that 3^ is the Arith- 



metical mean between 1 and 6. Again A has a chance equal to - 

of throwing a two at his first trial ; in this case he has two throws 
for the stake, and these two throws may give him any number 
between 2 and 12 inclusive; and the probability of the number 
2 is the same as that of 12, the probability of 3 is the same as 

that of 11, and so on; hence as before we may take ^ (2 + 12), 

that is 7, for his mean throw. In a similar way if three, four, 
five, or six be thrown at the first trial, the corresponding means 
of the numbers in the throws for the stake will be respectively 
lOi, 14i, 17^, and 21. Hence the mean of all the numbers is 

^ m + 7 + lOi + 1-i + I7i + 21], that is 121; 

and as this number is greater than 12 it might appear that the 
odds are in favour of A. 

A false solution of a problem will generally appear more plau- 
sible to a person who has originally been deceived by it than to 
another person who has not seen it until after he has studied the 
accurate solution. To some persons James Bernoulli's false solu- 
tion 'would appear simply false and not plausible; it leaves the 
problem proposed and substitutes another which is entirely differ- 
ent. This may be easily seen by taking a simple example. 
Suppose that A instead of an equal chance for any number of 
throws between one and six inclusive, is restricted to one or six 
throws, and that each of these two cases is equally" likely. Then, 

as before, we may take -^ (8 J + 21], that is 12J as the mean 

throw. But it is obvious that the odds are against him; for if 
he has only one throw he cannot obtain 12, and if he has six 
throws he will not necessarily obtain 12. The question is not 
what is the mean number he will obtain, but how many throws 
will give him 12 or more, and how many will give him less than 12. 
James Bernoulli seems not to have been able to make out 
more than that the second solution must be false because the first 
is unassailable; for after saying that from the second solution we 
might suppose the odds to be in fiiv^our of A, he adds, Hujus 


aiitem contrarium ex priore solutione, quae sua luce radiat, ap- 
paret; ... 

The problem has been since considered by Mallet and by Fuss, 
who agree with James Bernoulli in admitting the plausibility of 
the false solution. 

118. James Bernoulli examines in detail some of the games of 
chance which were popular in his day. Thus on pages 167 and 168 
he takes the game called Cinq et neuf. He takes on pages 16.0 — 174* 
a game which had been brought to his notice by a stroller at 
fairs. According to James Bernoulli the chances were against the 
stroller, and so as he says, istumque proin hoc alese genere, ni 
praemia minuat, non multum lucrari posse. We might desire to 
know more of the stroller who thus supplied the occasion of an 
elaborate discussion to James Bernoulli, and who offered to the 
public the amusement of gambling on terms unfavourable to 

James Bernoulli then proceeds to a game called Trijaques. 
He considers that, it is of great importance for a placer to main- 
tain a serene composure even if the cards are unfavourable, and 
that a previous calculation of the chances of the game will assist 
in securing the requisite command of countenance and temper. 
As James Bernoulli speaks immediately afterwards of what he 
had himself formerl}^ often observed in the game, we may perhaps 
infer that Trijaques had once been a favourite amusement with 

119. The nineteenth problem is thus enunciated, 

In quolibet Alese genere, si ludi Oeconomus sen Dispensator {le 
Banquier du Jeu) nonnihil habeat praerogativse in eo consistentis, ut paulo 
major sit casuiim nnmeriis quibus vincit quam quibus perdit; et major 
simul casuum numerus, quibus in officio Oeconomi ])ro ludo sequenti 
confirmutur, quam quibus ceconomia in collusorem transfertur. Quanitur, 
quanti privilegium hoc Oeconomi sit lestimandum ? 

The problem is chiefly remarkable from the fact that James 
Bernoulli candidly records two false solutions which occuiTed to 
him before he obtained the true solution. 

120. The twenty-first problem relates to the game of Bassette; 


James Bernoulli devotes eiglit pages to it, his object being to 
estimate the advantage of the banker at the game. See Art. 74>. 

The last three problems which James Bernoulli discusses 
arose from his observing that a certain stroller, in order to entice 
persons to play with him, offered them among the conditions of 
the game one which was apparently to their advantage, but 
which on investigation was shewn to be really pernicious ; see his 
pages 208, 209. 

121. The fourth part of the Ay^s Conjectandi occupies pages 
210 — 239 ; it is entitled Pars Quai'ta, tradens usum et apj^licatio- 
nem prwcedentis Doctrince in Civilibus, Moralihus et Oeconomicis. It 
was unfortunately left incomplete by the author; but nevertheless 
it may be considered the most important part of the whole work. 
It is divided into five Chapters, of which we will give the titles. 

I. Prceliminaria qucedam de Certitudine, Prohahilitate, Neces- 
sitate, et Contingentia Rerum. 

II. De Scieniia et Conjectura. De Arte Conjectandi. De 
Argumentis Conjecturanmi, Axiomata quwdam generalia hue 

III. De variis argiimentorum generihus, et quomodo eorum 
pondera wstimentur ad supputandas rerum prohahilitates. 

lY. De duplici Modo investigandi mimeros casiium. Quid 
sentiendum de illo, qui instituitur per experimenta. Prohlenia 
singulare eani in rem propositum, &c. 

V. Solutio Prohlematis prcecedentis. 

122. We will briefly notice the results of James Bernoulli 
as to the probability of arguments. He distinguishes arguments 
into two kinds, pure and mixed. He says, Pura voco, quoe in qui- 
busdam casibus ita rem probant, ut in aliis nihil positive probent : 
Mixta, quae ita rem probant in casibus nonnullis, ut in cieteris 
probent contrarium rei. 

Suppose now we have three arguments of the pure kind lead- 
ing to the same conclusion; let their respective probabilities be 


c f % 

1 — , 1 — ^, 1 — • Then the resulting probability of the con- 

elusion is 1 — ~- . This is obvious from the consideration that 

any one of the arguments would establish the conclusion, so that 

the conclusion fails only when all the arguments fail. 

Supj)ose now that we have in addition two arguments of the 

mixed kind : let their respective probabilities be — ^^ , . 

Then James Bernoulli gives for the resulting probability 

, cfiru 

1 — -^ 

adg (ru + qt) ' 

But this formula is inaccurate. For the supposition q = amounts 
to having one argument absolutehj decisive against the conclusion, 
while yet the formula leaves still a certain probability for the 
conclusion. The error was pointed out by Lambert; see Pre vest 
and Lhuilier, Memoir es de F Acad.... Berliii iov 1797. 

123. The most remarkable subject contained in the fourth 
part of the Ars Conjectandi is the enunciation and investigation 
of what we now call Bernoulli s Theorem. It is introduced in 
terms which shew a high opinion of its importance : 

Hoc igitur est illud Problema, quod evulgauduni hoc loco proposui, 
postquam jam per vicenniiini pressi, et cujus turn novitas, turn summa 
utilitas cum pari conjuucta difficultate omnibus reliquis hujus doc- 
triiiae capitibus pondus et pretium superaddere potest. Ars Conjectandij 
page 227. See also De Moivre's Doctrine of Chances , page 2d^. 

We will now state the purely algebraical part of the theorem. 
Suppose that (r + s)**' is exj)anded by the Binomial Theorem, the 
letters all denoting integral numbers and t being equal to r + s. 
Let u denote the sum of the greatest term and the n preceding 
terms and the n following terms. Then by taking n large enough 
the ratio of u to the sum of all the remaining terms of the expan- 
sion may be made as gi-eat as we please. 

If we wish that this ratio should not be less than c it will be 
sufficient to take n equal to the greater of the two following ex- 


log c + log {s - 1) /^ ^ s \ s__ 

log (r + 1) - log r V r + 1/ r + 1' 

and logc + log(r-l) A^ 

loor(s+ l)-log5 V 

(S + 1) - log 5 V 5 + 1/ 5+1 

James Bernoulli's demonstration of this result is long but 
perfectly satisfactory ; it rests mainly on the fact that the terms 
in the Binomial series increase continuously up to the greatest 
term, and then decrease continuously. We shall see as we proceed 
with the history of our subject that James Bernoulli's demonstra- 
tion is now superseded by the use of Stirling's Theorem. 

124. Let us now take the application of the algebraical result 
to the Theory of Probability. The greatest term of (r + 5)"', where 
t=r-\-s is the term involving r"''^"'. Let r and s be proportional to 
the probability of the happening and failing of an event in a single 
trial. Then the sum of the 2?i + 1 terms of (r + s)"^ which have the 
greatest term for their middle term corresponds to the probability 
that in nt trials the number of times the event happens will lie 
between n{r—l) and n (r+ 1), both inclusive ; so that the ratio 
of the number of times the event happens to the whole number of 

7* + 1 T ~— 1. 

trials lies between and . Then, by taking for n the 

t f 

greater of the two expressions in the preceding article, we have 

the odds of c to 1, that the ratio of the number of times the event 

7* + 1 

happens to the whole number of trials lies between and 


t ' 
As an example James Bernoulli takes 

r = 30, 5=20, t=50. 

He finds for the odds to be 1000 to 1 that the ratio of the 
number of times the event happens to the whole number of trials 

31 29 . . 

shall lie between —r and ~r, it will be sufficient to make 25550 

t)0 50 

trials ; for the odds to be 10000 to 1, it will be sufficient to make 

31258 trials ; for the odds to be 100000 to 1, it will be sufficient 

to make 36966 trials; and so on. 


125. Suppose then that we have an urn containing white balls 

and black balls, and that the ratio of the number of the former 

to the latter is known to he that of 3 to 2. We learn from the 

preceding result that if we make 25550 drawings of a single ball, 

replacing each ball after it is drawn, the odds are 1000 to 1 that 

31 29 

the white balls drawn lie between —- and — : of the whole num- 

50 oO 

ber drawn. This is the direct use of James Bernoulli's theorem. 

But he himself proposed to employ it inversely in a far more 

important way. Suppose that in the preceding illustration we 

do not know anything beforehand of the ratio of the white balls 

to the black ; but that we have made a larg-e number of drawings, 

and have obtained a white ball B times, and a black ball S times : 

then according to James Bernoulli we are to infer that the 

ratio of the white balls to the black balls in the urn is approxi- 


mately — . To determine the precise numerical estimate of the 

probability of this inference requires further investigation : we 
shall find as we proceed that this has been done in two ways, 
by an inversion of James Bernoulli's theorem, or by the aid of 
another theorem called Bayes's theorem ; the results apj^roximately 
agree. See Laplace, Theorie.,.des Proh.... pages 282 and 3CG. 

126. We have spoken of the inverse use of James Bernoulli's 
theorem as the most important; and it is clear that he himself 
was fully aware of this. This use of the theorem was that which 
Leibnitz found it difficult to admit, and which James Bernoulli 
maintained against him; seethe correspondence quoted in Art. 59, 
pages 77, 83, 87, 94, 97. 

127. A memoir on infinite series follows the Ars Conjectandi, 
and occupies pages 24)1 — 306 of the volume ; this is contained in 
the collected edition of James Bernoulli's works, Geneva, 1744 : it 
is there broken up into parts and distributed through the two 
volumes of which the edition consists. 

This memoir is unconnected with our subject, and we will 
therefore only briefly notice some points of interest which it 


128, James Bernoulli enforces tlie importance of the subject 
in the following terms, page 243, 

Cseterum quantse sit necessitatis pariter et utilitatis hasc serierum 
contemplatio, ei sane ignotum esse non poterit, qui perspectum habuerit, 
ejusmodi series sacram quasi esse anchoram, ad quam in maxime arduis 
et desperatse solutionis Problematibus, ubi omnes alias humani ingenii 
vires naufragium passae, velut ultimi remedii loco confugiendum est. 

129. The principal artifice employed by James Bernoulli in 
this memoir is that of subtracting one series from another, thus 
obtaining a third series. For example, 

let /S'=l + R+iT+ ... + 

2 ' 3 n + l ' 

a ..11 11 

then b= l + -^ + o+"- + ~-^ TT 5 

z 3 n 71 + 1 

1 r ^ -, 111 11 

therefore = — 1 + ^ — ^ + ^ — ^ + - — - + . . . + -7 — — rr + 

1 . 2 ' 2 . 3 ' 3 . 4 ' •" ' 7i(?i + l) n + 1 ' 

, . Ill 1,1 

therelore -z — ^ + - — ^ + ^ — r + • • . H — 7 — — ty = 1 — 

1.2' 2. 33. 4' ' n{n+l) n+1' 

Thus the sum of n terms of the series, of which the r^^ term is 
1 . n 


r (r + 1) ' n + 1 ' 

ISO. James Bernoulli says that his brother first observed 


that the sum of the infinite series -+ — +- + y + ...is infinite ; 

i. jLi O ^ 

and he gives his brother's demonstration and his own ; see his 
page 250. 

131. James Bernoulli shews that the sum of the infinite series 
_ _|_ — ^ + -j- . . . is finite, but confesses himself unable to give 

the sum. He says, page 254, Si quis inveniat nobisque commu- 
nicet, quod industriam nostram elusit hactenus, magnas de nobis 

crratias feret. The sum is now known to be 7r ; this result is due 

to Euler : it is given in his Introductio in Analysin Infinitorum, 
1748, Vol. L page 130. 


132. James Bernoulli seems to be on more familiar terms 
with infinity than mathematicians of the present day. On his 
page 262 we find him stating, correctly, that the sum of the infinite 

series —-r + —p^+ -77, + -77 + . . . is infinite, for the series is greater 
\/i v^ V^ V"* 


than 7 + Q + Q + 7 + ... He adds that the sum of all the odd 

terms of the first series is to the sum of all the even terms as 
\/2 — 1 is to 1 ; so that the sum of the odd terms would appear to 
be less than the sum of the even terms, which is impossible. But 
the paradox does not disturb James Bernoulli, for he adds, 

...cujus evavTLO(fiaveLas rationem, etsi ex infiniti natiira finito intel- 
lectui comprehendi non posse videatur, nos tamen satis perspectam 

183. At the end of the volume containing the Ars Conjectandi 
we have the Lettre a un Amy, sur les Parties da Jen de Faume, 
to which we have alluded in Art. 97. 

The nature of the problem discussed may be thus stated. 
Suppose A and B two players ; let them play a set of games, say 
five, that is to say, the player gains the set who first wins five 
games. Then a certain number of sets, say four, make a match. 
It is required to estimate the chances of A and B in various states 
of the contest. Suppose for example that A has won two sets, 
and B has won one set ; and that in the set now current A has 
won two games and B has won one game. The problem is thus 
somewhat similar in character to the Problem of Points, but more 
complicated. James Bernoulli discusses it very fully, and presents 
his result in the form of tables. He considers the case in which the 
players are of unequal skill ; and he solves various problems arising 
from particular circumstances connected with the game of tennis 
to which the letter is specially devoted. 

On the second page of the letter is a very distinct statement 
of the use of the celebrated theorem known by the name of Ber- 
noulli ; see Art. 123. 

134. One problem occurs in ihi^ Lettre a un Amy... which 
it may be interesting to notice. 

Suppose that A and B engage in play, and that each in turn 


by the laws of tlie game has an advantage over his antagonist. Thus 
suppose that ^'s chance of winning in the 1st, 3rd, 5th... games is 
always p, and his chance of losing q) and in the 2nd, 4th, 6th... 
games suppose that ^'s chance of winning is q and his chance of 
losing/?. The chance of B is found by taking that of A from 
unity ; so that B's chance is p or 5' according as ^'s is q or p. 

Now let A and B play, and suppose that the stake is to be 
assigned to the player who first wins n games. There is however to 
be this peculiarity in their contest : If each of them obtains n — 1 
games it will be necessary for one of them to win two games in 
succession to decide the contest in his favour; if each of them 
wins one of the next two games, so that each has scored n games, 
the same law is to hold, namely, that one must win two games in 
succession to decide the contest in his favour ; and so on. 

Let us now suppose that n = 2, and estimate the advantage of 
A. Let X denote this advantage, >S^ the whole sum to be gained. 

Now A may win the first and second games ; his chance for 
this \^ pq, and then he receives S. He may win the first game, 
and lose the second ; his chance for this is p^. He may lose the 
first game and win the second; his chance for this is ^. In the 
last two cases his position is neither better nor worse than at first ; 
that is he may be said to receive x. 

Thus X = pq S -{■ {p"^ -{- q^) X \ 

r pq S pq S S 

therefore a?= ., ^ ., 2= ^ =7T • 

1 —p — q zpq A 

Hence of course J5's advantage is also - . Thus the players 

are on an equal footing. 

James Bernoulli in his way obtains this result. He says that 
whatever may be the value of n, the players are on an equal foot- 
ing ; he verifies the statement by calculating numerically the 
chances for n = 2, 8, 4 or 5, taking^ = 2q. See his pages 18, 19. 

Perhaps the following remarks may be sufficient to shew that 
whatever n may be, the players must be on an equal footing. By 
the peculiar law of the game which we have explained, it follows 
that the contest is not decided until one player has gained at least 
n games, and is at least two games in advance of his adversary. 


Thus the contest is either decided in an even number of games, 
or else in an odd number of games in which the victor is at least 
three games in advance of his adversary : in the last case no ad- 
vantage or disadvantage will accrue to either player if they play 
one more game and count it in. Thus the contest may be con- 
ducted without any change of probabilities under the following 
laws: the number of games shall be even, and the victor gain not 
less than n and be at least two in advance of his adversary. But 
since the number of games is to be even we see that the two 
players are on an equal footing. 

135. Gouraud has given the following summary of the merits 
of the A7^s Conjectandi ; see his page 28 : 

Tel est ce livre de YArs conjectandi, livre qui, si Ton considere le 
temps ou il fut compose, I'origiualite, Fetendue et la penetration 
d'esprit qu'y montra son autenr, la fecondite etonnante de la constitution 
scientifique qu'il donna au Calcul des probabilites, I'influence enfin qu'il 
devait exercer sur deux siecles d'analyse, pourra sans exageration etre 
regarde comme un des monuments les plus importants de I'histoire des 
matliematiques. II a place a jamais le nom de Jacques Bernoulli parmi 
les noms de ces inventeurs, a qui la posterite reconnaissante rejiorte tou- 
jours et a bon droit, le plus pur merite des decouvertes, que sans leur 
premier effort, elle n'aurait jamais su faire. 

Tliis 2^aneg}Tic, however, seems to neglect the simple fact r.f 
the date of inihlication of the Ars Conjectandi, which was really 
subsequent to the first appearance of Montmort and De Moivre in 
this field of mathematical investigation. The researches of James 
Bernoulli were doubtless the earlier in existence, but they were 
the later in appearance before the world ; and thus the influence 
which they might have exercised had been already produced. The 
problems in the first three parts of the Ars Conjectandi cannot be 
considered equal in importance or difliculty to those which we 
find investigated by Montmort and De Moivre ; but the memorable 
theorem in the fourth part, which justly bears its author's name, 
will ensure him a permanent \)\'d.cQ in the history of the Theory of 



186. The work which next claims attention is that of Mont- 
mort; it is entitled Essai d! Analyse stir les Jeux de Hazards. 

Fontenelle's Hloge de M. de Montmort is contained in the 
volume for 1719 of the Hist, de V Acad... Paris, which was pub- 
lished in 1721 ; from this we take a few particulars. 

Pierre Eemond de Montmort was born in 1678. Under the 
influence of his guide, master, and friend, Malebranche, he devoted 
himself to religion, philosophy, and mathematics. He accepted 
with reluctance a canonry of Notre-Dame at Paris, which he re- 
linquished in order to marry. He continued his simple and 
retired life, and we are told that, j^ar un honheur assez singidier 
le mariage lui rendit sa maison plus agreahle. In 1708 he pub- 
lished his work on Chances, where with the courage of Columbus 
he revealed a new world to mathematicians. 

After Montmort's work appeared De Moivre published his essay 
De Mensura Sortis. Fontenelle says, 

Je ne dissimulerai point qui M. de Montmort fut vivement pique 
de cet ouvrage, qui lui parut avoir ete entierement fait sur le sien, et 
d'apres le sien. II est vrai, qu'il y 6toit loue, et n'etoit-ce pas assez, 
dira-t-on 1 mais un Seigneur de fief n'en quittera pas pour des louanges 
celui qu'il pretend lui devoir foi et liommage des terres qu'il tient de 
lui. Je parle selon sa pretention, et ne decide nulloinent s'il etoit en 
efi'et le Seigneur. 

Montmort died of small pox at Paris in 1719. He had been 
engaged on a work entitled Histoire de la Geometrie, but -had not 


proceeded far with it; on this subject Fontenelle has some inter- 
esting remarks. See also Montucla's Histoire des Mathematiques, 
first edition, Preface, page vii. 

137. There are two editions of Montmort's work; the first 
appeared in 1708; the second is sometimes said to have appeared 
in 1713, but the date 1714 is on the title page of my copy, which 
appears to have been a present to 'sGravesande from the author. 
Both editions are in quarto; the first contains 189 pages with 
a preface of xxiv pages, and the second contains 414 pages with 
a preface and advertisement of XLII pages. The increased bulk 
of the second edition arises, partly from the introduction of a 
treatise on combinations which occupies pages 1 — 72, and partly 
from the addition of a series of letters which passed between 
Montmort and Nicholas Bernoulli with one letter from John 
Bernoulli. The name of Montmort does not appear on the title 
page or in the work, except once on page 338, where it is used 
with respect to a place. 

Any reference which we make to Montmort's work must be 
taken to apply to the second edition unless the contrary is stated. 

Montucla says, page 394, speaking of the second edition of 
Montmort's work, Cette edition, independamment de ses aug- 
mentations et corrections faites a la premiere, est remarquable par 
de belles gravures a la tete de chaque partie. These engravings 
are four in number, and they occur also in the first edition, and of 
course the impressions will naturally be finer in the earlier edition. 
It is desirable to correct the eiTor implied in Montucla's state- 
ment, because the work is scarce, and thus those who merely wish 
for the engravings may direct their attention to the first edition, 
leaving the second for mathematicians, 

138. Leibnitz corresponded with Montmort and his brother; 
and he records a very favourable opinion of the work we are now 
about to examine. He says, however, J'aurois souhaite les loix 
des Jeux un peu mieux decrites, et les termes expliques en favour 
des dtrangers et de la posterite. Leibnitii Opera Omnia, ed. 
Dutens, Vol. v. pages 17 and 28. 

Reference is also made to Montmort and his book in the cor- 
respondence between Leibnitz and John and Nicholas Bernoulli ; 


see the work cited in Art. 59, pages 827, 836, 837, 8-i2, 846, 903, 
985, 987, 989. 

139. We will now give a detailed account of Montmort's 
work ; we will take the second edition as our standard, and point 
out as occasion may require when our remarks do not apply to 
the first edition also. 

140. The preface occupies XXIV pages. Montmort refers to 
the fact that James Bernoulli had been engaged on a work entitled 
De arte conjectandi, which his premature death had prevented him 
from completing. Montmort's introduction to these studies had 
arisen from the request of some friends that he would determine 
the advantage of the banker at the game of Pharaon; and he had 
been led on to compose a work which might compensate for the 
loss of Bernoulli's. 

Montmort makes some judicious observations on the foolish 
and superstitious notions which were prevalent among persons 
devoted to games of chance, and proposes to check these by shew- 
ing, not only to such persons but to men in general, that there 
are rules in chance, and that for want of knowing these rules 
mistakes are made which entail adverse results; and these results 
men impute to destiny instead of to their own ignorance. Per- 
haps however he speaks rather as a philosopher than as a gambler 
when he says positively on his page vili, 

On joueroit sans donte avec plus d'agrement si Ton pouvoit sgavoir 
a chaqne coup I'esperance qu'on a de gagner, ou le risque que I'on court 
de perdre. On seroit plus tranquile sur les evenemens du jeu, et on 
sentiroit mieux le ridicule de ces plaintes continuelles ausquelles se 
laissent aller la plupart des Joueurs dans les rencontres les plus com- 
munes, lorsqu'elles leur sout conti'aires. 

141. Montmort divides his work into four parts. The first 
part contains the theory of combinations ; the second part discusses 
certain games of chance depending on cards ; the third part dis- 
cusses certain games of chance depending on dice; the fourth 
part contains the solution of various problems in chances, including 
the five problems proposed by Huygens. To these four parts 
must be added the letters to which we have alluded in Art. 137. 


Montmort gives his reasons for not devoting a part to the appli- 
cation of his subject to political, economical, and moral questions, 
in conformity with the known design of James Bernoulli; see his 
pages XIII — XX. His reasons contain a good appreciation of the 
difficulty that must attend all such applications, and he thus states 
the conditions under which we may attempt them with advantage: 
1^. borner la question que Ton se propose h un petit nombre de 
suppositions, etablies sur des faits certains; 2". faire abstraction do 
toutes les circonstances ausquelles la liberte de I'homme, cet 
ocueil perpetuel de nos connoissances, pourroit avoir quelque part. 
Montmort praises highly the memoir by Halley, which we have 
already noticed ; and also commends Petty's Political A rithmetic ; 
see Arts. 57, 01. 

Montmort refers briefly to his predecessors, Huygens, Pascal, 
and Format. He says that his work is intended principally for 
mathematicians, and that he has fully explained the various games 
which he discusses because, pour I'ordinaire les S^avans ne sont 
pas Joueurs; see his page xxiii. 

142. After the preface follows an Avertissement which was not 
in the first edition. Montmort sa3^s that two small treatises on 
the subject had appeared since his first edition; namely a thesis 
by Nicolas Bernoulli De arte conjectandi in Jure, and a memoir 
by De Moivre, De meiisura sortis. 

Montmort seems to have been much displeased with the terms 
in which reference was made to him by De Moivre. De Moivre 
had said, 

Ilugenius, primus quod sciani regulas tradidit ad istius generis Pro- 
blematum Solutionem, quas nuperrimus autor Gallus variis exemplis 
pulclire illustravit ; sed non videntur viri clarissimi ea simplicitate ac 
generalitate usi fuisse quam natura rei postulabat : etenirn dum p] ures 
quantitates incognitas usurpant, ut varias Collusorum conditiones re- 
praesentent, calculum siumi nimis perplexum redduut ; diimque Colhi- 
sorum dexteritatem semper aequalem pomint, doctriuam hanc ludorum 
intra limites nimis arctos continent. 

Montmort seems to have taken needless offence at these words ; 
he thought his own performances were undervalued, and accord- 
ingly he defends his own claims : this leads him to give a sketch 



of the history of the Theory of Probability from its origin. He 
attributes to himself the merit of having explored a subject which 
had been only slightly noticed and then entirely forgotten for 
sixty years ; see his page xxx. 

143. The first part of Montmort's work is entitled TraiU des 
Combinaisons ; it occupies pages 1 — 72. Montmort says, on his 
page XXV, that he has here collected the theorems on Combina- 
tions which were scattered over the work in the first edition, and 
that he has added some theorems. 

Montmort begins by explaining the properties of Pascal's Arith- 
metical Triangle. He gives the general expression for the term 
which occupies an assigned place in the Arithmetical Tiiangle. He 
shews how to find the sum of the squares, cubes, fourth powers, . . . 
of the first n natural numbers. He refers, on his page 20, to a 
book called the New introduction to the Mathematics written by 
M. Johnes, scavant Geometre Anglois. The author here meant is 
one who is usually described as the father of Sir William Jones. 
Montmort then investigates the number of permutations of an 
assigned set of things taken in an assigned number together. 

14-i. Much of this part of Montmort's work would however 
be now considered to belong rather to the chapter on Chances 
than to the chapter on Combinations in a treatise on Algebra. 
We have in fact numerous examples about drawing cards and 
throwing dice. 

We will notice some of the more interesting points in this 
part. We may remark that in order to denote the number of 
combinations of n things taken r at a time, Montmort uses the 
symbol of a small rectangle with n above it and r below it. 

145. Montmort proposes to establish the Binomial Theorem; 
see his page 32. He says that this theorem may be demonstrated 
in various ways. His own method will be seen from an example. 
Suppose we require (a + 6)^ Conceive that we have four counters 
each having two faces, one black and one white. Then Montmort 
has already shewn by the aid of the Arithmetical Triangle that 
if the four counters are thrown promiscuously there is one way 
ia which all the faces presented will be black, four ways in which 


three faces will be black and one white, six ways in which two 
faces will be black and two white; and so on. Then he reasons 
thus: we know by the rules for multiplication that in order to 
raise a + h to the fourth power (1) we must take the fourth power 
of a and the fourth power of h, which is the same thing as taking 
the four black faces and the four white faces, (2) we must take 
the cube of a with b, and the cube of b with a in as many ways as 
possible, which is the same thing as taking the three black faces 
with one white face, and the three white faces with one black 
face, (3) we must take the square of a with the square of b in 
as many ways as possible, which is the same thing as taking the 
two black faces with the two white faces. Hence the coefficients 
in the Binomial Theorem must be the numbers 1, 4, 6, which we 
have already obtained in considering the cases which can arise 
with the four counters. 

l-iG. Thus in fact Montmort argues a priori that the coeffi- 
cients in the expansion of {a + hy must be equal to the numbers of 
cases corresponding to the different ways in which the white and 
black faces may appear if n counters are thrown 2)romiscuously, 
each counter having one black face and one white face. 

Montmort gives on his page 3i a similar interpretation to 
the coefficients of the multinomial theorem. Hence we see that 
he in some cases passed from theorems in Chances to theorems in 
pure Algebra, while we now pass more readily from theorems in 
pure Algebra to their application to the doctrine of Chances. 

147. On his page 42 Montmort has the following problem: 
There are jj dice each having the same number of faces; find the 
number of ways in which when they are thrown at random we can 
have a aces, b twos, c threes, . . . 

The result will be in modern notation 

\a \b[G... 

He then proceeds to a case a little more complex, namely 
where we are to have a of one sort of faces, h of another sort, c 
of a third sort, and so on, without specifying whether the a faces 

G— 2 


are to be aces, or twos, or threes, ,.., and similarly without specify- 
ing for the h faces, or the c faces, . . . 

He had given the result for this problem in his first edition, 
page 137, where the factors B, C, JD, E, F,... must however be 
omitted from his denominator ; he suppressed the demonstration 
in his first edition because he said it would be long and abstruse, 
and only intelligible to such persons as were capable of discovering 
it for themselves. 

148. On his page 46 Montmort gives the following problem, 
which is new in the second edition : There are n dice each having 
/faces, marked with the numbers from 1 to/; they are thrown at 
random : determine the number of ways in which the sum of the 
numbers exhibited by the dice will be equal to a given number p. 

"We should now solve the problem by finding the coefficient 
of x^ in the expansion of 

(a; + 03^ + 03'+ ...+x^Y, 

/I — x^y^ 

that is the coefficient of x^'"' in the expansion of I = J , that is 

in the expansion of (1 — x)'"" (1 — x^y. Let p — n = s; then the 
required number is 

n (ii+l) ... (n-h s —1) 71 (72 + 1) ... (n+s —f— 1) 


n(n-l) n(n + V) ... (n+ s —2f- 1) 
1.2 l.s-2/ 

The series is to be continued so long as all the factors which 
occur are positive. Montmort demonstrates the formula, but in a 
much more laborious way than the above. 

149. The preceding formula is one of the standard results of 
the subject, and we must now trace its history. The formula was 
first published by De Moivre without demonstration in the Be 
Mensura Sortis. Montmort says, on his page 364, that it was derived 
from page 141 of his first edition; but this assertion is quite un- 
founded, for all that we have in Montmort's first edition, at the 
place cited, is a table of the various throws which can be made 
with any number of dice up to nine in number. Montmort how- 


ever shews by tlie evidence of a letter addressed to John Bernoulli, 
dated 15th November, 1710, that he was himself acquainted with 
the formula before it was published by De Moivi-e ; see Montmort, 
page 307. De Moivre first published his demonstration in his 
Miscellanea Analytica, 1730, where he ably replied to the asser- 
tion that the formula had been derived from the first edition of 
Montmort's work ; see Miscellama Analytica, pages 191 — 197. 
De Moivre's demonstration is the same as that which we have 

150. Montmort then proceeds to a more difficult question. 
Suppose we have three sets of cards, each set containing ten cards 
marked with the numbers 1, 2, . . . 10. If three cards are taken 
out of the thirty, it is required to find in how many ways the 
sum of the numbers on the cards will amount to an assigned 

In this problem the assigned number may arise (1) from three 
cards no two of which are of the same set, (2) from three cards 
two of which are of one set and the third of another set, (3) from 
three cards all of the same set. The first case is treated in the 
problem, Article 148; the other two cases are new. 

Montmort here gives no general solution; he only shews how a 
table may be made registering all the required results. 

He sums up thus, page 62 : Cette methode est un peu longue, 
mais j'ai de la peine a croire qu'on puisse en trouver une plus 

The problem discussed here by Montmort may be stated thus : 
We require the number of solutions of the equation x -\- y + z = p, 
under the restriction that x, y, z shall be positive integers lying 
between 1 and 10 inclusive, and p a positive integer wdiich has an 
assigned value lying between 3 and 30 inclusive. 

151. In his pages 63 — 72 Montmort discusses a problem in 
the summation of series. We should now enunciate it as a general 
question of Finite Differences : to find the sum of any assigned 
number of terms of a series in which the Finite Differences of a 
certain order are zero. 

In modern notation, let iin denote the n^^ term and suppose 
that the {in + 1)*^ Finite Difference is zero. 


Then it is shewn in works on Finite Differences, that 

i(n = % + 'i^^Uo 4- -J — 2~ -^'^^^ + • • • 

, yi(?i--l) ...(??-m+l) .,„ 

i -» j 11 Uq . 


This formula Montmort gives, using A, B, C,... for Aw^j AV^, 

By the aid of this formula the summation of an assigned 

number of terms of the proposed series is reduced to depend on the 

,. ^ . ^ ,., n (n—1) ... (n — r+1) . 

summation of series of which — ^ — j — ^ ^ may be 

taken as the type of the general term ; and such summations have 
been already effected by means of the Arithmetical Triangle and 
its properties. 

152. Montmort naturally attaches great importance to this 
general investigation, which is new in the second edition. He 
says, page ^5^ 

Ce Problerae a, comme Ton voit, toute I'etendue et toute I'universa- 
lite possible, et semble ne rien laisser a desirer sur cette matiere, qui n'a 
encore et6 traitee par personne, que je s^ache : j'en avois obmis la de- 
monstration dans le Journal des Sgavans du mois de Mars 1711. 

De Moivi'e in his Doctrine of Chances uses the rule which 
Montmort here demonstrates. In the first edition of the Doctrine 
of Chances, page 29, we are told that the "Demonstration may 
be had from the Methodus Differentialis of Sir Isaac Xewton, 
printed in his Analysis!' In the second edition of the Doctrine 
of Chances, page 52, and in the third edition, page 59, the origin 
of the rule is carried further back, namely, to the fifth Lemma of 
the Princijna, Book iii. See also Miscellanea Analytica, page 152. 

De Moivre seems here hardly to do full justice to Montmort ; 
for the latter is fairly entitled to the credit of the first explicit 
enunciation of the rule, even though it may be implicitl}^ contained 
in Newton's Princijna and Methodus Differentialis. 

153. Montmort's second part occupies pages 73 — 172 ; it re- 


lates to games of chance involving cards. The first game is that 
called Pharaon. 

This game is described by De Moivre, and some investigations 
given by him relating to it. De Moivre restricts himself to the 
case of a common pack of cards with four suits ; Montmort sup- 
poses the number of suits to be any number whatever. On the 
other hand De Moivre calculates the percentage of gain of the 
banker, which he justly considers the most important and difficult 
part of the problem ; see DoctHne of Chances, pages ix, 77, 105, 

Montmort's second edition gives the general results more 
compactly than the first. 

15i. We shall make some remarks in connection with Mont- 
mort's investigations on Pharaon, for the sake of the summation of 
certain series which present themselves. 

155. Suppose that there are p cards in the pack, which the 
Banker has, and that his adversary's card occurs q times in the 
pack. Let ii^ denote the Banker's advantage, A the sum of money 
which his adversary stakes. Montmort shews that 

,. _ g (y - 1) \ A. (p-q){p-q-^) ,, 

;'^-^.0;-l) 2^+ p[p-l) ^'-^ 

supposing that j9 — 2 is greater than q. That is Montmort should 


have this; but he puts {pq — q^) 2 A + {(f — q)-^A, on his page 89, 


by mistake for q^q — l) - A) he gets right on his page 90. Mont- 

mort is not quite full enough in the details of the treatment of 
this equation. The following results will however be found on 

If q is even we can by successive use of the formula make ?/^ 
depend on u^ ; and then it follows from the laws of the game that 

Wj is equal io A \i q is equal to 2, and to ^ ^ if ^ is greater 

than 2. Thus we shall have, if q is an even number greater 
than 2, 


, (;>-g)(p-<7-i)-'-i I 

If ^ = 2 the last term within the brackets should be doubled. 
Again if q is odd we can by successive use of the fundamental 
formula make u^ depend on w^^^, and if q is greater than unity it 

can be shewn that u.^, = ^-^^ -77 . Thus we shall have, if a is an 

^^^ q+1 Z 

odd number greater than unity, 

,, _ g(^-^) 1 J f 1 4. (p-^)(p-g-l) 
^^-^(^-1)2^|'+ (^-2)(p-3) 




"^ (i5-2)(i>-3) ^ 

If ^ = 1 we have by a special investigation Up = — . 

If we suppose q even and p — q not less than q — 1, or q odd 
and p —q not less than q, some of the terms within the brackets 
may be simplified. Montmort makes these suppositions, and con- 
sequently he finds that the series within the brackets may be 
expressed as a fraction, of which the common denominator is 

{p-2)(p-S)...{p-q + l); 

the numerator consists of a series, the first term of which is the 
same as the denominator, and the last term is 

fe-2)(^-3)...2.1, or (^-l)(^-2)...3.2, 

according as q is even or odd. 

The matter contained in the present article was not given 
by Montmort in his first edition ; it is due to John Bernoulli : 
see Montmort's, page 287. 


156. We are thus naturally led to consider the summation of 
certain series. 

Let (71, r) = -^ ^ 

so that (j) {n, r) is the n^^ number of the (r + 1)"' order of figurate 

Let 8<f) (n, r) stand for <j) {n, r) + <^ (w — 2, ?•) + </> (^ — 4, r) + . . . , 
so that S(j> (n, r) is the sum of the alternate terms of the series of 
figurate numbers of the (r + 1)**" order, beginning with the w"' and 
going backwards. It is required to find an expression for /S'</) {n, r). 
It is known that 

(n, r) + (l)(n-l,r) +(f) {n - 2, r) + </> (71 - 3, r) +... = (/> (ji, r + 1) ; 

and by taking the terms in pairs it is easy to see that 

<j) (n, 7') — (j) (n — l,r) -{-(f) [n — 2, 7^) —(f>{n — 3, ?•) + ... = S(j) {n, r — 1) ; 

therefore, by addition, 

S(l> {n, r) = - (/) {71, r-\-l)+^S(i> (w, r- 1). 

Hence, continuing the process, we shall have 

1 11 

^^ (w, ?•) = 2 ^ ^^' ** + ^) + 3 ^ (^^' ^') + ^ <^ {^h r - 1) + ... 

and we must consider 8<\> (n, ^—-n, if 71 be even, and = - (n+1), 
if n be odd. 

We may also obtain another expression for 8<^ {n, r). For 
change w into n + 1 in the two fundamental relations, and subtract, 
instead of adding as before ; thus 

>^(/) (71, r) = i <^ (n + 1 , r + 1) - ^ ^0 ( ; . + 1 , r - 1 ) . 
Hence, continuing the process, we shall have 
^(/)(7i,r)=-(/>(7i + l, r + 1)- ^ </,(« + 2,7')+^ <3«>(n + 3, r-1) 

{- ly {- \Y 

- -^ ^(u + r, 2) + 4^ Sct>(n + r, 0). 


157. Montmort's own solution of the problem respecting 
Pharaon depends on the first mode of summation explained in Art. 
156, which coincides with Montmort's own process. The fact that 
in Montmort's result when q is odd, ^^ — 1 terms are to be taken, 
and when q^ is even, q terms are to be taken and the last doubled, 
depends on the different values we have to ascribe to 8^ (n, 0) ac- 
cording as n is even or odd ; see Montmort's page 98. 

Montmort gives another form to his result on his page 99 ; 
this he obtained, after the publication of his first edition, from 
Nicolas Bernoulli. It appears however that a wrong date is here 
assigned to the communication of Nicolas Bernoulli ; see Mont- 
mort's page 299. This form depends on the second mode of sum- 
mation explained in Art. 156. It happens that in applying this 
second mode of summation to the problem of Pharaon ?i + r is 
always odd ; so that in Nicolas Bernoulli's form for the result 
we have only one case, and not two cases according as q is even 
or odd. 

There is a memoir by Euler on the game of Pharaon in the 
Hist de VAcad Berlin ioY 1764, in which he expresses the ad- 
vantage of the Banker in the same manner as Nicolas Bernoulli. 

158. Montmort gives two tables of numerical results respect- 
ing Pharaon. One of these tables purports to be an exact exhibi- 
tion of the Banker's advantage at any stage of the game, supposing 
it played with an ordinary pack of 52 cards ; the other table is an 
approximate exhibition of the Banker's advantage. A remark may 
be made with respect to the former table. The table consists of 
four columns ; the first and third are correct. The second column 

w + 2 

should be calculated from the formula -r — -, -. , by puttino^ for n 

2n (n — 1) -^ ^ ^ 

in succession 50, 48, 46, ... 4. But in the two copies of the second 

edition of Montmort's book which I have seen the column is given 

3117 26 

incorrectly ; it begins with ' ^ instead of ^ , and of the re- 

maining entries some are correct, but not in their simplest forms, 

and others are incorrect. The fourth column should be calculated 

2n — 5 

from the formula ^w tv-/ i^ ? ^Y putting for n in succession 

z{n—l){n — 3) , 

50, 48, 46 ... 4 ; but there are errors and unreduced results in it; 


it begins with a fraction having twelve figures in its denominator, 
which in its simplest form would only have four figures. 

In the only copy of the first edition which I have seen these 
columns are given correctly ; in both editions the description given 
in the text corresponds not to the incorrect forms but to the cor- 
rect forms. 

159. Montmort next discusses the game of Lansquenet; this 
discussion occupies pages 105 — 129. It does not appear to present 
any point of interest, and it would be useless labour to verify the 
complex arithmetical calculations which it involves. A few lines 
which occurred on pages 40 and 41 of Montmort's first edition are 
omitted in the second ; while the Articles 84 and 95 of the second 
edition are new. Ai'ticle 84 seems to have been suggested to 
Montmort by John Bernoulli ; see Montmort's page 288 : it relates 
to a point which James Bernoulli had found difficult, as we have 
already stated in Art. 119. 

160. Montmort next discusses the game of Treize ; this dis- 
cussion occupies pages 130 — 143. The problem involved is one of 
considerable interest, which has maintained a permanent place in 
works on the Theory of Probability. 

The following is the problem considered by Montmort. 

Suppose that we have thirteen cards numbered 1, 2, 3 ... up to 
13 ; and that these cards are thrown promiscuousl}^ into a bag. 
The cards are then drawn out singly ; required the chance that, 
once at least, the number on a card shall coincide with the number 
expressing the order in which it is drawn. 

161. In his first edition Montmort did not give any demon- 
strations of his results ; but in his second edition he gives two 
demonstrations which he had received from Nicolas Bernoulli ; 
see his pages 301, 302. We will take the first of these demon- 

Let a, h, c, d,e, ... denote the cards, n in number. Then the num- 
ber of possible cases is [n. The number of cases in which a is first 
is I yi — 1. The number of cases in which h is second, but a not first, 

n — 1 — 1 7i — 2. The number of cases in which c is third, but a 


not first nor b second, is | w — 1 — | ^^ — 2 — | |?i — 2 — | n — 3 1 


that is \n-l -2\n-2+\n-S. The number of cases in 

which d is fourth, but neither a, b, nor c in its proper place is 
\n-l -2\n-2 + \n-S -hn-2-2 \n-S + | n - 4 1, that is 

1/1 — 1 — 3 \n — 2 + 3 \n — S — \n — 4*. And generally the number 

of cases in which the m^^ card is in its proper place, while none 
of its predecessors is in its proper place, is 

\n-l - (m - 1) 1 71-2 + ^ -^ ^ \n-S 

{m -1) (m- 2) (m-3) 


w — m. 

^ ,71-4 + + (-1) 

"We may supply a step here in the process of Nicolas Bernoulli, 
by shewing the truth of this result by induction. Let -v/r (771, n) 
denote the number of cases in which the m"' card is the first that 
occurs in its right place ; we have to trace the connexion between 
^jr (m, n) and yjr {m + 1, n). The number of cases in which the 
{m + l)**^ card is in its right place while none of the cards between 
h and the W2*'^ card, both inclusive, is in its right place, is '^^ (m, n). 
From this number we must reject all those cases in which a is in its 
right place, and thus we shall obtain yjr {in + 1, n). The cases to 
be rejected are in number '^ {m, n — 1). Thus 

y^ (in + 1, w) = i/r {in, n) — yfr {in, n — 1). 

Hence we can shew that the form assigned by Nicolas Bernoulli 
to -^/r (m, n) is universally true. 

Thus if a person undertakes that the m*^ card shall be the first 
that is in its right place, the number of cases favourable to him is 

'^ (m, n), and therefore his chance is . ' — - , 


If he undertakes that at least one card shall be in its right 

place, we obtain the number of favourable cases by summing 

^jr (m, n) for all values of m from 1 to n both inclusive : the chance 

is found by dividing this sum by [n. 

Hence we shall obtain for the chance that at least one card is 
in its right place, 

i_l+i_l, , (- 1)- 

2 [3 li^'"^ \n ' 

MONTilORT. 93 

"We may observe that if we subtract the last expression from 
unity we obtain the chance that no card is in its right place. Hence 
if (f> (n) denote the number of cases in which no card is in its right 
place, we obtain 

162. The game which Montmort calls Treize has sometimes 
been called Rencontre. The problem which is here introduced for 
the first time has been generalised and discussed by the following 
writers : De Moivre, Doctrine of Chances, pages 109 — 117. Euler, 
Hist, de T Acad.... Berlin, for 1751. Lambert, Kouveaux Memoires 
de T Acad. ... Berlin, for 1771. Laplace, TJieorie . . . des Proh. 
pages 217 — 225. Michaelis, Memoire sur la prohahilite du jeu de 
rencontre, Berlin, 1846. 

163. Pages 148 — 156 of Montmort relate to the game of Bas- 
sette. This is one of the most celebrated of the old games : it 
bears a great resemblance to Pharaon. 

As we have already stated, this game was discussed by James 
Bernoulli, who summed up his results in the form of six tables ; 
see Art. 119. The most imi^ortant of these tables is in the fourth, 
which is in effect also reproduced in De Moivre's investigations. 
The reader who wishes to obtain a notion of the game may con- 
sult De Moivre's Doctrine of Chances, pages 69 — 77. 

164. James Bernoulli and De Moivre confine themselves to 
the case of a common pack of cards, so that a particular card, an 
ace for example, cannot occur more than four times. Montmort 
however, considers the subject more generally, and gives formulae 
for a pack of cards consisting of any number of suits. Montmort 
gives a general formula on his page 153 which is new in his second 
edition. The quantity which De Moivre denotes by y and puts 
equal to ^ is taken to be | by Montmort. 

Montmort gives a numerical table of the advantage of the 
Banker at Bassette. In the second edition some fractions are 
left unreduced which were reduced to their lowest terms in the 
first edition, the object of the change being jDrobably to allow 


the law of formation to be more readily perceived. The last 
fraction, given in the table was wrong in the first edition ; see 
Montmort's page 803. It would be advisable to multiply both 
numerator and denominator of this fraction by 12 to maintain 
uniformity in the table. 

165. Montmort devotes his pages 157 — 172 to some pro- 
blems respecting games which are not entirely games of chance. 
He gives some preliminary remarks to shew that the complete 
discussion of such games is too laborious and complex for our 
powers of analysis ; he therefore restricts himself to some special 
problems relating to the games. 

The games are not described, so that it would be difficult to 
undertake an examination of Montmort's investigations. Two of 
the problems, namely, those relating to the game of Piquet, are 
given by De Moivre with more detail than by Montmort ; see 
Doctrine of Chances, page 179. These problems are simple exer- 
cises in combinations ; and it would appear that all Montmort's 
other problems in this part of his book are of a similar kind, pre- 
senting no difficulty except that arising from a want of familiarity 
with the undescribed games to which they belong. 

166. Montmort's third part occupies pages 173 — 215 ; it 
relates to games of chance involving dice. This part is almost 
identically repeated from the first edition. 

The first game is called Qicinqiienove ; it is described, and a 
calculation given of the disadvantage of a player. The second 
game is called Hazard; this is also described, and a calculation 
given of the disadvantage of the player who holds the dice. This 
game is discussed by De Moivre; see his pages 160 — 166. The 
third game is cslled Fs2:>erance ; it is described and a particular 
case of it with three players is calculated. The calculation is 
extremely laborious, and the chances of the three players are 
represented by three fractions, the common denominator being a 
number of twenty figures. Then follow games called Trois Dez, 
Passe-dix, Rafle ; these are described somewhat obscurely, and 
problems respecting them are solved ; Raffling is discussed by De 
Moivre; see pages 166 — 172 of the Doctrine of Chances. 


167. The last game is called Le Jeu des Koyaux, which 
Montmort says the Baron de la Hontan had found to be in use 
among the savages of Canada ; see Montmort's pages xii and 213. 
The game is thus described, 

On y joue avec huit noyaux noirs d'un cote et blancs de I'autre : on 
jette les noyaux en Fair : alors si les noirs se trouvent impairs, celui qui 
a jette les noyaux gagne ce que I'autre Joueur a uiis au jeu : S'ils se 
trouvent ou tous noirs ou tous blancs, il en gagne le double ; et hors de 
ces deux cas il perd sa mise. 

Suppose eight dice each having only two faces, one face black 
and one white ; let them be thrown up at random. There are 
then T, that is 256, equally possible cases. It will be found that 
there are 8 cases for one black and seven white, 5Q cases for three 
black and five white, 28 cases for two black and six white, and 
70 cases for four black and four white ; and there is only one case 
for all black. Thus if the whole stake be denoted by A, the chance 
of the player who throws the dice is 

_L j (8 + 8 + 56 + 50) .4 + 2 (.1 + I A) | , 

and the chance of the other player is 

2^^1(28 + 28 + 70)^ + 2(0-1.1)1. 

131 125 

The former is equal to tt^. A, and the latter to 77^ A, 

2ob loij 

Montmort says that the problem was proposed to him by a 
lady who gave him almost instantly a correct solution of it ; but 
he proceeds very rudely to depreciate the lady's solution by in- 
sinuating that it was only correct by accident, for her method was 
restricted to the case in which there were only two faces on each 
of the dice : Montmort then proposes a similar problem in which 
each of the dice has ybi^r faces. 

Montmort should have recorded the name of the only lady who 
has contributed to the Theory of Probability. 


168. The fourth part of Montmort's book occupies pages 
216 — 282 ; it contains the solution of various problems respecting 
chances, and in particular of the five proposed by Huygens in 
1657 ; see Art. 35. This part of the work extends to about double 
the length of the corresponding part in the first edition. 

169. Montmort's solution of Hujgens's first problem is similar 
to that given by James Bernoulli. The first few lines of Mont- 
mort's Remarque on his page 217 are not in his first edition ; they 
strongly resemble some lines in the Ars Coiijectandi, page 51. 
But Montmort does not refer to the latter work, either in his 
preface or elsewhere, although it appeared before his own second 
edition; the interval however between the two publications may 
have been very small, and so perhaps Montmort had not seen the 
Ars Conjectandi until after his own work had been completely 

The solution of Huygens's fifth problem is very laborious, and 
inferior to that given by James Bernoulli ; and Montmort him- 
self admits that he had not adopted the best method ; see his 
page 223. 

The solutions of Huygens's problems which Montmort gave 
in his first edition received the benefit of some observations by 
John Bernoulli ; these are printed in Montmort's fifth part, 
pages 292 — 294, and by the aid of them the solutions in the second 
edition were improved : but Montmort's discussions of the pro- 
blems remain still far less elaborate than those of James Bernoulli. 

170. Montmort next takes two problems which amount to 
finding the value of an annuity, allowing compound interest. 
Then he proceeds to the problem of which a particular example 
is to find in how many throws with a single die it will be an 
even chance to throw a six. 

171. Montmort now devotes his pages 232 — 248 to the Pro- 
blem of Points. He reprints Pascal's letter of August 14th, 1654, 
to which we have alluded in Art. 16, and then he adds, page 241, 

Le respect que nous avons pour la reputation et pour la memoire de 
M. Pascal, ne nous permet pas de faire remarquer ici en detiiil toutes 


les fautes de raisonnement qui sont dans cette Lettre ; il nous suffira 
d'avertir que la cause de son erreur est de n'avoir point d'egard aux 
divers arrangemens des lettres. 

Montmort's words seem to imply that Pascal's letter contains 
a large amount of error ; we have, however, only the single fun- 
damental inaccuracy which Fermat corrected, as we have shewTi in 
Art. 19, and the inference that it was not allowaVjle to suppose 
that a certain number of trials will necessarily be made; see Art. 18. 

172. Montmort gives for the first time two formulae either of 
which is a complete solution of the Problem of Points when there 
are two players, taking into account difference of skill. We will 
exhibit these formulae in modern notation. Suppose that A wants 
711 points and B wants n points ; so that the game will be neces- 
sarily decided in m-\-n—l trials ; \etm + n—l = r. Let p denote 
A's skill, that is his chance of winning in a single trial, and let 
q denote J5's skill ; so that p + q = l. 

Then ^'s chance of winning the game is 

pr^ r-i _^ r(r-l) ,_^ + ,— ,^^— fi^V"; 

^"^^ 1.2^ [m I ?? — 1 

and Bs chance of winning the game is 

q'+rr'p+^^-^Y^ 2-p=+ + ^^zi^ ?>"'- ■ 

This is the first formula. According to the second formula J's 
chance of winning the game is 

m f 1 . m (m + 1) « , , 1/ "" i_ ^K-i 1 . 

and B's chance of winning the game is 

„ f- , 7^ (n + 1) „ , l^~^ ,,--' I 

^ r-^^'^"^ 172 ^+ ^\m-i.n-ij r 

Montmort demonstrates the truth of these formulae, but we 
need not crive the demonstrations here as they will be found in 
elementary works; see Algebra, Chapter Llli. 

173. In Montmort's first edition he had confined himself 
to the case of equal skill and had given only the first formula, 


SO that he had not really advanced beyond Pascal, although the 
formula would be more convenient than the use of the Arith- 
metical Triangle ; see Art. 23. The first formula for the case 
of unequal skill was communicated to Montmort by John Ber- 
noulli in a letter dated March 17th, 1710 ; see Montmort's page 295. 
As we have already stated the formula was known to James 
BernouUi; see Art. 113. The second formula for the Problem of 
Points must be assigned to Montmort himself, for it now appears 
before us for the first time. 

174. It will be interesting to make some comparison between 
the two formulae given in Art. 172. 

It may be shewn that we have identically 

p' + rp''q-h \ ,^ ' J) <i +... + -—:::: rV 9. 

r^V^ if-^ + m (2> + ^)--^ + !!^!i±i) (^ + g)'-'-/ + 

r — 1 

m — 1 n 

This may be shewn by picking out the coefficients of the 
various powers of ^ in the expression on the right-hand side, 
making use of the relations presented by the identity 

(1 - j)-"-»'(l- 2)-= (1 -?)"'. 

Thus we see that \i 'p-\- c[ be equal to unity the two expres- 
sions given in Art. 172 for ^'s chance are numerically equal. 

175. If however ^ + ^^ be not equal to unity the two expres- 
sions given in Art. 172 for ^'s chance are not numerically equal. 
If we suppose jy-^- q less than unity, we can give the following in- 
terpretation to the formulae. Suppose that A 's chance of winning 
in a single trial is jp, and i?'s chance is q, and that there is the 
chance ^—jp — q that it is a drawn contest. 

Then the formula 

mi, w (??z + 1) „ \r —\ 

^ 1.2 -^ m— 1^1 — 1^ 


expresses the chance that A shall win m points before either a 
single drawn contest occurs, or B wins n points. 

This is easily seen by examining the reasoning by which the 
formula is established in the case when p -{- q is equal to unity. 

But the formula 

expresses the chance that A shall win m points out of r, on the 
condition that r trials are to be made, and that A is not to be con- 
sidered to have won if a drawn contest should occur even after he 
has won his m points. 

This follows from the fact that if we expand (2^ + q + 1 —p — qY 
in powers of j^, q, 1 — ^ — 5', a term such as Cj^^q^il —2^ — qy ex- 
presses the chance that A wins p points, B wins a points, and r 
contests are drawn. 

Or we may treat this second case by using the transformation 
in Art. 174. Then we see that {p + qy"^ expresses the chance 
that there shall be no dra^\Ti contest after the m points which A is 
supposed to have won ; {p-{- ^)'""'"^ expresses the chance that there 
shall be no drawn contest after the m points which A is supposed 
to have won, and the single point which B is supposed to have 
won ; and so on. 

176. Montmort thinks it might be easily imagined that the 
chances of A and B, if they respectivel}' want km and Jen points, 
would be the same as if they respectively wanted m and 71 points ; 
but this he says is not the case ; see his page 24? 7. He seems to 
assert that as k increases the chance of the player of greater skill 
necessarily increases with it. He does not however demonstrate this. 

We know by Bernoulli's theorem that if the number of trials 
be made large enough, there is a very high probability that the 
number of points won by each player respectively will be nearly in 
the ratio of his skill ; so that if the ratio ofm to n be less than that 
of the skill of A to the skill of B, we can, by increasing k, obtain as 
great a probability as we please that A will win km points before 
B wins hi points. 

Montmort probably implies, though he does not state, the con- 
dition which we have put in Italics. 



177. Montmort devotes his pages 248 — 257 to the discussion 
of a game of Bowls, which leads to a problem resembling the Pro- 
blem of Points. The problem was started by De Moivre in his 
Be Mensura Sortis ; see Montmort, page 866, and the Doctrine of 
Chances, page 121. De Moivre had supposed the players to be of 
equal skill, and each to have the same number of balls ; Montmort 
generalised the problem by supposing players of unequal skill and 
having unequal numbers of balls. Thus the problem was not in 
Montmort's first edition. 

Montmort gives on his page 256 a simple example of a solution 
of a problem which appears very plausible, but which is incorrect. 
Suppose A plays with one bowl and B with two bowls ; required 
their respective chances in one trial, assuming equal skill. 
Considering that any one of the three bowls is as likely as the 

.2 .1 

others to be first, the chance of ^ is ^r and that of ^ is - . But by 

3 3 -^ 

the incorrect solution Montmort arrives at a different result. For 

suppose A to have delivered his bowl. Then B has the chance 

^ with his first bowl of beating A ; and the chance - x ^ of failing 
with his first bowl and being successful with his second. Thus ^'s 
chance appears to be - • Montmort considers the error of this so- 
lution to lie in the assumption that when B has failed to beat A 
with his first bowl it is still an even chance that he will beat A with 
his second bowl : for the fact that B failed with his first bowl 
suggests that ^'s bowl has a position better than the average, so 
that jB's chance of success with his second bowl becomes less than 
an even chance. 

178. Montmort then takes four problems in succession of 
trifling importance. The first relates to a lottery which was started 
in Paris in 1710, in which the projector had offered to the public 
terms which were very disadvantageous to himself The second is 
an easy exercise in combinations. The third relates to a game 
called Le Jeu des Oublieux. The fourth is an extension of 
Huygens's eleventh problem, and is also given in the Ars Conjee- 
tandi, page 34. These four problems are new in the second edition. 


179. Montmort now passes to a problem of a more important 
character which occupies his pages 268 — 277, and which is also 
new in the second edition; it relates to the Duration of Play; 
see Art. 107. 

Suppose A. to have m counters and i? to have n counters ; let 
their chances of winning a single game be as a to ^ ; the loser in 
each game is to give a counter to his adversary : required the chance 
that A will have won all 5's counters on or before the x^^ game. 

This is the most difficult problem which had as yet been solved 
in the sulyect. Montmort's formula is given on his pages 268, 269. 

180. The history of this problem up to the current date will 
be found by comparing the following pages of Montmort's book, 
275, 309, 315, 324, 344, 368, 375, 380. 

It appears that Montmort worked at the problem and also 
asked Nicolas Bernoulli to try it. Nicolas Bernoulli sent a 
solution to Montmort, which Montmort said he admired but 
could not understand, and he thought his o^^TL method of investi- 
gation and that of Nicolas Bernoulli must be very different : but 
after explanations received from Nicolas Bernoulli, Montmort 
came to the conclusion that the methods were the same. Before 
however the publication of Montmort's second edition, De Moi\Te 
had solved the problem in a different manner in the De Mensura 

181. The general problem of the Duration of Play was studied 
by De Moivre with great acuteness and success ; indeed his inves- 
tigation forms one of his chief contributions to the subject. 

He refers in the following words to Nicolas Bernoulli and 
Montmort : 

Monsieur de Monniort^ in the Second Edition of his Book of Chances, 
having given a very handsom Solution of the Problem relating to the 
duration of Play, (which Solution is coincident with that of Monsieur 
Nicolas Bemoully, to be seen in that Book) and the demonstration of it 
being very naturally deduced from our first Solution of the foregoing 
Problem, I thought the Reader would be well pleased to see it trans- 
ferred to this place. 

Doctrine of Chances; first edition, page 122. 


...the Solution of Mr Nicolas Bernoulli beiog very much crouded 
with Symbols, and the verbal Explication of them too scanty, I own 
I did not understand it thoroughly, which obliged me to consider Mr. 
de Monimort^s Solution with very great attention : I found indeed that 
he was very plain, but to my great surpriza I found him very erroneous; 
still in my Doctrine of Chances I printed that Solution, but rectified 
and ascribed it to Mr. de Monmort, without the least intimation of any 
alterations made by me ; but as I had no thanks for so doing, I resume 
my right, and now print it as my own — 

Doctrine of Chances; second edition page 181, third edition, page 211. 

The language of De Moivre in his second and third editions 
would seem to imply that the solutions of Nicolas Bernoulli and 
Montmort are different ; but they are really coincident, as De 
Moivre had himself stated in his first edition. The statement that 
Montmort's solution is very erroneous, is unjustly severe ; Mont- 
mort has given his formula without proper precaution, but his 
example which immediately follows shews that he was right him- 
self and would serve to guide his readers. The second edition of 
the Doctrine of Chances appeared nearly twenty years after the 
death of Montmort ; and the change in De Moivre's language 
respecting him seems therefore especially ungenerous. 

182. We shall not here give Montmort's general solution of 
the Problem of the Duration of Play ; we shall have a better 
opportunity of noticing it in connexion with De Moivre's investiga- 
tions. We will make three remarks which may be of service to 
any student who examines Montmort's own work. 

Montmort's general ^statement on his pages 2G8, 269, might 
easily mislead ; the example at the end of page 269 is a safer 
guide. If the statement were literally followed, the second line in 
the example would consist of as many terms as the first line, the 
fourth of as many terms as the third, and the sixth of as many 
terms as the fifth; but this would be wrong, shewing that the 
general statement is not literally accurate. 

Montmort's explanation at the end of his page 270, and the be- 
ginning of his page 271, is not satisfactory. It is not true as he 
intimates, that the four letters a and the eleven letters h must be 


SO arranged that only a single h is to come among the four letters 
a : we might have such an arrangement as aaahhhhhhhhhhha. We 
shall return to this point in our account of De Moivi'e's in- 


On his page 272 Montmort gives a rule deduced from his 
formula ; he ought to state that the rule assumes that the players 
are of equal skill : his rule also assumes that p — m is an even 

183. On his pages 275, 276 Montmort gives without demon- 
stration results for two special cases. 

(1) Suppose that there are two players of equal skill, and that 

each starts with two counters ; then 1 — ^- is the chance that the 

match will be ended in 2x games at most. The result may be de- 
duced from Montmort's general expression. A property of the 
Binomial Coefficients is involved which we may briefly indicate. 

Let Wj, u^, u^, ... denote the successive terms in the expansion 
of (I + l)'"^. Let >S' denote the sum of the following series 

w. + ^ii.-i+ Ux-i+ + u,_,+ 2it,_,+ u,_,+ + w^_3+ ... 
Then shall S=r'-'-2'-\ 

For let V, denote the r^^ term in the expansion of (1 + 1)"''"S and 
lOy the ?'"' term in the expansion of (1 + 1)"''"^ Then 

t'y t/j. "t" I- r—Xf 

Employ the former transformation in the odd terms of our pro- 
posed series, and the latter in the even terms ; thus we find that 
the proposed series becomes 

'^x + ^.r-1 + ^'x-2 + ^.r-3 + ^x--4 + ' ' ' 
+ 2 [W^_^ -h 2W^_^ + IC,_^ + + 10, _, + ...}. 

The first of these two series is equal to ^ (1 + I)'''"' ; and the 

second is a series of the same kind as that which we wish to sum 
with X chanced into x-1. Thus we can finish the demonstration 
hy induction ; for obviously 


(2) Next suppose that each player starts with three counters ; 

then 1 — — is the chance that the match will be ended in 2ic + 1 

games at most. This result had in fact been given by Montmort in 
his first edition, page 184. It may be deduced from Montmort's 
general expression, and involves a property of the Binomial Coeffi- 
cients which we will briefly indicate. 

Let w^, u^, u^, ... denote the successive term-; in the expansion 
of (1 + iy'^\ Let S denote the sum of the following series 

Then shall 8=2'"'- 3^. 

If w^ denote the r**^ term in the expansion of (1 + 1)'^''"^ we can 
shew that 

w^ + 2m^_i + 2w^_2 + u^_s 

+ S (2^,_i + 2w;^_2 + 2w;^_3 + 2(7^ J. 

By performing a similar transformation on every successive 
four significant terms of the original series we transform it into 

2 (1 + 1)'''"^ + 3S, where 2 is a series like S with x changed into 

x-1. Thus 

8 = 2^^-2 + 32. 

Hence by induction we find that /S^= 2^"" - S''. 

184. Suppose the players of equal skill, and that each starts 

with the same odd number of counters, say m ; let /= '^'^^ , 

Then Montmort says, on his page 276, that we may wager with 
adva.ntage that the match will be concluded in 3/' - 3/+ 1 trials. 
Montmort does not shew how he arrived at this approximation. 

The expression may be put in the form \m'^\, De Moivre 

4 4 

spoke favourably of this approximation on page 148 of his first edi- 
tion; he says, "Now Mr de Montmort having with great Sagacity 
discovered that Analogy, in the case of an equal and Odd number 
of Stakes, on supposition of an equality of Skill between the 


Gamesters..." In his second and third editions De Moivre with- 
drew this commendation, and says respecting the rule " Which tho' 
near the Truth in small numbers, yet is very defective in large 
ones, for it may be proved that the number of Games found by his 
Expression, far from being above what is requisite is really below 
it." Doctrine of Chances, third edition, page 218. 

De Moivre takes for an example m = 45 ; and calculates by his 
own mode of approximation that about 1531 games are requisite 
in order that it may be an even chance that the match will be 
concluded ; Montmort's rule would assign 1519 games. We should 
differ here with De Moivre, and consider that the results are 
rather remarkable for their near agreement than for their dis- 

The problem of the Duration of Play is fully discussed by 
Laplace, Theorie...des Proh. pages 225 — 238. 

185. Montmort gives some numerical results for a simple 
problem on his page 277. Suppose in the problem of Art. 107 that 
the two players are of equal skill, each having originally n counters. 
Proceeding as in that Article, we have 

Hence we find u^= Cx+ C^, where C and (7^ are arbitraiy con- 
stants. To determine them we have 

^0=0, %„ = !; 

hence finally, w« = ^ • 

Montmort's example is for ?i = 6 ; he gave it in his first edition, 
page 178. He did not however appear to have observed the gene- 
ral law, at which John Bernoulli expressed his sm-prise ; see Mont- 
mort's page 295. 

186. Montmort now proposes on pages 278 — 282 four pro- 
blems for solution ; they were originally given at the end of the 
first edition. 

The first problem is sur le Jeu dii Treize. It is not obvious 
why this problem is repeated, for Montmort stated the results on 
his pages 130 — 143, and demonstrations by Nicolas Bernoulli are 
given on pages 301, 302. 


The second problem is sur le Jen appelle le Her; a discussion 
respecting this problem runs through the correspondence between 
Montmort and Nicolas Bernoulli. See Montmort's pages 321, 334, 
338, 348, 361, 376, 400, 402, 403, 409, 413. We will return to 
this problem in Art. 187. 

The third problem is sur le Jeu de la Ferme ; it is not referred 
to again in the book. 

The fourth Problem is sur le Jeu des Tas. We will return to 
this problem in Art. 191. 

Montmort's language in his Avertisseynent, page xxv, leads to the 
expectation that solutions of all the four problems will be found 
in the book, whereas only the first is solved, and indeed Montmort 
himself seems not to have solved the others ; see his page 321. 

187. It may be advisable to give some account of the discus- 
sion respecting the game called Her. The game is described by 
Montmort as played by several persons ; but the discussion was 
confined to the case of two players, and we will adopt this 

Peter holds a common pack of cards ; he gives a card at random 
to Paul and takes one himself; the main object is for each to 
obtain a higher card than his adversary. The order of value is 
ace, tiuo, three, ... ten. Knave, Queen, Kmg. 

Now if Paul is not content with his card he may compel Peter 
to change with him ; but if Peter has a King he is allowed to 
retain it. If Peter is not content with the card which he at first 
obtained, or which he has been compelled to receive from Paul, he 
is allowed to change it for another taken out of the pack at 
random ; but if the card he then draws is a King he is not allowed 
to have it, but must retain the card with which he was dissatisfied. 
If Paul and Peter finally have cards of the same value Paul is 
considered to lose. 

188. The problem involved amounts to a determination of the 
relative chances of Peter and Paul ; and this depends on their 
using or declining their rights of changing their cards. Montmort 
communicated the problem to two of his friends, namely Walde- 
grave, of whom we hear again, and a person who is called some- 


times M. I'Abbe de Monsoury and sometimes M. TAbbe d'Orbais. 
These two persons differed with Nicolas Bernoulli respecting a 
point in the problem ; Nicolas Bernoulli asserted that in a certain 
contingency of the game each player ought to take a certain course 
out of two which were open to him ; the other two persons con- 
tended that it was not certain that one of the courses ought to be 
preferred to the other. 

Montmort himself scarcely interfered until the end of the cor- 
respondence, when he intimated that his opinion was contrary to 
that of Nicolas Bernoulli ; it would seem that the latter intended 
to produce a fuller explanation of his views, but the corresj)ondence 
closes without it. 

189. We will give some details in order to shew the nature of 
the dispute. 

It will naturally occur to the reader that one general principle 
must hold, namely, that if a player has obtained a high card it will 
be prudent for him to rest content with it and not to run the 
risk involved in changing .that card for another. For example, it 
appears to be tacitly allowed by the disputants that if Paid has 
obtained an ei(jht, or a higher card, he will remain content with it, 
and not compel Peter to change with him ; and, on the other 
hand, if Paul has obtained a six, or a lower card, he will compel 
Peter to change. The dispute turns on what Paul should do if 
he has obtained a seven. The numerical data for discussino- this 
case v/ill be found on Montmort's page 339 ; we will reproduce 
them with some explanation of the process by which thev are 

I. Paul has a seven ; required his chance if he compels Peter 
to change. 

Supposing Paul to change, Peter will know what Paul has and 
will know that he himself now has a seven ; so he remains content 
if Paul has a seven, or a lower card, and takes another card if Paul 
has an eight or a higher card. Thus Paul's chance arises from the 
hypotheses that Peter originally had Queen, Knave, ten, nine, or 
eight Take one of these cases, for example, that of the ten. The 

chance that Peter had a ten is — - ; then Paul takes it, and Peter 


gets the seven. There are 50 cards left and Peter takes one of 
these instead of his seven ; 39 cards out of the 50 are favour- 
able to Paul, namely 3 sevens, 4< Kings, 4 nines, 4i eights, 4 sixes, 
... 4 aces. 

Proceeding in this way we find for Paul's chance 

4 47 + 43 + 39 + 35 + 31 ,, , . 780 

that IS 

51" 50 ' 51.50' 

In this case Paul's chance can be estimated without speculating 
upon the conduct of Peter, because there can be no doubt as to 
what that conduct will be. 

II. Paul has a seven; required his chance if he retains the 

The chance in this case depends upon the conduct of Peter. 
Now it appears to be tacitly allowed by the disputants that if 
Peter has a nine or a higher card he will retain it, and if he has a 
seve7i or a lower card he will take another instead. The dispute 
turns on what he will do if he has an eight. 

(1) Suppose that Peter's rule is to retain an eight 

Paul's chance arises from the hypotheses that Peter has a seven, 

six, five, four, three, two, or ace, for which he proceeds to take 

another card. 

We shall find now, by the same method as before, that Paul's 

chance is 

3^ 24 ^ 27 j^ 27 _£ 27 4 27 ^ 27 ^ 27 
51 * 50 "^ 51 ' 50 "^ 51 * 50 "^ 51 • 50 "^ 51 • 50 "^ 51 ' 50 "^ 51 • 50' 

that is 


(2) Suppose that Peter's rule is to change an eight 

4 24 
We have then to add -pr • ^t: to the preceding result ; and thus 

51 oU 

we obtain for Paul's chance - 


Thus we find that in Case I. Paul's chance is , and that 

51 . 50 

in Case II. it is either -,- ^ or .^ —.7: . If it be an even chance 

51 .50 51 . oU 


1 / *720 SIP) ^ 

■which rule Peter adopts we should take ^ f --^ — p^ + --.-^j > that 

is, 1^ — ^t; as Paul's chance in Case 11. Thus in Case II. Paul's 
51 . oO 

chance is less than in Case I. ; and therefore he should adopt the 
rule of changing when he has a seven. This is one of the argu- 
ments on which Nicolas Bernoulli relies. 

On the other hand his opponents, in effect, deny the correctness 
of estimating it as an even chance that Peter will adopt either 
of the two rules which have been stated. 

We have now to estimate the following chance. Peter has an 
eight and Paul has not compelled him to change ; what is Peter's 
chance ? Peter must argue thus : 

I. Suppose Paul's rule is to change a seven; then he now 
has an eight or a higher card. That is, he must have one out of a 
certain 23 cards. 

(1) If I retain my eight my chance of beating him arises only 
from the hypothesis that his card is one of the 3 eights; that is, my 

chance is ^ . 

(2) If I change my eight my chance arises from the five h}^o- 
theses that Paul has Queen, Knave, ten, nine, or eight; so that my 
chance is 

23 ■ 50 "^ 23 ■ 50 "^ 23 ■ 50 "^ 23 ' 50 "^ 23 ' 50 ' 


that is 

23 . 50 

II. Suppose Paul's rule is to retain a seven. Then, as before, 


(1) If I retain my eight my chance is ^ . 

(2) If I change my eight my chance is 

4 3 4 7 4 11 4 15 3 22 4 26 


27 ' 50 "^ 27 * 50 "^ 27 ■ 50 "^ 27 ' 50 "^ 27 ' 50 "^ 27 ■ 50 ' 

that is 

, 27 . 50 


190. These numerical results were accepted by the disjDutants. 
We may sum them up thus. The question is whether Paul should 
retain a certain card, and whether Peter should retain a certain 
card. If Paul knows his adversary's rule, he should adopt the con- 
trary, namely retaining when his adversary changes, and changing 
when his adversary retains. If Peter knows his adversary's rule he 
should adopt the same, namely, retaining when his adversary re- 
tains and changing when his adversary changes. 

Now Nicolas Bernoulli asserted that Paul should change, and 
therefore of course that Peter should. The objection to this is 
briefly put thus by Montmort, page 405, 

En un mot, Monsieur, si je SQai que vous etes le conseil de Pierre, 
il est evident que je dois moi Paul me tenir au sept ; et de meme 
si je suis Pierre, et qui je SQache que vous etes le conseil de Paul, 
je dois changer au liuit, auquel cas vous aures donne un mauvais con- 
seil a Paul. 

The reader will be reminded of the old puzzle respecting the 
veracity of the Cretans, since Epimenides the Cretan said they 
were liars. 

The opponents of Nicolas Bernoulli at first contended that it 
was indifferent for Paul to retain a seven or to change it, and also 
for Peter to retain an eight or to change it ; and in this Montmort 
considered they were wrong. But in conversation they explained 
themselves to assert that no absolute rule could be laid down for 
the players, and in this Montmort considered that they were right ; 
see his page 403. 

The problem is considered by Trembley in the Memoires de 
V Acad.... Berlin, for 1802. 

191. The fourth problem which Montmort proposed for solu^ 
tion is sur le Jen des Tas. The game is thus described, page 281, 

Pour comprendre de quoi il s'agit, il faut s9avoir qu'apres les reprises 
d'hombre un des Joueurs s'amuse sou vent a partager le jeu en dix tas 
composes chacun de quatre cartes couvertes, et qu'ensuite retournant la 
premiere de chaque tas, il ote et met a part deux ^ deux toutes celles 
qui se trouvent semblables, par exemple, deux Pois, deux valets, deux 
six, &c. alors il retourne les cartes qui suivent immediatement celles 
qui viennent de lui donner des doublets, et il continue d'oter et de 
mettre a part celles qui viennent par doublet jusqu'a ce qu'il en soit 


venu a la derniere de chaque tas, apres les avoir enleve toutes deux a 
deux, auquel cas seulement il a gagne. 

The game is not entirely a game of pure chance, because the 
l^layer may often have a choice of various methods of pjairing and 
removing cards. In the description of the game forty cards are 
supposed to be used, but Montmort proposes the problem for solu- 
tion generally without limiting the cards to forty. He requires 
the chance the player has of winning and also the most ad- 
vantageous method of i^roceeding. He says the game was rarely 
played for money, but intimates that it was in use aniong ladies. 

192. On his page 821 Montmort gives, without demonstration, 
the result in a particular case of this problem, namely when the 
cards consist of ?2 pairs, the two cards in each pair being numbered 
alike ; the cards are supposed placed at random in n lots, each of 
two cards. He says that the chance the player has of winning is 

92 — 1 

^ — -. On page 334^ Nicolas Bernoulli says that this formula is 

correct, but he wishes to know how it was found, because he him- 
self can only find it by induction, by jDutting for n in succession 
2, 3, ^,o, ...We may suppose this means that Nicolas Bernoulli veri- 
fied by trial that the formula was correct in certain cases, but could 
not give a general demonstration. Montmort seems to have 
overlooked Nicolas Bernoulli's inquiry, for the problem is never 
mentioned again in the course of the correspondence. As the result 
is remarkable for its simplicity, and as Nicolas Bernoulli found the 
problem difficult, it may be interesting to give a solution. It will 
be observed that in this case the game is one of pure chance, as the 
player never has any choice of courses open to him. 

193. The solution of the problem depends on our observing 
the state of the cards at the epoch at which the player loses, that 
is at the epoch at which he can make no more pairs among the 
cards exj^osed to view ; the player may be thus arrested at the 
very beginning of the game, or after he has already taken som^j 
steps : at this epoch the player is left icitk some number of lots, 
which are all unbroken, and the cards exposed to vieiu present no 
pairs. This will be obvious on reflection. 

1 1 2 MONTMORT. 

We must now determine (1) the whole number of possible 
cases, and (2) the whole number of cases in which the player is 
arrested at the very beginning. 

(1) We may suppose that 2n cards are to be put in 2n 
places, and thus [ 27i will be the whole number of possible cases. 

(2) Here we may find the number of cases by supposing that 
the n upper places are first filled and then the n lower places. 
We may put m the first place any card oat of the 2/2, then in the 
second place any card of the 2n — 2 which remain by rejecting the 
companion card to that we put in the first place, then in the third 
place any card of the 2n — 4< which remain by rejecting the two 
companion cards, and so on. Thus the n upper places can be 
filled in 2" [n ways. Then the n lower places can be filled in [n 
ways. Hence we get 2*" 1^2 [ji cases in which the player is arrested 
at the very beginning. 

We may divide each of these expressions by \n if we please 

to disregard the different order in which the n lots may be sup- 

posed to be arranged. Thus the results become M^ and 2" [n 

respectively ; we shall use these forms. 

Let u^ denote the whole number of unfavourable cases, and let 
/,. denote the whole number of favourable cases when the cards 
consist of r pairs. Then 

u^=^r[n + t -—^ £ \n-r 2""'', 

the summation extending from r = 2 to r = w — 1, both inclusive. 

For, as we have stated, the player loses by being left with some 
number of lots, all unbroken, in which the exposed cards contain 
no pairs. Suppose he is left with n — r lots, so that he has got rid 

\ 71 

of r lots of the original n lots. The factor != g-ives the num- 

\r n — r 

ber of ways in which r pairs can be selected from n pairs ; the 
factor fi gives the number of ways in which these pairs can be so 
arranged as to enable the player to get rid of them ; the fiictor 
\n — r 2""'" gives the number of ways in which the remaining n — r 

pairs can be distributed into n — r lots without a single pair occur- 
ring among the exposed cards. 


It is to be observed that the case in which r = l does not 
occur, from the nature of the game ; for the player, if not arrested 
at the very beginning, will certainly be able to remove tivo pairs. 
We may how^ever if we please consider the summation to extend 
from r = lio r = n-l, since/. = when r = 1. 

We have then 

u„=.T\n[l + 2J^. 

The summation for w„_, extends to one term less ; thus we 
shall find that 

But «„., +/„_, = 



2/2 I 2;i - 2 

n — l 

\1n 2\2?i-2 I 2/1 ,j_i 

Hence /„ = i= - z/„ =-==-- ; and /„ -^ 

[w " 1 71 -2 ' ^" • |_^ 2/4 -l' 
, This is Montmort's result. 

19^. We noAv arrive at what Montmort calls the fifth part 
of his work, which occupies pages 288 — 41-i. It consists of the 
coiTcspondence between Montmort and Nicolas Bernoulli, together 
with one letter from John Bernoulli to Montmort and a reply 
from Montmort. The whole of this part is new in the second 

John Bernoulli, the friend of Leibnitz and the master of Euler, 
was the third brother in the family of brothers of whom James 
Bernoulli was the eldest. John was born in 1667, and died in 
IT-iS. The second brother of the family was named Nicolas ; his 
son of the same name, the friend and corres^oondent of Montmort, 
was born in 16S7, and died in 1759. 

195. Some of the letters relate to Montmort's first edition, 
and it is necessary to have access to this edition to study the 
letters with advantage ; because although Montmort gives re- 
ferences to the corresponding passages in the second edition, yet 



as these passages have been modified or corrected in accordance 
with the criticisms contained in the letters, it is not always ob- 
vious what the original reading was. 

196. The first letter is from John Bernoulli ; it occupies 
pages 283 — 298 ; the letter is also reprinted in the collected 
edition of John Bernoulli's works, in four volumes, Lausanne and 
Geneva, 1742 ; see Vol. I. page 453. 

John Bernoulli gives a series of remarks on Montmort's first 
edition, correcting some errors and suggesting some improvements. 
He shews that Montmort did not present his discussion relating 
to Pharaon in the simplest form ; Montmort however did not 
modify this part of his work. John Bernoulli gave a general 
formula for the advantage of the Banker, and this Montmort did 
adopt, as we have seen in Art. 155. 

197. John Bernoulli points out a curious mistake made 
by Montmort twice in his first edition ; see his pages 288, 296. 
Montmort had considered it practically impossible to find the 
numerical value of a certain number of terms of a geometrical 
progression ; it would seem that he had forgotten or never known 
the common Algebraical formula which gives the sum. The 
passages cited by John Bernoulli are from pages 35 and 181 of 
the first edition ; but in the only copy which I have seen of the 
first edition the text does not correspond with John Bernoulli's 
quotations : it appears however that in each place the original page 
has been cancelled and replaced by another in order to correct 
the mistake. 

After noticing the mistake, John Bernoulli proceeds thus in 
his letter : 

...mais pour le reste, vous faites bien d'employer les logarithm es, 
je m'en suis servi utilement dans une parcille occasion il y a bien 
douze ans, ou il s'agissoit de determiner combien il restoit de vin et 
d'eau mele ensemble dans un tonneau, lequel etant an commencement 
tout plein de vin, on en tireroit tons les jours pendant une amice 
une certaine mesure, en le remplissant incontinent apres cliaque ex- 
traction avec de I'eau pure. Vous trouveres la solution de cette ques- 
tion qui est asses curieuse dans ma dissertation De Nutritlone, que Mr 
Varignon vous pourra communiquer. Jc fis cette question pour faire 


comprendre comment on pent determiner la quantite de vieille ma- 
tiere qui reste dans nos corps melee avec de la nouvelle qui nous 
vient tous les jours par la nourriture, pour reparer la perte que nos 
corps font insensiblement par la transpiration continuelle. 

The dissertation De Nutritione will be found in the collected 
edition of John Bernoulli's works ; see Vol. I. page 275. 

198. John Bernoulli passes on to a remark on Montmort's 
discussion of the game of Treize. The remark enunciates the 
following theorem. 

Let <^(.) = l--^+^-^+...+-^ 

and let 


t(«)=^(«) + J^("-l) + U(n-2)+...+ ^^<^(1); 

111 1 

then shall i/r {n) = --[-+_++. ..+_. 

^ [^ [I [± \JL 

We may prove this by induction. For we may write yjr (n) in 
the following form, 

T fl 1 1 1 1 1 


2 ] ^ ' 1 ' 12 ' [3_ 

1 r, 1 1 1 1 1 

-o^ l + T + n5 + rT. + + ^^3^ J 


Hence we can shew that 

y}r (n + 1) = i/r {n) + 

;i + 1 * 

199. John Bernoulli next adverts to the solutions which 
Montmort had given of the five problems proposed by Huygens ; 
see Art. 35. 

According to John Bernoulli's opinion, Montmort had not 
understood the second and third problems in the sense which 
Huygens had intended ; in the fifth problem Montmort had 



changed the enunciation into another quite different, and yet had 
really solved the problem according to Huygens's enunciation. By 
the corrections which he made in his second edition, Montmort 
shewed that he admitted the justice of the objections urged against 
his solutions of the second and fifth problems; in the case of 
the third problem he retained his original opinion; see his 
pages 292, 805. 

John Bernoulli next notices the solution of the Problem of 
Points, and gives a general formula, to which we have referred in 
Art. 173. Then he adverts to a problem which Montmort had 
not fully considered; see Art. 185. 

200. John Bernoulli gives high praise to Montmort's work, 
but urges him to extend and enrich it. He refers to the four 
problems which Montmort had proposed for investigation ; the 
first he considers too long to be finished in human life, and the 
fourth he cannot understand : the other two he thinks might be 
solved by great labour. This opinion seems singularly incorrect. 
The first problem is the easiest of all, and has been solved without 
difficulty; see Article 161 : perhaps however John Bernoulli took 
it in some more general sense; see Montmort's page 308. The 
fourth problem is quite intelligible, and a particular case of it is 
simple ; see Art. 193. The third and fourth problems seem to be 
far more intractable. 

201. A letter to Montmort from Nicolas Bernoulli occupies 
pages 299 — 303. This letter contains corrections of two mistakes 
which occurred in Montmort's first edition. It gives without de- 
monstration a formula for the advantage of the Banker at Pharaon, 
and also a formula for the advantage of the Banker at Bassette ; 
Montmort quoted the former in the text of his second edition ; 
see Art. 157. Nicolas Bernoulli gives a good investigation of the 
formulae which occur in analysing the game of Treize ; see Art. 161. 
He also discusses briefly a game of chance which we will now 

202. Suppose that a set of players A, B, C, D, ... undertake 
to play a set of I games with cards. A is at first the dealer, there 
are m chances out of on + n that he retains the deal at the next 
game, and n chances out of m + 7i that he loses it ; if he loses the 


deal the player on Lis right hand takes it ; and so on in order. 
B is on the left of A, C is on the left of B, and so on. Let the 
advantages of the players when A deals .be a, h, c, d, ... respec- 
tively; these advantages are supposed to depend entirely on 
the situation of the players, the game being a game of pure 

Let the chances of A, B, C, D, ... bo denoted by z, y, x, u, ... ; 
and let s = 7n + 7l 

Then Nicolas Bernoulli gives the following values : 

z = a + —^ + ~, + -, +..., 

, 7nh + nc m^h 4- 2mnc-\-n^d m%-^Snfnc + 2mn^d+ n^e 
2/ = i + -^- + p + p +..., 

. mc + 7id 7n'^G-\-27n7id-{-7i^e 7ifc-h2m^7id+Sm7i^e + 72^f 

^ = + ^— + 7 + — ? - + ■■■' 

_ , md + 7ie m^d-\-2miie+ri^f 7n^d-\-Sm^ne + Sm7}^f+7i'g 
and so on. 

Each of these series is to continue for I terms. If there are 
not so many as I players, the letters in the set a, h, c, d, e,f,(/,... 
will recur. For example, if there are only four players, then 
e = a, f=h, g = c,.... 

It is easy to see the meaning of the separate terms. Take, for 
example, the value of z. A deals ; the advantage directly arising 
from this is a. Then there are m chances out of 5 that A will hav 
the second deal, and 7i chances out of s that the deal will pass o. 
to the next player, and thus put A in the position originally hek 

by B. Hence we have the term . Again, for the third 

deal ; there are (rti + 7iy, that is, s^ possible cases ; out of these 

there are 711^ cases in which A will have the third deal, 2mn cases 

in which the player on the right of A will have it, and n"^ cases in 

which the player next on the right w^ill have it. Hence we 

, ,1 , iii^a -\- Imnh -\- 7i^c . , 

nave the term z . And so on. 



Nicolas Bernoulli then gives another form for these expressions ; 
we will exhibit that for z from which the others can be deduced. 


^^i, ,= K ,= !i. Then 
^ n \sj m 

z = aq(l-r)-\-hq\l-r{l-\-tl]\-\-C(i\l-r 

r _ fia-r)~\] 

-{■dq \l — r 

-^ ^ ^^ ^ tH{i-i) ^ fi{i-i)(i-2y 



I • • • J 

this series is to be continued for I terms. 

The way in which this transformation is effected is the follow- 
ing : suppose for example we pick out the coefficient of c in the 
value of z, we shall find it to be 

1 .Zs [ s s s'^ ) 

where the series in brackets is to consist of Z — 2 terms. 
We have then to shew that this expression is equal to 


We will take the general theorem of which this is a particular 
case. Let 




p + X-1 


1 + - + -T + 

then S=T— -y-^ . 


- fmr 

u — 





1.2 s^ (l-At/"' 

1.2.3 6'^ (l-/x) 


-^^!i rli I til ^^^-^ tn{i-i)(i-2) ■ 

- ,,,U » i + ^^+ ^^2 + 1.2.3 "^••• 


where the series between square brackets is to extend to X + 1 

We may observe that by the nature of the problem we have 

a + Z> + c + ...=0, and also z+y + x+... = 0. 

The problem simplifies very much if we may regard I as infinite 
or very great. For then let z denote the advantage of -4 ; if ^ ob- 
tains the next deal we may consider that his advantage is still z ; if 
A loses the next deal his advantage is the same as that of B 

originally. Thus 

mz + n2/ 


MultijDly by s and transpose ; therefore 

z = 7/-{- aq. 
Similarly we have 

y = x + hq, x = ii + cq, 

Hence we shall obtain 

^ = 2L(^-l) + &(p-2) + c(i?-3) + ...j, 

where p denotes the number of players ; and the values of y, ^, . . . 
may be obtained by symmetrical changes in the letters. 
We may also express the result thus, 


= _£|a+2^>+3c+...|. 


203. The next letter is from Montmort to John Bernoulli ; it 
occupies pages 803 — 307. Montmort makes brief observations on 
the points to which John Bernouilli had drawn his attention ; he 
suggests a problem on the Duration of Play for the consideration 
of Nicolas Bernoulli. 

204. The next letter is from Nicolas Bernoulli to Montmort ; 
it occupies pages 808 — 814. 

Nicolas Bernoulli first speaks of the game of Treize, and gives 
a general formula for it ; but by accident he gave the formula in- 
correctly, and afterwards corrected it w^hen Montmort drew his 
attention to it ; see Montmort's pages 815, 328. 

We will here investigate the formula after the manner given by 
Nicolas BernoulH for the simple case already considered in Art. 161. 

Suppose there are n cards divided into p sets. Denote the 
cards of a set by a,h,c,... in order. 
The whole number of cases is \n. 
The number of ways in which a can stand first is p \n — \ . 

The number of ways in which h can stand second without a 
standing first is p \n — l — p\ n 

The number of ways in which c can stand third without a 
standing first or h second is p \n — \ — 2p^ |^ — 2 + p^ | n — 3 . 
And so on. 

Hence the chance of winning by the first card is - ; the chance 


of winning: by the second card is -, ^ ,. ; the chance of Avin- 

° -^ n 7i{n— 1) 

ning by the third card is — , ^ .,. H 7 =^-7 -^ ; and so on. 

° '' n n{n—l) n{n— 1) [ii — z) 

Hence the chance of winning by one or other of the first m 
cards is 

mjj m (m — 1) p^ m (m — 1) {m — 2) p^ 

"^"' O n {n - 1) "^ 1.2.3 7i (n - 1) (w -2) "" *'* 

And the entire chance of winning is found by putting 

m = - , so that it is 


1 n —J) {n —p) (n — 2p) 

i " 1 . 2 (7i - 1) "^ 1 . 2 . 3 (?i - 1) (n - 2) 

(n —p) (n — 2p) (n — 8/;) 
""1.2. 3. 4(7-^-1) (w-2) (/i^Ts) +••• 

205. Nicolas Bernoulli then passes on to another game in 
which he objects to Montmort's conclusion. Montmort had found 
a certain advantage for the first player, on the assumption that the 
game was to conclude at a certain stage ; Nicolas Bernoulli thought 
that at this stage the game ought not to terminate, but that the 
players should change their positions. He says that the advantage 
for the first player should be only half what Montmort stated. 
The point is of little interest, as it does not belong to the theory of 
chances but to the conventions of the players ; Montmort, however, 
did not admit the justice of the remarks of Nicolas Bernoulli ; see 
Montmort's pages 309, 317, 327. 

206. Nicolas Bernoulli then considers the problem on the 
Duration of Play which had been suggested for him by Mont- 
mort. Nicolas Bernoulli here gives the formulaa to which we have 
already alluded in Art. ISO; but the meaning of the formuloB was 
very obscure, as Montmort stated in his reply. Nicolas Bernoulli 
gives the result which expresses the chances of each player when 
the number of games is unlimited ; he says this may be deduced 
from the general formulae, and that he had also obtained it pre- 
viously by another method. See Art. 107. 

207. Nicolas Bernoulli then makes some remarks on the 
summation of series. He exemplifies the method which is now 
common in elementary works on Algebra. Sujipose we require 
the sum of the squares of the first n triangular numbers, that is, the 

sum of n terms of the series of which the r^^ term is \---^ — —^ 

Assume that the sum is equal to 

an^ + hn^ + cn^ + dn^ + en + /*; 

and then determine a, h, c, d, e, f by changing n into n-\-\ in 
the assumed identity, subtracting, and equating coefficients. This 
method is ascribed by Nicolas Bernoulli to his uncle John, 


Nicolas Bernoulli also indicates another method ; he resolves 
^(f + l)finto 

r (r+l)(r + 2) (r + 3) _ r (r + 1) (r+2) 7- (r + 1) 1.2.3 "^ 1.2 ' 

and thus finds that the required sum is 

??0^4-l) 02+2) (M+3)(n + 4) __ ^ (72 + 1) (w + 2) (?z + 3) 

w (^ 4- 1) (w + 2) 



208. It seems probable that a letter from Montmort to 
Nicolas Bernoulli, which has not been preserved, preceded this 
letter from Nicolas Bernoulli. For Nicolas Bernoulli refers to the 
problem about a lottery, as if Montmort had drawn his attention 
to it ; see Art. 180 : and he intimates that Montmort had offered 
to undertake the printing of James Bernoulli's unpublished Ars 
Conjectandi. Neither of these points had been mentioned in 
Montmort's preceding letters as we have them in the book. 

209. The next letter is from Montmort to Nicolas Bernoulli ; 
it occupies pages 315 — 323. The most interesting matter in this 
letter is the introduction for the first time of a problem which has 
since been much discussed. The problem was proposed to Mont- 
mort, and also solved, by an English gentleman named Waldegrave ; 
see Montmort's pages 318 and 328. In the problem as originally 
proposed only three players are considered, but we will enunciate 
it more generally. Suppose there are n-{-l players ; two of them 
play a game ; the loser deposits a shilling, and the winner then 
plays with the third player ; the loser deposits a shilling, and 
the winner then plays with the fourth player ; and so on. The 
player who lost the first game does not enter again until after the 
{n -\-iy^ player has had his turn. The process continues until 
one player has beaten in continued succession all the other players, 
and then he receives all the money which has been deposited. 
It is required to determine the expectation of each of the players, 
and also the chance that the money will be won when, or before, 
a certain number of games has been played. The game is sup- 


posed a game of pure chance, or wliicli is the same thing, the 
jjlayers are all supposed of equal skill. 

Montmort himself in the case of three players states all the 
required results, but does not give demonstrations. In the case 
of four players he states the numerical probability that the money 
■will be won in any assigned number of games between 3 and 13 
inclusive, but he says that the law of the numbers which he 
assigns is not easy to perceive. He attempted to proceed further 
with the j^roblem, and to determine the advantage of each player 
when there are four players, and also to determine the pro- 
bability of the money being won in an assigned number of games 
when there are five or six players. He says however, page 320, 
mais cela m'a paru trop difficile, ou pltitot j'ai manque de courage, 
car je serois stir d'en venir a bout. 

210. There are references to this problem several times in 
the correspondence of Montmort and Nicolas Bernoulli ; see Mont- 
mort's pages 328, 34^5, 350, 3G6, 875, 380, 400. Nicolas Bernoulli 
succeeded in solving the problem generally for any number of 
players ; his solution is given in Montmort's pages 381 — 387, and 
is perhaps the most striking investigation in the work. The 
following remarks may be of service to a student of this solution. 

(1) On page 386 Nicolas Bernoulli ought to have stated 
how many terms should be taken of the two series which he gives, 
namely, a number expressed by the greatest integer contained 

in — . On page 330 where he does advert to this point 

he puts by mistake — instead of . 

(2) The expressions given for a, h, c, ... on j^age 386 are 


correct, excej)t that given for a ; the value of « is ^ , and not 

■^ , as the language of Nicolas Bernoulli seems to imply. 

(3) The chief results obtained by Nicolas Bernoulli are stated 
at the top of page 329 ; these results agree with tliose afterwards 
given by Laplace. 


211. Althougli the earliest iiotice of the problem occurs in 
the letter of Montmort's which we are now examining, yet the 
earliest piiblicatioyi of it is due to De Moivre ; it is Problem XV. 
of the De Mensura Sortis. We shall however speak of it as 
Waldegraves Problem, from the person whose name we have found 
first associated with it. 

The problem is discussed by Laplace, Theorie . . . des Froh. 
page 238, and we shall therefore have to recur to it. 

212. Montmort refers on page 320 to a book entitled Traite 
dii Jeu, which he says he had lately received from Paris. He says 
it is un Livre de morale. He praises the author, but considers 
him to be wrong sometimes in his calculation of chances, and 
gives an example. Nicolas Bernoulli in reply says that the 
author of the book is Mr Barbeyrac. Nicolas Bernoulli agrees 
with Montmort in his general opinion respecting the book, but 
in the example in question he thinks Barbeyrac right and Mont- 
mort wrong. The difference in result arises from a difference in 
the way of understanding the rules of the game. Montmort 
briefly replied ; see pages 332, 3-i6. 

Montmort complains of a dearth of mathematical memoirs ; he 
says, page 322, 

Je suis etonne de voir les Journeaux de Lei23sic si degarnis de 
morceaux de Matliematiques : ils doivent en partie leur reputation aux 
excellens Memoires que Messieurs vos Oiicles y envoyoient souveiit : les 
Geometres n'y trouvent plus depuis cinq ou six ans les memes ricliesses 
qu' autrefois, faites-en des reproches a M. votre Oncle, et permettcs-nioi 
de vous en faire aussi, Luceat lux vestra coram hominihus. 

213. The next letter is from Nicolas Bernoulli to Montmort ; 
it occupies pages 323 — 337. It chiefly relates to matters which 
we have already sufficiently noticed, namely, the games of Treize, 
Her, and Tas, and Waldcgrave's Problem. Nicolas Bernoulli ad- 
verts to the letter by his uncle James on the game of Tennis, 
which was afterwards published at the end of the Ars Conjectandi, 
and he proposes for solution four of the problems which are con- 
sidered in the letter in order to see if Montmort's results will 
agree with those of James Bernoulli. 


Nicolas Bernoulli gives at the end of his letter an example 
)f summation of series. He proposes to sum p terms of the 
jeries 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, ... He considers the series 

1 + 3:c + 6aj' + lOa;^ + lox" + 21^' + ... 

which he decomposes into a set of series, thus : 

1 + 2a; + 3x' + ^x^ + 5;c* + ... 

+ a; + 2a;' + 3^' + 4ic*+ ... 

+ ir' + 2a;' + 3^'+... 

+ 33^+2^'+... 

+ 0;*+... 
+ ... 
The series in each horizontal row is easily summed to p terms ; 

he expression obtained takes the form - when x = l, and Nicolas 

Bernoulli evaluates the indeterminate form, as he says, ...en me 
servant de la regie de mon Oncle, que feu Monsieur le Marquis 
de I'Hojoital a insere dans son Analyse des infiniment petits, ... 

The investigation is very inaccurately printed. 

21 -i. The next letter is from Montmort to Nicolas Bernoulli ; 
it occupies pages 337 — 317. Besides remarks on the game of Her 
and on Waldegrave's Problem, it contains some attempts at the 
problems which Nicolas Bernoulli had proposed out of his uncle's 
letter on the game of Tennis. But Montmort found the problems 
difficult to understand, and asked several questions as to their 

215. Montmort gives on his page 312 the following equation 
as the result of one of the problems, 

4m'-8m'+llM + 6 = 3'"-'\ 

and he says that this is satisfied approximately by m = of-J^ ; but 
there is some mistake, for the equation has no root between 
5 and 6. The correct equation should apparently be 

which has a root between 51 and 5 •2. 


216. One of the problems is the following. The skill of ^, 
that is his chance of success in a single trial, is ^, the skill of B 
is q. A and B are to play for victory in two games out of three, 
each game being for two points. In the first game B is to have 
a point given to him, in the second the players are to be on an 
equality, and in the third also B is to have a point given to 
him. Required the skill of each player so that on the whole 
the chances may be equal, ^'s chance of success in the first 
game or in the third game is p^, and i?'s chance is ^ + '^qp. 
u4's chance of success in the second game is p^ + ^p^q, and ^'s 
chance is <f + 3^^. Hence ^'s chance of success in two games 
out of three is 

/ (/ + 3/2) +/ (2' + ^P) (p' + 3/2) +/ (q" + 32» ; 
and this by supposition must equal ^ . 

This agrees with Montmort's result by putting , for ^ 

and 7 for g, allowinc^ for a mistake which was afterwards 

corrected ; see Montmort's pages 34^3, 350, 352. 

217. The letter closes with the following interesting piece of 
literary history. 

Je ne sgai si vous slaves qu'on reimprime la Recherche de la verite. 
Le R. P. Malbranche m'a dit que cet Ouvi-age paroitroit au commence- 
ment d'Avril. II y aura un grand nonibre d'additions sur des sujets 
tres importans. Yous y verres entr'autres nouveautes une Disserta- 
tion sur la cause de la pesanteur, qui apparemment fixera les doutes 
de tant de Sgavans hommes qui ne sgavent a quoi s'en tenir sur 
cette matiere. II prouve d'une maniere invincible la necessite de ses 
petits tourbillons pour rendre raison de la cause de la pesanteur, de la 
durete et fluidite des corps et des principaux plienomenes toucliant la 
lumiere et les couleursj sa theorie s'accorde le niieux du monde avec 
les belles experiences que M. Newton a rapporte dans son beau Traite 
Be Natura Lucis et Colorum. Je peux me glorifier auprcs du Pub- 
lic que mes prieres ardentes et reiterees depuis j)lusieurs annces, ont 
contribue a determiner cet incomparable Philosoplie a ecrire sur cette 


matiere qiii renfcrme toute la Physique generale. Vous verres avec 
admiration que ce grand hiomme a porte dans ces matieres obscures 
cette nettete d'idces, cette sublimite de genie et d'invention qui bril- 
lent avec tant d'eclat dans ses Traites de Metaphysique. 

Posterity has not adopted the high opinion which Montmort 
here expresses respecting the physical speculations of his friend 
and master ; Malebranche is now remembered and honoured for 
his metaphysical works alone, Avhich have gained the following 
testimony from one of the gi'eatest critics : 

As a thinker, he is perhaps the most profound that France has 
ever produced, and as a writer on i)liilosopliical subjects, there is not 
another European author who can be placed before him. 

Sir William Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics, Vol. i. page 262 ; 
see also his edition of Reid's Works, page 266. 

218. The next letter is from Montmort to Nicolas Bernoulli ; 
it occupies pages 3-52 — 360. We may notice that Montmort here 
claims to be the first person who called attention to the theorem 
which is now given in elementary treatises on Algebra under the 
following enunciation : To find the number of terms in the expan- 
sion of any multinomial, the exponent being a positive integer. 
See Montmort's page 355. 

219. Montmort gives in this letter some examples of the recti- 
fication of curves ; see his pages 35G, 357, 359, 360. In particular 
he notices" one which he had himself discussed in the earty days 
of the Integral Calculus, when, as he says, the subject was well 
known only by five or six mathematicians. This example is the 
rectification of the curve called after the name of its inventor De 
Beaune ; see John Bernoulli's works. Vol. I. pages 62, 63. AMiat 
Montmort gives in this letter is not intelligible by itself, but it can 
be understood by the aid of the original memoii*, which is in the 
Journal des Scavans, Vol. xxxi. 

These remarks by Montmort on the rectification of curves are 
of no great interest except to a student of the history of the Inte- 
gral Calculus, and they are not free from errors or misprints. 


220. Montmort quotes the following sentence from a letter 
written by Pascal to Format. 

Pour vous parler francliement de la Geometrie, je la trouve le plus 
haut exercice de I'espritj mais en meme temps je la connois pour si 
invitile, que je fais peu de difference entre un homme qui n'est que 
Geometre et un habile Artisan; aussi je I'appelle le plus beau metier 
du monde; mais enfin ce n'est qu'un metier: et j'ai souvent dit qu'elle 
est bonne pour faire I'essai, mais non pas I'emploi de notre force. 

Montmort naturally objects to this decision as severe and humi- 
liating, and probably not that which Pascal himself would have 
pronounced in his earlier days. 

221. The next letter is also from Montmort to Nicolas Ber- 
noulli; it occupies pages 361 — 370. Montmort says he has just 
received Do Moivre's book, by which he means the memoir De 
Mensura Sortis, published by De Moivre in the Philosophical 
Transactions ; and he proceeds to analyse this memoir. Montmort 
certainly does not do justice to De Moivre. Montmort in fact 
considers that the first edition of his own work contained im- 
plicitly all that had been given in the De Mensura Sortis; and he 
seems almost to fancy that the circumstance that a problem had 
been discussed in the correspondence between himself and the 
Bernoullis was sufficient ground to deprive De Moivre of the credit 
of originality. The opinion of Nicolas Bernoulli was far more favour- 
able to De Moivre ; see Montmort's pages 862, 375, 378, 386. 

De Moivre in his Miscellanea Analytica replied to Montmort, 
as we shall see hereafter. 

222. On his page 365 Montmort gives some remarks on the 
second of the five problems which Huygens proposed for solution ; 
see Art. 35. 

Suppose there are three players ; lot a be the number of 
white balls, and h of black balls ; let c = a-\- h. The balls are 
supposed not to be replaced after being drawn ; then the chance of 
the first player is 

a h{h-V) (h-2)a b(h-l) .,.(h-5)a 
,c+c(c-l)(c-2)(c-3) c(c-l) ... (c-6) '^ '" 


Montmort takes credit to himself for summing this series, so as 
to find its value when a and h are large numbers ; but, without 
saying so, he assumes that a = 4. Thus the series becomes 

4l&f|c-l \g- ^ |c — *7 


\h_ ' |5-3 ' \h-Q 

Let p = h + ^, then c=p+l] thus the series within brackets 

+ (p-(i)(p->7)(p-8) + ... 

Suppose we require the sum of n terms of the series. The 
r^^ term is 

(p-Sr + S) (^-'3r + 2) (^^-3r + l) ; 

assume that it is equal to 

where A, B, C, D are to be independent of r. 
We shall find that 

A=j>{p- 1) {p - 2), 

Hence the required sum of n terms is 

np (p - 1) {p - 2) - '^^^ (V- ^op 4- 60) 

n{n-l){n-^) __ n {n - 1) {n - 2 ) (7^ - S) 

^ 1.2.3 K'^W--^^) ^'" 

This result is sufficiently near Montmort's to shew that he must 
have adopted nearly the same method ; he has fallen into some 
mistake, for he gives a different expression for the terms inde- 
pendent oip. 

In the problem on chances to which this is subser\dent we 

should have to put for ?i the greatest integer in -^ . 



Montmort refers on his page 364 to a letter dated June 8*^ 
1710, which does not appear to have been preserved. 

223. The next letter is from Nicolas Bernoulli to Montmort ; 
it occupies pages 871 — 375. Nicolas Bernoulli demonstrates a 
property of De Beaune's curve ; he also gives a geometrical recti- 
fication of the logarithmic curve ; but his results are very in- 
correct. He then remarks on a subject which he says had been 
brought to his notice in Holland, and on which a memoir had been 
inserted in the Philosophical Transactions. The subject is the 
argument for Divine Providence taken from the constant regu- 
larity observed in the births of both sexes. The memoir to which 
Bernoulli refers is by Dr John Arbuthnot ; it is in Vol. XXVII. of 
the Philosophical Transactions, and was published in 1710. Nicolas 
Bernoulli had discussed the subject in Holland with 's Gravesande. 

Nicolas Bernoulli says that he was obliged to refute the argu- 
ment. What he supposes to be a refutation amounts to this ; he 
examined the registers of births in London for the years from 1629 
to 1710 inclusive; he found that on the average 18 males were 
born for 17 females. The greatest variations from this ratio were 
in 1661, when 4748 males and 4100 females were born, and in 
1703, when 7765 males and 7683 females were born. He says 
then that we may bet 800 to 1 that out of 14,000 infants the ratio 
of the males to the females will fall within these limits ; we shall 
see in Art. 225 the method by which he obtained this result. 

224. The next letter is also from Nicolas Bernoulli to Mont- 
mort ; it occupies pages 875 — 887. It contains some remarks on 
the game of Her, and some remarks in reply to those made by 
Montmort on De Moivre's memoir De Mensura Soi'tis. The most 
impoj'tant part of the letter is an elaborate discussion of Walde- 
grave's problem ; we have already said enough on this problem, 
and so need only add that Nicolas Bernoulli speaks of this discus- 
sion as that which he preferred to every thing else which he had 
produced on the subject; see page 881. The approbation which 
he thus bestows on his own work seems well deserved. 

225. Thie next letter is also from Nicolas Bernoulli to Mont- 
mort ; it occupies pages 388 — 893. It is entirely occupied with 


the question of the ratio of male infants to female infants. We 
have already stated that Nicolas Bernoulli had refused to see any 
argument for Divine Providence in the fact of the nearly constant 
ratio. He assumes that the ])rohahility of the hiHh of a male is to 
the probability of the birth of a female as IS to 17 ; he then shews 
that the chances are 43 to 1 that out of 14,000 infants the males 
will lie between 7037 and 7363. His investigation involves a 
general demonstration of the theorem of his uncle James called 
Bernoulli's Theorem. The investigation requires the summation 
of terms of a binomial series ; this is effected approximately by a 
process which is commenced in these words : Or comme ces termes 
sont furieusement grands, il faut un artifice singulier pour trouver 
ce rapport : voici comment je m'y suis pris. 

The whole investigation bears some resemblance to that of 
James Bernoulli and may have been suggested by it, for Nicolas 
Bernoulli says at the end of it, Je me souviens que feu mon Oncle 
a demontre une sembla])le chose dans son Traits De Arte Con- 
jectandi, qui s'imprime a present a Bale, . . . 

226. TJie next letter is from Montmort to Nicolas Bernoulli ; 
it occupies pages 395 — 400. Montmort records the death of the 
Duchesse d'Angouleme, which caused him both grief and trouble ; 
he says he cannot discuss geometrical matters, but will confine 
himself to literary intelligence. 

He mentions a work entitled Pr emotion Physique ^ ou Action 
de Dieu sur les Creatures demontree par raisonnement The 
anonymous author pretended to follow the method of mathe- 
maticians, and on every page were to be found such great words 
as Definition, Axiom, Theorem, Demonstration, Corollary, &c. 

Montmort asks for the opinion of Nicolas Bernoulli and his 
uncle respecting the famous Commerciiim Epistolicum which he 
says M™ de la Societe Royale ont fait imprimer pour assurer a 
M. Newton la gloire d'avoir invente le premier et seul les nou- 
velles methodes. 

Montmort speaks with approbation of a little treatise which 
had just appeared under the title of Mechanique du Feu. 

Montmort expresses his strong admiration of two investigations 
which he had received from Nicolas Bernoulli ; one of these was 



the solution of Waldegrave's problem, and the other apparently 
the demonstration of James Bernoulli's theorem : see Arts. 224, 225. 
Montmort says, page 400, 

Tout cela etoit en verite bien difficile et d'un grand travail. 
Yous etes ini terrible homme; je croyois que pour avoir pris les de- 
vants je ne serois pas si-tot ratrappe, mais je vois bien que je me suis 
trompe: je suis a present bien derriere vous; et force de mettre toute 
mon ambition a vous suivre de loin. 

227. This letter from Montmort is interesting, as it records 
the perplexity in which the writer found himself between the 
claims of the rival systems of natural philosophy, the Cartesian 
and the Newtonian. He says, page 397, 

Derange comme je le suis par I'autorite de M. Newton, et d'un 
si grand nombre de sgavans Geometres Anglois, je serois presque tente 
de renoncer pour jamais a I'etude de la Physique, et de remettre a 
sgavoir tout cela dans le Ciel; mais non, I'autorite des plus grands 
esprits ne doit Y>oijit nous faire de loi dans les clioses oil la raison 
doit decider. 

228. Montmort gives in this letter his views respecting a 
History of Mathematics ; he says, page 399, 

II seroit a soidiaiter que quelqu'un voulut prendre la peine de 

nous apprendre comment et en quel ordre les decouvertes en Mathe- 

matiqucs se sont succedees les unes aux autres, et h qui nous en avons 

r obligation. On a fait I'Histoire de la Peinture, de la Musique, de 

la Medecine, &c. line bonne Histoire des Matliematiques, et en par- 

ticulier de la Geometrie, seroit un Ouvrage beaucoup plus curieux et 

plus utile : Quel plaisir n'auroit-on pas de voir la liaison, la connexion 

des raetliodes, 1' enchain em ent des difFerentes theories, a commencer 

depuis les premiers temps jusqu'au notre ou cette science se trouve 

portee a. un si haut degre de perfection. II me semble qu'un tel 

Ouvrage bien fait pourroit etre en quelque sorte regarde comme I'his- 

toire de I'esprit humaiiij puisque c'est dans cette science plus qu'eu 

toute autre chose, que I'homme fait connoitre I'excellence de ce don 

d'intelligence que Dieu lui a accorde pour I'clever au dessus de toutcs 

les autres Creatures. 


Montmort himself had made some progi'ess in the work which 
he here recommends; see Art. 137. It seems however that his 
manuscripts were destroyed or totally dispersed ; see Montucla, 

Ilistoire des Mathematiques first edition, preface, page IX. 

229. The next letter is from Nicolas Bernoulli to Montmort ; 
it occupies pages 401, 402. Nicolas Bernoulli announces that the 
Ars Conjectandi has just been published, and says, II n'y aura 
gueres rien de nouveau pour vous. He proposes five problems to 
Montmort in return for those which Montmort had proposed to 
him. He says that he had already proposed the first problem in 
his last letter ; but as the problem does not occur before in the 
correspondence, a letter must have been suppressed, or a portion 
of it omitted. 

The third problem is as follows. A and B play with a com- 
mon die, A deposits a crown, and B begins to play ; if B throws 
an even number he takes the crown, if he throws an odd number 
he deposits a crown. Then A throws, and takes a crown if he 
throws an even number, but does not deposit a crown if he 
throws an odd number. Then B throws again, and so on. Thus 
each takes a crown if he throws an even number, but B alone 
deposits a crown if he throws an odd number. The play is to 
continue as long as there is any sum deposited. Determine the 
advantage of A or B. 

The fourth problem is as follows. A promises to give to B 
a crown if B with a common die throws six at the first throw, 
two crowns if B throws six at the second throw, three crowns 
if B throws six at the third throw ; and so on. 

The fifth problem generalises the fourth, A promises to give 
B crowns in the progression 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, ... or 1, 3, 9, 27, ... or 
1, 4, 9, 16, 25, ... or 1, 8, 27, 64, ... instead of in the progression 
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, as in the fourth problem. 

230. The next letter is the last; it is from Montmort to 
Nicolas Bernoulli, and it occupies pages 403—412. It enters 
largely on the game of Her, With respect to the five problems 
proposed to him, Montmort says that he has not tried the first 
and second, that the foTU'th and fifth present no difticulty, but 
that the third is much more difficult. He says that it took him 


a long time to convince himself that there would be neither 
advantage nor disadvantage for B, but that he had come to this 
conclusion, and so had Waldegrave, who had worked with him 
at the problem. It would seem however, that this result is 
obvious, for B has at every trial an equal chance of winning or 
losing a crown. 

Montmort proposes on his page 408 a problem to Nicolas 
Bernoulli, but the game to which it relates is not described. 

231. In the fourth problem given in Art. 229, the advantage 
of B is expressed by the series 

77 + ^2 + 7^ + pi + • • • '^^^ infinitum. 

This series may be summed by the ordinary methods. 

We shall see that a problem of the same kind as the fourth 
and fifth of those communicated by Nicolas Bernoulli to Mont- 
mort, was afterwards discussed by Daniel Bernoulli and others, and 
that it has become famous under the title of the Petersburg 

232. Montmort's work on the whole must be considered 
highly creditable to his acuteness, perseverance, and energy. The 
courage is to be commended which led him to labour in a field 
hitherto so little cultivated, and his example served to stimulate 
his more distinguished successor. De Moivre was certainly far 
superior in mathematical power to Montmort, and enjoyed the 
great advantage of a long life, extending to more than twice the 
duration of that of his predecessor ; on the other hand, the 
fortunate circumstances of Montmort's position gave him that 
abundant leisure, which De Moivre in exile and poverty must 
have found it imj^jossible to secure. 



233. Abraham De Moivre was bom at Vitri, in Cliampagne, 
in 1667. On account of the revocation of the edict of Nantes, 
in 1685, he took shelter in England, where he supported himself 
by giving instruction in mathematics and answers to questions 
relatiuGf to chances and annuities. He died at London in 1754. 

John Bernoulli speaks thus of De Moi^Te in a letter to 
Leibnitz, dated 26 Apr. 1710; see page 847 of the volume cited 
in Art. 59 : 

...Dominus Moy^Taeus, insignis certe Geometra, qui liaud dubie 
adluic haeret Loudini, luctans, ut audio, cum fome et miseria, quas ut 
depellat, victum quotidianum ex informationibus adolescentum petere 
cogitur. O duram sortein hominis! et parum aptam ad excitanda 
ingenia nobilia; quis non tandem succumberet sub tam iniquae foi-tunae 
vexationibus ? vel quodnam ingenium etiam fervidissimum non algeat 
tandem ? Miror certe MoyvTaeum tantis angustiis pressum ea tamen 
adhuc praestare, quae praestat. 

De Moivre was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1697 ; 
his portrait, strikingly conspicuous among those of the great 
chiefs of science, may be seen in the collection which adorns the 
walls of the apartment used for the meetings of the Society. It 
is recorded that Newton himself, in the later years of his life, 
used to reply to inquirers respecting mathematics in these words : 
" Go to Mr De Moivre, he knows these things better than I do." 
In the long list of men ennobled by genius, virtue, and mis- 
fortune, who have found an asvlum in England, it would be 


difficult to name one who has conferred more honour on his 
adopted country than De Moivre. 

234?. Number 329 of the Philosophical Transactions consists 
entirely of a memoir entitled De Mensura Soi^tis, sen, de Probabili- 
tate Eventuum in Ludis a Casu Fortuito Pendentihus. Autore 
Abr. De Moivre, RS.S. 

The number is stated to be for the months of January, 
February, and March 1711 ; it occupies pages 213 — 261? of Vo- 
lume XXVII. of the Philosophical Transactions. 

The memoir was afterwards expanded by De Moivre into his 
work entitled The Doctrine of Chances: or, a Method of Calculating 
the Pi'ohabilities of Events in Play. The first edition of this work 
appeared in 1718 ; it is in quarto and contains xiv + 175 pages, 
besides the title-leaf and a dedication. The second edition appeared 
in 1738 ; it is in large quarto, and contains xiv + 258 pages, 
besides the title-leaf and a dedication and a page of corrections. 
The third edition appeared in 1756, after the author's death ; it is 
in large quarto, and contains xii + 348 pages, besides the title-leaf 
and a dedication. 

235. I propose to give an account of the memoir De Mensura 
Sortis, and of the third edition of the Doctrine of Chances. In my 
account of the memoir I shall indicate the corresponding parts of 
the Doctrine of Chances ; and in my account of the Doctrine of 
Chances I shall give such remarks as may be suggested by compar- 
ing the third edition of the work with those which preceded it ; 
any reference to the Doctrine of Chances must be taken to apply to 
the third edition, unless the contrary is stated. 

236. It may be observed that the memoir De Mensura, Sortis 
is not reprinted in the abridgement of the Philosophical Transac- 
tions up to the year 1800, which was edited by Hutton, Shaw, and 

The memoir is dedicated to Francis Robartes, at whose recom- 
mendation it had been drawn up. The only works of any import- 
ance at this epoch, which had appeared on the subject, were the 
treatise by Huygens, and the first edition of Montmort's book. 
De Moivre refers to these in words which we have already quoted 
in Art. 142. 


De Moivre says that Problems 16, 17, 18 in his memoir were 
proposed to him by Robartes. In the Preface to the Doctrine of 
Chances, which is said to have been written in 1717, the origin of 
the memoir is explained in the following words : 

' Tis now about Seven Years, since I gave a Specimen in the Philo- 
sojyJiical Transactions^ of what I now more largely treat of in this Book. 
The occasion of my then undertaking this Subject was chiefly owing to 
the Desire and Encouragement of the Honourable Francis Robartes Esq. 
(now Earl of Kaclnor); who, upon occasion of a French Tract, called 
L Analyse des Jeux de Hazard, which had lately been published, was 
i)leased to propose to me some Problems of much greater difficulty than 
any he had found in that Book ; which having solved to his Satisfaction, 
he engaged me to methodize those Problems, and to lay down the Pules 
which had led me to their Solution. After I had proceeded thus far, it 
was enjoined me by the Poyal Society, to communicate to them what I 
had discovered on this Subject : and thereupon it was ordered to be i)ub- 
lished in the Transactions, not so much as a matter relating to Play, but 
as containing some general Speculations not unworthy to be considered 
by the Lovers of Truth. 

237. The memoir consists of twenty-six Problems, besides 
a few introductory remarks which exj^laiu how probability is 

238. The first problem is to find the chance of throwing an 
ace twice or oftener in eight throws with a single die ; see Doctrine 
of Chances, page 13. 

239. The second problem is a case of the Problem of Points. 
A is supposed to want 4 points, and B to want G points ; and ^-I's 
chance of winning a single point is to ^'s as 3 is to 2 ; see Doctrine 
of Chances, page 18. It is to be remembered that up to this date, 
in all that had been published on tlie subject, the chances of the 
players for winning a single point had always been assumed equal ; 
see Art. 173. 

240. The third problem is to determine the chances of A and B 
for Avinning a single game, supposing that A can give B two games 
out of three ; the fourth problem is of a similar kind, supjDosing 


that A can give B one game out of three : see Problems I. and ii. 
of the Doctrine of Chances. 

24^1. The fifth problem is to find how many trials must be 
made to have an even chance that an event shall happen once at 
least. Montmort had already solved the problem ; see Art. 170. 

De Moivre adds a useful approximate formula which is now one 
of the permanent results in the subject; we shall recur to it in 
noticing Problem III. of the Doctrine of Chances, where it is repro- 

242. De Moivre then gives a Lemma : To find how many 
Chances there are upon any number of Dice, each of them of the 
same number of Faces, to throw any given number of points ; see 
Doctrine of Chances, page 89. We have already given the history 
of this Lemma in Art. 149. 

243. The sixth problem is to find how many trials must be 
made to have an even chance that an event shall happen twice at 
least. The seventh problem is to find how many trials must be 
made to have an even chance that an event shall happen three 
times at least, or four times at least, and so on. See Problems III. 
and IV. of the Doctrine of Chances. 

244. The eighth problem is an example of the Problem of 
Points with three players ; it is Problem VI. of the Doctrine of 

245. The ninth problem is the fifth of those proposed for 
solution by Huygens, which Montmort had enunciated wrongly in 
his first edition ; see Art. 199. Here we have the first publication 
of the general formula for the chance which each of two players 
has of ruining the other in an unlimited number of games ; see 
Art. 107. The problem is Problem vil. of the Doctrine of 

246. The tenth problem is Problem viii. of the Doctrine of 
Chances, where it is thus enunciated : 

Two Gamesters ^ and -5 lay by 24 Counters, and play with three 
Dice, on this condition ; that if 1 1 Points come np, A shall take one 


Counter out of tlie heap; if 14, ^ shall take out one; and he shall be 
reputed the winner who shall soonest get 1 2 Counters. 

This is a very simple problem. De Moivre seems quite un- 
necessarily to have imagined that it could be confounded with that 
which immediately preceded it ; for at the end of the ninth pro- 
blem he says, 

Maxime cavendum est ne Prohlemata propter speciem aliquam 
affinitatis inter se confundantur. Problema sequens videtur affine 

After enunciating his ninth problem he says, 

Problema istud a superiore in hoc diifert, quod 23 ad pluriraum 
tesserarum jactibus, ludus necessano finietur ; cum Indus ex lege supe- 
rioris problematis, posset in aeternum continuari, propter reciproca- 
tionem lucri et jacturse se invicem perpetuo destruentium. 

247. The eleventh and twelfth problems consist of the second 
of those proposed for solution by Huygens, taken in two mean- 
ings ; they form Problems X. and XI. of the Doctrine of Chances. 
The meanings given by De Moivre to the enunciation coincide 
with the first and second of the three considered by James Ber- 
noulli ; see Arts. 35 and 199. 

248. The thirteenth problem is the first of those proposed fur 
solution by Huygens ; the fourteenth problem is the fourth of the 
same set : see Art. 35. These problems are very simple and are 
not repeated in the Doctrine of Chances. In solving the fourth of 
the set De Moivre took the meaning to be that A is to draw three 
white balls at least. Montmort had taken the meaning to be that 
A is to draw exactly three white balls. John Bernoulli in his 
letter to Montmort took the meaning to be that A is to draw three 
white balls at least. James Bernoulli had considered both mean- 
ings. See Art. 199. 

249. The fifteenth problem is that which we have called 
Waldegrave's problem; see Art. 211. De Moivre here discusses 
the problem for the case of three players : this discussion is re- 
peated, and extended to the case of four players, in the Doctrine of 
Chances, pages 132 — 159. De Moivre was the first in publishing a 
solution of the problem. 


250. The sixteenth and seventeenth problems relate to the 
game of bowls ; see Art. 177. These problems are reproduced in 
a more general form in the Doctrine of Chances, pages 117 — 123. 
Respecting these two problems Montmort says, on his page 366, 

Les Problemes 16 et 17 ne sont que deux cas tres simples d'un 
meme Probleme, c'est presque le seul qui m'ait echape de tous ceux que 
je trouve dans ce Livre. 

251. The eighteenth and nineteenth problems are Problems 
XXXIX. and XL. of the Doctrine of Chances, where we shall find 
it more convenient to notice them. 

252. The remaining seven problems of the memoir form 
a distinct section on the Duration of Play. They occur as 
Problems LViii, LX, LXi, LXii, LXiii, Lxv, LXVI, of the Doctrine 
of Chances; and we shall recur to them. 

253. It will be obvious from what we have here given that the 
memoir De Mensura Sortis deserves especial notice in the history 
of our subject. Many important results were here first published 
by De Moivre, although it is true that these results already existed 
in manuscript in the Ars Conjectandi and the correspondence 
between Montmort and the Bernoullis. 

We proceed to the Doctrine of Chances. 

254. The second edition of the Doctrine of Chances contains 
an Advertisement relating to the additions and improvements 
effected in the work ; this is not reprinted in the third edition. 
The second edition has at the end a Table of Contents which 
neither of the others has. The third edition has the following 
Advertisement : 

The Author of this Work, by the failure of his Eye-sight in extreme 
old age, was obUged to entrust the Care of a new Edition of it to one of 
his Eriends ; to whom he gave a Copy of the former, with some marginal 
Corrections and Additions, in his own hand writing. To these the 
Editor has added a few more, where they were thought necessary : and 
has disposed the whole in better Order; by restoring to their proper 
places some things that had been accidentally misplaced, and by putting 
all the Problems concerning Aymuities together; as they stand in the 
late imj-yroved edition of the Treatise on that Subject. An A'ppendix 

DE MOIVRE. 14:1 

of several useful Articles is likewise subjoined : the whole according 
to a Plan concerted with the Author, above a year before his death. 

255. The following list will indicate the parts which are new 
in the third edition. The Remark, pages 30 — 33 ; the Remark, 
pages 48, 49 ; the greater part of the second Corollary, pages 64 — 66; 
the Examples, page 88 ; the Scholium, page 95 ; the Remark, 
page 116; the third Corollary, page 138; the second Corollary, 
page 149 ; the Remark, pages 151 — 159 ; the fourth Corollary, 
page 162; the second Corollary, pages 176 — 179; the Note 
at the foot of page 187 ; the Remark, pages 251 — 254. 

The part on life annuities is very much changed, according to 
the plan laid down in the Advertisement. 

In the second and third editions the numbers of the Problems 
agree up to Problem xi ; Problem xii. of the third edition had 
been Problem Lxxxix. of the second ; from Problem xii. to 
Problem LXix. of the third edition inclusive, the number of each 
Problem exceeds by unity its number in the second edition ; Pro- 
blem LXIX. of the second edition is incorporated in the third 
edition with Problem VI ; Problems LXX. and LXXI. are the 
same in the two editions, allowing for a misprint of LXXI. for LXX. 
in the second edition. After this the numbering differs consider- 
ably because in the second edition Problems respecting life annui- 
ties are not separated from the other Problems as they are in the 
third edition. 

The first edition of the work was dedicated to Newton : the 
second was dedicated to Lord Carpenter, and the dedication of the 
second edition is reprinted at the beginning of the third ; the 
dedication to Newton is reprinted on page 329 of the third edition. 

256. The first edition of the Doctrine of Chances has a good 
preface explaining the design and utility of the book and giving an 
account of its contents ; the preface is reproduced in the other 
editions with a few omissions. It is to be regretted that the fol- 
lowing paragraphs were not retained, which relate respectively to 
the first and second editions of Montmort's work : 

However, had I allowed my self a little more time to consider it, 
I had certainly done the Justice to its Author, to have owned that he 
had not only illustrated Buy gens' s Method by a gi'cat variety of well 


chosen Examples, but tliat be bad added to it several curious things of 
bis own Invention. 

Since the printing of my Specimen, Mr. de Monmort, Author of the 
Analyse des jeux de Hazard^ Published a Second Edition of that Book, 
in which he has particularly given many proofs of his singular Genius, 
and extraordinary Capacity; which Testimony I give both to Truth, 
and to the Friendship with which he is pleased to Honour me. 

The concluding paragraph of the preface to the first edition 
refers to the Ars Conjectandi, and invites Nicolas and John Ber- 
noulli to prosecute the subject begun in its fourth part ; this 
paragraph is omitted in the other editions. 

We repeat that we are about to analyse the third edition of the 
Doctrine of Chances, only noticing the previous editions in cases of 
changes or additions in matters of importance. 

257. The Doctrine of Chances begins with an Introduction of 
S3 pages, which explains the chief rules of the subject and illus- 
trates them by examples ; this part of the work is very much fuller 
than the corresponding part of the first edition, so that our remarks 
on the Introduction do not apply to the first edition. De Moivre 
considers carefully the following fundamental theorem : suppose 
that the odds for the happening of an event at a single trial are as 
a to h, then the chance that the event will happen r times at least 
in n trials is found by taking the first n — r-i-1 terms of the expan- 
sion of (a + hy and dividing by (a + by. We know that the result 
can also be expressed in another manner corresponding to the 
second formula in Art. 172 ; it is curious that De Moivre gives 
this without demonstration, though it seems less obvious than 
that which he has demonstrated. 

To find the chance that an event may happen just r times, De 
Moivre directs us to subtract the chance that it will happen at least 
r—1 times from the chance that it will happen at least r times. 
He notices, but less distinctly than we might expect, the modern 
method which seems more simple and more direct, by which we 
begin with finding the chance that an event shall happen jvst r 
times and deduce the chance that it shall happen at least r 


258. De Moivre notices the advantage arising from employing 
a single letter instead of two or three to denote the probaljility of 
the happening of one event. Thus if x denote the probability of 
the happening of an event, \ —x will denote the probability of its 
failing. So also y and z may denote the probabilities of the hap- 
pening of two other events respectively. Then, for example, 


will represent the probability of the first to the exclusion of the 
other two. De Moivre says in conclusion, '^ and innumerable cases 
of the same nature, belonging to any number of Events, may be 
solved without any manner of trouble to the imagination, by the 
mere force of a proper notation." 

259. In his third edition De Moivre draws attention to the 
convenience of approximating to a fraction with a large numerator 
and denominator by continued fractions, which he calls "the 
Method proposed by Dr Wallis, Hiiygens, and others." He gives 
the rule for the formation of the successive convergents which is 
now to be found in elementary treatises on Algebra ; this rule he 
ascribes to Cotes. 

2G0. The Doctrine of Clicuices contains 7-i problems exclusive 
of those relating to life annuities ; in the first edition there were 
53 problems. 

261. We have enunciated Problems I. and ii. in Art. 240. 
Suppose p and q to represent the chances of A and ^ in a single 
game. Problem I. means that it is an even chance that A "wall win 

1 1 

three o^ames before B wins one : thus p^ = cv- Hence x> = -^^^ , and 

7 = 1 — 7777 . Problem li. means that it is an even chance that A 

will win three games before B wins two. Thus p^ + Aip^q = ^ ; which 

must be solved by trial. 

These problems are simple examples of the general formula in 
Art. 172. 

262. Problems ill, IV, and V. are included in the followin 


general enunciation. Suppose a the number of chances for the 
happening of an event in a single trial, and h the number of 
chances for its failing : find how many trials must be made to have 
an even chance that the event will happen r times at least. . 
For example, let r = 1. 

Suppose X the number of trials. Then the chance that 

the event fails x times in succession is -. tt^ . And by suppo- 
sition this is equal to the chance of its happening once at least 
in X trials. Therefore each of these chances must be equal 

to -X . Thus 


}f 1 

{a + hy 2 ' 
from this equation x may be found by logarithms. 

De Moivre proceeds to an approximation. Put - = q. Thus 

X log [ 1 4- - ) = log 2. 

If ^ = 1, we have x=l. If 5' be gi'eater than 1, we have by 

expanding log ( 1 + - J , 

where log 2 will mean the logarithm to the Napierian base. Then 
if q be large we have approximately 


x= q log 2 = zTTzq nearly. 

De Moivre says, page 87, 

Thus we have assigned the very narrow limits within which the ratio 
of £c to q is comprehended ; for it begins with unity, and terminates at 
last in the ratio of 7 to 10 very near. 

But X soon converges to the limit 0.7^', so that this value of x may 
be assumed in all cases, let the value of q be what it will. 

The fact that this result is true when q is moderately large is the 


element of truth in the mistake made by M. de Mdre ; he assumed 
that such a result should hold for all values of q : see Art. 14. 

263. As another example of the general enunciation of 
Art. 262, let r = S. 

The chance that the event will happen at least 3 times in x 
trials is equal to the first x — 2 terms of the expansion of 

a h 



\a + b a + bj * 
and this chance by hypothesis is - . Hence the last three terms 

of the expansion will also be equal to ^ , that is, 

W + xV-' a + ^^^ I'-'' «' = I (« + W' 

If ^ = 1 we find x = o. 


If q be supposed indefinitely great, and we put - = z, we get 

where e is the base of the Napierian logarithms. 

By trial it is found that 2 =2675 nearly. Hence De Moivre 
concludes that x always lies between oq and 2675(;^. 

264. De Moivre exhibits the following table of results ob- 
tained in the manner shewn in the two preceding Ai'ticles. 

A Table of the Limits. 

The Value of x will always be 

For a single Event, between \q and O'GOSg'. 
For a double Event, between 2)q and l-GTS^-. 
For a triple Event, between 5q and 2 675^. 
For a quadruple Event, between ^q aud 2>(dl2q. 
For a quintuple Event, between 9^' and i-GTO^-. 
For a sextuple Event, between \\q and b-ij^Sq. 



And if the number of Events contended for, as well as the number 

q be pretty large in respect to Unity; the number of Trials requisite for 

.... ^n—\ . , 

those Events to happen n times will be — ^ q^ or barely nq. 

De Moivre seems to have inferred the general result enun- 
ciated in the last sentence, from observing the numerical values 
obtained in the six cases which he had calculated, for he gives no 
further investigation. 

265. In Art. 263 we have seen that De Moivre concludes 

that - always lies between 5 and 2"675. This may appear very 

probable, but it is certainly not demonstrated. It is quite con- 
ceivable, in the absence of any demonstration to the contrary, that 

- should at first increase with q, and so be greater than 5, and 

then decrease and become less than 2 675, and then increase 
again to its limit 2-675. The remark applies to the general pro- 
position, whatever be the value of r, as well as to the particular 
example in which r =- 3. 

It would not be very easy perhaps to shew from such an 
equation as that in Art. 263, that x increases continually with q ; 
and yet from the nature of the question we may conclude that 
this must be the case. For if the chance of success in a single 
trial is diminished, it appears obvious that the number of trials 
must be increased, in order to secure an even chance for the event 
to happen once at least. 

266. On pages 39 — 43 of the Doctrine of Chances, we have 
the Lemma of which we have already given an account ; see 
Art. 242. 

267. Problem VI. of the Doctrine of Chances is an example 
of the Problem of Points with three players. De Moivre gives 
the same kind of solution as Fermat : see Arts. 16 and 18. In 
the third edition there is also a discussion of some simple cases 
according to the method which Pascal used for two players ; see 
Art. 12. De Moivre also gives here a good rule for solving the 
problem for any number of players ; the rule is founded on 


Fermat's metliod, and is intended to lighten as mucli as possible 
the labour which must be incurred in applying the method to 
complex cases. The rule was first published in the Miscellanea 
Analytica, in 1730; it is given in the second edition of the 
Doctrine of Chances on pages 191, 192. 

2G8. Problem vii. is the fifth of those proposed by Huygens 
for solution ; see Art. 35. We have already stated that De Moivre 
generalises the problem in the same way as James Bernoulli, 
and the result, with a demonstration, was first published in the 
De Mensura Sortis ; see Arts. 107, 245. De Moivre's demon- 
stration is very ingenious, but not quite complete. For he finds 
the ratio of the chance that A will ruin B to the chance that 
B will ruin A ; then he assumes in effect that in the lonof nm 
one or other of the players must be ruined : thus he deduces 
the absolute values of the two chances. 

See the first Appendix to Professor De Morgan's Essay on 
Prohahilities in the Cabinet Cyclopcedia. 

We have spoken of Problem viii. in Art. 246. 

269. Problem ix. is as follows. 

Supposing A and B, whose proportion of skill is as a to 6, to play 
together, till A either wins the number q of Stakes, or loses the number 
;; of them ; and that B sets at every Game the sum G to the sum L ; it 
is required to find the Advantage or Disadvantage of ^. 

This was Problem XLIII. of the first edition of the Doctrine 
of Chances, in the preface to which it is thus noticed : 

The 43d Problem having been proposed to me by Mr. Thomas Wood- 
cock, a Gentleman whom I infinitely respect, I attempted its Solution 
with a very great desire of obtaining it; and having had the good 
Fortune to succeed in it, I returned him the Solution a few Days after 
he was pleased to jn-opose it. This Problem is in my Opinion one of 
the most curious that can be propos'd on this Subject ; its Solution 
containing the Method of determining, not only that Advantage which 
results from a Superiority of Chance, in a Play confined to a certain 
number of Stakes to be won or lost by either Party, but also that which 
may result from an unequality of Stakes ; and even compares those two 
Advantages together, when the Odds of Chance being on one side, the 
Odds of Money are on the other. 



In the Miscellanea Analytica, page 204, the problem is again 
said to have been proposed by Thomas Woodcock, sjyectatissimo 
viro, but he is not mentioned in the second or third edition of 
the Doctrine of Chances ; so that De Moivre's infinite respect for 
him seems to have decayed and disappeared in a finite time. 

The solution of the problem is as follows : 

Let R and S respectively represent the Probabilities which A and B 
have of winning all the Stakes of their Adversary ; which Probabilities 
have been determined in the vii*^ Problem. Let us first suppose that 
the Sums deposited by A and B are equal, viz. G, and G : now since A 
is either to win ihe sum qG, or lose the sum pG, it is plain that the Gain 
of A ought to be estimated by EqG — SpG; moreover since the Sums 
deposited are G and G, and that the proportion of the Chances to win 

one Game is as a to h, it follows that the Gain of A for each individual 

aQ _ hQ 

Game is ^ — j and for the same reason the Gain of each individual 

a + 

aG — hL 
Game would be j- , if the Suras deposited bv A and B were re- 

spectively L and G. Let us therefore now suppose that they are L 
and Gj then in order to find the whole Gain of A in this second cir- 
cumstance, we may consider that whether A and B lay down equal 
Stakes or unequal Stakes, the Probabilities which either of them has 
of winning all the Stakes of the other, sufier not thereby any alter- 
ation, and that the Play will continue of the same length in both cir- 
cumstances before it is determined in favour of either; wherefore the 
Gain of each individual Game in the first case, is to the Gain of each 
individual Game in the second, as the whole Gain of the first case, to 
the whole Gain of the second; and consequently the whole Gain of the 

/-7 7 7- 

second case will be Rq -^px or restoring the values of H and >S', 

a — b ° ' 

qa^xa^-b^-pb^xa'^-b^ i.. -,. -, , aG-bL 
^^^,_f^^, multiplied by ^_^ . 

270. In the first edition of the Doctrine of Chances, 
pages 136 — 142, De Moivre gave a very laborious solution of the 
preceding Problem. To this was added a much shorter solution, 
communicated by Nicolas Bernoulli from his uncle. This solution 
was founded on an artifice which De Moivre had himself used in 


the ninth problem of the De Mensura Sortis. De Moivre how- 
ever renounces for himself the claim to the merit of the solu- 
tion. This renunciation he repeats in the Miscellanea Analytica, 
page 206, where he names the author of the simple solution 
which we have already given. He says, 

Ego vere illucl ante libenter fassus sum, idque ipsum etiamnum 
libenter fateor, quamvis solutio Problematis mei noni causam fortasse 
dederit hiijus solutionis, me tamen nihil juris in eam habere, eamque 
CI. ilhus Autori ascribi lequum esse. 

Septem aut octo abliinc annis D. Stevens Int. Tempi. Socius, Yir 
ingenuus, singulari sagacitate prseditus, id sibi propositum habens ut 
Problema superius allatum solveret, hac ratione solutionem facile asse- 
cutus est, quam mihi his verbis exhibuit. 

Then follows the solution, after which De Moivre adds, 

Doctissimus adolescens D. Cranmei', apud Genevenses MatliematicaB 
Professor dignissiraus, cujus recordatio seque ac Collegae ejus i)eritissimi 
D. Calandrin mihi est perjucunda, cum superiore anno Londini com- 
moraretur, narravit milii se ex Uteris D. Nic. Bernoulli ad se datis acce- 
pisse CI. Yirum novam solutionem hujus Problematis adeptum esse, 
quani prioribus autor anteponebat ; cum vcro nihil de via solutionis 
dixerit, si mihi conjicere liceat qualis ea sit, banc opinor eandem esse 
atque illam quam raodo attuli. 

271. We have already spoken of Problems x. and xi. in 
Art. 247. In his solution of Problem x. De Moivre uses the 
theorem for the summation of series to which we have refen^ed 
in Art. 152. A corollary was added in the second edition and 
was expanded in the third edition, on which we Avill make a 

Suppose that A, B, and C throw in order a die of n faces, 
and that a faces are favourable to A, and h to B, and c to (7, 
where a ■\- h + c = n. Required the chances wdiich A, B, and G 
have respectively of being the first to throw a corresponding face. 
It may be easily shewn that the chances are proportional to 
air, (h + c) hn, and (h + c) {a + c) c, respectively. De Moivre, in 
his third edition, page Qo, seems to imply tliat before the order 
was fixed, the chances would be proportional to ^, h, c. This 
must of course mean that such would be the case if there were 


no order at all; that is if the die were to be thrown and the 
stake awarded to A, B, or C, according as the face which appeared 
was one of the a, h, c respectively. If there is to be an order, 
but the order is as Hkely to be one as another, the result will be 
different. The chance of A for example will be one sixth of the 
sum arising from six possible and equally likely cases. It will be 
found that A's chance is 


{6a' + 9a(h-i-c) + S (h' + c') + She} 
Q{n'-{b + c) (c + a) (a + h)} 

272. Problem xii. appeared for the first time in the second 
edition, page 24^8, with this preliminary notice. ''A particular 
Friend having desired of me that to the preceding Problems I 
would add one more, I have thought fit to comply with his desire ; 
the Problem was this." The problem is of no great importance ; 
it is solved by the method often used in the Ai^s Co7vjectandi, 
which we have explained in Art. 106. 

273. Problem xiii. relates to the game of Bassette, and 
Problem XIV. to the game of Pharaon; these problems occupy 
pages 69 — 82 of the work. We have already sufficiently noticed 
these games ; see Arts. 154, 168. De Moivre's discussion is the 
same in all his three editions, except that a paragraph on page 37 
of the first edition, extending from the words "Those who are ..." 
to the end of the page, is omitted in the following editions. 
The paragraph is in fact an easy example of the formulae for the 
game of Bassette. 

274. Problems XV. to XX. form a connected series. De Moivre 
solves simple examples in chances and applies his results to esta- 
blish a Theory of Permutations and Combinations ; in modern 
times we usually adopt the reverse order, establish the Theory of 
Permutations and Combinations first, and afterwards apply the 
theory in the discussion of chances. We will take an example of 
De Moivre's method from his Problem XV. Suppose there are 
six things a, h, c, d, e, f, and let two of them be taken at random ; 
required the chance that a shall stand first, and h second. The 



chance of taking a first is ^ ; and tliere are then five things left, 

and the chance of now taking 5 is ^ . Therefore the required 

chance is -^ . Then De Moivre says, 

Since the taking a in the first i)lace, and h in the second, is hut one 
single Case of those by which six Things may change their order, being 
taken two and two ; it follows that the number of Changes or Permu- 
tations of six Things, taken two and two, must be 30. 

275. In his Preface De Moivre says, 

Having explained the common Rules of Combinations, and given a 
Theorem which may be of use for the Solution of some Problems re- 
lating to that Subject, I lay down a new Theorem, which is properly a 
contraction of the former, whereby several Questions of Chance are 
resolved with wonderful ease, tho' the Solution might seem at first sight 
to be of insuperable difiiculty. 

The mil} Theorem amounts to nothing more than the simplifi- 
cation of an expression by cancelling factors, which occur in its 
numerator and denominator ; see Doctrine of Chances, pages ix. 89. 

27C. Problems xxi. to XXV. consist of easy applications to 
questions concerning Lotteries of the principles established in the 
Problems xv. to XX. ; only the first two of these questions con- 
cerning Lotteries appeared in the first edition. 

A Scholium is given on page 95 of the third edition which 
deserves notice. De Moivre quotes the following formula : Sup- 
pose a and n to be positive integers ; then 

1111 1 

- + — r-T + — -^ + — 7-i. + ...+ 

n n-\-l 71 + 2 ?i + 3 a — 1 

_ a 1 1 A (l^ 1\ B (1 r 

~ ^""^7^ + 2;^ "" 2^ "^ 2 \n' " ^; "^ I W a\ 

where A=\. ^^'W ^=A' - 


As De Moivre says A, B, (7, ... are "the numbers of Mr. James 
Bernoulli in his excellent Theorem for the Summing of Powers." 
See Art. 112. De Moivre refers for the demonstration of the 
formula to the Supplement to the Miscellanea Analytica, where 
the formula first appeared. We shall recur to this in speaking of 
the Miscellanea Analytica. 

277. Problems xxvii. to xxxil. relate to the game of Quad- 
rille ; although the game is not described there is no difficulty in 
understanding the problems which are simple examples of the 
Theory of Combinations : these problems are not in the first 

278. Problem xxxiil. is To find at Pharaon how much it iiT 
that the Banker gets per Cent of all the Money that is adventured. 
De Moivre in his Preface seems to attach great importance to this 
solution ; but it scarcely satisfies the expectations which are thus 
raised. The player who stakes against the bank is in fact sup- 
posed to play merely by chance without regard to what would be 
his best course at any stage of the game, although the previous 
investigations of Montmort and De Moivre shewed distinctly that 
some courses were far less pernicious than others. 

The Banker's adversary in De Moivre's solution is therefore 
rather a machine than a gambler with liberty of choice. 

279. Problem xxxiv. is as follows : 

Supposing A and £ to play together, that the Chances they have 
respectively to win are as a to 6, and that B obliges himself to set to A 
so long as A wins without interruption : what is the advantage that A gets 
by his hand? 

The result is, supposing each to stake one, 

Itj 1 ^ + ^ + FTi)^ + ^TTif + • • • '" *"-^'"'^"™ } ' 

that is, — = — . 

280. Problems xxxv. and xxxvi. relate to the game dis- 
cussed by Nicolas Bernoulli and Montmort, which is called Treize 
or Rencontre; see Art. 162. 


De Moivre treats the subject with great ingenuity and with 
more generality than his predecessors, as we shall now shew. 

281. Problem xxxv. is thus enunciated : 

Any number of Letters a, h, c, d, e,/, &c., all of them different, 
being taken promiscuously as it happens : to find the Probability that 
some of them shall be found in their places according to the rank they 
obtain in the Alphabet; and that others of them shall at the same time 
be displaced. 

Let n be the number of the letters ; suppose that j) specified 
letters are to be in their places, q specified letters out of their 
places, and the remaining n —p — q letters free from any restric- 
tion. The chance that this result will happen is 

n{n—l)...(n—j)+l)\ 1 n—p 1.2 (n— p)(?i— ^ — 1) 
This supposes that p is greater than ; if ^ = 0, the result is 

Iw"^ 1.2 n{n-l) '" 

If we suppose in this formula q=^m — 1, we have a result akeady 
implicitly given in Art. IGl. 

In demonstrating these formulae De Moivre is content to ex- 
amine a few simple cases and assume that the law which presents 
itself will hold universally. We will indicate his method. 

The chance that a is in the first place is - ; the chance that a is 

in the first place, and h in the second place is — , — -:r^ : hence the 

^ ^ n{n—i) 

chance that a is in the first place and h not in the second place is 

1 1 

n n (ii — 1) * 

Similarly the chance that a, h, c are all in their proper places is 

/ IN / — K^ ; subtract this from the chance that a and h are in 
n [71 — 1) (n — 2) ' 

their proper places, and we have the chance that a and h are in 
their proper places, and c not in its proper place : thus this chance is 

1 1 


(n - 1) n («. - 1) {n - 2) 


De Moivre uses a peculiar notation for facilitating this process. 
Let + a denote the chance that a is in its proper place and — a the 
chance that it is out of it ; let + J denote the chance that h is in 
its proper place and — h the chance that it is out of it ; and so on. 
And in general let such a symbol as -\- a-\-h -\- c — d — e denote that 
a, h, c are in their proper places, and d, e out of theirs. 

n ' n(n -1) ' n{n — l)(n — 2) 

1 ^ 


Then we have the following results : 

+ h =r 

+ h + a = s 

+ h — a = r—s (1) 

+c+h =s 
+ c-\-h + a = t 

+ c + h-a = s-t •. (2) 

+ c - a =r-s by (1) 

+ c - a + J = s-t by (2) 

+ c-a-b= r-2s + t (3) 

+d+c+h =t 

■Yd+G^-h-{-a = v 

+ d + c-\-h-a = t-v (4) 

+ J+c-a ^s-t by (2) 

+ c?+c — a + &= t — v by (4) 

■\-d-\-c-a-h= s-2t^v (5) 

■\-d-h-a =r-2s-\-t by (3) 

-\-d—h — a-\-c= s-2t-\-v by (5) 

d — h — a — c— r— 35 + 8^—1? (6) 

It is easy to translate into words any of these S3rmbolical pro- 
cesses. Take for example that which leads to the result (2) : 


this means that the chance that c and h are in their proper places 
is s ; and this we know to be true ; 

-\- c-\-'b-\- a = t, 

this means that the chance that c, h, a are all in their proper 
places is t ; and this we know to be true. 

From these two results we deduce that the chance that c and h 
are in their proper places, and a out of its place is 5 — ^ ; and this 
is expressed symbolically thus, 

-{-c-\-h — a = s — t 

Similarly, to obtain the result (8) ; we know from the result (1) 
that r — 5 is the chance that c is in its proper place, and a out of 
its proper place ; and we know from the result (2) that 5 — /5 is the 
chance that c and h are in their proper places, and a out of its pro- 
per place ; hence we infer that the chance that c is in its proper 
place, and a and h out of their proper places is r — 2s + ^ ; and this 
result is expressed symbolically thus, 

282. De Moivre refers in his Preface to this process in the fol- 
lowing terms : 

111 the 3oth and 36th Problems, I explain a new sort of Algebra, 
whereby some Questions relating to Combinations are solved by so easy 
a Process, that their Solution is made in some measure an immediate 
consequence of the Method of Notation. I will not pretend to say that 
this new Algebra is absolutely necessary to the Solving of those Ques- 
tions which I make to depend on it, since it appears that Mr. Montmort, 
Author of the Analyse cles Jeux de Hazard, and Mr. Nicholas Bernoulli 
have solved, by another Method, many of the cases therein proposed : 
But I hope I shall not be thought guilty of too much Confidence, if 
I assure the Reader, that the Method I have followed has a degree of 
Simplicity, not to say of Generality, which will hardly be attained by 
any other Steps than by those I have taken. 

283. De Moi^Te himself enunciates his result verbally ; it is of 
course equivalent to the formula which we have given in Art. 281, 
but it will be convenient to reproduce it. The notation being that 
already explained, he says, 


...tlien let all the quantities I, r, s, f,v, &c. be written down with 
Signs alternately positive and negative, beginning at 1, if]) be = 0; at r, 
if^9 be = 1; at 5, if p be = 2; &c. Prefix to these Quantities the Co- 
efficients of a Binomial Power, whose index is = q; this being done, 
those Quantities taken all together will express the Probability re- 

284. The enunciation and solution of Problem xxxvi. are as 
follows : 

Any given number of Letters a, h, c, d, e, /, &c., being each repeated 
a certain number of times, and taken promiscuously as it happens : To 
find the Probability that of some of those sorts, some one Letter of each 
may be found in its place, and at the same time, that of some other 
sorts, no one Letter be found in its place. 

Suppose n be the number of all the Letters, I the number of times 

that each Letter is repeated, and consequently j the whole number of 

Sorts : supj)ose also that p be the number of Sorts of which some one 
Letter is to be found in its place, and q the number of Sorts of which 
no one Letter is to be found in its place. Let now the prescriptions 
given in the preceding Problem be followed in all respects, saving that 

r must here be made = — , s = —, =^- , t — — ; 7T-7 777 , &c., and 

n n {ii — 1) n {n —1) [71 — 2) 

the Solution of any particular case of the Problem will be obtained. 

Thus if it were required to find the Probability that no Letter of any 

sort shall be in its place, the Probability thereof would be expressed by 

the Series 

^ ^"^^ 1.2 ^ 1.2.3 ^ '^'^''• 

of which the number of Terms is equal to q+ 1. 

But in this particular case q would be equal to -j , and therefore, the 
foregoing Series might be changed into this, viz. 

1 n-l I {n-l){n-2l) 1 {71-I) {n-2l) (n-Sl) 

2 n-l 6 {n - 1) {n - 2) '^ 24: (n-l) {n - 2) (n - 3) '^* 

of which the number of Terms is equal to — j— . 


285. De Moivre then adds some Corollaries. The follo^\ing 
is the first of them : 

From, hence it follows, that the Probability of one or more Letters, 
indeterminately taken, being in their places, will be expressed as fol- 
lows : 

_ 1 iij-l 1 i ll - I) {n - 21) _ j_ {n -l)(n- 21) {n - 3 Q 
2 n-1^ ^\r-1){ji-2) 24< (n- 1) {n-2) (n-S) 

This agrees with what we have already given from Nicolas 
Bernoulli ; see Art. 204. 

In the next three Corollaries De Moivre exhibits the pro- 
bability that two or more letters should be in their places, that 
three or more should be, and that four or more should be. 

286. The four Corollaries, which we have just noticed, are 
examples of the most important part of the Problem; this is 
treated by Laplace, who gives a general formula for the proba- 
bility that any assigned number of letters or some greater number 
shall be in their proper places. Theorie. . .des Proh. pages 217 — 222. 
The part of Problems xxxv. and xxxvi. which' De Moivi-e puts 
most prominently forward in his enunciations and solutions is 
the condition that p letters are to be in their places, q out of 
their places, and n — ij — q free from any restriction ; this part 
seems peculiar to De MoIato, for we do not find it before his time, 
nor does it seem to have attracted attention since. 

287. A Remark is given on page 116 which was not in the 
preceding editions of the Doctrine of Chances. De Moivre shews 
that the sum of the series 


1 — o + ^ " oT + • • • wi infinitum, 

is equal to unity diminished by the reciprocal of the base of the 
Napierian logarithms. 

288. The fifth Corollary to Problem xxxvi. is as follows : 

If A and B each holding a Pack of Cards, pull them out at the same 
time one after another, on condition tliat every time two like Cards are 


pulled out, A shall give B a Guinea; and it were required to find what 
consideration £ ought to give A to play on those Terms : the Answer 
will be one Guinea, let the number of Cards be what it will. 

Altho' this be a Corollary from the preceding Solutions, yet it may 
more easily be made out thus ; one of the Packs being the Rule where- 
by to estimate the order of the Cards in the second, the Probability 

that the two first Cards are alike is — , the Probability that the two 



second are alike is also -^ , and therefore there being 52 such alike com- 

binations, it follows that the value of the whole is r-:: == 1. 


It may be interesting to deduce this result from the formulae 
already given. The chance that out of ti cards, 2^ specified cards 
will be in their places, and all the rest out of their places will 
be obtained by making q= n —p in the first formula of Art. 281. 
The chance that cmy p cards will be in their places, and all the 
rest out of their places will be obtained by multiplying the pre- 

ceding result by - — ^= . And since in this case B receives 

\n — p I p 

p guineas, we must multiply by p to obtain 5's advantage. Thus 
we obtain 

p-l \ '2 [3 ' [^ 

n — p 

Denote this by <^ {p) ; then we are to shew that the sum of 
the values of <^ {p) obtained by giving to p all values between 
1 and n inclusive is unity. 

Let y^r (ti) denote the sum ; then it may be easily shewn that 

'f(n + l)-'f {71) = 0. 

Thus -yjr (n) is constant for all values of n ; and it = 1 when 
71 = 1, so that -^ {71) is always = 1. 

289. The sixth Corollary to Problem xxxvi. is as follows : 
If the number of Packs be given, the Probability that any given 
number of Circumstances may happen iu any number of Packs, will 


easily be found by our Metliod : thus if tbe number of Packs be ^, the 
Probability that one Card or more of the same Suit and Name in every 
one of the Packs may be in the same position, will be expressed as fol- 

1 1 1 

n'-" 2[n(n- l)]''' ' [3 {w (ji - 1) (w - 2)]^-^ 


[4 [n (71-1) {n-2) (n-S)\ 

—, &c. 


Laplace demonstrates this result; see Theorie . . . des Prob. 
page 224. 

290. Problems xxxvii. and xxxviii. relate to the game of 
Bowls; see Arts. 177, 250. 

De Moivre says, page 120, 

Having given formerly the Solution of this Problem, proposed to me 
by the Honourable Francis Rohartes, Esq;, in the FhilosopTiical Trans- 
actions Number 329; I there said, by way of Corollary, that if the 
proportion of Skill in the Gamesters were given, the Problem might 
also be solved : since w^hich time M. de Monmort^ in the second Edition 
of a Book by him published upon the Subject of Chance, has solved 
this Problem as it is extended to the consideration of the Skill, and 
to carry his Solution to a great number of Cases, giving also a Me- 
thod whereby it might be carried farther: But altlio' his Solution is 
good, as he has made a right use of the Doctrine of Combinations, 
yet I think mine has a greater degree of Simplicity, it being deduced 
from the original Principle whereby I have demonstrated the Doctrine 
of Permutations and Combinations:... 

291. Problems xxxix. to XLil. form a connected set. Pro- 
blem XXXIX. is as follows : 

To find the Expectation of A, when with a Die of any given num- 
ber of Paces, he undertakes to fling any number of them in any given 
number of Casts. 

Let j9 -f 1 be the number of faces on the die, n the number 
of casts, /the number of faces which A undertakes to fling. Then 
-4's expectation is 


{p + 1)" 

(_p+l)"_/^« + /01^(^_l)» 

_ /(/-lK/-2) (^_,)„^.. 

Be Moivre infers this general result from the examination 
of the simple cases in which f is equal to 1, % 8, 4 respec- 

He says in his Preface respecting this problem, 

When I began for the first time to attempt its Solution, I had 
nothing else to guide me but the common Kules of Combinations, such 
as they had been delivered by Dr. Wallis and others; which when I 
endeavoured to apply, I was surprized to find that my Calculation 
swelled by degrees to an intolerable Bulk : For this reason I was forced 
to turn my Views another way, and to try whether the Solution I 
was seeking for might not be deduced from some easier considerations; 
whereupon I happily fell upon the Method I have been mentioning, 
which as it led me to a very great Simplicity in the Solution, so I 
look upon it to be an Improvement made to the Method of Com- 

The problem has attracted much attention; we shall find it 
discussed by the following writers : Mallet, Acta Helvetica, 1772 ; 
Euler, Opuscula Analytica, Vol. ii. 1785; Laplace, Memoir es.., 
2Mr clivers Savans', 1774, Theorie... cles Proh. page 191 ; Trembley, 
Memoires de V Acad... Berlin, 1794, 1795. 

We shall recur to the problem when we are giving an account 
of Euler's writings on our subject. 

292. Problem XL. is as follows : 

To find in how many Trials it will be probable that A with a Die 
of any given number of Faces shall throw any proposed number of 


Take the formula given in Art. 291, suppose it equal to ^ , 

and seek for the value of n. There is no method for solving 
this equation exactly, so De Moivre adopts an approximation. 
He supposes that ^ + 1, ^, ^ — 1, j9 — 2, are in Geometrical 


Progression, which supposition he says "will very little err from 
the truth, especially if the proportion of ^ to 1, be not very small." 

Put r for ; thus the equation becomes 


1 / 1 /(/- 1) 1 /(/- 1 ) (/- 2) 2_ . ^1. 
1?^""^ 1.2 r''' \S r''''^'" 2' 

that is ^1__)=2. 

Hence -■ = 1 _ f _ ] , 

and then n may be found by logarithms. 

De Moivre says in his Preface respecting this problem, 

The 40th Problem is the reverse of the preceding; It contains a 
very remarkable Method of Solution, the Artifice of which consists 
in changing an Arithmetic Progression of Numbers into a Geometric 
one; this being always to be done when the Numbers are large, and 
their Intervals small. I freely acknowledge that I have been indebted 
long ago for this useful Idea, to my much respected Friend, That Ex- 
cellent Mathematician Dr. Halley, Secretary to the Royal Society, 
whom I have seen practise the thing on another occasion: For this 
and other Instructive Notions readily imparted to me, during an un- 
interrupted Friendship of five and Twenty years, I return him my 
very hearty Thanks. 

Laplace also notices this method of approximation in solving 
the problem, and he compares its result with that furnished by his 
own method ; see Theorie ... des Proh. pages 198 — 200. 

293. Problem XLI. is as follows : 

Supposing a regular Prism having a Faces marked i, h Faces 
marked ii, c Faces marked iii,* d Faces marked iv, kc. what is the 
Probability that in a certain number of throws n, some of the Faces 
marked i will be thrown, as also some of the Faces marked ii ? 

This is an extension of Problem xxxix ; it was not in the first 
edition of the Doctrine of Chances. 

Let a + h ■{- c -{■ d + ...=s\ then the Probability required 
will be 

1 [," _ {(, _ „). + (, _ j)«j + {s-a- in 


162: BE MOIVRE. 

If it be required that some of the Faces marked I, some of 
the Faces marked ii, and some of the Faces marked ill be 
thrown, the ProbabiUty required will be 

-f (s-a-hy+ {s-h-cy+{s-c-ay 

— {s — a — h — cy 

And so on if other Faces are required to be thrown. 

De Moivre intimates that these results follow easily from the 
method adopted in Problem xxxix. 

294. Problem XLII. first appeared in the second edition ; 
it is not important. 

Problem XLiil. is as follows : 

Any number of Chances being given, to find the Probability of their 
being produced in a given order, without any limitation of the number 
of times in which they are to be produced. 

It may be remarked that, for an approximation, De Moivre 
proposes to replace several numbers representing chances by a 
common mean value ; it is however not easy to believe that the 
result would be very trustworthy. This problem was not in the 
first edition. 

295. Problems XLiv. and XLV. relate to what we have called 
Waldegrave's Problem ; see Art. 211. 

In De Moivre's first edition, the problem occupies pages 77 — 102. 
De Moivre says in his preface that he had received the solution 
by Nicolas Bernoulli before his own was published ; and that both 
solutions were printed in the PhilosojyJiical Transactions, No. 341. 
De Moivre's solution consists of a very full and clear discussion 
of the problem when there are three players, and also when there 
are four players ; and he gives a little aid to the solution of the 
general problem. The last page is devoted to an explanation of a 
method of solving the problem which Brook Taylor communicated 
to De Moivre. 

In De Moivre's third edition the problem occupies pages 132 — 159. 
The matter given in the first edition is here reproduced, omitting, 


however, some details which the reader might be expected to fill 
up for himself, and also the method of Brook Taylor. On the 
other hand, the last nine pages of the discussion in the third 
edition were not in the first edition ; these consist of explanations 
and investigations with the view of enabling a reader to determine 
numerical results for any number of players, supposing that at 
any stage it is required to stop the play and divide the money 
deposited equitably. This part of the problem is peculiar to 
De Moivre. 

The discussions which De Moivre gives of the particular 
cases of three players and four players are very easy and satis- 
factory ; but as a general solution his method seems inferior to 
that of Nicolas Bernoulli. We may remark that the investigation 
for three players given by De Moivre will enable the student to 
discover how Montmort obtained the results which he gives with- 
out demonstration for three players ; see Art. 209. De Moivre 
determines a pla^^er's expectation by finding first the advantage 
resulting from his chance of winning the whole sum deposited, and 
then his disadvantage arising from the contributions which he 
may have had to make himself to the whole sum deposited ; the 
expectation is obtained by subtracting the second result from the 
first. Montmort determined the expectation by finding, first the 
advantage of the player arising from his chance of winning the 
deposits of the other two players, and then the disadvantage 
arising from the chance which the other two players have of 
winning his deposits ; the expectation is obtained by subtracting 
the second result from the first. 

The problem will come before us again as solved by Laplace. 

296. Problem XLVI. is on the game of Hajzard; there is no 
description of the game here, but there is one given by Montmort 
on his page 177 ; and from this description, De Moivre's solution 
can be understood : his results agree with Montmort's. Pro- 
blem XLVII. is also on Hazard ; it relates to a point in the game 
which is not noticed by Montmort, and it is only from De Moivre's 
investigation itself that we can discover wliat the problem is, 
which he is considering. With respect to this problem, De Moivre 

says, page 165, 


164< DE MOIVRE. 

After I had solved the foregoing Problem, which is about 12 years 
ago, I spoke of my Solution to Mr. Henry Stuart Stevens^ but with- 
out communicating to him the manner of it: As he is a Gentleman 
who, besides other uncommon Qualifications, has a particular Sagacity 
in reducing intricate Questions to simple ones, he brought me, a few 
days after, his Investigation of the Conclusion set down in my third 
Corollary; and as I have had occasion to cite him before, in another 
Work, so I here renew with pleasure the Expression of the Esteem 
which I have for his extraordinary Talents : 

Then follows the investigation due to Stevens. The above 
passage occurs for the first time in the second edition, page 140 ; 
the name however is there spelt Stephens : see also Art. 270. 

Problem XLVII. is not in the first edition ; on the other hand, 
a table of numerical values of chances at Hazard, without ac- 
companying explanations, is given on pages V7% 175 of the first 
edition, which is not reproduced in the other editions. 

297. Problems XLVIII. and XLix. relate to the game of Raffling. 
If three dice are thrown, some throws will present triplets, some 
doublets, and some neither triplets nor doublets; in the game 
of Raffles only those throws count which present triplets or 
doublets. The game was discussed by Montmort in his 
pages 207 — 212 ; but he is not so elaborate as De Moivre. Both 
writers give a numerical table of chances, which De Moivre says was 
drawn up by Francis Eobartes, twenty years before the publica- 
tion of Montmort's work ; see Miscellanea Analytica, page 224. 

Problem XLIX. was not in De Moivre's first edition, and 
Problem XLVIII. was not so fully treated as in the other edi- 

298. Problem L. is entitled Of Whisk; it occupies pages 172 — 179. 
This is the game now called Whist. De Moivre determines the 
chances of various distributions of the Honouy^s in the game. Thus, 
for example, he says that the ^probability that there are no Honours 

on either ride is ^c ' ^^^ of course means that the Honours 

are equally divided. The result would be obtained by considering 
two cases, namely, 1st, that in which the card turned up is an 


Honour, and 2nd, that in which the card turned up is not an 
Honour. Thus we should have for the required probability 

_4 8 25 . 26 . 25 9^ 4^ 25 . 24 . 26 . 25 ^ 
13 ■ T * 51750 . 49 "*" 13 * 1 . 2 ' 51 . 50 . 49 . 48 ^ 

and this will be found equal to -^^ . 


De Moivi'e has two Corollaries, which form the chief part of 
his investigation respecting Whist. 
The first begins thus : 

From what we have said, it will not be difficult to solve this Case 
at Whisk; viz. which side has the best, of those who have viii of 
the Game, or of those who at the same time have ix? 

In order to which it will be necessary to premise the following 

1° That there is but 1 Chance in 8192 to get vii. by Triks. 

2° That there are 13 Chances in 8192 to get vi. 

3" That there are 78 Chances in 8192 to get v. 

4" That there are 286 Chances in 8192 to get iv. 

5° That there are 715 Chances in 8192 to get iii. 

6° That there are 1287 Chances in 8192 to get n. 

7" That there are 1716 Chances in 8192 to get i. 

All this will appear evident to those who can raise the Binomial 
a + b to its thirteenth power. 

But it must carefully be observed that the foregoing Chances ex- 
press the Probability of getting so many Points by Triks, and neither 
more nor less. 

De Moivre states his conclusion thus : 

From whence it follows that without considering whether the viii 
are Dealers or Eldest, there is one time with another the Odds of 
somewhat less than 7 to 5; and very nearly that of 25 to 18. 

The second Corollary contains tables of the number of chances 
for any assigned number of Trumps in any hand. De Moivre says, 

By the help of these Tables several useful Questions may be re- 
solved; as 1°. If it is asked, what is the Probability that the Dealer 
has precisely iii Trumps, besides the Trump Card ] The Answer, 

. rp . . 4662 
by Tab. i. is .^^^^ ; ... 


In tlie first edition there was only a brief notice of Whist, 
occupying scarcely more than a page. 

299. Problems LI. to LV. are on Piquet. The game is not 
described, but there is no difficulty in understanding the problems, 
which are easy examples of combinations. The following Remark 
occurs on page 186 ; it was not in the first edition : 

It may easily be perceived from tlie Solution of the preceding 
Problem, that the number of variations which there are in twelve 
Cards make it next to impossible to calculate some of the Probabili- 
ties relating to Piquet, such as that which results from the priority 
of Hand, or the Probabilities of a Pic, Kepic or Lurch j however not- 
withstanding that difficulty, one may from observations often repeated, 
nearly estimate what those Probabilities are in themselves, as will be 
proved in its place when we come to treat of the reasonable conjec- 
tures which may be deduced from Experiments; for which reason I 
shall set down some Observations of a Gentleman who has a very great 
degree of Skill and Experience in that Game, after which I shall make 
an application of them. 

The discussion of Piquet was briefer in the first than in the 
followinof editions. . 


•300. We will give the enunciation of Problem LVI. and the 
beginning of the solution. 

Problem LVI. Of Saving Clauses. 

A has 2 Chances to beat B^ and B has 1 chance to beat A ; but 
there is one Chance which intitlcs them both to withdraw their own 
Stake, which we suppose equal to s j to find the Gain of A. 


This Question tho' easy in itself, yet is brought in to caution Be- 
ginners against a Mistake which they might commit by imagining 
that the Case, which intitles each Man to recover his own Stake, needs 
not be regarded, and that it is the same thing as if it did not exist. 
This I mention so much more readily, that some people who have 
pretended gi-eat skill in these Speculations of Chance have themselves 
fallen into that error. 


This problem was not in the first edition. The gain of A 

. 1 

IS 75. 

301. Problem LVir, which was not in the first edition, is as 
follows : 

A and B playing together deposit £s apiece ; A lias 2 Chances to 
win s, and B 1 Chance to win 5, whereupon A tells B that he will 
play with him. upon an equality of Chance, if he B will set him 2s to I5, 
to which B assents : to find whether A has any advantage or disad- 
vantage by that Bargain. 

In the first case ^'s expectation is - s, and in the second, 


it is ^ 5 ; so that he gains ^ s by the bargain. 

802. We now arrive at one of the most important parts of 
De Moivre's work, namely, that which relates to the Duration of 
Play ; we will first give a full account of what is contained in the 
third edition of the Doctrine of Chances, and afterwards state how 
much of this was added to the investigations originally published 
in the De Mensura Sortis. 

De Moivre himself regarded his labours on this subject with 
the satisfaction which they justly merited ; he says in his 

When I first began to attempt the general Solution of the Problem 
concerning the Duration of Play, there was nothing extant that could 
give me any light into that Subject; for altho' Mr de Monmort^ in the 
first Edition of his Book, gives the Solution of this Problem, as limited 
to three Stakes to be won or lost, and farther limited by the Suppo- 
sition of an Equality of Skill between the Adventurers; yet he having 
given no Demonstration of his Solution, and the Demonstration when 
discovered being of very little use towards obtaining the general Solu- 
tion of the Problem, I was forced to try what my own Enquiry would 
lead me to, which having been attended with Success, the result of 
what I found was afterwards published in my Specimen before men- 

The Specimen is the Essay De Mensura Sortis. 


803. The general problem relating to the Duration of Play 
may be thus enunciated : suppose A to have m counters, and B 
to have n counters ; let their chances of winning in a single game 
be as a to Z> ; the loser in each game is to give a counter to his 
adversary : required the probability tliat when or before a certain 
number of games has been played, one of the players will have won 
all the counters of his adversary. It will be seen that the words 
in italics constitute the advance whi'ch this problem makes beyond 
the more simple one discussed in Art. 107. 

De Moivre's Problems LVIII. and Lix. amount to solving the 
problem of the Duration of Play for the case in which m and n 
are equal. 

After discussing some cases in which n = 2 or 3, De Moivi*e 
lays down a General Rule, thus : 

A General Rule for determining what Probability there is that 
the Play shall not be determined in a given number of Games. 

Let 71 be the number of Pieces of each Gamester. Let also n-hd 
be the number of Games given; raise a + h to the Power n, then cut off 
the two extream Terms, and multiply the remainder by aa + 2ab + hb : 
then cut off again the two Extreams, and multiply again the remaiiM^er 
by aa + 2ab + hb, still rejecting the two Extreams; and so on, makiog 

as many Multiplications as there are Units in ^d ; make the last Pro- 

duct the Numerator of a Fraction whose Denominator let be (a + b)"'^'\ 
and that Fraction will express tlie Probalnlity required, ; still ob- 
serving that if d be an odd number, you wj-ite d—1 in its room. 

For an example, De Moivre supposes n = 4<, d= 6. 

Raise a+h to the fourth power, and reject the extremes ; thus 
we have 4<a^b + MV + ^a¥. 

Multiply by a^ + 2ab + V^, and reject the extremes ; thus we 
have l^a'h' + 2^a%' + Ua^h\ 

Multiply by <^ + 2ah + W, and reject the extremes ; thus we 
have 48a'Z>' + Q%a%' + ^Mh\ 

Multiply by a^+2«& + Z>^ and reject the extremes; thus we 
have lUa%' + 232a'Z>'^ + l(j^a'h\ 

Thus the probability that the Play will not be ended in 
10 games is 



(a + by 

De Moivre leaves his readers to convince themselves of the 
accuracy of his rule ; and this is not difficult. 

De Moivre suggests that the work of multiplication may be 
abbreviated by omitting the a and h, and restoring them at the 
end ; this is what we now call the method of detached coefficients. 

304. The terms which are rejected in the process of the 
preceding Article will furnish an expression for the probability 
that the play ivill be ended in an assigned number of games. 
Thus if ?i = 4 and d = ^, this probability will be found to be 

a' + b' ^a'b + ^ab' l^a%'' -\-\^a%' 48a^6^ + 48a^^>^ 
{a-^by^ {a + bf "^ {a + hf "^ . {a-\-bf' * 

Now here we arrive at one of De Moi\T:e's important results ; 
he gives, luithout demonstj^ation, general formulae for determining 
those numerical coefficients which in the above example have the 
values 4, 14, 48. De Moivre's formulae amount to two laws, one 
connecting each coefficient with its predecessors, and one giving 
the value of each coefficient separately. We can make the laws 
most intelligible by demonstrating them. We start from a result 
given by Laplace. He shews, Theorie . . . des Prob., page 229, 
that the chance of A for winning precisely at the (n + 2x)*'* game 
is the coefficient of T"^^ in the expansion of 

( i + ^{i--^abf) r M - V(l - -^abt') r ' 

I 2 l^-j 2 J 

where it is supposed that a + b = 1. 

Now the denominator of the above expression is known to be 
equal to 

^ 1.2 [3 -t ... 

where c = abt^ ; see Differential Calculus, Chapter ix. 

170 . DE MOIVRE. 

We can tlius obtain by the ordinary doctrine of Series, a linear 
relation between the coefficient of f^^"" and the coefficients of the 
preceding powers of t, namely, r'^^^ ^""^^"^ ... This is De 
Moivre's first law; see his page 198. 

Again ; we may wiite the above fraction in the form 

JV" (1 + c"iY"^") ' 

, 1 + ^(1 _ 4^ahe) 
where N = --^ ; 


and then by expanding, we obtain 

The coefficient of f'' in N'" is known to be 

^j^n {n-{-.x-\-l) {n -{-x + 2) ... {n ■\- 2x — 1) ^ 

' X ' 

see Differential Calculus, Chapter ix. 

Similarly we get the coefficient of f^'' in N-'\ of i'^'*" in 
iV"^**, and so on. 

Thus we obtain the coefficient of f'"^^ in the expansion of the 
original expression. 

This is De Moivre's second law ; see his page 199. 

805. De Moivre's Problems LX. LXi. LXii. are simple ex- 
amples formed on Problems LVIII. and Lix. They are thus 
enunciated : 

LX. Supposing A and B to play together till such time as four 
Stakes are won or lost on either side ; what must be their proportion 
of Skill, otherwise what must be their proportion of Chances for win- 
ning any one Game assigned, to make it as probable that the Play will 
be ended in four Games as not? 

LXI. Supposing that A and B play till such time as four Stakes 
are won or lost : What must be their proportion of Skill to make it a 
Wager of three to one, that the Play will be ended in four Games % 

LXII. Su2:>posing that A and B play till such time as four Stakes 
are won or lost ; What must be their proportion of Skill to make it an 
equal Wager that the Play will be ended in six Games ? 


806. Problems LXiii. and LXiv. amount to the general enun- 
ciation we have given in Art. 303 ; so that the restriction that 
m and n are equal which was imposed in Problems LVIII. and 
Lix. is now removed. As before De Moivre states, tuithout de- 
monstration, two general laws, which we will now give. 

Laplace shews, T]ieorie...des Prob. page 228, that the chance 
of A for winning precisely at the {n + 2u?)*'^ game is the coefficient 
of f^'^'^ in the expansion of 

f 1 + V(l - 4c) ) " f 1 - V(l - 4c) 1 "^ 



1 9 9 

j 1 + ^(1 _ 4c) r"^'^ ( 1 - v(i - 4c) I '"^'* • 

Let s) — ^^ denoted by h \ then the fractional expression 

which multiplies a"^*" becomes by expansion, and striking out 2h 
from numerator and denominator, 

ay^-' m{m-V){m-2) /1\'""%2 w(772-l)(w-2)(m-3)(m-4) [ly^, 

. ^lY"--^"-^ , (m+^2)(m+^^-l)(m+?i-2) /l^""^"-",, , 
(^+^)(2J + g %) ^^+- 

We have to arrange the denominator according to powers of 
t, and to shew that it is equal to 

where 7 = m + n — 2. 

Now, as in Art. 30-A, we have 


1 + V(l - 4c) I" ^ 1 1 - V (l - 4c) r 

= l_,e + '-(p^8) ^,_ r(,-4)(r-o) ^3_^ __. 
and the left-hand member is equivalent to 


Differentiate both sides with respect to t observing that 


——-=:^aot. inns, 

^ 2 { r - '-^^ aU + ' ^' -f ^^ - ^^ (abtr -... 

Now put r = Z + 3 ; and we obtain the required result. 
Thus a linear relation can be obtained between the coefficients 
of successive powers of t. 

This is De Moivre's first law ; see his page 205. 

1 _l_ a/(1 — 4c) 
Again ; let iV= ^ ~ ; then the original expression 


'\Jni+n /-| m+n 7vr-2wt-2n\ 

= d'fN-'' (1 - c'"iV^"'"0 (1 - c"*^"^-'"^-'")"'- 
We may now proceed as in the latter part of Art. 304, to de- 
termine the coefficient of r"*"^"". 

The result will coincide with De Moivre's second law ; see his 
page 207. 

307. Problem LXV. is a particular case of the problem of 
Duration of Play ; m is now supposed infinite : in other words 
A has unlimited cajntal and we require his chance of ruining B in 
an assigned number of games. 

De Moivre solves this problem in two ways. We will here 
give his first solution with the first of the two examples which ac- 
company it. 


Supposing n to be the number of Stakes which A is to win of B^ 
and n + d the number of Games ; let on- 6 be raised to the Power whose 
Index is 7i + d; then if d be an odd number, take so many Terms of 

that Power as there are Units in — ^ — j take also so many of the 

Terms next following as have been taken already, but prefix to them 
in an inverted oi^der, the Coefficients of the preceding Terms. But if 
d be an even number, take so many Terms of the said Power as there 


are Units in-d+l; then take as many of tlie Terms next following 

as there are Units in ^ d, and prefix to them in an inverted order the 

Coefiicients of the preceding Terms, omitting the last of them; and 
those Terms taken all together will compose the Numerator of a Frac- 
tion expressing the Probability required, the Denominator of which 
Fraction ought to be {a + S)"^**. 

Example I. 

Supposing the number of Stakes, which A is to win, to be Three, 
and the given number of Games to be Ten; let a+h be raised to the 
tenth power, viz. a'' + lOa'h + ioa'bh + UOa' b' + 210a'b' + 252a'b' 
+ 210a'' 6' + 120a' 6' + 45aa&' + lOab' + b'". Then, by reason that n^3, 

and w + 6^=10, it follows that d is =7, and — ^r— = 4. Wherefore let 


the Four first Terms of the said Power be taken, viz. a^° + lOa^b 
+ 4:5a^bb + 120a''b^, and let the four Terms next following be taken 
likewise without regard to their Coefficients, then prefix to them in an 
inverted order, the Coefficients of the preceding Terms : thus the four 
Terms following with their new Coefficients will be 120a^b^ + 4:5a^b^ 
+ 10a^b^+la^b^. Then the Probability which ^ has of winning three 
Stakes of £ in ten Games or sooner, will be expressed by the following 

a'o ^ iQ^,9 J ^ 45^8^5 ^ UOa'b^ + UOa'b' + iSa'b' + lOa'b' + a'b' 

' {a + by ' 

which in the Case of an Equality of Skill between A and B will be 

A w 352 11 

reducea to r— --r- or ^r^ . 
1024 32 

808. In De Moivre's solution there is no difficulty in seeing 
the origin of his fii'st set of terms, but that of the second set of 
terms is not so immediately obvious. We will take his example, 
and account for the last four terms. 

The last term is a^b\ There is only one way in which ^'s 
capital may be exhausted while A wins only three games ; namely, 
A must win the first three games. 

The next term is 10a'b\ There are ten ways in which B's 
capital may be exhausted while A wins only four games. For let 
there be ten places ; put h in any one of the first three places, 

17-i BE MOIVKE. 

and fill up the remaining places with the letters aaaahlhhh in this 
order ;- or put a in any one of the last seven places, and fill up the 
remaining places with the letters aaahbhhhh in this order ; we thus 
obtain the ten admissible cases. 

The next term is 4t5a%^. There are forty -five ways in which 
i?'s capital may be exhausted while A wins only five games. 
For let there be ten places. Take any two of the first three 
places and put h in each, and fill up the remaining places with 
the letters aaaaabhh in this order. Or take any two of the 
last seven places and put a in each, and fill up the remaining 
places with the letters aaahhhhh in this order. Or put h in any 
one of the first three places and a in any one of the last seven ; 
and fill up the remaining places with the letters aaaabhhh in this 
order. On the whole we shall obtain a number equal to the num- 
ber of combinations of 10 things taken 2 at a time. The following 
is the general result : suppose we have to arrange r letters a and 
s letters h, so that in each arrangement there shall be n more 
of the letters a than of the letters h before we have gone through 
the arrangement ; then if r is less than s + n the number of 
different arrangements is the same as the number of combina- 
tions of T -\-s things taken r — w at a time. For example, let 
r = 6, s = 4, w = 3 ; then the number of different arrangements is 

10 X 9 X 8 ,, , . ^^_ 

— — rr . that IS 120. 


The result which we have here noticed was obtained by Mont- 
mort, but in a very unsatisfactory manner : see Art. 182. 

De Moivre's first solution of his Problem LXV. is based on the 
same principles as Montmort's solution of the general problem 
of the Duration of Play. 

809. De Moivre's second solution of his Problem LXV. con- 
sists of a formula which he gives without demonstration. Let us 
return to the expression in Ai't. 306, and suppose m infinite. Then 
the chance of A for winning precisely at the (n + 2ic)*'' game is 
the coefficient of f^^"" in the expansion of 

(l + V(i-4c) 

n > 


that IS a -^ — \ — ^^ a^ ; 

[x ' 

see Art.. 804. 

The chance of A for winning at or he/ore the (n -f 2^)*^' game 
is therefore 

a- I l+nah + '-^^-^^^ a'lf -\- ... 

niii^-x + 1) (?i + a? + 2) ... {7i^2x-l) ,-,, 
+ — ^ ^^ ^ ^^ -' ah 


Laplace, T]ieorie...des Proh., page 235. 

310. De Moivre says with respect to his Problem LXV, 

In the first attempt that I had ever made towards solving tlie 
general Problem of the Duration of Play, which was in the year 1708, 
I began with the Solution of this lxv^^ Problem, well knowing that 
it might be a Foundation for what I farther wanted, since which time, 
by a due repetition of it, I solved the main Problem : but as I found 
afterwards a nearer way to it, I barely published in my first Essay on 
those mattei'S, what seemed to me most simple and elegant, still pre- 
serving this Problem by me in order to be published when I should 
think it proper. 

De Moivre goes on to speak of the investigations of Montmort 
and Nicolas Bernoulli, in words which we have akeady quoted ; see 
Art. 181. 

311. Dr L. Oettinger on pages 187, 188 of his work entitled 
Die Wahrscheinlichkeits-Rechnung, Berlin, 1852, objects to some 
of the results which are obtained by De Moivre and Laplace. 

Dr Oettinger seems to intimate that in the formula, which we 
have given at the end of Art. 309, Laplace has omitted to lay 
down the condition that A has an unlimited capital ; but Laplace 
has distinctly introduced this condition on his page 234. 

Again, speaking of De Moivre's solution of his Problem LXiv. 
Dr Oettinger says, Er erhiilt das namliche unhaltbare Resultat, 
welches Laplace nach ihm aufstellte. 

But there is no foundation for this remark ; De Moivre and 


Laplace are correct. The misapprehension may have arisen from 
reading only a part of De Moivre's page 205, and so assuming a 
law of a series to hold universally, which he distinctly says breaks 
off after a certain number of terms. 

The just reputation of Dr Oettinger renders it necessary for me 
to notice his criticisms, and to record my dissent from them. 

812. De Moivre's Problems Lxvi. and LXVii. are easy deduc- 
tions from his preceding results ; they are thus enunciated : 

LXVI. To find what Probability there is that in a given number 
of Games A may be a winner of a certain number q of Stakes, and at 
some other time B may likewise be winner of the number p of Stakes, 
so that both circumstances may happen. 

LXVII. To find what Probability there is, that in a given number 
of Games A may win the number q of Stakes ; with this farther con- 
dition, that £ during that whole number of Games may never have 
been winner of the number j^ of Stakes. 

813. De Moivre now proceeds to express his results relating 
to the Duration of Play in another form. He says, page 215, 

The Pules hitherto given for the Solution of Problems relating to 
the Duration of Play are easily practicable, if the number of Games 
given is but small ; but if that number is large, the work will be very 
tedious, and sometimes swell to that degree as to be in some manner 
impracticable : to remedy which inconveniency, I shall here give an 
Extract of a paper by me produced before the Poyal Society, wherein 
was contained a Method of solving very expeditiously the chief Pro- 
blems relating to that matter, by the help of a Table of Sines, of which 
I had before given a hint in the first Edition of my Doctrine of Chances, 
pag. 149, and 150. 

The paper produced before the Poyal Society does not appear 
to have been published in the Philosophical Transactions; pro- 
bably we have the substance of it in the Docty^ine of Chances. 

De Moivre proceeds according to the announcement in the 
above extract, to express his results relating to the Duration of 
Play by the help of Trigonometrical Tables; in Problem LXVIII. he 
supposes the players to have equal skill, and in Problem LXix. he 
supposes them to have unequal skill. 


The demonstrations of the formulae are to be found in the Mis- 
cellanea Analytica, pages 76 — 83, and in the Doctrine of Chances, 
pages 230 — 234. De Moivre supposes the players to start with the 
same number of counters ; but he says on page 83 of the Miscel- 
lanea Analytica, that solutions similar but somewhat more complex 
could be given for the case in which the original numbers of 
counters were different. This has been effected by Laplace in his 
discussion of the whole problem. 

314. De Moivre's own demonstrations depend on his doctrine 
of Recurring Series ; by this doctrine De Moivre could effect what 
we should now call the integration of a linear equation in Finite 
Differences : the equation in this case is that furnished by the first 
of the two laws which we have explained in Arts. 304, 306. Cer- 
tain trigonometrical formulae are also required ; see Miscellanea 
Analytica, page 78. One of these, De Moivre says, constat ex 
-^quationibus ad circulum vulgo notis ; the following is the pro- 
perty : in elementary works on Trigonometry we have an expan- 
sion of cos 7x6 in descending powers of cos 6 ; now cos nO vanishes 

when nO is any odd multiple of -^ , and therefore the equivalent ex- 

pansion must also vanish. The other formulae which De Moivre 
uses are in fact deductions from the general theorem which is 
called De Moivre's property of the Circle; they are as follows ; 


let a = ^7- , then we have 

1 = 2""^ sin a sin 3a sin 5a ... sin (2/ia — a) ; 

also if n be even we have 

cos n(^ = 2""^ [sin^ a — sin^ </>} {sin^ 3a — sin^ 0} . . . 

. . . { sin^ {n — 3) a — sin^ <^} { sin^ (ti — 1) a — sin^ 0} : 

see Plane Trigonometry, Chap, xxiii. 

De Moivre uses the first of these formulae ; and also a formula 
which may be deduced from the second by differentiating with 
respect to (f), and after differentiation putting </> equal to a, or 
3a, or 5a, ... 

315. De Moivre applies his results respecting the Duration 



of Play to test the value of an approximation proposed by Mont- 
mort ; we have already referred to this point in Art. 184. 

316. It remains to trace the history of De Moivre's investi- 
gations on this subject. 

The memoir De Mensura Sortis contains the following Pro- 
blems out of those which appear in the Doctrine of Chances, 
LVIII, LX, LXII, LXIII, the first solution of LXV, LXVI. The first 
edition of the Doctrine of Chances contains all that the third does, 
except the Problems LXVIII. and LXix ; these were added in the 
second edition. As we proceed with our history we shall find 
that the subject engaged the attention of Lagrange and Laplace, 
the latter of whom has embodied the researches of his prede- 
cessors in the Theorie...des Proh. pages 225 — 238. 

317. With one slight exception noticed in Art. 322, the re- 
mainder of the Doctrine of Chances was not in the first edition but 
was added in the second edition. 

318. The pages 220 — 229 of the Doctrine of Chances, form 
a digression on a subject, which is one of De Moivre's most 
valuable contributions to mathematics, namely that of Recurring 
Series. He says, page 220, 

The E-eader may have perceived that the Sohition of several Pro- 
blems relating to Chance depends upon the Summation of Series; I 
have, as occasion has offered, given the Method of summing them up; 
but as there are others that may occur, I think it necessary to give 
a summary Yiew of what is most requisite to be known in this matter; 
desiring the Reader to excuse me, if I do not give the Demonstrations, 
which would swell this Tract too much; especially considering that I 
have already given them in my Miscellanea Analytica. 

319. These pages of the Doctrine of Chances will not present 
any difficulty to a student who is acquainted with the subject of 
Recurring Series, as it is now explained in works on Algebra ; 
De Moivre however gives some propositions which are not usually 
reproduced in the present day. 

320. One theorem may be noticed which is enunciated by 
De Moivre, on his page 224, and also on page 167 of the Miscellanea 


The general term of the expansion of (1 — r)~^ in powers of 

r is ^-^ '" r^ ; the sum of the first n terms of 

the expansion is equivalent to the following expression 

^ ^ 1.2 ^ ^ n—\ i^J— 1 


This may be easily shewn to be true when n= 1, and then, 
by induction, it may be shewn to be generally true. For 

r«+i = r"|l-(l-r)}, 
so that 

r-^^ + (^ + 1) r"^^ (1 - r) + ^'' "^ ^ ^l "^ ^^ r""^^ (1 _ r)^ + . . . 
= r« |l _ (1 _,.)} +(«+!) r» (1 - r) |l - (1 - r)} 

n{n-\-V\ \n + p— 2 

= ^" + ^^" (1 -r) + ""^V ^'" (1 -0'+ • • • + ^ Ti 1 ''" (1 - ^')' 

^ ^ l.z ^ ^ ?i — Iw — 1 ^ 


^ ,.« (1 _ ^)p. 

\n\j) — 1 

Thus the additional term obtained by changing oi into n + 1 

\n -\-p— 1 

is I — , r- r" as it should be ; so that if De Moivre's theorem is 

\np—\. ' 

true for any value of ?2, it is true when n is changed into ii-\-l. 

321. Another theorem may be noticed ; it is enunciated by 
De Moivre on his page 229. Having given the scales of relation 
of two Recurring Series, it is required to find the scale of relation 
of the Series arising from the product of corresponding terms. 

For example, let w^^r" be the general term in the expansion 
according to powers of r of a proper Algebraical fraction of which 
the denominator is 1 —fr 4- gr'^ ; and let t'„a" be the general term 
in the expansion according to powers of a of a proper Algebraical 


180 I>E MOIVRE. 

fraction of which the denominator is 1 - ma + pa^. We have 
to find the scale of relation of the Series of which the general 

term is u^Vn {ro)'\ 

We know by the ordinary theory of decomposing Recurring 
Series into Geometrical Progressions that 

where p^ and p^ are the reciprocals of the roots of the equation 

and a^ and a^ are the reciprocals of the roots of the equation 

1 —ina -\-pa^ = ; 

and R^, R^, A^, A^ are certain constants. 

Thus u^v^ = R^A^ (p/^X + ^1^2 {pi^:T 

this shews that the required scale of relation will involve four 
terms besides unity. The four quantities p^a^, p^a^, p^a^, p^7^ will 
be the reciprocals of the roots of the equation in z which is found 
by eliminating r and a from 

1 —fr + gr"^ = 0, 1 — ma + pa^ = 0, ra — z\ 

this equation therefore is 

1 -fmz + {pP + gm^ — 2^p) z^ —fgmjpz^ -^-g^fz^ — 0. 

Thus we have determined the required scale of relation ; for 
the denominator of the fraction which by expansion produces 
w„t;„ (ra)" as its general term will be 

1 —fmra + {pf^+gm^ — ^gjp) ^V — fgmj^r^d ■\- g^j^r^a^. 

De Moivre adds, page 229, 

But it is very observable, that if one of the differential Scales be the 
Binomial \ — a raised to any Power, it will be sufficient to raise the other 
differential Scale to that Power, only substituting ar for ?•, or leaving 
the Powers of r as they are, if a be restrained to Unity; and that 
Power of the other differential Scale will constitute the differential 
Scale required. 


This is very easily demonstrated. For suppose that one scale 
of relation is (1 — of ; then by forming the ]3roduct of the cor- 
responding terms of the two Recurring Series, we obtain for the 
general term 

=== a" {Rj>: + E,p: + B,p: +...] 


Tliis shews that the general term will be the coefficient of 
r" in the expansion of 

(l-rapy {1-rap;)' (1 - rap^y '" ' 

and by bringing these fractions to a common denominator, we 
obtain De Moivre's result. 

822. De Moivre applies his theory of Recurring Series to 
demonstrate his results relating to the Duration of Play, as we 
have already intimated in Art. 313 ; and to illustrate still further 
the use of the theory he takes two other problems respecting j)lay. 
These problems are thus enunciated : 

Lxx. M and N, whose proportion of Chances to win one Game 
are respectively as a to h, resolve to play together till one or the other 
has lost 4 Stakes: two Standers by, j5 and S, concern themselves in the 
Play, R takes the side of M, and S of N, and agree betwixt them, that R 
shall set to S, the sum L to the sum G on the first Game, 2L to '2G on 
the second, 3Z to ?>G on the third, 4Z to AG on the fourth, and in case 
the Play be not then concluded, 5L to 5G on the fifth, and so increasing 
perpetually in Arithmetic Progression the Sums which they are to set 
to one another, as long as M and iV play; yet with this farther con- 
dition, that the Sums, set down by them R and aS', shall at the end of 
each Game be taken up by the Winner, and not left upon the Table to 
be taken up at once upon the Conclusion of the Play: it is demanded 
how the Gain of R is to be estimated before the Play begins. 

Lxxi. If M and iV, whose number of Chances to win one Game 
are respectively as a to h, play together till four Stakes are won or lost 
on either side ; and that at the same time, R and S whose number of 
Chances to win one Game are respectively as c to d, play also together 
till five Stakes are won or lost on either side ; what is the Probability 
that the Play between M and iV will be ended in fewer Games, than the 
Play between R and S. 


The particular case of Problem LXXI, in which a = h, and 
c = d, was given in the first edition of the Doctrine of Chances, 
13age 152. 

823. Problems LXXII. and LXXIII. are important ; it will be 
sufficient to enunciate the latter. 

A and B playing together, and having a different number of Chances 
to win one Game, which number of Chances I suppose to be respectively 
as a to h, engage themselves to a Sj)ectator S, that after a certain, number 
of Games is over, A shall give him as many Pieces as he wins Games, 

over and above ^ n, and B as many as he wins Games, over and above 

the number n ; to find the Expectation of S. 

Problem LXXII. is a particular case of Problem LXXIII. obtained 
by supposing a and h to be equal 

These two problems first appeared in the Miscellanea Ana- 
lytica, pages 99 — 101. We there find the following notice respect- 
ing Problem LXXII : 

Cum aliquando labente Anno 1721, Yir Clarissimus Alex. Cuming 
Eq. Au. Pegi?e Societatis Socius, quaestionem infra subjectam mihi 
proposuisset, solutionem problematis ei postero die tradideram. 

After giving the solution De Moivre proceeds to Problem LXXIII. 
which he thus introduces : 

Eodem procedendi modo, solutum fuerat Problema sequens ab eodem 
CI. viro etiam propositum, ejusdem generis ac superius sed multo latins 

We will give a solution of Problem LXXIII ; De Moivre in the 
Doctrine of Chances merely states the result. 

Let n = c {a-\-h) ', consider the expectation of 8 so far as it 

depends on A. The chance that A will win all the games is 


ia + hy 

- , and in this case he gives ch to S. The chance that A will 


win n—1 games is 7 r-r , and in this case he gives cl — l to S. 

And so on. 

DE MOIVRE. 18.3 

Thus we have to sum the series 

a%c + ndr-'l {he - 1) + !?L^LdO ^-252 (^c - 2) + . . . , 

the series extending so long as the terms in brackets are positive. 
"We have 

a%c - noT-'h = a''~'h (ac -n)=- aJ'-'b he ; 
thus the first two terms amount to 


f2, (fi 1^ 

Now combine this with ^- — -~ a''~%^2 ; we ^et 

1.2 > & 

(n - 1) a'^-'h' (ac - 7i), that is - (?i - 1) a'^-'h'hc ; 

thus the first tJu^ee terms amount to 


This process may be carried on for any number of terms ; and 
we shall thus obtain for the sum of he terms 

(n-l)(n-2) (n-ic + l) ^,.-^,,...j^_ 
\oc — l 

This may be expressed thus 


n I he I ae 


which is equivalent to De Moivre's result. The expectation of S 
from B will be found to be the same as it is from A. 

82-i. When the chances of A and B for winning a single game 
are in the proportion of a to & we know, from Bernoulli's theorem, 
that there is a high probability that in a large number of trials the 
number of games won by A and B respectively will be nearly in 
the ratio of a to h. Accordingly De Moivre passes naturally from 
his Problem Lxxiii. to investigations which in fact amount to what 
we have called the inverse use of Bernoulli's theorem ; see 
Art. 125. De Moivre says, 

184 I>E MOIVRE. 

...I'll take the liberty to say, tliat tliis is tlie hardest Problem that 
can be projDosed on the Subject of Chance, for which reason I have re- 
served it for the last, but I hope to be forgiven if my Solution is not 
fitted to the capacity of all Headers; however I shall derive from it 
some Conclusions that may be of use to every body : in order thereto, 
I shall here translate a Paper of mine which was printed November 12, 
1733, and communicated to some Friends, but never yet made public, 
reserving to myself the right of enlarging my own Thoughts, as occasion 
shall require. 

Then follows a section entitled A Method of a2yproximating the 
Sum of the Terms of the Bmomial (a -1- b)" expanded into a Series, 
from lohence are deduced some practical Rules to estimate the 
Degree of Assent which is to he given to Experiments. This section 
occupies pages 243 — 254 of the Doctrine of Chances; we shall find 
it convenient to postpone our notice of it until we examine the 
Miscellanea Analytica. 

325. De Moivre's Problem LXXIV. is thus enunciated : 

To find the Probability of throwing a Chance assigned a given 
' number of times without intermission, in any given number of Trials. 

It was introduced in the second edition, page 243, in the fol- 
lowing terms : 

When I was just concluding this Work, the following Problem was 
mentioned to me as very difficult, for which reason I have considered it 
with a particular attention. 

De Moivre does not demonstrate his results for this problem ; 
we will solve the problem in the modern way. 

Let a denote the chance for the event in a single trial, h the 
chance against it ; let n be the number of trials, p the nvimber of 
times without intermission for which the event is required to hap- 
pen. We shall speak of this as a run of p. 

Let Un denote the probability of having the required run of ^? 
in n trials ; then 

«^,i+i = y-n + (1 - '^fn-j^ 'bdF : 

for in n + 1 trials we have all the favourable cases which we have 
in n trials, and some more, namely those in which after having 
failed in n—p trials, we fail in the (n— ^? + l)"' trial, and then 
have a run of p. 


Let Un=l —Vn, and substitute in the equation ; thus 
The Generating Function of v^ will therefore be 

where (f) is an arbitrary function of t which involves no powers 
of t higher than f. 

The Generating Function of w„ is therefore 

1 </>© . 

1-^ i-t + hd'r'' 

we may denote this by 


{1-t) {\-t + ha''r')' 

where -y^r (t) is an arbitrary function of t which involves no powers 
of t higher than f^^. Now it is obvious that w„ = if n be less 
than J), also u^ = a^, and Up^_^ = a^ + ha^. 

Hence we find that 
so that the Generating Function of u„ is 

(1 - t) {1 - t -{- haH'"-') ' 

The coefficient of f in the expansion of this function will 
therefore be obtained by expanding 

a^ (1 - at) 

i-t + loFr^ ' 

and taking the coefficients of all the powers of t up to that of 
f~^ inclusive. 

It may be shewn that De Moivre's result agi'ees with this after 
allowing for a slight mistake. He says we must divide unity by 
\—x — ax^ — a^x^ — ... — a^~'^x^, take n—jp + 1 terms of the series, 

multiply by ^^ , and finally put x = j . The mistake here 

we ou^lit to read 7- . De Moivre is correct in an example which 


is that in the series 1 - a?- aa?^-aV - ... -a^~V instead of a 


he gives on his page 255. Let j =Cy then according to De Moivre's 

rule corrected we have to expand 

1 a^ , . 1 — ex c? 


\ — X 

\ — cx 

This will be seen to agree with our result remembering that we 
took a^h = \. 

De Moivre himself on his page 256 practically gives this form 
to his result by putting 

\ — c^ d^ 

1 — X — i for 1 —x^cx"^ — c^ x^ — . . . — (f ^x^. 

I — ex 

De Moivre gives without demonstration on his page 259 an 
approximate rule for determining the number of trials which must 
be made in order to render the chance of a run of _p equal to 
one half. 

De Moivre's Problem LXXiv. has been extended by Condorcet, 
Essai...de V Analyse... pages 73 — 86, and by Laplace, Theorie...des 
Frob. pages 247 — 253. 

326. De Moivre's pages 261 — 328 are devoted to Annuities on 
Lives; an Appendix finishes the book, occupying pages 329 — 348 : 
this also relates principally to annuities, but it contains a few notes 
on the subject of Probability. As we have already stated in 
Art. 53, we do not profess to give an account of the investigations 
relating to mortality and life insurance. 

We may remark that there is an Italian translation of De 
Moivre's treatise on Annuities, with notes and additions ; the title 
is La Dottrina degli Azzardi...de Ahramo Moivre: Trasportata 
dalV Idionia Inglese,...dal Padre Don Roberto Gaeta...sotto Vassis- 
tenza del Padre Don Gregorio Fontana...In Milano 1776. This 
translation does not discuss the general Theory of Probability, but 
only annuities on lives and similar subjects. 


In the Advertisement to the second edition of the Doctrine of 
Chances, page xiii, De Moiwe says, 

There is in the World a Gentleman of an older Date, who in the year 
1726 did assure the Public that he could calculate the Values of Lives if 
he would, but that he would not, . . . 

De Moivre proceeds to make some sarcastic remarks ; a manu- 
script note in my copy says that the person here meant was 
"John Smart of Guildhall, who in that year published Tables 
of Interest, Discount, Annuities, &c. 4to." 

327. "We have now to notice De Moivre's work entitled Mis- 
cellanea Analytica de Seriehus et Quadratmns...Ijondoii, 1730. 

This is a quarto volume containing 250 pages, a page of Errata, 
a Supplement of 22 pages, and two additional pages of Errata; 
besides the title page, dedication, preface, index, and list of sub- 
scribers to the work. 

We have already had occasion to refer to the Miscellanea 
Analytica as supplying matter bearing on our subject; we now 
however proceed to examine a section of the work which is entirely 
devoted to controversy between Montmort and De Moivre. This 
section is entitled Responsio ad quasdam Criminationes ; it occu- 
pies pages 146 — 229, and is divided into seven Chaj)ters. 

328. In the first Chapter the design of the section is ex- 
plained. De Moivre relates the history of the ]3^iblication of 
Montmort's first edition, of the memoir De Mensura Sor^tis, and 
of Montmort's second edition. De Moi\Te sent a copy of the De 
Mensura Sortis to Montmort, who gave his opinion of the memoir 
in a letter to Nicolas Bernoulli, which was published in the second 
edition of Montmort's book; see Art. 221. De Moivre states briefly 
the animadversions of Montmort, distributing them under nine 

The publication of Montmort's second edition however does 
not seem to have produced any quarrel between him and De 
Moivre; the latter returned his thanks for the present of a copy 
of the work, and after this a frequent interchange of letters 
took place between the two mathematicians. In 1715 Montmort 
visited England, and was introduced to Newton and other dis- 


tingiilshed men ; he was also admitted as a member of the Koyal 
Society. De Moivre sent to Montmort a copy of the Doctrine of 
Chances when it was pubKshed, and about two years afterwards 
Montmort died. 

De Moivre quotes the words of Fontenelle which we have 
already given in Art. 136, and intimates that these words 
induced him to undertake a comparison between his own labours 
and those of Montmort, in order to vindicate his own claims. As 
the Doctrine of Chances was written in English it was not readily 
accessible to all who would take an interest in the dispute; and 
this led De Moivre to devote a section to the subject in his Mis- 
cellanea Analytica. 

329. The second Chapter of the Responsio... is entitled De 
Methodo Diferentiarum, in qua exhihetur Solutio Stirlingiana de 
media Coefficiente Binomii. The general object is to shew that 
in the summation of series De Moivre had no need for any of 
Montmort's investigations. De Moivre begins by referring to a 
certain theorem which we have noticed in Art. 152; he gives some 
examples of the use of this theorem. He also adverts to other 
methods of summation. 

Montmort had arrived at a very general result in the summa- 
tion of series. Suppose u\'^ to denote the n^^ term of a series, 
where u^ is such that A'^w^ is zero, ni being any positive integer ; 
then Montmort had succeeded in summing any assigned number 
of terms of the series. De Moivre shews that the result can be 
easily obtained by the method of Differences, that is by the method 
which we have explained in Art. 151. 

The investigations by Montmort on the summation of series to 
which De Moivre refers were published in Vol. xxx. of the Philo- 
sophical Transactions, 171 7. 

This Chapter of the Responsio,.. gives some interesting details 
respecting Stirling's Theorem including a letter from Stirling 

330. The third Chapter of the Responsio... is entitled De Me- 
thodo Comhinatio7ium ; the fourth De Permutationibus ; the fifth 
Combinationes et Permutationes idterius consideratce : these Chap- 


ters consist substantially of translations of portions of the DoctHne 
of Chances, and so do not call for any remark. The sixth Chapter 
is entitled De Kumero PiDictorum in Tesseris; it relates entirely 
to the formula of which we have given the history in Art. 149. 

331. The seventh Chapter of the Responsio... is entitled Solu- 
tiones variorum Prohlematum ad Sortem spectantium. This Chapter 
gives the solutions of nine problems in Chances. The first eight 
of these are in the Doctrine of Chances ; nothing of importance is 
added in the Miscellanea Analytica, except in two cases. The first 
of these additions is of some historical interest. Suppose we take 
an example of the Binomial Theorem, as {p + qY', one term w^ill 
be 28p^q^: then De Moivre says, page 218, 

...at fortasse nesciveram hujus termini coefficientem, nimiruni 28, 
designaturam numerum permutationuni quas literse ^9, p, p, p, p, p, q, q, 
productum /)^ q' constituentes subire possint ; immb vero, hoc jam din 
mihi erat exploratum, etenim ego fortasse primus omnium detexi co- 
efficientes annexas productis Binomii, vel Multinomii cujuscunque, id 
denotare quotenis variationibus literse producti positiones suas inter se 
permuteut: sed utrum illud facile fuerit ad inveniendum, j)ostquani 

lex coefficientium ex productis continuis :r- x — ^r— x —= — x (tc. 

1 z o 4 

jam perspecta esset, aut quisquam ante me hoc ipsum detexerit, ad rem 

prassentem non magni interest, cum id monere suffecerit banc proprie- 

tatem Coefficientium a me assertam fuisse et demonstratam in Actis FJd- 

losophicis Anno 1697 impressis. 

The second addition relates to Problem XLix. of the Doctrine 
of Chances; some easy details relating to a maximum value are 
not given there which may be found in the Miscellanea Analytica, 
pages 223, 224. 

332. The ninth problem in the seventh Chapter of the Re- 
sponsio ... is to find the ratio of the sum of the largest p terms 
in the expansion of (1 + 1)" to the sum of all the terms ; p being 
an odd number and 7i an even number. De Moivre expresses 
this ratio in terms of the chances of certain events, for which 
chances he had already obtained formulae. This mode of ex- 
pressing the ratio is not given in the Doctrine of Chances, being 
rendered unnecessary by the application of Stirling's Theorem ; 

190 DE moivrp:. 

but it involves an interesting fact in approximation, and we will 
therefore explain it. 

Suppose two players A and B of equal skill ; let A have an 
infinite number of counters, and B have the number j^- Let 
(j) [n,p) denote the chance that B will be ruined in n games. Then 
the required ratio is 1 — (/) (ii, p) ; this follows from the first form 
of solution of Problem LXV; see Art. 307. Again, suppose that 
each of the players starts with p counters ; and let -v/r [n, p) then 
denote the chance that B will be ruined in 7i games ; similarly if 
each starts with Zp counters let -v/r {71, Sp) denote the chance that 
B will be ruined in n games ; and so on. Then De Moivre says 
that approximately 

^ (??, p) = 'f (n, p)+'^ (n, Sp), 

and still more approximately 

The closeness of the approximation will depend on n being 
large, and p being only a moderate fraction of n. 

These results follow from the formulse given on pages 199 
and 210 of the Doctrine of Chances... The second term of 
T^r {n, p) is negative, and is numerically equal to the first term 
of A|r {n, Sj)), and so is cancelled ; similarly the third term of 
'ylr[n,p) is cancelled by the first of — 'sfr [n, 5p), and the fourth 
term of ^fr (n, p) by the first of -v/r (/z, 7p). The terms which do 
not mutually cancel, and which we therefore neglect, involve 
fewer factors than that which we retain, and are thus com- 
paratively small. 

333. We now proceed to notice the Supplement to the Mis- 
cellanea Analytica. The investigations of problems in Chances 
had led mathematicians to consider the approximate calculation 
of the coefficients in the Binomial Theorem ; and as we shall now 
see, the consequence was the discovery of one of the most striking 
results in mathematics. The Supplement commences thus : 

Aliquot post diebus qiiam Liber qui inscribitur, Miscellanea Analy- 
tica, in lucem prodiisset, Doctissimus Stlrlingius me liteiis admonuit 
Tabulam ibi a me exhibitam de summis Logarithmorum, non satis aii- 
toritatis habere ad ea firmanda quse in speculatione nitercntur, utpote 

DE MO IV RE. 191 

cui Tabulae subesset error perpetuus in quinta quaque figura decimali 
sum mar um : quae cum pro bumauitate sua monuisset, bis subjunxit 
seriem celerrime convergentem, cujus ope summse logaritbmorum tot 
numerorum naturalium quot quis sumere voluerit obtineri possent ; 
res autem. sic exposita fuerat. 

Then follows a Theorem which is not quite coincident in 
form with what we now usually call Stirling's Theorem, but is 
practically equivalent to it. De Moivre gives his own investiga- 
tion of the subject, and arrives at the following result : 

log 2 + log 3 + log 4 + ... + log (m — 1) 

= (m-2)logm-m + ^^-3g^3+j260;^.-l^ 
, 1111 

12 ' 360 1260 ' 1680 

With respect to the series in the last line, De Moivre says 
on page 9, of the Supplement to the Miscellanea A nalytica . . . quae 
satis commode convergit in principle, post terminos quinque pri- 
mes convergentiam amittit, quam tamen postea recuperat... The 
last four words involve an error, for the series is divergent, 
as we know from the nature of Bernoulli's Numbers. But De 
Moivre by using a result which Stirling had already obtained, 


arrived at the. conclusion that the series 1 — :r^ + -rr^ — =-^— r + ... 

12 360 1260 

is equal to - log 27r ; and thus the theorem is deduced which 

we now call Stirling's Theorem. See Miscellanea Analytica, 
page 170, Supplement, page 10. 

334. De Moivre proceeds in the Siqyplement to the Miscellanea 
Analytica to obtain an approximate value of the middle coefficient 
of a Binomial expansion, that is of the expression 

(W2+1) (m+2)... 2m 
m [m — 1) ... 1 

He expends nearly two pages in arriving at the result, which 


he might have obtained immediately by putting the proposed ex- 

I 2)n 
pression in the equivalent form — - . 

De Moivre then gives the general theorem for the approximate 
summation of the series 

1 1 , 1 , 1 , 

We have already noticed his use of a particular case of this 
summation in Art. 276. 

De Moivre does not demonstrate the theorem ; it is of course 

included in the wellknown result to which Euler's name is usually 


^ _ r , 1 11 du^ 1 1 d^u^ 

See Novi Coram.... Petrop. Vol. xiv. part 1, page 137 ; 1770. 
The theorem however is also to be found in Maclaurin's 
Treatise of Fluxions, 1742, page 673. 

335. We return to the Doctrine of Chances, to notice what is 
given in its pages 243 — 254 ; see Art. 324. 

In these pages De Moivre begins by adverting to the theorem 

obtained by Stirling and himself He deduces from this the 

following result : suppose 7i to be a very large number, then the 

/I 1\" 
logarithm of the ratio which a term of I ^ + ^ ) , distant from 

the middle term by the interval I, bears to the middle term, 

is approximately . 

This enables him to obtain an approximate value of the sum of 
the I terms which immediately precede or follow the middle term. 
Hence he can estimate the numerical values of certain chances. 
For example, let n = 3600 : then, supposing that it is an even 
chance for the happening or failing of an event in a single trial, 
De Moivre finds that the chance is '682688 that in 3600 trials, 
the number of times in which the event happens, will lie between 
1800 + 30 and 1800-30. 


Thus by the aid of Stirling's Theorem the value of Bernoulli's 
Theorem is largely increased. 

De Moivre adverts to the controversy between Nicolas Ber- 
noulli and Dr Arbuthnot, respecting the inferences to be drawn 
from the observed fact of the nearly constant ratio of the number 
of births of boys to the number of births of girls ; see Art. 223. 
De Moivre shews that Nicolas Bernoulli's remarks were not re- 
levant to the argument really advanced by Dr Arbuthnot. 

886. Thus we have seen that the principal contributions to 
our subject from De Moivre are his investigations respecting the 
Duration of Play, his Theory of Recurring Series, and his extension 
of the value of Bernoulli's Theorem by the aid of Stirling's Theorem. 
Our obligations to De Moivre would have been still gi-eater if he 
had not concealed the demonstrations of the important results 
which we have noticed in Art. 306 ; but it will not be doubted 
that the Theory of Probability owes more to him than to any 
other mathematician, with the sole exception of Laplace. 



Between the years 1700 and 1750. 

837. The present Chapter will contain notices of various con- 
tributions to our subject which were made between the years 1700 
and 1750. 

338. The first work which claims our attention is the essay by 
Nicolas Bernoulli, to which we have already alluded in Art. 72 ; it 
is entitled Specimina Artis conjectandi, ad quwstiones Juris ap- 
plicatce. This is stated to have been published at Basle in 1709; 
see Gouraud, page STG. 

It is reprinted in the fourth volume of the Act. Eruditorum.., 
Supplementa, 1711, where it occupies pages 159 — 170. Allusion 
is made to the essay in the volume which we have cited in Art. 59, 
pages 842, 844, 846. 

839. In this essay Nicolas Bernoulli professes to apply mathe- 
matical calculations to various questions, principally relating to the 
probability of human life. He takes for a foundation some facts 
which his uncle James had deduced from the comparison of bills 
of mortality, namely that out of 100 infants born at the same time 
64 are alive at the end of the sixth year, 40 at the end of the 
sixteenth year, and so on, Nicolas Bernoulli considers the following 
questions : the time at the end of which an absent man of whom 
no tidings had been received might be considered as dead ; the 


value of an annuity on a life ; the sum to be paid to assure to a 
child just born an assigned sum on his attaining a certain age ; 
marine assurances ; and a lottery problem. He also touches on the 
probability of testimony ; and on the probability of the innocence 
of an accused person. 

The essay does not give occasion for the display of that mathe- 
matical power which its author possessed, and which we have seen 
was called forth in his correspondence with Montmort ; but it indi- 
cates boldness, originality, and strong faith in the value and extent 
of the applications which might be made of the Theory of Pro- 

We will take two examples from the Essay. 

34:0. Suppose there are h men who will all die within a years, 
and are equally likely to die at any instant ^\dthin this time : re- 
quired the probable duration of the life of the last survivor. 
Nicolas Bernoulli really views the problem as equivalent to the 
following : A line of length a is measured from a fixed origin ; on 
this line h points are taken at random : determine the mean dis- 
tance from the origin of the most distant point. 

Let the line a be supposed divided into an indefinitely large 
number n of equal parts ; let each part be equal to c, so that 
nc = a. 

Suppose that each of the h points may be at the distance 
c, or 2c, or Sc, ...up to nc\ but no two or more at exactly the 
same distance. 

Then the whole number of cases will be the number of combi- 
nations of n things taken 5 at a time, say </> {n, h). 

Suppose that the most distant point is at the distance xc ; then 
the number of ways in which this can happen is the number of 
ways in which the remaining ^ — 1 points can be put nearer to the 
origin ; that is, the number of combinations of a; — 1 things, taken 
J — 1 at a time, say </> (a? — 1, h — 1). 

Hence the required mean distance is 

^ xc (j) {x — \, h — V) 

where the summation extends from x = h to x = n. 




It is easily seen that the limit, when n is infinite, is j— ^ , that 



The above is substantially the method of Nicolas Bernoulli. 

341. Nicolas BernouUi has a very curious mode of estimating 
the probability of innocence of an accused person. He assumes 
that any single evidence against the accused person is twice as 
likely to be false as true. Suppose we denote by ii^ the probability 
of innocence when there are n different evidences against him ; 
there are two chances out of three that the n*^' evidence is false, 
and then the accused prisoner is reduced to the state in which there 
are n — 1 evidences against him ; and there is one chance out of 
three that the evidence is true and his innocence therefore impos- 
sible. Thus 

_ 2w„_,jf0 _ 2 

. n 

Hence ^"~ (sj * 

This is not the notation of Nicolas ; but it is his method and 

842. In the correspondence between Montmort and Nicolas 
Bernoulli allusion was made to a work by Barbeyrac, entitled 
Traits dii Jeu; see Art. 212. I have not seen the book myself. 
It appears to be a dissertation to shew that religion and morality 
do not prohibit the use of games in general, or of games of chance 
in particular. It is stated that there are two editions of the work, 
published respectively in 1709 and 1744. 

Barbeyrac is also said to have published a discourse Sur la 
nature du Sort 

See the English Cyclopoidia, and the Biographie Universelle, 
under the head Barbeyrac. 

343. We have next to notice a memoir by Arbuthnot to whom 
we have already assigned an elementary work on our subject ; 
see Art. 79. 

The memoir is entitled A7i Argument for Divine Providence, 


taken from the constant Regularity ohservd in the Births of both 
Sexes. By Br John Arbuthnott, Physitian in Ordinary to Her 
Majesty, and Felloiu of the College of Physitians and the Royal 

This memoir is published in Vol. xxvii. of the Philosophical 
Transactions; it is the volume for 1710, 1711 and 1712 : the 
memoir occupies pages 186 — 190. 

844. The memoir begins thus : 

Among innumerable Footsteps of Divine Providence to be found in 
the Works of Nature, there is a very remarkable one to be observed in 
the exact Ballance that is maintained, between the Numbers of Men and 
Women; for by this means it is provided, that the Species may never fail, 
nor perish, since every Male may have its Female, and of a proportion- 
able Age. This Equality of Males and Females is not the Effect of 
Chance but Divine Providence, working for a good End, which J thus 
demonstrate : 

845. The registers of births in London for 82 years are given ; 
these shew that in every year more males were born than females- 
There is very little relating to the theory of probability in the 
memoir. The principal point is the following. Assume that 
it is an even chance whether a male or female be born ; then 
the chance that in a given year there will be more males than 

females is ^ ; and the chance that this will happen for 82 years in 

succession is ^ . This chance is so small that we may conclude 
that it is not an even chance whether a male or female be born. 

846. The memoir attracted the attention of Nicolas Bernoulli, 
who in his correspondence with Montmort expressed his dissent 
from Ai'buthnot's argument ; see Art. 223. There is also a letter 
from Nicolas Bernoulli to Leibnitz on the subject ; see page 989 of 
the work cited in Art. 59. De Moivre replied to Nicolas Bernoulli, 
as we have already intimated in Art. 835. 

847. The subject is also discussed in the Oemres Philo- 
sophiques et Mathematiques of 's Gravesande, published at Amster- 
dam, 1774, 2 vols. 4to. The discussion occupies pages 221—248 
of the second volume. 


It appears from page 237; that when Nicolas Bernoulli travelled 
in Holland he met 'sGravesande. 

In this discussion we have first a memoir by 'sGravesande. 
This memoir contains a brief statement of some of the elements 
of the theory of probability. The following result is then obtained. 
Assume that the chance is even for a male or female birth, and 
find the chance that out of 11429 births the males shall lie 
between 5745 and 6128. By a laborious arithmetical calculation 


this is found to be about -r . Then the chance that this should 


happen for 82 years in succession will be j^ . 


But in fact the event for which the chance is so small had 
happened in London. Hence it is inferred that it is not an even 
chance that a male or female should be born. 

It appears that 'sGravesande wrote to Nicolas Bernoulli on 
the subject; the reply of Nicolas Bernoulli is given. This reply 
contains a jDroof of the famous theorem of James Bernoulli ; 
the proof is substantially the same as that given by Nicolas Ber- 
noulli to Montmort, and published by the latter in pages 389 — 393 
of his book. 

Then 'sGravesande wrote a letter giving a very clear account 
of his views, and, as his editor remarks, the letter seems to have 
impressed Nicolas Bernoulli, judging from the reply which the 
latter made. 

Nicolas Bernoulli thus sums up the controversy : 

Mr. Arhutlmot fait consister son argument en deux cliosesj 1°. en 
ce que, supposee une egalite de naissance entre les filles et les gargons, 
il y a peu de probahilite que le n ombre des garyons et des filles se trouve 
dans des limites fort proches de I'egalite: S''. qu'il y a peu de proba- 
hilite que le nombre des gargous surpassera un grand nombre de fois de 
suite le nombre des filles. C'est la premiere partie que je refute, et non 
pas la seconde. 

But this does not fairly represent Arbuthnot's argument. 
Nicolas Bernoulli seems to have imagined, without any adequate 
reason, that the theorem known by his uncle's name was in some 
way contradicted by Arbuthnot. 

348. Two memoirs on our subject are published in Vol. 

BROWNE. 199 

XXIX. of the Philosopliical Transactions, which is the volume for 
Vjl^, 1715, 1716 the memoirs occupy pages 133 — 158. They are 
entitled Solutio Generalis Prohlematis XV. 2)ro2:)ositi a D. de Moivre, 
in tractatii de Mensura Sortie... Solutio generalis altera prcece- 
dentis Prohlematis, ope Comhinationum et Serierum infinitarum.... 

These memoirs relate to the problem which we have called 
Waldegraves ; see Art. 211. 

The first memoir is by Nicolas Bernoulli ; it gives substantially 
the same solution as he sent to Montmort, and which was printed 
in pages 381 — 387 of Montmort's work. 

The second memoir is by De Moivre ; it gives the solution 
which was reproduced in the Doctrine of Chances. 

349. We have next to notice a work which appeared under 
the following title ; 

Christiani Hugeuii Libellus de Ratiociniis in Liido Alese. Or, the 
value of all chances in games of fortune; cards, dice, wagers, lotteries, &c, 
mathematically demonstrated. London : Printed by S. Keimer, for 
T. Woodward, near the Inner Temple-Gate in Fleet-street. 1714. 

This is a translation of Huygens's treatise, by W. Browne. It 
is in small octavo size ; it contains a Dedication to Dr Eichard 
Mead, an Advertisement to the Header, and then 24 pages, which 
comprise the translation. The dedication commences thus : 

Honour'd Sir, When I consider the Subject of the following Papers, 
I can no more forbear dedicating them to Your Name, than I can 
refuse giving my assent to any one Proposition in these Sciences, which 
I have already seen clearly demonstrated. The Reason is plain, for as 
You have contributed the greatest Lustre and Glory to a very consider- 
able part of the Mathematicks, by introducing them into their noblest 
Province, the Theory of Physick ; the Publisher of any Truths of that 
Nature, who is desirous of seeing them come to their utmost Perfection, 
must of course beg Your Patronage and Application of them. By so 
prudent a Course as this, he may perhaps see those Propositions which 
ib was his utmost Ambition to make capable only of directing Men in 
the Management of their Purses, and instructing them to what Chances 
and Hazards they might safely commit their Money ; turn'd some time 
or other to a much more glorious End, and made instrumental likewise 
towards the securing their Bodies from the Tricks of that too successful 

200 MAIRAN. 

Sharper, Death, and counterminmg the underhand Dealings of secret and 
overreaching Distempers. 

In his Advertisement to the Reader, Browne refers to a trans- 
lation of Huygens's treatise which had been made by Arbuthnot ; 
he also notices the labours of Montmort and De Moivre. He 
says further. 

My Design in publishing this Edition, was to have made it as useful 
as possible, by an addition of a very large Appendix to it, containing a 
Solution of some of the most serviceable and intricate Problems I cou'd 
think of, and such as have not as yet, that I know of, met with a par- 
ticular Consideration: But an Information I have within these few 
Days receiv'd, that M. Montmort's French Piece is just newly reprinted 
at Paris, with very considerable Additions, has made me put a Stop 
to the Appendix, till I can procure a Sight of what has been added 
anew, for fear some part of it may possibly have been honour'd with the 
Notice and Consideration of that ingenious Author. 

I do not know whether this proposed Appendix ever ap- 

850. In the Hist de V Acad.... Paris for 1728, which was 
published in 1730, there is a notice respecting some results ob- 
tained by Mairan, Siir le Jeu de Fair ou Non. The notice 
occupies pages 53 — 57 of the volume; it is not by Mairan 

Suppose a heap of counters ; a person takes a number of them 
at random, and asks another person to guess whether the number 
is odd or even. Mairan says that the number is more likely 
to be odd than even ; and he argues in the following way. Sup- 
pose the number in the heap to be an odd number, for example 7; 
then a person who takes from the heap may take 1, or 2, or 3, ... 
or 7 counters ; thus there are 7 cases, namely 4 in which he takes 
an odd number, and 3 in which he takes an even number. The 
advantage then is in favour of his having taken an odd number. 
If the number in the heap be an even number, then the person 
who takes from it is as likely to take an even number as an 
odd number. Thus on the whole Mairan concludes that the guess 
should be given for an odd number. 

The modern view of this problem is different from Mairan's. 

NICOLE. 201 

If the original heap contains n counters we should say that there 

are n ways of drawing one counter, -— ^ — ^-^ ways of drawing 

two counters, and so on. Mairan notices this view but con- 
demns it. 

Laplace treated this problem in the Memoires . . . par divers 
Savans...TomeYl., Paris, 1774, and he arrives at the ordinary result, 
though not by the method of combinations ; he refers to Mairan s 
result, and briefly records his dissent. The problem is solved by 
the method of combinations in the Theori'e...des Proh. page 201. 

In the article Pair ou Non of the original French Encyclo- 
pedie, which was published in 1765, Mairan's view is given ; this 
article was repeated in the Encyclopedie Methodique, in 1785, 
without any notice of Laplace's dissent. 

351. On page 68 of the volume of the Hist de VAcad.... 
Paris, which contains Mairan's results, is the following paragraph : 

M. L'Abb6 Sauvenr, fils de feu M. Sauveur Academicien, a fait voir 
une Metliode qu'il a trouvee pour determiner au Jeu de Quadrille quelle 
est la probabilite de gagner sans prendre plusieurs Jeux differents, dont 
il a calcule une Table. On a trouve que la matiere ej^ineuse et delicate 
des Combinaisons etoit tres-bien entendlie dans cet ouvrage. 

352. We have next to notice a memoir by Nicole, entitled 
Examen et Resolution de quelques questions sur les Jeux. 

This memoir is published in the volume for 1730 of the Hist, 
de T Acad.... Paris; the date of publication is 1732 : the memoir 
occupies pages 45 — oQ of the part devoted to memoirs. 

The problem discussed is really the Problem of Points ; the 
method is very laborious, and the memoir seems quite superfluous 
since the results had already been given in a simpler manner by 
Montmort and De Moivre. 

One point may be noticed. Let a and h be proportional to 
the respective chances of A and B to win a single game ; let them 
play for an even number of games, say for example 8, and let 
S be the sum which each stakes. Then ^'s advantage is 

^ ft8 + 8 a^6 + 'iMh'' + 56a^^^ - b^a'lf - 28a'h' - 8ah' - b' 

^ {a-^hy : • 

202 NICOLE. 

This supposes tliat if each wins four games, neither receives 
nor loses any thing. Now it is obvious that the numerator of the 
expression is divisible by a + h ; thus we may simplify the ex- 
pression to 

This is precisely the expression we should have if the players 
had agreed to play seven games instead of eight. Nicole notices 
this circumstance, and is content with indicating that it is not 
unreasonable ; we may shew without difficulty that the result is 
universally true. Suppose that when A and B agree to play 
2n — l games, p^ is the chance that A beats B by just one game, 
^2 the chance that A beats B by two or more games ; and let 
^j, q^ be similar quantities with respect to B, then ^'s advantage 
is S {p^-\- p^ — q^ — q^. Now consider 2n games : ^'s chance of 

beating B by two or more games, is j?2 + ? ; -S's chance of 

beating A by two or more games is q^ + ^^ . Hence A's ad- 
vantage is 



a + b ^2 a+ bj ' 
Now we know that ^ = ^ = fj, say; therefore 


p^a-qj) ^{a ~b) . 

a + b a + b ^^ i Lx i\ 

Hence the advantage of A for 2/^ games is the same as for 
2/1 — 1 games. 

853. In the same volume of the Hist, de TAcad....Pa7^is, on 
pages 331 — 344, there is another memoir by Nicole, entitled 
Methode jwur determiner le sort de taut de Joueurs que Von 
voudra, et Vavantage que les iins out sur les autres, lorsqitils 
joilent h qui gagnera le plus de parties dans un nomhre de parties 

This is the Problem of Points in the case of any number of 
players, supposing that each player wants the same number of 

BUFFON. 203 

points. Nicole begins in a laborious way; but he sees tliat the 
chances of the players are represented by the terms in the ex- 
pansion of a certain multinomial, and thus he is enabled to give 
a general rule. Suppose for example that there are three players, 
whose chances for a single game are a, h, c. Let them play a 
set of three games. Then the chance that A has of winning 
the whole stake is a + 3a^ (^ + c) ; and similar expressions give 
the chances of B and (7; there is also the chance ^ahc that the 
three players should each win one game, and thus no one prevail 
over the others. 

Similarly, if they play four games, ^'s chance of winning the 
whole stake is a^ -\-^a {h + c) + 12a^hc\ there is also the chance 
Wlf that A and B should share the stake between them to the 
exclusion of G\ and so on. 

But all that Nicole gives was already well known ; see 
Montmort's page 353, and De Moivi'e's Miscellanea Analytica, 
page 210. 

854^. In the year 1733 Bufifon communicated to the Academy 
of Sciences at Paris the solution of some problems in chances. 
See Hist, de V Acad.... Pains for 1733, pages 43 — 45, for a brief 
account of them. The solutions are given in Buffon's Essai 
dArithm^tique Morale, and we shall notice them in speaking 
of that work. 

So 5. We now return to the work entitled Of the Laws of 
Chance, the second part of which we left for examination until 
after an account had been given of De Moivre's works ; see 
Arts. 78, 88. 

According to the title page this second part is to be attributed 
to John Ham. 

Although De Moivre is never named, I think the greater part 
of Ham's additions are taken from De Moivre. 

Ham considers the game of Pharaon in his pages 53 — 73. This 
I think is all taken from De Moivre, Ham gives the same in- 
troductory problem as De Moivi^e ; namely the problem which 
is XI. in De Moivre's first edition, and x. in his third edition. 

In pages 74 — 94 we have some examples relating to the game 
of Ace of Hearts, or Fair Chance, and to Lotteries. Here we 

201 HAM. 

have frequent use made of De Moivre's results as to the number 
of trials in which it is an even chance that an event will happen 
once, or happen twice ; see Art. 264. 

856. There is however an addition given without demon- 
stration, to De Moivre's results, which deserves notice. 

De Moivre made the problem of finding the number of trials 
in which it is an even chance that an event will occur twice 
depend on the following equation : 

(l + ^)' = 2 (1 + z). 

If we suppose q infinite this reduces to 

^ = log 2 + log (1 + ^) ; 

from which De Moivre obtained z = 1-678 approximately. But let 
us not suppose q infinite ; put ( 1 + -j =6"; so that our equation 


6*'^= 2(1+^). 

Assume z=2 —y, thus 

Assume 2c = 7 + s where e*^ = 6. 


Thus, e*-^ = 1 - g y. 

Take the logarithms of both sides, then 

1 1 , 1 3 

that is ''i/ - Yg .V' - gj 3/' - ••• = ^ ; 

where r = c — ^. 

Hence by reversion of series we obtain 

HAM. 205 

This is Ham's formula, given as we have said without de- 
monstration. Since we assumed 

we have 7 = Napierian log of 6 = 1-791759 ; thus 

5 = 2c -7= 2c- 1-791759. 

Ham says that this series will determine the value of z in 
all cases when ^ is greater than 4-1473. This limit is doubtless 

obtained by making 2c - 7 = 0, which leads to (l + - j = V6 ; 

and this can be solved by trial. But Ham seems to be un- 
necessarily scrupulous here ; for if 2c be less than 7 we shall still 

have - numerically less than unity, so long as 7 — 2c is less than 

c - -^ , that is so long as c is greater than k + q . 

357. The work finishes with some statements of the nu- 
merical value of certain chances at Hazard and Backgammon. 

358. We have next to notice a work entitled Calcul du Jeu 
appellS par les Frangois le trente-et-quarante, et que Von nomme 
d Florence le trente-et-un.,,. Par Mr D. M. Florence, 1739. 

This is a volume in quarto. The title, notice to the reader, 
and preface occupy eight pages, and then the text follows on 
pages 1 — 90. 

The game considered is the following : Take a common pack 
of cards, and reject the eights, the nines, and the tens, so that 
forty cards remain. Each of the picture cards counts for ten, and 
each of the other cards counts for its usual number. 

The cards are turned up singly until the number formed by 
the sum of the values of the cards falls between 31 and 40, both 
inclusive. The problem is to determine the chances in favour of 
each of the numbers between 31 and 40 inclusive. 

The problem is solved by examining all the cases which can 
occur, and counting up the number of ways. The operation is 
most laborious, and the work is perhaps^ the most conspicuous 



example of misdirected industry which the literature of Games 
of Chance can furnish. 

The author seems to refer on page 80 to another work which 
I have not seen. He says, ...j'en ai deja fait la demonstration 
dans mon Calcul de la Loterie de E-ome,... 

It will be observed from our description of the game that 
it does not coincide with that which has been called in more 
recent times by the same name. See Poisson's memoir in Ger- 
gonne's Annales de Mathe7natiques, Vol. 16. 

859. A treatise on the subject of Chances was published by 
the eminent Thomas Simpson, Professor of Mathematics at the 
Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. Simpson was born in 1710, 
and died in 1761 ; an account of his life and writings is prefixed 
to an edition of his Select Exercises for Young Proficients in the 
Mathematicks, by Charles Hutton. 

Simpson's work is entitled The Kature and Laws of Chance. . . 
The whole after a new, general, and conspicuous Manner, and 
illustrated luith a great variety of Exam^jles ... 1740. 

Simpson implies in his preface that his design was to produce 
an introduction to the subject less expensive and less abstruse 
than De Moivre's work ; and in fact Simpson's work may be con- 
sidered as an abridgement of De Moivre's. Simpson's problems 
are nearly all taken from De Moivre, and the mode of treatment 
is substantially the same. The very small amount of new matter 
which is contributed by a writer of such high power as Simpson 
shews how closely De Moivre had examined the subject so far 
as it was accessible to the mathematical resources of the period. 

We will point out what we find new in Simpson. He divides 
his work into thirty Problems. 

SCO. Simpson's Problem VI. is as follows : 

There is a given Number of each of several sorts of Things, (of the 
s£i,me Shape and Size); as {a) of the first Sort, (h) of the second, &c. 
put promiscuously together; out of which a given Number (m) is to 
be taken, as it happens: To find the Probability that there shall come 
out precisely a given Number of each sort, as (p) of the first, {<j) of 
the second, (r) of the third, &c. 


The result in modern notation is a fraction of which the nume- 
rator is 

\a \h [c 

X "; ; :; X X . • . j 

\p \<^-p \q \'b-q 


c — r 

and the denominator is : — —•- 

\m\n — m 

where ?z = a + & + c+... 

This is apparently the problem which Simpson describes in his 
title page as '^A new and comprehensive Problem of great Use in 
discovering the Advantage or Loss in Lotteries, Raffles, &c." 

861. Simpson's Problem x. relates to the game of Bowls ; see 
Art. 177. Simpson gives a Table containing results for the case of 
an indefinitely large number of players on each side, but he does 
not fully explain his Table ; a better account of it will be found in 
Samuel Clark's Laws of Chance, pages 63 — 65. 

S62. Simpson's Problem XV. is to find in how many trials one 
may undertake to have an equal chance for an event to occur r 
times, its chance at a single trial being known. Simpson claims 
to have solved this problem "in a more general manner than 
hitherto ;" but it does not seem to me that what he has added to 
De Moivre's result is of any importance. We will however give 
Simpson's addition. Suppose we require the event to happen 

r times, the chance for it in a single trial being j. Let 

2' = - ; and suppose that q^ is large. Then De Moivre shews that 

in order to have an even chance that the event shall occur r times 

we must make about q ( ^ ~ tt; ) trials ; see Ai't. 262. But if ^ = 1 

the required number of trials is exactly 2r — 1. Simpson then 

proposes to take as a universal formula 2'(^'~t7v)+^~t^j this 

is accurate when g[ = l, and extremely near the truth when q is 


363. Simpson's Problem XX. is the same as De Moivre's Pro- 
blem VII ; it is an example of the Duration of Play : see Art. 107 ; 
Simpson's method is less artificial than that which De Moivre used, 
and in fact much resembles the modern method. 

364. Simpson's Problem xxil. is that which we have explained 
in Art. 148 ; Simpson's method is very laborious compared with 
De Moivre's. Simpson however adds a useful Corollary. 

By introducing or cancelling common factors we may put the 
result of Art. 148 in the following form : 

(p'-l){p-2) ... (p-n-\-l) _n fe-1) fa- 2). ..(^-72+1) 
\n — l 1 1^ — 1 

n{n — l) (r— 1) (r — 2) ... (r — n + 1) 

where g^—'p-f, r — 'p—^f, ...; and the series is to continue so 
long as no negative factors appear. 

Simpson's Corollary then assigns the chance that the sum of the 
numbers exhibited by the dice shall not exceed p. We must put 
successively 1, 2, 3, ... up to p for p in the preceding expression, 
and sum the results. This gives, by an elementary proposition 
respecting the summation of series, the following expression for the 
required chance : 

p{p-l) ,..{p — n-\-l) n q{q-V) ... (q-n + l) 
[n 1 [n 

n(n—l) r (r—1) ... (r — n + 1) 

where, as before, the series is to continue so long as no negative 
factor appears. 

365. Simpson's Problem xxiv. is the same as De Moivre's 
LXXiv., namely respecting the chance of a run of p successes in 
n trials ; see Art. 325. De Moivre gave the solution without a 
demonstration ; Simpson gives an imperfect demonstration, for 
having proceeded some way he says that the '' Law of Continuation 
is manifest." 


We have shewn in effect that the solution is obtained by taking 
the coefficient of f~^^ in the expansion of 

a^ (1 — at) 
(1-0 [I - t -^^ baH^'-'Y 

that is in the expansion of 

a^ (1 - at) 


,T 1-at 1 (l-a)t 1 ht 

Now y, ^=- -+Vt— Tv.=^^ : + 

(i-ty i-t' (1-ty i-t ' (1-0'' 

We can thus express the result as the sum of two series, which 
will be found to agree with the form given by Simpson, 

366. Simpson's Problem XXV. is on the Duration of Play. 
Simpson says in his Preface respecting his Problems xxii. and xxv, 
that they "are two of the most intricate and remarkable in the 
Subject, and both solv'd by Methods entirely new." This seems 
quite incorrect so far as relates to Problem xxv. Simpson gives 
results without any demonstration ; his Case I. and Case ii. are 
taken from De Moivre, his Case ill, is a particular example of his 
general statement which follows, and this general statement coin- 
cides with Montmort's solution ; see Montmort, page 268, Doctrine 
of Chances, pages 193 and 211. 

367. We will give the enunciation of Simpson's Problem XX VI I, 
together with a remark which he makes relating to it in his 

In a Parallelopipedon, whose Sides are to one another in the Ratio 
of a, 6, cj To find at how many Throws any one may undertake that 
any given Plane, viz, ah, may arise. 

The 27th is a Problem that was proposed to the Public some time 
ago in Latin, as a very difficult one, and has not (that I know of) 
been answered before. 

We have seen the origin of this problem in Ai't. 87. Simpson 
supposes that a sphere is described round the paralleleiDiped, and 
that a radius of the sphere passes round the boundary of the given 
plane; he considers that the chance of the given plane being 



uppermost in a single throw is equal to the ratio which the spheri- 
cal surface bounded by the moving radius bears to the whole 
surface of the sphere. Thus the problem is reduced to finding the 
area of a certain portion of the surface of a sphere. 

868. Simpson gives two examples of the Summation of Series 
on his pages 70 — 73, which he claims as new in method. 

(1) Let {a + xy be denoted hj A-\-Bx-\- Cx^ + Dx"" + . . . ; 
required the sum of 

A Bx Cx' 

1.2...r"^2.3... (r + l)"^S.4...(r + 2)"^**'* 

' Integrate both sides of the identity, and determine the con- 
stant so that both sides may vanish when a? = ; thus 

{a + x Y^' g"-^^ _ . Bx^ Cx^ Bx"^ 
71 + 1 n-\-\ 2 3 4 

Repeat the operation ; thus 

(?i + l)(n+2) n + 1 (n+l)(7^ + 2) 

_A^ B^ C'^ Dx^ 

Proceed thus for r operations, then divide both sides by a?*", and 
the required sum is obtained. 

(2) Required the sum of 1" + 2« + 8" + . . . + ic". 

Simpson's method is the same as had been already used by 
Nicolas Bernoulli, who ascribed it to his uncle John ; see Art. 207. 

869. Simpson's Problem xxix. is as follows : 

A and B, whose Chances for winning any assigned Game are in 
the proportion of a to 6, agree to play until 7i stakes are won and 
lost, on Condition that A, at the Beginning of every Game shall set 

the Sum p to the Sum ^x-, so that tliey may play without Disad- 


vantage on either Side; it is required to find the present Value of all 
the Winnings that may be betwixt them when the Play is ended. 

The investigation presents no difficulty. 


870. Simpson's Problem xxx. is as follows : 

Two Gamesters, A and £, equally skilful, enter into Play together, 
and agree to continue the same till (n) Games are won and lost. 'Tis 
required to find the Probability that neither comes off a Winner of 
Q'Jn Stakes, and also the Probability that B is never a Winner of 
that Number of Stakes during the whole Time of the Play; r being 
a given, and n any very great, Number, 

Simpson says in bis Preface relating to bis Problems XXIV. and 
XXX. tbat tbey 

" are the same with the two new ones, added in the End of Mr 
Be Moivre's last Edition, whose Demonstrations that learned Author 
was pleased to reserve to himself, and are here fully and clearly in- 

The same two problems are thus referred to in Simpson's 
title page : 

Full and clear Investigations of two Problems, added at the end of 
Mr. De Moivre's last Edition ; one of them allowed by that great Man 
to be the most useful on the Subject, but their Demonstrations there 

Simpson is quite wrong in claiming tbe solution of Pro- 
blem XXX, and saying that De Moivre had reserved his demon- 
stration to himself. The investigation is that for determining the 
approximate value of terms near the largest in the expansion of 
{a + hy ; it is given in the Doctrine of Chances, second edition, 
pages 233 — 243, third edition pages 241 — 2ol : the method of 
Simpson is in fact identical with De Moivre's. 

871. We may remark that Simpson published a work in l7o7 
under the title of Miscellaneous Tracts on some curious, and 
very interesting Subjects in Mechanics, Physical- Astronomy, and 
Speculative Mathematics ; ... 

In this work on pages 64 — 75 we have a section entitled An 
Attempt to shew the Advantage arising by Taking the Mean of a 
Number of Observations, in Practical Astronomy. 

This is a very interesting section ; the problems solved by 
Simpson were reproduced by Lagrange in a memoir in the fifth 
volume of the Miscellanea Taurinensia, without any allusion how- 
ever to Simpson. 



It will be more convenient to defer any account of the section 
in Simpson until we examine Lagrange's memoir, and then we will 
state what Simpson gave in 17 o7. 

372. The fourth volume of the collected edition of John Ber- 
noulli's works, which was published in 1742 has a section entitled 
De Alea, sive Arte Conjectandi, Prohlemata qucedam; this section 
occupies pages 28 — 33 : it contains seven problems. 

373. The first and second problems are simple and well- 
known ; they are solved completely. The third problem relates to 
the game of Bowls ; John Bernoulli gives, without demonstration, 
the result which had already been published ; see Montmort, 
page 248, and the Doctrine of Chances, page 117. 

374. The fourth problem contains an error. John Bernoulli 
sa3"s that if 2n common dice are thrown, the number of ways in 
which the sum of the marks is 7n is 

(7n-l) (7^-2)(7n-3)...(5yz + l) . ... (2?z-l) * 

this amounts to asserting that the expression here given is the co- 
efficient of x"" in the expansion of 

. (ic + a?' -I- a;' + a;' + x\+ x^ : 

in fact however the coefficient is a series of which the above ex- 
pression is only the first term. 

375. The fifth and sixth problems involve nothing new in 
principle ; John Bernoulli gives merely the numerical results which 
would require long calculation to verify. The seventh problem 
does not seem intelligible. 



376. Daxiel Beexoulli was the son of the John Bernoulli 
to whom we have often referred ; Daniel was born in 1700, and 
died in 1782 : he is the author of some important memoirs on 
our subject, remarkable for their boldness and originality, which 
we shall now proceed to examine. 

377. Tlie first memoir which we have to notice is entitled 
Specimen TJieornce Xovcb de Mensura Sortis. This memoir is 
contained in the Commentarii Acad. ...Petrop. Vol. v., which is 
the volume for the years 1730 and 1731 ; the date of publication 
of the volume is 1738 : the memoir occupies pages 175 — 192. 

378. This memoir contains the theory of Moral expectation 
proposed by Daniel Bernoulli, which he considered would give 
results more in accordance with our ordinary notions than the 
theory of Mathematical expectation. Laplace has devoted to this 
subject pages 432 — 415 of his Theorie...des Proh., in which he 
reproduces and developes the hypothesis of Daniel Bernoulli. 

379. Mathematical expectation is estimated by the product 
of the chance of obtaining a sum of money into that sum. But 
we cannot in practice suppose that a given sum of money is of 
equal importance to every man ; a shilling is a matter of small 
moment to a person who possesses a thousand pounds, but it is 
of great moment to a person who only possesses a few shillings. 
Various hj^otheses may be proposed for taking into account the 


relative value of money ; of these Daniel Bernoulli's has attracted 
most notice. 

Suppose a person to possess a sum of money x, then if it re- 
ceive an increment dx, Daniel Bernoulli estimates the relative 
value of the increment as proportional to dx directly and x in- 


versely ; that is, he takes it equal to where Jc is some con- 

stant. Put this equal to Jt/ ; so that 

■J ruCtX 

dy = ; 

therefore y — T^ log ^ + constant 

= Ti log - say. 

Laplace calls x the fortune physique and y the fortune morale. 
"We must suppose a some positive quantity, for as Daniel Bernoulli 
remarks, no man is absolutely destitute unless he is dying of 

Daniel Bernoulli calls y the emolumentum, a he calls summa 
honorum, and x — a he calls lucrum. 

880. Suppose then that a person, starting with a for his fortune 
physique, has the chance p^^ of gaining a?^, the chance p^ of gaining 
x^, the chance p^ of gaining x^, and so on ; and suppose the sum 
of these chances to be unity. Let 

Y= hp^ log {a + x^ + hp^ log {a-\-x,^ -\- hp^ log (a + i^Cg) + . . . — ^ log a. 

Then Bernoulli calls Y the emolumentum medium, and Laplace 
still calls Y the fortune morale. Let X denote the fortune 
physique which corresponds to this fortune morale ; then 

Y=h log X—h log a. 

Thus X = (a + cc/^ (« + xf^ {a + x^""' . . . 

And X—a will be according to Laplace V accroissement de la 
fortune physique qui procurerait a Tindividu le menie avantage 
moral qui r4sidte pour lui, de son expectative. Daniel Bernoulli 
calls X—a the liicru7n legitime expectandum seu so7^s quwsita. 


381. Daniel Bernoulli in his memoir illustrates his hy- 
pothesis by drawing a curve. He does not confine himself to the 

case in which ^ = 7c log - , but supposes generally 2/ = </> (x). 

Thus the ordinary theory of mathematical expectation amounts to 
supposing that the curve becomes a straight line, or (p (x) a 
linear function of x. 

382. After obtaining the value of X which we have given 
in Art. 380, the remainder of Daniel Bernoulli's memoir consists 
of inferences drawn from this value. 

383. The first inference is that even a fair game of chance 
is disadvantageous. Suppose a man to start with a as his fortune 
physique, and have the chance p^ of gaining x^, and the chance 
p^ of losing x^. Then by Art. 380, the fortune physique which he 
may expect is 

{a + a?/' (a - x^^^ ; 

we have to shew that this is less than a, supposing the game to be 
mathematically fair, so that 

Daniel Bernoulli is content with giving an arithmetical ex- 
ample, supposing i>i =/>2 = 2 • I^aplace establishes the proposition 

generally by the aid of the Integral Calculus. It may be proved 
more simply. We have 

x^ x^ 

■^^ ~ iCj + a?/ ^^"aj^ + iCg' 

and we have to shew that 

[[a-^x^'^'ia-x^"''^^' is less than a. 

Now we may regard x^ and x^ as integers. Thus the result 
we require is true by virtue of the general theorem in inequalities 
that the geometrical mean is less than tlie arithmetical mean. For 


here we may suppose that there are x^ quantities, each equal to 
a + iCj, and x^ quantities each equal to a — iCg. The arithmetical 
mean is 

'^2 (^ + ^l) + ^1 (<^ - ^2) 

— J 

^1 + ^2 

that is a. The geometrical mean is the quantity which we had 
to shew to be less than a. 

884. Daniel Bernoulli proposes to determine what a man 
should stake at a wager, in order that the wager may not be 

disadvantageous to him. He takes the case in which 'p^—]p^ — -^ . 
Then we require that 

(a + icj^ {a — x^^ — a. 

This leads to x^ — — . 

Thus x^ is less than x^ and less than a. 

885. Daniel Bernoulli now makes an application to in- 
surances. But this application will be more readily understood if 
we give first a proposition from Laplace which is not in Daniel 
Bernoulli's memoir. Suppose that a merchant has a fortune 
physique equal to a, and that he expects the sum x to arrive 
by a ship. Also let p be the chance that the ship will arrive 
safely, and lei q = l —p. 

Suppose that he insures his ship on the ordinary terms of 
mathematical equity ; then he pays qx to the insurance company, 
so that he has on the whole a + x — qx, that is a -\-px. 

Suppose however that he does not insure ; then his fortune 
physique is (a + xfa'^. We shall shew that a-\-px is greater 
than {a + xYa^. 

Laplace establishes this by the aid of the Integral Calculus, 
with which however we may dispense. We have to shew that 

(a + xYa^ is less than a +px, 

that is that (1 + - ) is less than 1 + -^ . 

\ a/ a 


Let » = where m and n are integers. 

Then we know that [{l + ^)" l'^ 1^^ is less than 

m +n 

by the theorem respecting the geometrical mean and the arith- 

metrical mean which we quoted in Art. 383 ; and this is what we 

had to establish. 

It follows that the merchant can afford without disadvantage 

to increase his payment to the insurance company beyond the 

sum qx. If we suppose f to represent the extreme additional 

sum, we have 

f = a +jyx — (a + ic) V. 

886. We now return to Daniel Bernoulli. We have seen 
that a merchant can afford to pay more than the sum qx for 
insuring ; but it may happen that the insurance company demand 
more than the merchant can afford to pay. Daniel Bernoulli 
proposes this question : for a given charge by the insurance com- 
pany required to find the merchant's fortune, so that it may 
be indifferent to him whether he insures or not. 

Retaining the notation of the last Article, let e be the charge 
of the insurance company ; then we have to find a from the 


a-\-x — e = {a + xYa^ 


Daniel Bernoulli takes for an example a?= 10000, e=800,^= ^ ; 

whence by approximation a— 5043. Hence he infers that if the 
merchant's fortune is less than 5043 he ought to insure, if greater 
than 5043 he ought not to insure. This amounts to assuming 
that the equation from which a is to be found has only one 
positive root. It may be interesting to demonstrate this. We 
have to compare 

a-\-x — e with {a + ic)^a^ 

where a is the variable, and x is greater than e. 


Let p = — ; — SLiid q= — ; — , where m and n are inteofers : 

then we have to compare 

{a + x- eY^*" with {a + xY a\ 

Wlien a = the right-hand member is the less ; when a is 
infinite the right-hand member is the greater, provided mx is 
greater than (m -^ n) [x — e) : we will assume that this is the case. 
Thus the equation 

{a-^x- e)'""-" = (a + xY oT 

has one positive root. We must examine if it has another. 

Let log {a + x- ef'^'' = y, log (a + xY dr = z\ 

. dy m-\-n dz m n 

then - -f = — , , -7- = — , h - . 

da a + X — e da x + a a 

d z d II 

Thus when a is zero -j- is greater than j- , so that z begins 

by increasing more rapidly tlian y does. If we suppose 

dy dz 
da da 


, , . nx (x — e) 

we obtam a = - — — ^r '■— . 

(??i -\-n) e — nx 

Now begin with a = 0, and let a gradually increase until we 
have y = z\ then it is obvious that we have not yet reached the 
value of a just given. And if by increasing a we could arrive 
at a second value at which y = z, we should have passed beyond 
the value of a just given. Then after that value z would increase 
more slowly than y, and the final value of z would be less than 
the final value of y, which is impossible. Thus there is only one 
value of a which makes y = z, and this value is less than 

nx {x — e) 
{m ■\- n) e — nx' 

If mx is less than (m -\-n) {x — e) the original equation has 
no positive root; for then we have z always increasing more 
rapidly than y, and yet the final value of z less than that of y ; 
so that it is impossible that any value of a can make y = z. 


387. Daniel Bernoulli also inquires what capital the in- 
surance company must have so that they may safely undertake 
the insurance. Let y denote the least value of the capital ; then 
y must be found from 

This is merely the former equation with y in place of a + ic — e. 
Thus, taking the same example as before, we have^ = ltt2^3. 

888. Daniel Bernoulli now lays down the important principle 

that it is more advantageous for a person to expose his fortune 

to different independent risks than to expose it all to one risk. 

He gives this example : suppose a merchant to start with a 

capital of 4000, and that he expects 8000 by a ship ; let — 

be the chance of the safe arrival of the ship. The merchant's 
fortune 'physiqiie is thus 

(4000 + 8000)T^ (4000)^=10751 approximately. 

But suppose him to put half of his merchandize in one ship 

and half in another. The chance that both ships will arrive safely 

is r7^\ the chance that one of the two will amve safely is 
100 '' 

9 1 18 

2 X Y^ X — r , that is —— ; the chance that both will be lost is 


r— X . Hence the merchant's fortune 'physique is 

(4000 + 8000)tV(7 (4000 + 4000)^^ (4000)^^= 11033 

Subtract the original capital 4000, and we find the expectation 
in the former case to be 6751, and in the latter to be 7033. 

Daniel Bernoulli says that the merchant's expectation con- 
tinually increases by diminishing the part of the merchandize 
which is intrusted to a single ship, but can never exceed 7200. 


This number is — of 8000 ; so that it expresses the Mathematical 

expectation. The result which Daniel Bernoulli thus enunciates. 


without demonstration is demonstrated by Laplace, Theorie . . . des 
Froh., pages 435 — 437 ; the proposition is certainly by no means 
easy, and it is to be wished that Daniel Bernoulli had explained 
how he obtained it. 

389. Daniel Bernoulli now applies his theory to the problem 
which is known as the Petershurg Problem, probably from its first 
appearing here in the Coiiimentarii of the Petersburg Academy. 
The problem is similar to two which Nicolas Bernoulli proposed to 
Montmort; see Art. 231. 

A throws a coin in the air ; if head appears at the first throw 
he is to receive a shilling from B, if head does not appear until the 
second throw he is to receive 2 shillings, if head does not appear 
until the third throw he is to receive 4 shillings, and so on : re- 
quired the expectation of A. 

The expectation is 

1 2 4 8, ... V 

2 + 22 + 2^ + 2^ + • • • ^^^ 'infinitum, 

that is ^ + ^ + 2 + 9 + • • . ^'^^ infinitum. 

Thus ^'s expectation is infinite, so that he ought to give an 
infinite sum to B to induce B to play with him in the manner 
proposed. Still no prudent man in the position of A would be 
willing to pay even a small number of shillings for the advantage 
to be gained. 

The paradox then is that the mathematical theory is apparently 
directly opposed to the dictates of common sense. 

390. We will now give Daniel Bernoulli's application of his 
theory of Moral expectation to the Petersburg Problem. 

Suppose that A starts with the sum a, and is to receive 1 if 
head appears at the first throw, 2 if head does not appear until the 
second throw, and so on. ^'s fortune physique is 

{a + 1)^ {a + 2)^ {a + 4)^ (a + 8)^^ ... - a. 

This expression is finite if a be finite. The value of it when 
a = is easily seen to be 2. Daniel Bernoulli says that it is about 
8 when a = 10, about 4 J when a = 100, and about 6 when a = 1000. 


Let X represent the sum which a person with the capital a 
might give without disadvantage for the expectation of A \ then x is 
to be found from 

(a + 1 — a?)^ (a + 2 — a?)^ (a + 4 — x)^ (a + 8 — x)^ . .. = a. 

Put a — X — a \ thus 

{a + 1)^ [a + 2)^ (a' + 4)^ {a + 8)tV ... - a' = a;. 

Then if a is to have any large value, from what we have 
already seen, x is small compared with a, so that we may put a for 
a \ and we have approximately 

a; = (a + 1)^ (a + 2)^ (a + 4)^ (a + 8)^... -a. 

Laplace reproduces this part of Daniel Bernoulli's memoir with 
developments in pages 439 — 442 of the Theorie...des Proh. 

391. Daniel Bernoulli's memoir contains a letter addressed to 
Nicolas Bernoulli by Cramer, in which two methods are suggested 
of explaining the paradox of the Petersburg Problem. 

(1) Cramer considers that the value of a sum of money is not 
to be taken uniformly proportional to the sum ; he proposes to 
consider all sums greater than 2^"^ as practically equal. Thus he 
obtains for the expectation of B 

1 2 4 2^^ 


"■" 02 "■" 03 "•"••• • '^"•5 

924 924 924 

' 926 "^ 927 "' 928 "1" •••• 

The first twenty-five terms give 12 J; the remainder constitute 

a geometrical progression of which the sum is ^ . Thus the total 
is 13. 

(2) Cramer suggests that the pleasure derivable from a sum 
of money may be taken to vary as the square root of the sum. 
Thus he makes the moral expectation to be 

2 a/I + J V2 + g v/4 + ^ V8 +■ . . . , 

that is j^ . This moral expectation corresponds to the sum 



rg-, that is to 2 "9 approximately; and Cramer considers 

(2 — V2) 

this to be nearer the comm.on notion on the subject than his former 
value 13. 

892. It is obvious that Cramer's suppositions are entirely 
arbitrary, and that such suppositions might be multiplied to any 
extent. Montucla alludes on his page 403 to an attempt made by 
M. Fontaine to explain the paradox. This attempt seems to con- 
sist in limiting the game to 20 throws at most, instead of allowing 
it theoretically to extend to infinity. But the opponents of the 
mathematical theory would assert that for the game as thus under- 
stood the value of the expectation assigned by the theory is still 
far larger than common sense can admit. 

393. The Petersburg Problem will come under our notice 
again as we advance with the subject. We may remark that 
Laplace adopts Daniel Bernoulli's view ; Theorie . . . des Proh. 
page 439. Poisson prefers to reconcile mathematical theory with 
common sense by the consideration that the fortune of the person 
whom we represent by B is necessarily finite so that he cannot pay 
more than a certain sum ; this in result practically coincides with 
the first of Cramer's two suppositions ; see Poisson, RechercJies 
sur la Proh... page 73; Cournot, Exposition de la Theorie des 
Chances... page 108. 

894. We pass to another memoir by Daniel Bernoulli. The 
Academy of Sciences of Paris proposed the following question as a 
prize subject for 1732, 

Quelle est la cause physique de rinclinaison des Plans des Orbites 
des Planetes par rapport au plan de I'Equateur de la revolution du 
Soleil autour de son axe; Et d'oii vient que les inclinaisons de ces 
Orbites sont differentes entre elles. 

None of the memoirs sent in appeared to the judges to be 
worthy of the prize. The Academy then proposed the subject 
again for 1734, with a double prize. The prize was divided be- 
tween Daniel Bernoulli and his father John BernoulH. The 
memoirs of both are contained in the Recueil des pieces qui ont 
remporte le prix de VAcademie Roy ale des Sciences, Tom. 3, 1734. 


A French translation of Daniel Bernoulli's memoir occupies 
pages 95 — 122 of the volume ; the original memoir in Latin occu- 
pies pages 125 — 144 

395. The portion of the memoir with which we are concerned 
occurs at the beginning. Daniel Bernoulli wishes to shew that we 
cannot attribute to hazard the small mutual inclinations of the 
planetary orbits. He puts the calculation in three forms. 

(1) He finds that the greatest mutual inclination of any two 
planetary orbits is that of Mercury to the Ecliptic, which is 6° 54'. 
He imagines a zone of the breadth of 6" 54' on the surface of a 

sphere, which would therefore contain about —z of the whole sur- 
face of the sphere. There being six planets altogether he takes 
|i^ for the chance that the inclinations of five of the planes to one 
plane shall all be less than 6*^ 54'. 

(2) Suppose however that all the planes intersected in a 

common line. The ratio of 6° 54' to 90° is equal to ^q iiearly ; 


and he takes -r—n for the chance that each of the five inclinations 

would be less than 6" 54'. 

(3) Again ; take the Sun s equator as the plane of reference. 
The greatest inclination of the plane of any orbit to this is 7° 30', 

which is about r=-^ of 90" ; and he takes — r^ as the chance that each 
12 12*^ 

of the six inclinations would be less than 7" 30'. 

896. It is difficult to see why in the first of the three pre- 

1 . 2 

ceding calculations Daniel Bernoulli took ^^ instead of — ; that is 

why he compared his zone with the surface of a sphere instead of 
with the surface of a hemisphere. It would seem too that he 
should rather have considered the poles of the orbits than the 
planes of the orbits, and have found the chance that all the 
other poles should lie within a given distance from one of them. 


397. We shall find hereafter that D' Alembert did not admit 
that there was any value in Daniel Bernoulli's calculations. 

Laplace proposes to find the probability that the sum of all the 
inclinations should not exceed an assigned quantity ; see Theorie... 
des Prob. page 257. The principle of Daniel Bernoulli's attempt 
seems more natural, because it takes more explicit account of the 
fact that each inclination is small. 

398. The next memoir by Daniel Bernoulli is entitled Essai 
dune nouvelle analyse de la mortalite causee par la petite Verole, 
et des avantages de V Inocidation pour la prevenir. 

This memoir is contained in the Hist de FA cad. ... Paris, for 
1760 ; the date of publication of the volume is 1766 : the memoir 
occupies pages 1 — 45 of the part devoted to memoirs. 

399. The reading of the memoir commenced on April 30th, 
1760, as we learn from its seventh page. Before the memoir 
was printed, a criticism on it appeared, which Daniel Bernoulli 
ascribes to a grand mathematicien ; see his pages 4 and 18. 
In consequence of this, an introduction apologetique was written 
on April 16th, 1765, and now forms the first six pages of the 

The critic was D'Alembert; see Montucla, page 426, and 
our Chapter xiii. 

400. Daniel Bernoulli's main object is to determine the mor- 
tality caused by the small-pox at various stages of age. This of 
course could have been determined if a long series of observations 
had been made ; but at that time such observations had not been 
made. Tables of mortality had been formed, but they gave the 
total number of deaths at various ages without distinguishing 
the causes of death. Thus it required calculation to determine 
the result which Daniel Bernoulli was seeking. 

401. Daniel Bernoulli made two assumptions : that in a year 
on an average 1 person out of 8 of all those who had not pre- 
viously taken the disease, would be attacked by small-pox, and 
that 1 out of every 8 attacked would die. These assumptions he 
supported by appeal to observation ; but they might not be uni- 


versally admitted. Since the introduction of vaccination, the 
memoir of Bernoulli will have no practical value ; but the mathe- 
matical theory which he based on his hypotheses is of sufficient 
interest to be reproduced here. 

402. Let X denote the age expressed in years ; let f denote 
the number who survive at that age out of a given number 
who were born ; let s denote the number of these survivors who 
have not had the small-pox. Assume that in a year the small- 
pox attacks 1 out of every n who have not had the disease, 
and that 1 out of every m who are attacked dies. 

The number of survivors who have not had the small-pox 
continually diminishes ; partly because the small-pox continually 
attacks some whom it had previously left unattacked, and partly 
because some persons die of other diseases without ever being 
attacked by the small-pox. 

The number of those attacked by the small-pox during the 

element dx of time is by hypothesis — - : because we suppose 

o sdx 

- to be attacked in one year, and therefore in the element 

n n 

dx of a year. The number of those who die of the small-pox is 

by hypothesis ; and therefore the number of those who die 

of other diseases is — d^— - — . But this last number must be 


diminished in the ratio of s to f, because we only want the 

diminution of those who have not yet had the small-pox, of whom 

the number is s. 

Thus „ds = —-i(d^-^--). 

n g V 7)inJ 

This equation is to be integrated. We have 



, _ O..C ..^^ ^..^ dx 




- ds ■• 









Put q for - ; thus, da = — ^ dx ; 

^ s nin 



n log {mq — l)—x-\- constant ; 



-1 =e^^^. 


e " + 1 

To determine the constant C, we observe that when x 
we have s = f ; thus, finally, 

= 0, 

s = 


(m - 1) ^' + 1 

403. By this formula Daniel Bernoulli calculates a table on 
the basis of Halley's table, derived from the Breslau Observations, 
assuming that m and n each equal 8 ; Halley's table gives the 
values of f corresponding to successive integer values of x, and 
Daniel Bernoulli's formula then gives the values of s. The fol- 
lowing is an extract from the table : 























































Halley's table begins with 1000 at the end of the first year, 
and does not say to what number of births this corresponds. 
Daniel Bernoulli gives reasons for assuming this to be 1300, 
which accordingly he takes ; see Art. 64?. 

404. On page 21 of the memoir, Daniel Bernoulli says that 
the following question had been asked: Of all persons alive 
at a given epoch what fractional part had not been attacked 
by the small-pox ? The inquirer himself, who was D'Alembert, 
estimated the number at one-fourth at most. Daniel Bernoulli 
himself makes it about two-thirteenths. He intimates that it 
would be desirable to test this by observation. He adds, 

Voici un autre theoreme qui pourroit servir h la verification de 
nos principes. Si de tous les vivans on ne prend que Tenfance et la 
jeunesse, jusqu'a I'age de seize ans et demi, on trouvera le nombre 
de ceux qui auront eu la petite verole a pea-pres egal au nombre de 
ceux qui ne I'auront pas eue. 

405. Daniel Bernoulli gives another interesting investigation. 
Bequired to find the number of survivors at a given age from 
a given number of births, supposing the small-pox altogether 
extinguished. Retain the notation of Article 402 ; and let z be 
the number who would have been alive at the age x if there had 
been no small-pox, the original number of births being supposed 
the same. 

The whole mortality during the element dx of time being 

9 fix 
— d^, and the mortality caused by the small-pox being , we 

II tit 

have for the mortality in the absence of small-pox — d^ . 

But this mortality arises from a population f ; and we must mul- 
tiply it by g to obtain the mortality which would arise from a 
population z. Hence, finally, 


dz d^ s dx 

therefore — = -p -\r -z. — • 

z ^ g tnn 



Substitute for s from the result in Art. 402 ; then integrate, 
and determine the arbitrary constant by the condition that 2=^ 
when x = 0. Hence we shall obtain 

z me^ 

^ (m - 1) e" + 1 
Thus as X increases, the right-hand member approaches the 


m — 1 

406. After discussing the subject of the mortality caused by 
the small-pox, Daniel Bernoulli proceeds to the subject of In- 
oculation. He admits that there is some danger in Inoculation, 
but finds on the whole that it is attended with large advantages. 
He concluded that it would lengthen the average dur^ation of life 
by about three years. This was the part of the memoir which 
at the time of publication would be of the greatest practical 
importance ; but that importance happily no longer exists. 

407. We shall find hereafter that DAlembert strongly ob- 
jected to the justness of Daniel Bernoulli's investigations. La- 
place speaks very highly of Daniel Bernoulli ; Laplace also briefly 
indicates the method of treating the problem respecting Inocula- 
tion, but as he does not assume ?/^ and w to be constant, he rather 
follows DAlembert than Daniel Bernoulli; see Theoiie...des Proh., 
pages cxxxvii. and 413. 

408. The next memoir by Daniel Bernoulli is entitled De usu 
algoritlimi infinitesimaUs in arte conjectandl specimen. 

This memoir is contained in the Novi Comm...Petrop. Vol. xil, 
which is the volume for the years 17C6 and 1767 ; the date 
of publication of the volume is 1768 ; the memoir occupies 
pages 87 — 98. 

409. The object of the memoir is twofold. A certain problem 
in chances is to be solved, which is wanted in the next memoir to 
which we shall come ; and the introduction of the Differential 
Calculus into the Theory of Probability is to be illustrated. The 
reader will see in Art. 402 that Daniel Bernoulli had already really 


employed the Differential Calculus, and the present memoir con- 
tains remarks which would serve to explain the process of Art. 402 ; 
but the remarks are such as any student could easily supply 
for himself We shall see the point illustrated in another memoir. 
See Art. 417. 

410. The problem which Daniel Bernoulli solves is in its 
simplest form as follows : In a bag are 2n cards ; two of them are 
marked 1, two of them are marked 2, two of them are marked 3, ... 
and so on. We draw out m cards ; required the probable number 
oi pairs which remain in the bag. 

We give the solution of Daniel Bernoulli with some changes of 
notation. Suppose that a?,,, pairs remain after m cards have been 
drawn out ; let a new drawing be made. The card thus drawn out 
is either one of the cards of a pair, or it is not ; the probabilities 
for these two cases are proportional to 20?,,^, and 2n — 2x,,^ — m re- 
spectively : in the former case there remain x^^ — 1 pairs in the bag, 
and in the latter case there remain x,^ pairs. Thus by ordinary 

^ ^^m G^., - 1) + (2>i - 2^,^ - m) x^ 
"^1 2/1 - m 

2n — m— 2 

Zn — m 


We can thus form in succession x^, x^, ^3> ••• As x^=n we 
find that 

(2)1 — on) (2n - m — 1) 

•^ni "~ 

2 {2n - 1) 

411. The problem is extended by Daniel Bernoulli afterwards 
to a greater generality ; but we have given sufficient to enable the 
reader to understand the nature of the present memoir, and of that 
to which we now proceed. 

412. The next memoir is entitled De duratione media matri- 
moniorum, pro qitacunque conjugum aetate, aliisque quaestionihus 

This memoir is closely connected with the preceding ; it fol- 
lows in the same volume of the JS'ovi Comm...Petrop., and occupies 
pages 99—126. 


413. Suppose 500 men of a given age, as for example 20 years, 
to marry 500 women of the same age. The tables of mortality 
will shew at what rate these 1000 individuals gradually diminish 
annually until all are dead. But these tables do not distinguish 
the married from the unmarried, so that we cannot learn from them 
the number of unbroken couples after the lapse of a given number 
of years. Daniel Bernoulli applies the result of Art. 410 ; the pairs 
of cards correspond to the married couples. From that article 
knowing- the number of cards which remain undrawn we infer the 
probable number of pairs. The number of cards remaining un- 
drawn corresponds to the number of persons remaining alive at a 
given age ; this is taken from the tables of mortality, and by the 
formula the probable number of unbroken couples is calculated. 
Daniel Bernoulli calculates such a table for the numbers we have 
supposed above. 

414. Daniel Bernoulli then proceeds to the case in which the 
husband and wife are supposed of different ages ; this requires the 
extended problem to which we have referred in Art. 411. Daniel 
Bernoulli calculates a table for the case in which 500 men aged 
40 years marry 500 women aged 20 years. 

Daniel Bernoulli allows that his results must not claim im- 
plicit confidence. He has taken the same laws of mortality for 
both men and women, though of course he was aware that on an 
average women live longer than men. With respect to this fact he 
says, page 100, ...neque id diversse vivendi rationi tribui potest, 
quia ista sequioris sexus praerogativa a primis incunabilis constan- 
tissime manifestatur atque per totam vitam in illo manet. 

Daniel Bernoulli's process is criticised by Trembley in the 
M^moires de V Acad.... Berlin, 1799, 1800. 

The problem respecting the mean duration of marriages is con- 
sidered by Laplace, Theorie...des Proh. page 415. 

415. The memoir which we have noticed in Arts. 412 — 414 
bears a close analogy to the memoir which we have noticed in 
Arts. 398 — 406. In both cases theory is employed to supply the 
lack of observations, in both cases the questions discussed are of the 
same kind, and in both cases the use of the Differential Calculus is 


416. The next memoir by Daniel Bernoulli is entitled Dis- 
quisitiones Analyticce de novo prohlemate conjectwrali. 

This memoir is contained in the Novi Comm...Petrop...Yo\. 14, 
1769, pars prior. The date 1759 occurs by mistake in the title- 
page. The date of publication of the volume is 1770. The 
memoir occupies pages 1 — 25 of the part devoted to memoirs. 

417. The object of the memoir is to illustrate the use of the 
Differential Calculus, and it is thus analogous to memoirs which we 
have already noticed by Daniel Bernoulli. 

Suppose three urns ; in the first are n white balls, in the second 
n black balls, in the third n red balls. A ball is taken at random 
from each urn ; the ball taken from the first urn is put into the 
second, the ball taken from the second is put into the third, and 
the ball taken from the third is put into the first ; this operation 
is repeated for any assigned number of times : required the proba- 
ble distribution of the balls at the end of these operations. 

Suppose that after x operations the probable numbers of white 
balls in the three urns are denoted by u^., v^y w^ respectively. Then 

1t/~.,t — U,f ~~ ~1 • 

"'■^^ "^ n n 
For — is the probability of drawing one white ball out of the 



first urn, and -^ is the probability that a white ball will be drawn 


from the third urn and so put into the first. Similarly 

By eliminating, using the condition u^-\-v^-\-w^= n, we may 
obtain an equation in Finite Differences of the second order for 

Ujc, namely, 

/^ 3\ /^ 3 3\ 1 

'^x^'i = "^^ar+l (2. ] —f^'x 1 H— )+-• 

x+2 x+i \^ ^J X \^ ^^ ^^y ^ 

But the following process is more symmetrical. Put w^^^ = Eu^, 
and separate the symbols in the usual way ; 


thus •i^-(^-D^'^"^''^' 

E-(l--] [ v^ = - u^, 

n I n 


^_(1__) [^^= ^;^, 

n n 

therefore \ E- ( 1 - - ) \ u^^iAux- 

nj I ^ \nj 

Therefore w, = ^ f 1 - - + -)\ ^ f 1 - - + -)V (7 fl - - + '^V, 

\ n nJ \ n nJ \ n nj 

where A, B, C are constants, and a, A 7 ^^^ the three cube roots 
of unity. 

Then from the above equations we obtain 


\ n nJ \ 71 7iJ \ n nJ 


\ n nJ \ n nJ \ n nJ 

The three constants A, B, C are not all arbitrary, for we 
require that 

with this condition and the facts that 

Uo = n, ^0 = 0, Wq=0, 

we shall obtain A = B= G=-^. 

418. The above process will be seen to be applicable if the 
number of urns be any whatever, instead of being limited to three. 

We need not investigate the distribution of the balls of the 
other colours ; for it is evident from symmetry that at the end of x 


Operations the black balls will be probably distributed thus, ii^ in 
the second urn, v^ in the third, and ic^ in the first ; similarly the 
red balls will be probably distributed thus, ii^ in the third urn, v^ in 
the first, and w^ in the second. 

It should be observed that the equations in Finite Differences 
and the solution will be the same whatever be the original distri- 
bution of the balls, supposing that there were originally n in each 
urn ; the only difference will be in the values to be assigned to the 
arbitrary constants. Nor does the process require n white balls 
originally. Thus in fact we solve the following problem : Suppose 
a given number of urns, each containing n balls, m of the Avhole 
number of balls are white and the rest not white ; the original 
distribution of the white balls is given : required their probable 
distribution after x operations. 

419. Daniel Bernoulli does not give the investigation which 
we have given in Art. 417. He simply indicates the following 
result, which he probably obtained by induction : 


together with similar expressions for v^ and w^. These can be 
obtained by expanding by the Binomial Theorem the expressions 
we have given, using the known values of the sums of the powers 
of a, P, y. 

420. Now a problem involving the Differential Calculus can 
be framed, exactly similar to this problem of the urns. Suppose 
three equal vessels, the first filled with a white fluid, the second 
with a black fluid, and the third with a red fluid. Let there be 
very small tubes of equal bore, which allow fluid to pass from the 
first vessel into the second, from the second into the third, and from 
the third into the first. Suppose that the fluids have the property 
of mixing instantaneously and completely. Required at the end 
of the time t the distribution of the fluids in the vessels. 


Suppose at the end of the time t the quantities of the white 
fluid in the three vessels to be u, v, w respectively. We obtain the 
following equations, 

du = kdt (w — y), 

dv = kdt (u — v), 
dw — kdt {v — w)y 
where Zj is a constant. 

Daniel Bernoulli integrates these equations, by an unsym- 
metrical and difficult process. They may be easily integrated by 

the modern method of separating the symbols. Put i) for -7- ; thus 


{D + ^) w = kw, (J) ■\-k) v= kuj (I)-\-k)w = kv, 

therefore (D -\-Tcf u = Hu. 

Hence u = e"^* [Ad"^ + Be""^' + Ce^*^'}, 

where A, B, G are arbitrary constants, and a, /3, 7 are the three cube 
roots of unity. The values of v and w can be deduced from that of 
u. Let us suppose that initially u — h, v = 0, i^ = ; we shall find 

that A =B= C=^, so that 


Laplace has given the result for any number of vessels in the 
Theorie...des Proh. page 303. 

421. Now it is Daniel Bernoulli's object to shew, that when x 
and n are supposed indefinitely large in the former problem its 
results correspond with those of the present problem. Here indeed 
we do not gain any thing by this fact, because we can solve the 
former problem ; but if the former problem had been too difficult 
to solve we might have substituted the latter problem for it. And 
thus generally Daniel Bernoulli's notion is that we may often ad- 
vantageously change a problem of the former kind into one of the 
latter kind. 

If we suppose n and x very large we can obtain by the Bino- 
mial Theorem, or by the Logarithmic Theorem, 



1 - - = e '* 

Hence when n and x are very large, we find that the value of u^ 
ofiven in Art. 419 reduces to 

«e-"U + ,4-f-T+7^l'-U...^ 


13 \nj ' 16 V**> 

Daniel Bernoulli sums the series in the brackets by the aid of 
the Integral Calculus. We know however by the aid of the 
theorem relating to the value of the sums of the powers of 
a, A 7, that this series is equal to 

Hence the analogy of the value of u^, when x and n are in- 
definitely large, with the value of u in Art. 420 is sufficiently 

Daniel Bernoulli gives some numerical applications of his 
general results. 

Daniel Bernoulli's memoir has been criticised by Malfatti, in 
the Meniorie ... della Societa Italiana, Vol. I. 1782. 

422. The next memoir by Daniel Bernoulli is entitled, 2Ien- 
sura Sortis ad fortuitam successionem rerum naturaliter contin- 
gentium applicata. This memoir is in the same volume of the 
I^ovi Comm Petrop. as the preceding; it occupies pages 26 — 45. 

423. The memoir begins by noticing the near equality in the 
numbers of boys and girls who are born ; and proposes to consider 
whether this is due to chance. In the present memoir only thus 
much is discussed : assuming that the births of a boy and of a girl 
are equally likely, find the probability that out of a given 
number of births, the boys shall not deviate from the half by 
more or less than a given number. The memoir gives some calcu- 
lations and some numerical examples. 

Daniel Bernoulli seems very strangely to be unaware that 
all which he effects had been done better by Stirling and Do 
Moivre long before ; see De Moivre's Doctrine of Chances^ 
pages 243—254. 


The following is all that Daniel BeiTioulli contributes to the 
theory. Let m and n be lai-ge numbers ; let 

|2n 1 

u = 

V = 

2m 1 

in f 

He shews that approximately 

II /^m-\- 1 

V V 4w + 1 * 

/I IN"" 
He also states the following : in the expansion of f ^ + „ I 

the jj}'^ term from the middle is approximately equal to —2 . 

These results are included in those of Stirling and De Moivre, 
so that Daniel Bernoulli's memoir was useless when it appeared; 
see Art. 837. 

424. The next memoir by Daniel Bernoulli is entitled Di- 
judicatio maxime prohabilis plurium ohservationum discrepantitwi 
Clique verisimillima inductio inde formanda. This memoir is con- 
tained in the Acta Acad. ...Petrop. for 1777, pay^s piHor ; the 
date of publication of the volume is 1778 : the memoir occupies 
pages 8 — 23 of the part devoted to memoirs. 

425. The memoir is not the first which treated of the errors 
of observations as a branch of the Theory of Probability, for 
Thomas Simpson and Lagrange had already considered the sub- 
ject ; see Art. 371. 

Daniel Bernoulli however does not seem to have been ac- 
quainted with the researches of his predecessors. 

Daniel Bernoulli says that the common method of obtaining 
a result from discordant observations, is to take the arithmetical 
mean of the result. This amounts to supposing all the observa- 
tions of equal weight. Daniel Bernoulli objects to this supposition, 
and considers that small errors are more probable than large 
errors. Let e denote an error ; he proposes to measure the pro- 
bability of the error by ^(j-'^ — e^), where 7- is a constant. Then 


the best result from a number of observations will be that 
which makes the product of the probabilities of all the errors 
a maximum. Thus, suppose that observations have given the 
values a,h, c, ... for an element ; denote the true value bv x ; 
then we have to find x so that the following product may be a 
maximum : 

^y- _ (^ _ ay] sjy -{x- hy] s/y -{x- cy] . . . 

Daniel Bernoulli gives directions as to the value to be assigned 
to the constant ?\ 

426. Thus Daniel Bernoulli agrees in some respects with 
modern theory. The chief difference is that modern theory takes 
for the curve of probability that defined by the equation 

while Daniel Bernoulli takes a circle. 

Daniel Bernoulli gives some good remarks on the subject ; 
and he illustrates his memoir by various numerical examples, 
which however are of little interest, because they are not derived 
from real observations. It is a fatal objection to his method, even 
if no other existed, that as soon as the number of observations 
surpasses two, the equation from which the unknown quantity is 
to be found rises to an unmanageable degree. This objection he 
himself recognises. 

427. Daniel Bernoulli's memoir is followed by some remarks 
by Euler, entitled Ohservationes in pj'aecedeiitem dissertationem ; 
these occupy pages 24 — 33 of the volume. 

Euler considers that Daniel Bernoulli was quite arbitrary in 
proposing to make the product of the probabilities of the errors 
a maximum. Euler proposes another method, which amounts to 
making the sum of the fourth powers of the probabilities a 
maximum, that is, with the notation of Art. 425, 

y _ (a: - ayY + [r' - {x - ly]' 4- 17-^ -{x- c)^ + . . . 
is to be a maximum. Euler sa3^s it is to be a maximum, but 


he does not discriminate between a maximum and a minimum. 
The equation which is obtained for determining iK is a cubic, 
and thus it is conceivable that there may be two minima values 
and one maximum, or only one minimum and no maximum. 

Euler seems to have objected to the wrong part of Daniel 
Bernoulli's method ; the particular law of probability is really the 
arbitrary part, the principle of making the product of the pro- 
babilities a maximum is suggested by the Theory of Probability. 

Euler illustrates his method by an example derived from real 



428. EULER was bora in 1707, and died in 1783. His 
industry and genius have left permanent impressions in every 
field of mathematics ; and although his contributions to the 
Theory of Probability relate to subjects of comparatively small 
importance, yet they will be found not unworthy of his own great 
powers and fame. 

429. Euler's first memoir is entitled Calcul de la Prohahilite 
dans le Jeu de Rencontre. This memoir is published in the volume 
for 1751 of the Histoire de V Acad ... Berlin ; the date of pub- 
lication is 1753 : the memoir occupies pages 255 — 270 of the 

430. The problem discussed is that which is called the game 
of Treize, by Montmort and Nicolas Bernoulli-; see Art. 162. 
Euler proceeds in a way which is very common with him ; he 
supposes first one card, then two cards, then three, then four, and 
exhibits definitely the various cases which may occur. After- 
wards, by an undemonstrated inductive process, he arrives at the 
general law. 

The results obtained by Euler had been given more briefly 
and simply by Nicolas Bernoulli, and published by Montmort in 
his page 301 ; so we must conclude that Euler had not read 
Montmort's book. 

When n is infinite, the expression given in Art. 161 for the 

240 EULER. 

chance that at least one card is in its right place becomes equal 
to 1 — e~\ where e is the base of the Napierian logarithms ; this is 
noticed by Euler : see also Art. 287. 

431. The next memoir by Euler is entitled Recherches g^ne- 
rales sur la mortalite et la multiplication du genre humain. This 
memoir is published in the volume for 1760 of the Histoire de 
V Acad. ... Berlin ; the date of publication is 1767: the memoir 
occupies pages 144 — 164. 

432. The memoir contains some simple theorems concerning 
the mortality and the increase of mankind. Suppose N infants 
born at the same time ; then Euler denotes by (1) N the number 
of them alive at the end of one year, by (2) N the number of 
them alive at the end of two years, and so on. 

Then he considers some ordinary questions. For example, 
a certain number of men are alive, all aged m years, how many 
of them will probably be alive at the end of n years ? 

According to Euler's notation, (m) N represents the number 
alive aged m years out of an original number N\ and {m + n) N 
represents the number of those who are alive at the end of n 

more years ; so that — , . is the fraction of the number 

aged m years who will probably be alive at the end of n years. 
Thus, if we have a number M at present aged m years, there will 

probably be — -. — —- M of them alive at the end of n years. 

433. Then Euler gives formulae for annuities on a life. Sup- 
pose M persons, at present each aged m years, and that each 
of them pays down the sum a, for which he is to receive x 


annually as long as he lives. Let - be the present worth of the 

unit of money due at the end of one year. 

(m -f 1) 
Then at the end of a year there will be M ' . ^ of the 


persons alive, each of whom is to receive x : therefore the present 

worth of the whole sum to be received is - M —- -r — . 

X {m) 

EULEE. 241 

Similarly, at the end of the second year there will be 

(?/i + 2) 
M —7 — -^ of the persons alive, each of whom is to receive x : 


therefore the present worth of the whole sum to be received is 
-5 M ^ , . . And so on. 

The present worth of all the sums to be received ought to be 
equal to Ma ; hence dividing by M we get 

_ X ((m + 1) (m + 2) (m + 3) 

Euler gives a numerical table of the values of (1), (2), ... (95), 
which he says is deduced from the observations of Kerseboom. 

434. Let iV denote the number of infants born in one year, 
and r'i\^ the number born in the next year ; then we may suppose 
that the same causes which have changed N" into riV will change 
rN into rW, so that r^N will be the number born in the year 
succeeding that in which rN were born. Similarly, r^N will be 
born in the next succeeding year, and so on. Let us now express 
the number of the population at the end of 100 years. 

Out of the N infants born in the present year, there will 
be (100) N alive ; out of the rN born in the next year, there will 
be (99) rN alive ; and so on. Thus the whole number of persons 
alive at the end of 100 years will be 

[ ^. ^. ^ 

Therefore the ratio of the population in the 100*'' year to the 
number of infants born in that year will be 

If we assume that the ratio of the population in any year to the 
number of infants born in that year is constant, and we know this 
ratio for any year, we may equate it to the expression just given : 
then since (1), (2), (3), ... are known by observation, we have 
an equation for finding r. 


212 EULEn. 

435. A memoir by Euler, entitled Stir les Rentes Viageres, 
immediately follows tlie preceding, occupying pages 1G5 — 175 of 
the volume. 

Its principal point is a formula for facilitating tlie calculation 
of a life annuity. 

Let A.,^^ denote the value of an annuity of one pound on the 
life of a person aged 7n years, A,^_^^ the value of an annuity of 
one pound on the life of a person aged m + 1 years. Then by 
the preceding memoir, Art. 433, 

1 { {m-^l) 0)^ + 2) U+3) I 

. _ _1 {{m^ (m + 3) (»z + 4) ] 

"'^^ (m+1) 1 \ ^ X' "^ \' "^ ""J ' 

therefore (m) X A,,, = [m + 1) + {m + 1) J, 


Thus when A.^^ has been calculated, Ave can calculate A„^^^ 

Euler gives a table exhibiting the value of an annuity on 
any age from to 94. But with respect to the ages 90, 91, 92, 
93, 94, he says, 

Mais je ne voudrois pas consei'der a un entrepreneur de se mekr 
avec de tels vieillards, a nioins que leur nombre ne fut assez consider- 
able; ce qui est une regie generale pour tons les etablissemens fondes 
sur les probabilites. 

Euler is of opinion that the temptations do not appear suf- 
ficient to induce many persons to buy annuities on terms which 
would be advantageous to the sellers. He suggests that defended 
annuities might perhaps be more successful ; for it follows from 
his calculations, that 350 crowns should purchase for a new born 
infant an annuity of 100 crowns to commence at the age of 
20 years, and continue for life. He adds, 

...et si I'on y vouloit employer la somme de 3500 ecus, ce seroit 
toujours un bel etablissement, que de jouir cles I'age de 20 ans d'une 
pension fixe de 1000 ecus. Ce^^endant il est encore douteux, s'il se 
trouveroit plusieurs parens qui voiuh"oicnt bien faiie uu tel sacrifice 
pour le lien de leurs enfans. 

EULER. 2i3 

436. The next memoir by Euler is entitled Sur Vavantage du 
Banqiiier cm jeu de Fharaon. This memoir was published in the 
volume for 1764 of the Histoire de V Acad.... Berlin; the date of 
publication is 1766 : the memoir occupies pages 144 — 164. 

437. Euler merely solves the same problem as had been 
solved by Montmort and Nicolas Bernoulli, but he makes no refer- 
ence to them or any other writer. He gives a new form hoAvever 
to the result which we will notice. 

Consider the equation in Finite Differences, 

m {in — 1) (;? — m) (n — ??2 — 1 ) 
^'" " 2n (ii - 1) ^ 71 (n - 1) ""-' • 

By successive substitution we obtain 

m (m — 1)S 

u„ = 

" 2n{?i-l){n-2) ... (n-m + 1)' 

where S denotes the sum (f) (u) + </> (?i — 2) + (^ (/i — 4) + . . . , 

(f> (>i) being (ii — 2) (n — S) ... (n — m + 1). 

This coincides with what we have given in Art. 155, supposing 
that for A we put unity. 

AYe shall first find a convenient expression for S. We see that 

^= coefficient of x"'~^ in the expansion of (1 +£c)"~^ 


Hence S is equal to | m — 2 times the coefficient of cc'" " in the 
expansion of 

(1 + xy-' + (1 + xy-' +(14- xy-" + .,. 

Now in the game of Pharaon we have n always even ; thus we 
may suppose the series to be continued down to 1, and then its 
sum is 

(i+^)"-i ^, . . (1+^r-i 

(1 -\-'xy^l ^^'""^ '' 2x + x' ' 
Thus we require the coefficient of x"'"^ in the expansion of 

(1 + xy - 1 

2-^x ' 

16— 2 


This coefficient is 

n{n-l) ... {n-m-\- 2) n {n - 1) ... (n-m + 3) 

2 1 on - 1 ~ 4 I ?/z - 2 

n (n — 1) ... {n — m-\- 4) 
■^ 8 ! m - 3 

Then 8 — \m — 2 times this coefficient. 
Hence with this expression for S we find that 

1 772 1 771 {m — 1) 

^i'n = T 

'" 4 7i - «i + 1 8 (n - ??i + 1) {n - ??z + 2) 

1 m {in — 1) (w — 2) 

IG (?i - wi + 1) {n - m + 2) (« - m + 3) 


. (_ 1 V^ -1 m(m-l)...2 
■^^ ^ 2"^ (yi-m + 1) ...(vi-1)' • 

This is the expression for the advantage of the Banker which 
was given by Nicolas Bernoulli, and to which we have referred in 
Art. 157. 

Now the form which Euler gives for w„ is 

m { m — 1 {m — l){m — 2){m — 2) 

2'" \ l{n-l) 1.2.3(/i-3) 

• • • ( • 

{m — 1) {m — 2) {m — 3) (m — 4) {m — 5) 
+ ^^ — ^ o A — ^7 ^^ i- 

1.2. 3. 4. 5(;z-5) 

Euler obtained this formula by trial from the cases in which 
w = 2, 3, 4, . . . 8 ; but he gives no general demonstration. We will 
deduce it from Nicolas Bernoulli's formula. 

By the theory of partial fractions we can decompose the 
terms in Nicolas Bernoulli's formula, and thus obtain a series of 
fractions having for denominators w — 1, w — 2, n — 3, . . . ?z — ?7i + 1 ; 
and the numerators will be independent of n. 

We will find the numerator of the fraction whose denominator 
is w — r. 

From the last term in Nicolas Bernoulli's formula we obtain 

{-ly^^ w(m-l)...2 

m — ^ — r ?' — 1 ' 

EULER. 245 

from the last term but one we obtain 

2"'"' \m-l-r\r-2' 

and proceeding in this way we find for the sum 

_1 m-l-r |^~TT2 "^^ 17273 ''+-"j 


2»'+i 1^ 

(- 1)''"" I m 

-^ 1 - (1 - 2)' . 

n — 1 — r I ) 

This vanishes if r be an et;e?i number ; and is equal to 

'2r\r \m-l-r ' 
if r be odd. 

Thus Euler's formula follows from Nicolas Bernoulli's. 

438. The next memoir by Euler is entitled Sur la prohabilite 
des sequences dans la Lotterie Genoise. This memoir was published 
in the volume for 1765 of the Histoire de V Acad.... Berlin; the 
date of publication is 1767; the memoir occupies pages 191 — 230. 

439. In the lottery here considered 90 tickets are numbered 
consecutively from 1 to 90, and 5 tickets are drawn at random. 
The question may be asked, what is the chance that two or 
more consecutive numbers should occur in the drawings? Such 
a result is called a sequence ; thus, for example, if the numbers 
drawn are 4, 5, 6, 27, 28, there is a sequence of three and also a 
sequence of two. Euler considers the question generally. He 
supposes that there are n tickets numbered consecutively from 1 to 
n, and he determines the chance of a sequence, if two tickets are 
drawn, or if three tickets are drawn, and so on, up to the case in 
which six tickets are drawn. And having successively investigated 
all these cases he is able to perceive the general laws w^hich would 
hold in any case. He does not formally demonstrate these laws, 
but their truth can be inferred from what he has previously given, 
by the method of induction. 

24 G EULEE. 

440. As an example of Euler's method we will give his inves- 
tigation of the case in which three tickets are drawn. 

There are three events which may happen which may be repre- 
sented as follows : 

I. a, a-\-l, a-\-2, that is a sequence of three. 

II. a, a + 1; h, that is a sequence of two, the number h 
being neither a + 2 nor a — 1. 

III. a, h, c, where the numbers a, Jj, c involve no sequence. 

I. The form a, a-\-l, a + 2. The number of such events is 
n — 2. For the sequence may be (1, 2, 3), or (2, S, 4), or (3, 4, 5), 
up to (71 —2,n—l, n). 

II. The form a, a + 1, h. In the same way as we have just 
shewn that the number of sequences of three, like a, a + 1, « + 2, 
is 71 — 2, it follows that the number of sequences of two, like 
<2, a + 1, is 7z — 1. Now in general h may be any number between 
1 and n inclusive, except a—1, a, a + 1, a + 2; that is, h may be 
any number out of ?? — 4 numbers. But in the case of the first 
sequence of two, namely 1, 2, and also of the last sequence n — 1, 71, 
the number of admissible values of J is n — 3. Hence the whole 
number of events of the form a, « + 1, I, is (w — 1) (71 — 4) + 2, that 
is 71^ — 5n + Q), that is {n — 2) {ii — 3). 

III. The form a, h, c. Suppose a to be any number, then h 
and c must be taken out of the numbers from 1 to a — 2 inclusive, 
or out of the numbers from a + 2 to n inclusive ; and b and c must 
not be consecutive. Euler investiofates the number of events 
which can arise. It will however be sufficient for us here to take 
another method which he has also given. The total number of 
events is the number of combinations of 7i things taken 3 at a time, 

that is — ^^ — — . The number of events of the third kind 

can be obtained by subtracting from the whole number the num- 
ber of those of the first and second kind ; it is therefore 

71 (n — 1) Cii — 2) , J,. , ,,. . 

17273 — ~ ^'' ~ ^ ^" ~ ) ~ ^'' " ^- 

EULER. 94.7 

It will be found tliat tliis is 

(n - 2) (n - 3 ) {n - 4 ) 
1.2^3 • 

The chances of the three events will be found by dividing 
the number of ways in which they can respectively occur by the 
whole number. 

Thus we obtain for I, ii, iii, respectively 

2-3 2.3(^-3) {n - 3) {n - 4) 

71 (a -1)' n{a-l) ' n (n ~ 1) ' 

441. Euler's next memoir also relates to a lottery. This 
memoir is entitled Solution d'lme question tres difficile dans le 
Calcid des Prohahilites. It w^as published in the volume for 
1769 of the Histoire de VAcad. ... Berlin; the date of publication 
is 1771 : the memoir occupies pages 285 — 302 of the volume. 

442. The first sentences give a notion of the nature of the 

C'est le plan d'une lotterie qni ni'a fourni cette question, que je 
me propose de developper. Cette lotterie etoit de cinq classes, chacuue 
de 10000 billets, parmi lesquels il y avoit 1000 prix dans chaque 
classe, et par consequent 9000 bJancs. Chaque billet devoit passer 
par toutes les cinq classes; et cette lotterie avoit cela de particulier 
qu'outre les prix de chaque classe on s'engagooit de payer un ducat 
a cliacun de ceux dont les billets auroient passe par toutes les cinq classes 
sans rien gagner. 

443. We may put it perhaps more clearly thus. A man 
takes the same ticket in 5 different lotteries, each having 1000 
prizes to 9000 blanks. Besides his chance of the prizes, he is to 
have £1 returned to him if he gains no prize. 

The question which Euler discusses is to determine the pro- 
bable sum which will thus have to be paid to those who fail 
in obtaining jmzes. 

444. Euler's solution is very ingenious. Suppose h the num- 
ber of classes in the lottery ; let n be the number of prizes in each 
class, and m the number of blanks. 

24iS EULER. 

Suppose tlie tickets of the first class to have been drawn, and 
that the prizes have fallen on certain n tickets A, B, G ... 

Let the tickets of the second class be now drawn. Required 
the chance that the prizes will fall on the same n tickets as 
before. The chance is 

1.2 71 

(m + 1) (m+ 2) {m + n) ' 

And in like manner the chance that the prizes in all the 
classes will fall on the same tickets as in the first class, is obtained 
by raising the fraction just given to the power k — 1. 

Let {(m + 1) (m + 2) {m + n)Y~'=M, 

and {1.2 nY'' = a. 

Then -^ is the chance that all the prizes will fall on the same 

n tickets. In this case there are m persons who obtain no prize, 
and so the managers of the lottery have to pay m ducats. 

445. Now consider the case in which there are m — 1 persons 
who obtain no prize at all. Here besides the n tickets A, B, G, ... 
which gained in the first class, one of the other tickets, of which 
the number is m, gains in some one or more of the remaining 
classes. Denote the number of ways in which this can happen by 
^m. Now If denotes the whole number of cases which can 
happen after the first class has been drawn. Moreover /3 is in- 
dependent of m. This statement involves the essence of Euler's 
solution. The reason of the statement is, that all the cases 
which can occur will be produced by distributing in various 
ways the fresh ticket among A, B, G, ... excluding one of these 
to make way for it. 

In like manner, in the case in which there are m — 2 persons 
who obtain no prize at all, there are two tickets out of the m 
which failed at first that gain prizes once or oftener in the remain- 
ing classes. The number of ways in which this can occur may 
be denoted by <ym {in — 1), where 7 is indejjendent of m. 

Proceeding in this way we have from the consideration that 
the sum of all possible cases is M 

M= a + jSin + ym (in - 1) + 3m [m — 1) {in - 2) -f . . .. 

EULER. 249 

Now % 13, 'y, ... are all independent of m. Hence we may put 
in succession for on the values 1, 2, 3, ... ; and we shall thus be 
able to determine /S, y — 

446. Euler enters into some detail as to the values of /3, 7 . . . ; 
but he then shews that it is not necessary to find their values for 
his object. 

For he proposed to find the probable expense which will fall 
on the managers of the lottery. Now on the first hypothesis 
it is m ducats, on the second it is m — 1 ducats, on the third it 
is m — 2 ducats, and so on. Thus the probable expense is 

-r> \am + /3m (m - 1) + jm {m - 1) (m — 2) + . . . L 

= -^ ja + /3(w-l)+7 (771-1) (m-2) + ...L 

The expression in brackets is what we shall get if we change 
m into m — 1 in the right-hand member of the value of M in 
Art. 445 ; the expression therefore is what M becomes when Ave 
change m into m — 1. Thus 

a + y5(m-l) +7(7??- 1) {m-2) + ... 

= [m (771 + 1) . . . (m + n - 1) }'"\ 

Thus finally the probable expense is 

m Y ^ 


/)n + Uj 

Euler then confirms the truth of this simple result by general 


447. We have next to notice a memoir entitled Eclaircisse- 
mens sur le memoire de Mr. De La Gra^ige) inserS dans le V'^ 

volume de Melanges de Turin, concernant la methode de prendre le 

milieu entre les residtats de plusieurs observations, <^c. Presente 

a VAcademie le 27 Nov. 1777. This memoir was published in the 

Nova Acta Acad. ... Petrop. Tom. 3, which contains the history 

of the Academy for the year 1785 ; the date of publication 

of the volume is 1788 : the memoir occupies pages 289 — 297. 

250 EULEPu 

The memoir consists of explanations of psn't of that memoir 
by Lagrange to which we have aUuded in Art. 371 ; nothing new 
is given. The explanations seem to have been written for the 
benefit of some beginner in Algebra, and would be quite un- 
necessary for any student unless he were very indolent or very 

4i8. The next contribution of Euler to our subject relates to 
a lottery ; the problem is one that has successively attracted the 
attention of De Moivre, Mallet, Laplace, Euler and Trembley. 
We shall find it convenient before we give an account of Euler's 
solution to advert to what had been previously published by 
De Moivre and Laplace. 

In De Moivre's Doctrine of Chances, Problem xxxix. of the 
third edition is thus enunciated: To find the Expectation of J., 
when with a Die of any given number of Faces, he undertakes 
to fling any numxber of them in any given number of Casts. The 
problem, as we have already stated, first appeared in the De Men- 
sura Sortis. See Arts. 251 and 291. 

Let 71 be the number of faces on the die ; x the number of 
throws, and suppose that m specified faces are to come up. Then 
the number of favourable cases is 

,f _ ,„ u -Vf-\- ^^'^lH (,, _ 2)-^ - . . . 
^ ^ 1.2^ ^ 

where the series consists of m + 1 terms. The whole number of 
possible cases is if, and the required chance is obtained by di- 
viding the number of favourable cases by the whole number of 
possible cases. 

44^9. The following is De Moivre's method of investigation. 
First, suppose we ask in how many ways the ace can come up. 
The whole number of cases is 7f ; the whole number of cases 
if the ace were expunged would be {n — iy ; thus the whole number 
of cases in which the ace can come up is ;?/*"— (n — ly. 

Next, suppose we ask in how many ways the ace and deux 
can come up. If the deux were expunged, the number of ways 
in which tlie ace could come up would l)e [n — ly — {n — 2y, by 

EULER. 251 

what we have just seen ; this therefore is the niunber of ways 
in which with the given die the ace can come up without the deux. 
Subtract this number from the number of ways in which the ace 
can come up with or without the deux, and we have left the 
number of ways in which the ace can come up luith the deux. 
Thus the result is 

that is, if -2{n- Vf -f {n - 2f. 

De Moivre in like manner briefly considers the case in wdiich 
the ace, the deux, and the tray are to come up ; he then states 
what the result will be when the ace, the deux, the tray, and 
the quatre are to come up ; and finally, he enunciates verbally 
the general result. 

De Moivre then proceeds to shew how approximate numerical 
values may be obtained from the formula ; see Art. 292. 

450. The result may be conveniently expressed in the nota- 
tion of Finite Differences. 

The number of ways in which m specified faces can come up 
is A'" (71 — mY ; where m is of course not greater than n. 

It is also obvious that if m be greater than x, the event 
required is impossible ; and in fact we knoAv that the expression 
A"' (?z — my vanishes when ?n is greater than x. 

Suppose 71 = m ; then the number of ways may be denoted by 
A^O"^ ; the expression written at full is 

,f _ ,, (,, _. 1)- a. ^^j-^-^ {^ri-Tf-... 

451. One particular case of the general result at the end 
of the preceding Article is deserving of notice. If we jDut x = n, 
we obtain the number of ways in which all the 71 faces come up 
in n throws. The sum of the series wdien x = 7i is known to be 
equal to the product 1.2.3...??, as may be shewn in various 
ways. But we may remark that this result can also be obtained 
by the Theory of Probability itself; for if all the 7i faces are 
to appear in ii throws, there must be no repetition ; and thus the 

'252 EULER. 

number of ways is the number of permutations of n things taken 
all together. 

Thus we see that the sum of a certain series might be inferred 
indirectly by the aid of the Theory of Probability ; we shall 
hereafter have a similar example. 

452. In the Memoires ... par divers Savans, Vol. VI., 1775, 
page 363, Laplace solves the following problem : A lottery con- 
sists of n tickets, of which r are drawn at each time ; find the 
probability that after x drawings, all the numbers will have been 

The numbers are supposed to be replaced after each drawing. 

Laplace's method is substantially the same as is given in his 
Theorie . . . des Prob., page 192; but the approximate numerical 
calculations which occupy pages 193 — 201 of the latter work do 
not occur in the memoir. 

Laplace solves the problem more generally than he enunciates 
it ; for he finds the probability that after x drawings m specified 
tickets will all have been drawn, and then by putting n for m, 
the result for the particular case which is enunciated is obtained. 

453. The most interesting point to observe is that the pro- 
blem treated by Laplace is really coincident with that treated by 
De Moivre, and the methods of the two mathematicians are sub- 
stantially the same. 

In De Moivre's problem 7i^ is the whole number of cases ; the 
corresponding number in Laplace's problem is [^ (n, r)}'', where 
by (/) (71, r) we denote the number of combinations of n things 
taken r at a time. In De Moivre's problem (n — ly is the whole 
number of cases that would exist if one face of the die were 
expunged ; the corresponding number in Laplace's problem is 
j^(7i-l, r)]^ Similarly to (n — 2y in De Moivre's problem 
corresponds [(f) (n — 2, r)]"^ in Laplace's. And so on. Hence, in 
Laplace's problem, the number of cases in which m specified 
tickets will be drawn is 

{<P (n, r)Y-m {4, («- 1, r)}' + "^"~^^ (<^ (»- 2, r)}' - ... ; 

and the probability will be found by dividing this number by the 
whole number of cases, that is by {</> (?i, r)}^ 

EULER. 253 

454. With the notation of Finite Differences we may denote 
the number of cases favourable to the drawing of m specified 
tickets by A'" {(/> (n — 7?^, r)}^; and the number of cases favourable 
to the drawing of all the tickets by A" {(/> (0, r)Y. 

455. In the Histoire de VAcad. ... Paris, 1783, Laplace gives 
an approximate numerical calculation, which also occurs in 
page 195 of the Theorie ... des Proh. He finds that in a lottery 
of 10000 tickets, in which a single ticket is drawn each time, it 
is an even chance that all will have been drawn in about 957()7 

456. After this notice of what had been published by De 
Moivre and Laplace, we proceed to examine Euler's solution. 

The problem appears in Euler's Opuscida Analytica, Vol. Ii., 
1785. In this volume pages 331 — 346 are occupied with a memoir 
entitled Solutio quarundam quaestionum dijjiciliorum in calculo 
prohabilium. Euler begins thus : 

His quaestionibus occasionem dedit ludus passim publice institutus, 
quo ex nonaginta scliedulis, numeris 1, 2, 3, 4,... 90 signatis, statis tem- 
poribus quinae schedulae sorte extrahi sclent. Hinc ergo hujusmodi 
quaestiones oriuntur: quanta scilicet sit probabilitas ut, postquam datus 
extractionum numerus fuerit peractus, vel omnes nonaginta numeri 
exierint, vel saltern 89, vel 88, vel pauciores. Has igitur quaestiones, 
utpote difficillimas, hie ex principiis calculi Probabilium jam pridem usu 
receptis, resolvere constitui. Neque me deterrent objectiones Illustris 
lyAlembert, qui huuc calculum suspectum reddere est conatiis. Post- 
quam enim summus Geometra studiis mathematicis valedixit, lis etiam 
helium indixisse videtur, dum pleraque fundamenta solidissinie stabilita 
evertere est aggressus. Quamvis enim hae objectiones apud ignaros 
maximi ponderis esse debeant, hand tamen metuendum est, inde ipsi 
scientiae ullum detrimentum allatum iri. 

457. Euler says that he finds a certain symbol very useful in 
these calculations ; namely, he uses 

_q] 1.2 q 

458. Euler makes no reference to his predecessors De Moivre 
and Laplace. He gives the formula for the chance that all the 

254 EULEE. 

tickets shall be drawn. This formula corresponds with Laplace's. 
We have only to put 771 = w in Art. 453. 

Euler then considers the question in which n — 1, or ?i — 2, ... 
tickets at least are to be drawn. He discusses successively the 
first case and the second case briefly, and he enunciates his 
general result. This is tlie following ; suppose we require that 
71 — V tickets at least shall be drawn, then the number of favour- 
able cases is 

+ {i> + l)<j> {», v+2){,j>{n-v- 2, r)}' 

- i^^H^-±^ ^ („, ^ + 3){ct,in-v- 3, r) }'- . . . 

This result constitutes the addition which Euler contributes to 
what had been known before. 

459. Euler's method requires close attention in order to gain 
confidence in its accuracy ; it resembles that which is employed 
in treatises on Algebra, to shew how many integers there are 
which are less than a given number and prime to it. We will give 
another demonstration of the result which will be found easier 
to follow. 

The number of ways in which exactly m tickets are drawn 
is (^ (n, m) A'" {</) (0, r)Y. For the factor A"^ [(\> (0, r)Y is, by 
Art. 454, the number of ways in which in a lottery of m tickets, 
all the tickets will appear in the course of x drawings ; and 
(n, 77i) is the number of combinations of ii things taken m at 
a time. 

The number of ways in which n — v tickets at least will appear, 
will therefore be given by the formula S </> {ii, m) A"* {^ (0, r)Y, 
where S refers to m, and m is to have all values between n and 
n — v, both inclusive. 

Thus we get 

A" [^ (0, r)Y + « A'- [</> (0, r)r + ^^^-^ A»-[<^ (0, ryf 
the series extending^ to i^ + 1 terms. 

EULER. 255 

We may write this for shortness thus, 
{a-+ n A-- + 4;^ A- + " ^"^^;'- '' A-. ...} j^ (0, ,.;}: 

Now put E—1 for A, expand, and reariange in powers of E; 
we shall thus obtain 

1^" - (/> {n, V + 1) E''-'-' -\-{v + l)^ {n, V + 2) E"-'"' 

- (^^±1)^^ ^ (., . + .3) E-^ + ...} {^ (0, .^ ; 

and this coincides with Euler's result. 

We shall find in fact that when we put E—1 for A, the 
coefficient of E''~^ is 

(- '^y \J1 U n ^ P^P-^') p{r-V){p-^-.^ I 

\p \n-p \ ^ "^ 1.2 1.2.3 ■^•••j' 

where the series in brackets is continued to z^ + 1 terms, unless 
p be less than z^ + 1 and then it is continued to jj + 1 terms 
only. In the former case the sum of the series can be obtained by 
taking the coefficient of x" in the expansion of (1 — xY (1 - xy\ 
that is in the expansion of (1 — xY~^. In the latter case the sum 
would be the coefficient of x^ in the same expansion, and is there- 
fore zero, except when ^9 is zero and then it is unity. 

460. Since r tickets are drawn each time, the greatest number 
of tickets which can be drawn in x drawings is xr. Thus, as 
Euler remarks, the expression 

[<^ («. r)Y - n [4> [n - 1, r)Y + ^^^ {<i> (u - 2. r)]' - ... 

must be zero if n be greater than xr ; for the expression gives the 
number of ways in which 71 tickets can be drawn in r drawings. 
Euler also says that the case in which n is equal to xr is re- 
markable, for then the expression just given can be reduced to 
a product of factors, namely to 

256 EULER 

Euler does not demonstrate this result; perhaps he deduced 
it from the Theory of ProbabiHty itself. For if xr = n, it is 
obvious that no ticket can be repeated, when all the tickets are 
drawn in r drawings. Thus the whole number of favourable cases 
which can occur at the first drawing must be the number of 
combinations of n things taken r at a time ; the whole number 
of favourable cases which can occur at the second drawing is the 
number of combinations of ?2 — r things taken r at a time ; and 
so on. Then the product of all these numbers gives the whole 
number of favourable cases. 

This example of the summation of a series indirectly by the aid 
of the Theory of Probability is very curious ; see also Art. 451. 

461. Euler gives the following paragraph after stating his 

In his probabilitatibiis aestimandis utique assiimitur omnes litteras 
ad extrahendum aeque esse proclives, quod autem 111. D^Alemhert negat 
assumi posse. Arbitratur enim, simul ad omnes tractus jam ante per- 
actos respici oportere; si enim quaepiam litterae nimis crebro fuerint 
extractae, turn eas in sequentibus tractibus rarius exituras; contrarium 
vero eveniie si quaepiam litterae nimis raro exierint. Haec ratio, si 
valeret, etiam valitura esset si sequentes tractus demum post annum, 
vel adeo integrum speculum, quin etiam si in alio quocunque loco 
instituerentur ; atque ob eandem rationem etiam ratio haberi deberet 
omnium tractuum, qui jam olim in quibuscunque terrae locis fuerint 
peracti, quo certe vix quicquam absurdius excogitari potest. 

462. In Euler's Opuscula Analytica, Yol. ii., 1785, there is 
a memoir connected with Life Assurance. The title is Solutio 
quaestionis ad calculum j)7vhahilitatis pertinentis. Quantum duo 
conjuges per^solvere deheant, ut suis haeredihus post utriusque 
mortem certa argenti summa persolvatiir. The memoir occupies 
pages 315 — 330 of the volume. 

Euler repeats a table which he had inserted in the Berlin 
Memoirs for 1760 ; see Art. 433. The table shews out of 1000 
infants, how many will be alive at the end of any given year. 

Euler supposes that in order to ensure a certain sum when 
both a husband and wife are dead, x is paid down and z paid 

EULEE. 257 

annually besides, until both are dead. He investigates the re- 
lation which must then hold between x, z and the sum to be 
ensured. Thus a calculator may assign an arbitrary value to two 
of the three quantities and determine the third. He may sup- 
pose, for example, that the sum to be ensured is 1000 Rubles, 
and that x = 0, and find z. 

Euler does not himself calculate numerical results, but he 
leaves the formulae quite ready for application, so that tables 
might be easily constructed. 




463. D'Alembert was born in 1717 and died in 1788. This 
great mathematician is known in the history of the Theory of Pro- 
bability for his opposition to the opinions generally received ; his 
high reputation in science, philosophy, and literature have secured 
an amount of attention for his paradoxes and errors which they 
would not have gained if they had proceeded from a less distin- 
guished writer. The earliest publication of his peculiar opinions 
seems to be in the article Croix ou Pile of the Fncyclopedie ou 

Dictionnaire Raisonne We will speak of this work simply as 

the Encyclopedie, and thus distinguish it from its successor the 
Encyclopedie M^thodique. The latter work is based on the former ; 
the article Croiw ou Pile is reproduced unchanged in the latter. 

464. The date of the volume of the Encyclopedie containing 
the article Croix ou Pile, is 1754. The question proposed in the 
article is to find the chance of throwing head in the course of two 
throws with a coin. Let H stand for head, and T for taiL Then 
the common theory asserts that there are four cases equally likely, 
namely, HH, TH, II2\ TT\ the only unfavourable case is the 


last ; therefore the required chance is - . D'Alembert however 


doubts whether this can be correct. He says that if head appears 

at the first throw the game is finished and therefore there is no 

d'alembert. 259 

need of the second throw. Thus he makes only three cases, 

namely, H, TH, TT\ therefore the chance is ^. 


Similarly in the case of three throws he makes only four cases, 
namely, H, TH, TTE, TTT: therefore the chance is |. The 
common theory would make eight equally likely cases, and obtain 
- for the chance. 

465. In the same article D'Alembert notices the Petersburg 
Problem. He refers to the attempts at a solution in the Com- 

mentarii Acad Petrop. Vol. v, which w^e have noticed in 

Arts. 889 — 393 ; he adds : mais nous ne savons si on en sera satis- 
fait ; et il y a ici quelque scandale qui merite bien d'occuper les 
Algebristes. D'Alembert says we have only to see if the expecta- 
tion of one player and the corresponding risk of the other really 
is infinite, that is to say greater than any assignable finite number. 
He says that a little reflexion will shew that it is, for the risk 
augments wdth the number of throws, and this number may by the 
conditions of the game proceed to any extent. He concludes that 
the fact that the game may continue for ever is one of the reasons 
wdiich produce an infinite expectation. 

D'Alembert proceeds to make some further remarks w^hich are 
repeated in the second volume of his Ojniscides, and which will 
come under our notice hereafter. We shall also see that in the 
fourth volume of his Opuscules D'Alembert in fact contradicts the 
conclusion which w^e have just noticed. 

466. We have next to notice the article Gageure, of the 
Encyclopedie; the volume is dated 1757. D'Alembert says he wall 
take this occasion to insert some ver}^ good objections to what he 
had given in the article Croix ou Pile. He says, Elles sont de 
M. Necker le fils, citoyen de Geneve, professeur de Mathematiques 
en cette ville, ... nous les avons extraits d'une de ses lettres. The 
objections are three in number. First Necker denies that D'Alem- 
bert's three cases are equally likely, and justifies this denial. 
Secondly Necker gives a good statement of the solution on the 


2(j0 d'alembert. 

ordinary theory. Thirdly, he shews that D'Alembert's view is 
inadmissible as leading to a result which is obviously untrue : this 
objection is given by D'Alembert in the second volume of his 
Opuscules, and will come before us hereafter. D'Alembert after 
giving the objections says, Ces objections, sur-tout la derniere, 
meritent sans doute beaucoup d'attention. But still he does not 
admit that he is convinced of the soundness of the common theory. 

The article Gageure is not reproduced in the Encyclopklie 

467. D'Alembert wrote various other articles on our subject 
in the E ncy dope die ; but they are unimportant. We will briefly 
notice them. 

Als3nt. In this article D'Alembert alludes to the essay by 
Nicolas Bernoulli ; see Art. 338. 

Avantage. This article contains nothing remarkable. 

Bassette. This article contains a calculation of the advantage 
of the Banker in one case, namely that given by Montmort on his 
page 145. 

Carreau. This article gives an account of the sorts de jeu dont 
M. de Buff on a donne le calcid in 1733, avant que d'etre de 
V Academie des Sciences ; see Art. 354. 

De. This article shews all the throws which can be made with 
two dice, and also with three dice. 

Loterie. This is a simple article containing ordinary remarks 
and examples. 

Pari. This article consists of a few lines giving the ordinary 
rules. At the end we read : Au reste, ces regies doivent ^tre modi- 
fiees dans certains cas, ou la probabilite de gagner est fort petite, 
et celle de perdre fort grande. Voyez Jeu. There is however 
nothing in the article Jeu to which this remark can apply, which 
is the more curious because of course Jeu precedes Pari in alpha- 
betical order; the absurdity is reproduced in the Encyclopedic 

The article Prohahilite in the Encyclopedie is apparently by 
Diderot. It gives the ordinary view of the subject with the excep- 
tion of the point which we have noticed in Art. 91. 

d'alembert. 261 

468. In various places in his Ojyuscules Mathematiques D'Alem- 
bert gives remarks on the Theory of ProbabiUties. These remarks 
are mainly directed against the first principles of the subject which 
D'Alembert professes to regard as unsound. We will now examine 
all the places in which these remarks occur. 

469. In the second volume of the Opuscules the first memoir 
is entitled Reflexions silt le calcul des Prohabilites ; it occupies 
pages 1 — 25. The date of the volume is 1761. D'Alembert 
begins by quoting the common rule for expectation in the Theory 
of Probability, namely that it is found by taking the product of the 
loss or gain which an event will produce, by the probability that 
this event will happen. D'Alembert says that this rule had been 
adopted by all analysts, but that cases exist in which the rule 
seems to fail. 

470. The first case wdiich D'Alembert brings forward is that 
of the Petersburg Problem; see Art. 389. By the ordinary theory 
A ought to give B an infinite sum for the privilege of playing 
with him. D'Alembert says. 

Or, independamment de ce qu'une somme infinie est line cliimere, 
11 n'y a personne qui vouliit douner pour jouer a ce jeu, je ne dis pas 
une somme infinie, mais meme une somme assez modique. 

471. D'Alembert notices a solution of the Petersburg Problem 
which had been communicated to him by un Geometre celebre 
de I'Academie des Sciences, plein de savoir et de sagacite. He 
means Fontaine I presume, as the solution is that which Fontaine 
is known to have given ; see Montucla, page 403 : in this solution 
the fact is considered that B cannot pay more than a certain sum, 
and this limits what A ought to give to induce B to play. D'Alem- 
bert says that this is unsatisfactory ; for suppose it is agreed that 
the game shall only extend to a finite number of trials, say 100 ; 
then the theory indicates that A should give 50 crowns. D'Alem- 
bert asserts that this is too much. 

The answer to D'Alembert is simple ; and it is very well put in 
fact by Condorcet, as we shall see hereafter. The ordinary rule is 
entitled to be adopted, because in the long run it is equally fair to 

262 d'alembeet. 

both parties A and B, and any other rule would be unfah^ to one 
or the other. 

472. D'Alembert concludes from his remarks that when the 
probability of an event is very small it ought to be regarded and 
treated as zero. For example he says, suppose Peter plays with 
James on this condition ; a coin is to be tossed one hundred times, 
and if head appear at the last trial and not before, James shall give 
2^^^ crowns to Peter. By the ordinary theory Peter ought to give 
to James one crown at the beginning of the game. 

D'Alembert says that Peter ought not to give this crown 
because he will certainly lose, for head will appear before the 
hundredth trial, certainly though not necessarily. 

D'Alembert's doctrine about a small probability being equi- 
valent to zero was also maintained by Buffon. 

473. D'Alembert says that we must distinguish between what 
is metaphysically possible, and what is physically possible. In the 
first class are included all those things of which the existence is not 
absurd ; in the second class are included only those things of which 
the existence is not too extraordinary to occur in the ordinary 
course of events. It is metaphysically possible to throw two sixes 
with two dice a hundred times running ; but it is physically impos- 
sible, because it never has happened and never will happen. 

This is of course only saying in another way that a very small 
chance is to be regarded and treated as zero. DAlembert shews 
however, that when we come to ask at what stage in the diminu- 
tion of chance we shall consider the chance as zero, we are in- 
volved in difficulty ; and he uses this as an additional argument 
against the common theory. 

See also Mill's Logic, 1862, Vol. ii. page 170. 

474. D'Alembert says he will propose an idea which has 
occurred to him, by which the ratio of probabilities may be 
estimated. The idea is simply to make experiments. He ex- 
emplifies it by supposing a coin to be tossed a large number of 
times, and the results to be observed. We shall find that this 
has been done at the instance of Buffon and others. It is need- 
less to say that the advocates of the common Theory of Proba- 

d'alembeht. 263 

bility would be quite willing to accept D'Alembert's reference to 
experiment ; for relying on the theorem of James Bernoulli, they 
would have no doubt that experiment would confirm their calcula- 
tions. It is however curious that D'Alembert proceeds in his 
very next paragraph to make a remark which is quite inconsistent 
with his appeal to experiment. For he says that if head has 
arrived three times in succession, it is more likely that the next 
arrival will be tail than head. He says that the oftener head 
has arrived in succession the more likely it is that tail will 
arrive at the next throw. He considers that this is obvious, and 
that it furnishes another example of the defects of the ordinary 
theory. In the Opuscules, Vol. iv. pages 90 — 92, D'Alembert 
notices the charge of inconsistency which may be urged against 
him, and attempts to reply to it. 

475. D'Alembert then proceeds to another example, which, 
as he intimates, he had already given in the Encyclopedie, under 
the titles Croix ou Pile and Gageure ; see Art. 463. The question 
is this : required the probability of throwing a head with a coin 
in two trials. 

D'Alembert came to the conclusion in the Encyclopedie that 

2 3 

the chance ought to be ^ instead of -r . In the Opuscides how- 

ever he does not insist very strongly on the correctness of the 

result ^ , but seems to be content with saying that the reasoning 


which jDroduces j is unsound. 

D'Alembert urges his objections against the ordinary theory 
with great pertinacity ; and any person who wishes to see all that 
a gi'eat mathematician could produce on the wrong side of a 
question should consult the original memoir. But we agree with 
every other ^^Titer on the subject in thinking that there is no 
real force in D'Alembert's objections. 

476. The folloAving extract will shew that D'Alembert no 

longer insisted on the absolute accuracy of the result ^ : 

264^ d'alembekt. 

Je ne voudrois pas cependant regarder en toute rigueur les trois coups 
dont il s'agit, comme egalement possibles. Car 1°, il povirroit se faire 
en effet (et je suis meme porte a le croire), que le cas pile croix ne fut 
pas exactement aussi possible que le cas croix seiil; mais le rapport des 
possibilites me paroit inappretiable. 2". II poiirroit se faire encore que 
le coup 2)il& croix fiit un peu plus possible que pile pile, par cette seule 
raison que dans le dernier le meme effet arrive deux fois de suite; mais 
le rapport des possibilites (suppose qu'elles soient inegales), n'est pas 
plus facile a etablir dans ce second cas, que dans le premier. Ainsi 
il pourroit tres-bien se faire que dans le cas propose, le rapport des 
probabilites ne fut ni de 3 a 1, ni de 2 a 1 (comme nous I'avons sup- 
pose dans VUncyclopeclie) mais un incommensurable ou inappretiable, 
moyen entre ces deux nombres. Je crois cependant que cet incommen- 
surable approcliera plus de 2 que de 3, parce qu' encore une fois il n'y 
a que trois cas possibles, et non pas quatre. Je crois de meme et par 
les memes raisons, que dans le cas ou Ton joueroit en trois coups, le 
rapport de 3 a 1, que donne ma methode, est plus pres du vrai, que 
le rapport de 7 h 1, donne par la methode ordinaire, et qui me paroit 

477. D'Alembert returns to the objection which had been 
urged against his method, and which he noticed under the title 
Gageure in the EncyclopMie ; see Art. 466. Let there be a 
die with three faces, A, B, C ; then according to DAlembert's 
original method in the Encydopedie, the chances would always 
be rather against the appearance of a specified face A, however 
great the number of trials. Suppose n trials, then by DAlembert's 
method the chance for the appearance of A is to the chance 
against it as 2" — 1 is to 2". 

For example, suppose ti = 8 : then the favourable cases are 
A, BA, CA, BBA, BOA, CCA, CBA ; the unfavourable cases are 
BBB, BBC, BOB, BCG, CBB, GBG, GGG, GGB: thus the ratio 
is that of 7 to 8. D'Alembert now admits that these cases are 
not equally likely to happen ; though he believes it difficult to 
assign their ratio to one another. 

Thus we may say that D'Alembert started with decided but 
erroneous opinions, and afterwards passed into a stage of general 
doubt and uncertainty; and the dubious honour of effecting the 
transformation may be attributed to Necker. 

d'alembert. 265 

478. D'Alembert thus sums up his results, on his page 24 : 

Concluons de toutes ces reflexions j 1". que si la regie que j'ai donnee 
dans Y Encyclopedie (faute d'en connoitre une meilleure) pour deter- 
miner le rapport des probabilites au jeu de croix et pile, n'est point 
exacte a la rigueur, la regie ordinaire pour determiner ce rapport, Test 
encore moins; 2". que pour parvenh a une tlieorie satisfaisante du cal- 
cul des probabilites, il faudroit resoudre plusieurs Problemes qui sont 
peut-etre insolubles; savoir, d'assigner le vrai rapport des probabilites 
dans les cas qui ne sont pas egalement possibles, ou qui peuvent 
n'etre pas regardes conime tels; de determiner quand la j)robabilite 
doit etre regardee comme nulle ; de fixer enfin comment on doit estimer 
I'esperance ou I'enjeu, selon que la probabilite est 2)lus ou moins grande. 

479. The next memoir by D'Alembert which we have to 
notice is entitled Sur^ Vwpplication du Calcid des Prohahilites a 
Vinocidation de la petite Verole ; it is published in the second 
volume of the Opuscules. The memoir and the accompanying 
notes occupy pages 26 — 95 of the volume. 

480. "We have seen that Daniel Bernoulli had written a 
memoir in which he had declared himself very strongly in favour 
of Inoculation ; see Art. 398. The present memoir is to a certain 
extent a criticism on that of Daniel Bernoulli. D'Alembert does 
not deny the advantages of Inoculation ; on the contrary, he is 
rather in favour of it : but he thinks that the advantages and 
disadvantages had not been properly compared by Daniel Ber- 
noulli, and that in consequence the former had been overestimated. 
The subject is happily no longer of the practical importance it 
was a century ago, so that we need not give a very full account 
of D'Alembert's memoir ; we shall be content with stating some 
of its chief points. 

481. Daniel Bernoulli had considered the subject as it related 
to the state, and had shewn that Inoculation was to be recom- 
mended, because it augmented the mean duration of life for 
the citizens. D'Alembert considers the subject as it relates to 
a private individual : suppose a person who has not yet been 
attacked by small-pox ; the question for him is, whether he will 
be inoculated, and thus run the risk, small though it may be, 
of dying in the course of a few days, or whether he will take his 

2GG d'aleivibert. 

cliauc3 of escaping entirely from an attack of small-pox during 
his life, or at least of recovering if attacked. 

D'Alembert thinks that the prosj^ect held out to an individual 
of a gain of three or four years in the probable duration of his 
hfe, may perhaps not be considered by him to balance the im- 
mediate danger of submitting to Inoculation. The relative value 
of the alternatives at least may be too indefinite to be estimated ; 
so that a person may hesitate, even if he does not altogether 
reject Inoculation. 

482. D'Alembert lays great stress on the consideration that 
the additional years of life to be gained form a remote and not 
a present benefit ; and moreover, on account of the infirmities of 
age, the later years of a life must be considered of far less value 
than the years of early manhood. 

D'Alembert distinguishes between the physical life and the 
real life of an individual. By the former, he means life in the 
ordinary sense, estimated by total duration in years ; by the latter, 
he means that portion of existence during which the individual is 
free from suffering, so that he may be said to enjoy life. 

Again, with respect to utility to his country, D'Alembert dis- 
tinguishes between the p)liysical life and the civil life. During 
infancy and old age an individual is of no use to the state ; he 
is a burden to it, for he must be supported and attended by 
others. During this period D'Alembert considers that the indi- 
vidual is a charge to the state ; his value is negative, and becomes 
positive for the intermediate periods of his existence. The civil 
life then is measured by the excess of the productive period of 
existence over that which is burdensome. 

Relying on considerations such as these, D'Alembert does not 
admit the great advantage which the advocates for Inoculation found 
in the fact of the prolongation of the mean duration of human 
life effected by the operation. He looks on the problem as far 
more difficult than those who had discussed it appeared to have 

483. We have seen that Daniel Bernoulli assumed that the 
small-pox attacked every year 1 in ii of those not previously 

d'alembeht. 2G7 

attacked, and that 1 died out of every m attacked ; on these 
hypotheses he solved definitely the problem which he undertook. 
D'Alembert also gives a mathematical theory of inoculation ; but he 
does not admit that Daniel Bernoulli's assumptions are established 
by observations, and as he does not replace them by others, he 
cannot bring out definite results like Daniel Bernoulli does. 
There is nothing of special interest in D'Alembert's mathematical 
investigation; it is rendered tedious by several figures of curves 
which add nothing to the clearness of the process they are sup- 
posed to illustrate. 

The follomng is a specimen of the investigations, rejecting the 
encumbrance of a figure which D'Alembert gives. 

Suppose a large number of infants born nearly at the same 
epoch ; let y represent the number alive at the end of a certain 
time ; let ti represent the number who have died during this 
period of small-pox : let z represent the number who would have 
been alive if small-pox did not exist : required z in terms of y 
and u. 

Let dz denote the decrement of ^ in a small time, dy the 
decrement of y in the same time. If we supposed the z individuals 
subject to small-pox, we should have 

dz = - dii. 

y ^ 

But we must subtract from this value of dz the decrement 

arising from small-pox, to which the z individuals are by hypo- 

thesis not liable : this is - du. 


Thus, dz = - dy + - du ; 

y y 

z z 
we put -^ - du and not du, because z and y diminish while 

/ y y 

u increases. Then 

dz dif du 

^ y y 

therefore log z = \ogy + \ — 


268 d'alembert. 

The result is not of practical use because the value of the 

C Ciu 
integral 1— is not known. D'Alembert gives several formulie 

which involve this or similar unfinished integrations. 

484. D'Alembert draws attention on his page 74 to the two 

distinct methods by which we may propose to estimate the espe- 

7'ance de vivre for a person of given age. The mean duration of 

life is the average duration in the ordinary sense of the word 

average ; the j^^^^ohahle duration is such a duration that it is an 

even chance whether the individual exceeds it or falls short of it. 

Thus, according to Halley's tables, for an infant the 7nea)i life is 

26 years, that is to say if we take a large number N of infants 

the sum of the years of their lives will be 2QN; the probable 

life is 8 years, that is to say ^ of the infants die under 8 years 

old and - die over 8 years old. 


The terms mea/i life and probable life which we here use have 
not always been appropriated in the sense we here explain ; on the 
contrary, what we call the mean life has sometimes been called 
the probable life. D'Alembert does not propose to distinguish the 
two notions by such names as we have used. His idea is rather 
that each of them might fairly be called the duration of life to be 
expected, and that it is an objection against the Theory of Proba- 
bility that it should apparently give two different results for the 
same problem. 

485. We will illustrate the point as D'Alembert does, by means 
of what he calls the curve of mortaliti/. 

Let X denote the number of years measured from an epoch ; let 
yjr (x) denote the number of persons alive at the end of x years 
from birth, out of a large number born at the same time. Let 
'yjr (x) be the ordinate of a curve ; then yjr (x) diminishes from 
X = to X = c, say, where c is the greatest age that persons can 
attain, namely about 100 years. 

This curve is called the curve of mortality by D'Alembert. 

d'alembert. 2G9 

The mean duration of life for persons of the age a years is 

I -v/r (x) dx 


The probable duration is a quantity h such that 

This is D'Alembert's mode. We might however use another 
curve or function. Let cf) (x) be such that <^ (x) dx represents the 
number who die in an element of time dx. Then the mean dura- 
tion of life for j)ersons aged a years is 

I (a? — a) (f) (x) dx 


I </) (x) dx 

J a 

The probable duration is a quantity h such that 

I (f) (x) dx = I cj) (x) dx, 

that is I (f> (x) dx = - j (f) (x) dx. 

Thus the mean duration is represented by the abscissa of the 
centre of gi'avity of a certain area ; and the probable duration is 
represented by the abscissa corresponding to the ordinate which 
bisects that area. 

This is the modern method of illustrating the point ; see 
Art. 101 of the Theory of Probability in the Encyclopcedia Metro- 

486. We may easily shew that the two methods of the pre- 
ceding Article agree. 

For we have <f)(x) —— h -^fr' (x), where Jc is some constant. 

I {x — a)<f> (x) dx j (x — ^) ^' (^) <^'^ 

. ' a J_a . 

I <^ (x) dx I -v/r' (x) dx 

J a -'a 

270 d'alemfsErt. 

iind I (x — «) -v/r' (x) dx = (x — a) ^jr {x) — I yfr (x) dx, 
therefore I (x — a) yjr' (x) dx = — j yjr (x) dx; 

and \//' (x) dx=: — yjr (a). 



I (a? — a) (p (x) dx I yjr (x) dx 

a .' a 

V (.X) dx ^ ^"^ 


This shews that ihe two methods give the same mean duration. 
In the same way it may be shewn that they give the same pyvhahle 

487. D'Alembert draws attention to an erroneous solution of 
the problem respecting the advantages of Inoculation, which he 
says was communicated to him by un savant Geotnetre. D'Alem- 
bert shews that the solution must be erroneous because it leads to 
untenable results in two cases to which he applies it. But he does 
not shew the nature of the error, or explain the principle on which 
the pretended solution rests ; and as it is rather curious we will 
now consider it. 

Suppose that N infants are born at the same 
epoch, and let a table of mortality be formed by 
recording how many die in each year of all dis- 
eases excluding small-pox, and also how many die 

of small-pox. Let the table be denoted as here ; 

so that u^ denotes the number who die in the r*'^ year excluding 
those who die of small-pox, and v,. denotes the number who die of 
small-pox. Then we can use the table in the following way : sup- 
pose M any other number, then if u^ die in the r*'' year out of N 

from all diseases except small-pox, -^^ w,. would die out of M; and 

so for any other proportion. 

Now suppose small-pox eradicated from the list of human dis- 
eases ; required to construct a new table of mortality from the 
above data. The savant Geometre proceeds thus. He takes the 













d'alembert. 271 

preceding table and destroys the colmnn v^, v^, ^3> ••• Then he 
assumes that the remaining column will shew the correct mortality 
for the number N—n at starting, where n is the total number who 
died of small-pox, that is n — v^-\- v^-\-v^+ ... 


Thus if we start w4th the number M of infants ^r^ ?<,. would 

N-n ' 

die on this assumption in the r^^ year. 

There is a certain superficial plausibility in the method, but it 

is easy to see that it is unsound, for it takes too unfavourable a view 

of human life after the eradication of small-pox. For let 

u^ + ^^2 + • • • ^^r = ^r > 

then we know from the observations that at the end of r years 
there are N —U^— V^ survivors of the original N \ of these w.^^ die 
in the next year from all diseases excluding small-pox. Thus 
excluding small-pox 


N-U,- V/ 

is the ratio of those who die in the year to those who are aged 
r years at the beginning of the year. And this ratio will be the 
ratio which ought to hold in the new tables of mortality. The 
method of the savant Geometre gives instead of this ratio the 
greater ratio 


N- U.- 


488. Thus we see where the savant Geometre was wrong, and 
the nature of the error. The pages in D'Alembert are 88 — 92 ; 
but it will require some attention to extricate the false principle 
really used from the account which D'Alembert gives, which is also 
obscured by a figure of a curve. In D'Alembert's account regard 
is paid to the circumstance that Inoculation is fatal to some on 
whom it is performed ; but this is only a matter of detail : the 
essential principle involved is that which we have here exhibited. 

489. The next publication of D'Alembert on the subject of 
Probabilities appears to consist of some remarks in his Melanges 

272 d'alembert. 

de Philosophie, Vol. v. I have never seen the original edition of 
this work ; but I have no doubt that the remarks in the Melanges 
de Philosopliie were those which are reprinted in the first volume 
of the collected edition of the literary and philosophical works of 
D'Alembert, in 5 Vols. 8vo, Paris, 1821. According to the cita- 
tions of some writers on the subject I conclude that these remarks 
also occur in the fourth volume of the edition of the literary and 
philosophical works in 18 Vols. 8vo, Paris, 1805. 

490. In the first volume of the edition of 1821 there are two 
essays, one on the general subject of Probabilities, and the other on 

The first essay is entitled Doutes et questions sur le Calcul des 
Prohahilites. These occupy pages 451 — 466 ; the pages being 
closely printed. 

D'Alembert commences thus : 

On se plaint assez communement que les formules des matli^ma- 
ticiens, appliquees aux objets de la nature, ne se trouvent que trop 
en defaut. Personne neanmoins n'avait encore apergu ou cru aper- 
cevoir cet inconvenient dans le calcul des prohahilites. J'ai os6 le 
premier proposer des doutes sur quelques principes qui servent de base 
ii ce calcul. De grands geometres ont juge ces doutes dignes d' attention; 
d'autres grands geometres les ont trouves ahsurdes; car pourquoi adou- 
cirais-je les termes dont ils se sont servis ? La question est de savoir 
s'ils ont eu tort de les employer, et en ce cas ils auraient doublement 
tort. Leur decision, qu'ils n'ont pas juge a propos de motiver, a en- 
courage des mathematiciens mediocres, qui se sont hates d'ecrire sur ce 
sujet, et de m'attaquer sans m'entendre. Je vais tacher de m'expliquer 
si clairement, que presque tous mes lecteurs seront a portee de me 

491. The essay which we are now considering may be described 

in general as consisting of the matter in the second volume 

of the Opuscides divested of mathematical formulae and so adapted 

to readers less versed in mathematics. The objections against 

the ordinary theory are urged perhaps with somewhat less con- 

fidence ; and the particular case in which - was proposed in- 

3 . 

stead of 7 ^s the result in an elementary question does not appear. 

But the other errors are all retained. 

d'alembert. 273 

492. There is some additional matter in the essay. D'Alem- 
bert notices the calculation of Daniel Bernoulli relative to the 
small inclination to the ecliptic of the orbits of the planets ; 
see Art. 394. D'Alembert considers Daniel Bernoulli's result 
as worthless. 

DAlembert says with respect to Daniel Bernoulli, 

Ce qu'il y a de singulier, c'est que ce grand geometre dont je parle, 
a trouve ridicules, du moins ^ ce qu'on m'assure, mes raisonnemens 
sur le calcul des 2^Tobahilites. 

493. D'Alembert introduces an illustration which Laplace 
afterwards adopted. D'Alembert supposes that we see on a table 
the letters which form the word Constantinojyolitanensibus, ar- 
ranged in this order, or arranged in alphabetical order ; and he 
says that although mathematically these distributions and a third 
case in which the letters follow at hazard are equally possible, 
yet a man of sense would scarcely doubt that the first or second 
distribution had not been produced by chance. See Laplace, 
Theorie . . . des Proh. page xi. 

494. D'Alembert quotes the article Fatalite in the Ency do- 
pe die, as supporting him at least partially in one of the opinions 
which he maintained ; namely that which we have noticed in the 
latter part of our Art. 474. The name of the writer of the article 
Fatalite is not given in the Encyclopedia. 

495. The other essay Avhich we find in the first volume 
of the edition of D'Alembert's literary and philosophical works 
of 1821, is entitled Reflexions sur T Inoculation ; it occupies 
pages 463 — 514. 

In the course of the preface D'Alembert refers to the fourth 
volume of his Opuscules. The fourth volume of the Opuscules is 
dated 1768 ; in the preface to it D'Alembert refers to his Me- 
langes de Philosophie, Vol. V. 

We may perhaps infer that the fifth volume of the Melanges.,, 
and the fourth volume of the Opuscules appeared at about the 
same date. 

496. The essay may be said to consist of the same matter 


27^ d'alembert. 

as appeared on the subject in the second volume of the Opuscules, 
omitting the mathematical investigations, but expanding and 
illustrating all the rest. 

D'Alembert's general position is that the arguments which 
have hitherto been brought forward for Inoculation or against it 
are almost all unsound. His own reflexions however lead to the 
conclusion that Inoculation is advantageous, and that conclusion 
seems more confidently maintained in the essay than in the 
Opuscules. Some additional facts concerning the subject are re- 
ferred to in the essay ; they had probably been published since 
the second volume of the Opuscules. 

497. D'Alembert retains the opinion he had formerly held as 
to the difficulty of an exact mathematical solution of the problem 
respecting the advantages of Inoculation. He says in summing 
up his remarks on this point : S'il est quelqu'un a qui la solution 
de ce probl^me soit reservee, ce ne sera st\rement pas a ceux qui 
la croiront facile. 

498. D'Alembert insists strongly on the want of ample col- 
lections of observations on the subject. He wishes that medical 
men would keep lists of all the cases of small-pox which come 
under their notice. He sa3"s, 

...ces registres, donnes an public par les Facultes de medecine ou 
par les particuliers, seraient certainement d'une utilite plus palpable 
et plus prochaine, que les recueils d'observations meteorologiques pub- 
lies avec tant de soin par nos Academies depuis 70 ans, et qui pour- 
tant, ^ certains egards, ne sont pas eux-memes sans utilite. 

Combien ne serait-il pas a souhaiter que les medecins, au lieu de 
se quereller, de s'injurier, de se dechirer mutuellement au sujet de 
I'inoculation avec un aeharnement tlieologique, au lieu de supposer 
ou de degniser les faits, voulussent bien se reunir, pour faire de bonne 
foi toutes les experiences necessaires sur une matiere si interessante 
pour la vie des homrnes ] 

499. We next proceed to the fourth volume of D'Alemherfs 
Opuscules, in which the pages 73 — 105 and 283—341 are de- 
voted to our subject. The remarks contained in these pages are 
presented as extracts from letters. 


500, We will now take the first of the two portions, which 
occupies pages 73 — 105, 

D'Alembert begins with a section Siir le calcul des Prohahilites. 
This section is chiefly devoted to the Petersburg Problem. The 

chance that head wdll not appear before the n^^' throw is ^ 

on the ordinary theory. D'Alembert proposes quite arbitrarily to 
change this expression into some other which will bring out a 

finite result for ^'s expectation. He suggests , ^-^ where 

/8 is a constant. In this case the summation wdiich the problem re- 


quires can only be effected approximately. He also suggests ^^^^^ 


^^^d „^^.a(»-i) where a is a constant. 

He gives of course no reason for these suggestions, except 
that they lead to a finite result instead of the infinite result of 
the ordinary theory. But his most curious suggestion is that of 

1 ^ 1 , where B and K are constants 

and 17 an odd integer. He says, 

Nous mettons le nombre pair 2 au denominateur de Texposant, afiu 
que quand on est arrive au nombre n qui donne la probabilite ^gale 
a zero, on ne trouve pas la probabilite negative, en faisant n plus 
grand que ee nombre, ce qui seroit clioquant ; car la probabilite ne 
sauroit jamais ^tre au-dessous de zero, II est vrai qu'en faisant n 
plus grand que le nombre dont il s'agit, elle devient imaginaire; mais 
cet inconvenient me paroit moindre que celui de devenir negative;... 

501. D'Alembert's next section is entitled Bur Tanalyse des 

D'Alembert first proposes une consideration tr^s-simple et 
tr^s-naturelle a faire dans le calcul des jeux, et dont M. de Buffon 
m'a donne la premiere idee, . . . This consideration we will explain 
when noticing a w^ork by Buffon. D'Alembert gives it in the 
form which Buffon ought to have given it in order to do justice 
to his own argument. But soon after in a numerical example 



276 d'alembert. 

D'Alembert falls back on Biiffon's own statement ; for he supposes 
that a man has 100000 crowns, and that he stakes 50000 at an 
equal game, and he says that this man's damage if he loses is 
greater than his advantage if he gains ; jDuisque dans le premier 
cas, il s'appauvrira de la moitie ; et que dans le second, il ne 
s'enrichira que du tiers. 

502. If a person has the chance ■ of gaining x and the 

chance — - — of losing y, his expectation on the ordinary theory 

is ~ ^ . D'Alembert obtains this result himself on the ordi- 

nary principles ; but then he thinks another result, namely 

— , miofht also be obtained and defended. Let jz denote the 

sum which a man should give for the privilege of being placed 
in the position stated. If he gains he receives x, so that as he 

paid z his balance is x — z. Thus — is the correspondincj 

expectation. If he loses, as he has already paid z he will have 
to pay y — ^ additional, so that his total loss is y, and his con- 
sequent expectation - — ^'^- . Then ^— — — is his total ex- 

p -^ q p + q 

pectation, which ought to be zero if z is the fair sum for him 

to pay. Thus z = ^ ^^ . It is almost superfluous to observe 

that the words which we have printed in Italics amount to as- 
signing a new meaning to the problem. Thus D'Alembert gives 
us not two discordant solutions of the sa77ie problem, but solu- 
tions of two different problems. See his further remarks on his 
page 283. 

503. D'Alembert objects to the common rule of multiplying 
the value to be obtained by the probability of obtaining it in 
order to determine the expectation. He thinks that the pro- 
bability is the principal element, and the value to be obtained 
is subordinate. He brings the following example as an objection 
against the ordinary theory; but his meaning is scarcely intel- 
ligible : 


d'alembert. 277 

Qu'on propose de choisir entre 100 combinaisons, dont 99 feroiit 
gagner mille ecus, et la 100® 99 mille ecus; quel sera I'liomme assez 
iusense pour preferer celle qui donnera 99 mille ecus. Uesperance dans 
les deux cas n'est done pas reellement la meme; quoiqu'elle soit la 
meme suivant les regies des probabilites. 

504^. D'Alembert appeals to the authority of Pascal, in the 
following words : 

Un homme, dit Pascal, passeroit pour fou, s'il hesitoit a so laisser 
donner la mort en cas qu'avec trois dez on fit vingt fois de suite trois 
six, ou d'etre Empereur si on y manquoit ? Je pense absolument comme 
lui j mais pourquoi cet homme passeroit-il pour fou, si le cas dont il 
s'agit, est 'pliysiquement j)ossible % 

See too the edition of D'Alembert's literary and philosophical 
works, Paris, 1821, Vol. I. page 553, note. 

505. The next section is entitled 8ur la duree de la vie. 
D'Alembert draws attentioD to the distinction between the mean 
duration of life and the probable duration of life ; see Art. 484. 
D'Alembert seems to think it is a great objection to the Theory 
of Probabihty that there is this distinction. 

D'Alembert's objection to the Theory of Probability is as 
reasonable as an objection to the Theory of Mechanics would be 
on the ground that the centre of gi'avity of an area does not 
necessarily fall on an assigned line which bisects the area. 

D'Alembert asserts that a numerical statement of Buffon's, 
which Daniel Bernoulli had suspected of inaccuracy, was not really 
inaccurate, but that the difference between Buffon and Daniel 
Bernoulli arose from the distinction between what we call meaii 
duration and probable duration of life. 

506. The last section is entitled Sur un Memoire de M. Ber- 
noulli concernant F Inoculation. 

Daniel Bernoulli in the commencement of his memoir had 
said, il seroit a souhaiter que les critiques fussent plus reserves 
et plus circonspects, et sur-tout qu'ils se donnassent la peine de se 
mettre au fait des choses qu'ils se proposent d'avance de critiquer. 
The words se mettre au fait seem to have given great offence to 

»'=7C' -tn' 


D'Alembert as he supposed they were meant for him. He refers 
to them in the Opuscules, Vol. IV. pages IX, 99, 100 ; and he 
seems with ostentatious deference to speak of Daniel Bernoulli 
as ce grand Geometre; see pages 99, 101, 315, 821, 323 of the 

507. D'Alembert objects to the hypotheses on which Daniel 
Bernoulli had based his calculation ; see Art. 401. D'Alembert 
brings forward another objection which is quite fallacious, and 
which seems to shew that his vexation had disturbed his judg- 
ment. Daniel Bernoulli had found that the average life of all 
who die of small-pox is 6^^ years ; and that if small-pox were 
extinguished the average human life would be 29^^ years. More- 
over the average human life subject to small-pox is 26^^ years. 
Also Daniel Bernoulli admitted that the deaths by small-pox 

were — ^^ ^^^ ^^® deaths, 


Hence D'Alembert affirms that the folloAving relation ought 

to hold; 

1 12 

but the relation does not hold; for the terms on the left hand side 
will give 27{^ nearly instead of 263^. D'Alembert here makes the 
mistake which 1 have pointed out in Art. 487 ; when that Article 
was written, I had not read the remarks by D'Alembert which 
are now under discussion, but it appeared to me that D'Alembert 
was not clear on the point, and the mistake which he now makes 
confirms my suspicion. 

To make the above equation correct we must remove 29^, 
and j)ut in its place the average duration of those who die of 
other diseases while small-pox still prevails ; this number will be 
smaller than 29j^2' 

508. We pass on to the pages 283—341 of the fourth volume 
of the Opuscules. Here we have two sections, one Sur le Calcul 
des probahilites, the other Sur les Calculs relatifs a I' Inoculation, 

609. The first section consists of little more than a repetition 

D ALEMBEllT. 279 

of the remarks which have akeady been noticed. D'Alembei-t 
records the origin of his doubts in these words : 

II y a pres de trente ans que j'avois forme ces doutes en Hsaiit 
Texcellent livre de M. BernoulU de Arte conjectandi ; . . . 

He seems to have returned to his old error respecting Croix 
ou Pile with fresh ardour : he says, 

...si les trois cas, croix, pile et croix, pile et 2^ile, les seuls qui 
puissent arriver dans le jeu propose, ne sont pas egalement possibles, 
ce n'est point, ce me semble, par la raison qu'on en apporte commu- 

nement, que la probabilite du premier est - , et celle des deux autres 

Q X - ou - . Plus j'y pense, et plus il me paroit que Tiiathematique- 
nient parlaut, ces trois coups sont egalement possibles... 

510. D'Alembert introduces another point in which he ob- 
jects to a principle commonly received. He will not admit that 
it is the same thing to toss one coin m times in succession, or 
to toss m coins simultaneously. He says it is perhaps physically 
speaking more possible to have the same face occurring simul- 
taneously an assigned number of times with m coins tossed at 
once, than to have the same face repeated the same assigned 
number of times when one coin is tossed ')n times. But no person 
will allow what D'Alembert states. We can indeed suppose circum- 
stances in which the two cases are not quite the same ; for example 
if the coins used are not perfectly symmetrical, so that they 
have a tendency to fall on one face rather than on the other. 
But we should in such a case expect a run of resemblances rather 
in using one coin for m throws, than in using m coins at once. 
Take for a simple example m — 2. We should have rather more 

than -r as the chance for the former result, and only - lor tlie 

latter; see Laplace, Theorie...des Proh. page 402. 

511. D'Alembert says on his page 290, II y a quelque temps 
qu'un Joueur me demanda en combien de coups consecutifs on 
pouvoit parier avec avantage d'amener une face donnee d'un de — 
This is the old question proposed to Pascal by the Chevalier de 

280 d'alembert. 

Mere. D'Alembert answered that according to the common theory 
in n trials, the odds would be as &" — 5" to 5". Thus there would 
be advantage in undertaking to do it in four throws. Then 
D'Alembert adds, Ce Joueur me repondit que Texperience lui avoit 
para contraire a ce resultat, et qu'en jouant quatre coups de 
suite pour amener une face donnee, il lui etoit arrive beaucoup 
plus souvent de gagner que de perdre. D'Alembert says that 
if this be true, the disagreement between theory and observation 
may arise from the fact that the former rests on a supposition 
which he has before stated to be false. Accordingly D'Alembert 
points out that on his principles the number of favourable cases 
in n throws instead of being 6" — 5^ as by the ordinary theory, 
would be 1 + 5 + 5^4-... + 5'^~\ This is precisely analogous to what 
we have given for a die with three faces in Art. 477. D'Alembert 
however admits that we must not regard all these cases as equally 

512. D'Alembert quotes testimonies in his own favour from the 
letters of three mathematicians to himself; see his pages 296, 297. 
One of these correspondents he calls, un tr^s-profond et trt^s-habile 
Analyste ; another he calls, un autre Mathematicien de la plus 
grande reputation et la mieux meritee ; and the third, un autre 
Ecrivain tres-eclaire, qui a cultive les Mathematiques avec succ^s, 
et qui est connu par un excellent Ouvrage de Philosophie. But 
this Ecrivain tres-dclaire is a proselyte whose zeal is more con- 
spicuous than his judgment. He says "ce que vous dites sur la 
probabilite est excellent et trer-evident ; I'ancien calcul des pro- 
babilitcs est ruine . . . D'Alembert is obliged to add in a note, 
Je n'en demande pas tant, a beaucoup pres ; je ne pretends point 
ruiner le calcul des probabilites, je desire seulement qu'il soit 
eclairci et modifie. 

513. D'Alembert returns to the Petersburg Problem. He 

Yous dites, Monsieur, que la raison pour laqiielle on trouve I'enjeu 
infini, c'est la supposition tacite qu'on fait que le jeu peut avoir 
une duree infinie, ce que n'est pas admissible, attendu que la vie des 
hommes ne dure qu'un temps. 

d'alembert. 281 

D'Alembert brings forward four remarks which shew that thi^ 
mode of explaining the difficulty is unsatisfactory. One of theoi 
is the following : instead of supposing that one crown is to be 
received for head at the first throw, two for head at the second 
throw, four for head at the third throw, and so on, suppose that in 
each case only one crown is to be received. Then, although theo- 
retically the game may endure to infinity, yet the value of the 
expectation is finite. This remark may be said to contradict a 
conclusion at which D'Alembert arrived in his article Croix oil 
Pile, which we noticed in Ai"t. ^^d. 

51-i. The case just brought forward is interesting because 
D'Alembert admits that it might supply an objection to his prin- 
ciples. He tries to repel the objection by saying that it only leads 
him to suspect another principle of the ordinary theory, namely 
that in virtue of which the total expectation is taken to be equal 
to the sum of the partial expectations ; see his pages 299 — 301. 


515. D'Alembert thus sums up his objections against the 
ordinary theory : 

Pour resumer en un mot tons ines doutes sur le calcul des pro- 
babilites, et les mettre sous les yeux des vrais Juges; voici ce que 
j'accorde et ce que je nie dans les raisonnemens explicites ou implicites 
sur lesquels ce calcul me paroit fonde. 

Premier raisonnement. Le u ombre des combinaisons qui amenent 
tel cas, est au nombre des combinaisons qui amenent tel autre cas, 
comme p est ^ q. Je conviens de cette verite qui est purement ma- 
thematique; done, conclut-on, la probabilite du premier cas est a celle 
du second comme j^ est a q. Yoila ce que je nie, ou du moins de 
quoi je doute fort; et je crois que si, par exemple, ^^ = 5', et que dans 
le second cas Je meme evenement se trouve un tres-grand nombre de 
fois de suite, il sera moins probable physiquement que le premier, 
quoique les probabilites mathematiques soient egales. 

Second raisonnement. LaprobabiUte - est a la probabilite — comme 

^ m n 

np ecus est a mp ecus. J'en conviens; done— x mp ecus = - x np ecus; 

j'en conviens encore; done Vesperance, ou ce qui est la meme chose, 

282 d'alembert. 

le sort d'un Joueur qui aura la probabilite — de gagner mp ecus, 

sera egale a I'esperance, au sort d'un Joueur qui aura la probabilite 


- de gagner np ecus. Yoila ce que je nie; je dis que Vesperaiice est 


plus grande pour celui qui a la plus grande probabilite, quoique la 
somme esperee soit moindre, et qu'on ne doit pas balancer de preferer 

le sort d'un Joueur qui a la probabilite - de gagner 1000 ecus, au 

sort d'un Joueur qui a la probabilite ^ttftt. d'en gagner 1000000. 

Trolsieme raisonnement qui nest qiiimplicite. Soit p + q le nombre 
total des cas, 2^ 1^ j^robabilite d'un certain nombre de cas, q la proba- 
bilite des autres; la probabilite de cliacun sera a la certitude totale, 
comme p et q sont k p + q. Viola ce que je nie encore; je conviens, 
ou plutot j'accorde, que les probabilites de cliaque cas sont comme p 
et q ; je conviens qu'il arrivera certainement et infailliblement un 
des cas dont le nombre est jy + q', mais je nie que du rapport des pro- 
babilites entr'elies, on puisse en conclure leur rapport a la certitude 
absolue, parce que la certitude absolue est infinie par ra^iport a la plus 
grande probabilite. 

Vous me demanderez peut-etre quels sont les principes qu'il faut, 
selon moi, substituer a ceux dont je revoque en doute I'exactitude ? Ma 
reponse sera celle que j'ai deja faite; je n'en sais rien, et je suis meme 
tres-porte a croii'e que la matiere dont il s'agit, ne peut etre soumise, 
au moins a plusieurs egards, a un calcul exact et precis, egalement net 
dans ses principes et dans ses resultats. 

516. D'Alembert now returns to the calculations relating to 
Inoculation. He criticises very minutely the mathematical in- 
vestigations of Daniel Bernoulli. 

The objection which D'Alembert first urges is as follows. • Let 
s be the number of persons alive at the commencement of the 


time X ; then Daniel Bernoulli assumes that — -r- die from small- 

pox during the time dx. Therefore the whole number who die 
from small-pox during the (n -f- 1)*^ year is 


""^^ sdx 

d'alembeht. 2bo 

But this is not the same thing as 7,-7 , where S denotes the 

number aUve at the beginning of the year ; for s is a variable 
gradually diminishing during the year from the value S with 

which it began. But ^7 ^^ ^^^ result which Daniel Bernoulli 

professed to take from observation ; therefore Daniel Bernoulli is 
inconsistent with himself. D'Alembert's objection is sound ; Daniel 
Bernoulli would no doubt have admitted it, and have given the 
just reply, namely that his calculations only professed to be 
approximately correct, and that they were approximately correct. 

Moreover the error arising in taking sdx and S to be equal in 

value becomes very small if we suppose S to be, not the value of 

s when x = 7i ov n + 1 but, the intermediate value when x = n -\- -^ ; 

and nothing in Daniel Bernoulli's investigation forbids this sup- 

517. We have put the objection in the preceding Article as 
D'Alembert ought to have put it in fairness. He himself however 
really assumes n = 0, so that his attack does not strictly fall on the 
whole of Daniel Bernoulli's table but on its first line ; see Art. 403. 
This does not affect the principle on which DAlembert's objection 
rests, but taken in conjunction with the remarks in the preceding 
Article, it will be found to diminish the practical value of the ob- 
jection considerably. See D'Alembert's pages 312 — 314. 

618. Another objection which D'Alembert takes is also sound ; 
see his page 315. It amounts to saying that instead of using the 
Differential Calculus Daniel Bernoulli ought to have used the 
Calculus of Finite Differences. We have seen in Art. 417 that 
Daniel Bernoulli proposed to solve various problems in the Theory 
of Probability by the use of the Differential Calculus. The reply 
to be made to D'Alembert's objection is that Daniel Bernoulli's 
investigation accomplishes what was proposed, namely an approxi- 
mate solution of the problem ; we shall however see hereafter in 
examining a memoir by Trembley that, assuming the In^otheses of 
Daniel Bernoulli, a solution by common algebra might be effected. 

28 i d'alembert. - 

519. D'Alembert thinks that Daniel Bernoulli might have 
solved the problem more simply and not less accurately. For 
Daniel Bernoulli made two assumptions ; see Art. 401. D'Alembert 
says that only one is required ; namely to assume some function 
of y for u in Art. 483. Accordingly D'Alembert suggests arbi- 
trarily some functions, which have apparently far less to recom- 
mend them as corresponding to facts, than the assumptions of 
Daniel Bernoulli. 

520. D'Alembert solves what he calls un prohleme assez cu- 

rieux ; see his page 325. He solves it on the assumptions of Daniel 

Bernoulli, and also on his own. We wdll give the former solution. 

Return to Art. 402 and suppose it required to determine out of 

the number s the number of those who will die by the small-pox. 

Let ft) denote the number of those who do not die of small-pox. 

Hence out of this number w during the time dx none will die 

of small-pox, and the number of those who die of other diseases 

/ sdx\ ft) 

will be, on the assumptions of Daniel Bernoulli, [ — d^ — 

Hence, — dco = (— d^ — 

mnj ^ * 

sdx\ ft) 
mnJ f ' 

,1 r dco dP sdx 

thereiore — = —34. - — . . 

Substitute the value of s in terms of x and | from Art. 402, 
and integrate. Thus we obtain 


ft) Ce" 

^ e" (/>^ - 1) + 1 

where C is an arbitrary constant. The constant may be deter- 
mined by taking a result which has been deduced from observa- 
tion, namely that ^ = 97 when a? = 0. 

521. D'Alembert proposes on his pages 326 — 328 the method 
which according to his view should be used to find the value of 
s at the time x, instead of the method of Daniel Bernoulli which 

d'alembeet. 285 

we gave in Art. 402. D'Alembert's method is too arbitrary in 
its hypotheses to be of any value. 

522. D'Alembert proposes to develop his refutation of the 
Savant Geometre whom we introduced in Art. 487. He shews 
decisively that this person was wrong ; but it does not seem to 
me that he shews distinctly Jiow he was wrong. 

523. D'Alembert devotes the last ten pages of the memoir 
to the development of his own theory of the mode of comparing 
the risk of an individual if he undergoes Inoculation with his 
risk if he declines it. We have already given in Art. 482, a hint 
of DAlembert's views ; his remarks in the present memoir are 
ingenious and interesting, but as may be supposed, his h}^otheses 
are too arbitrary to allow any practical value to his investiga- 

524. Two remarks which he makes on the curve of mortality 
may be reproduced ; see his page 840. It appears from Buffon''s 
tables that the mean duration of life for persons aged n years 


is always less than ^ (100 — n). Hence, taking 100 years as the 

extreme duration of human life, it will follow that the curve of 
mortality cannot be always concave to the axis of abscissse. Also 
from the tables of Buffon it follows that the pivhahle duration 
of life is almost always greater than the mean duration. D'Alem- 
bert applies this to shew that the curve of mortality cannot be 
always convex to the axis of abscissae. 

525. The fifth volume of the Opuscules was published in 
1768. It contains two brief articles with which we are con- 

Pages 228 — 231 are Bur les Tables de mortalite. The numeri- 
cal results are given which served for the foundation of the two 
remarks noticed in Art. 524. 

Pages 508 — 510 are Sur les calculs relatifs d V inoculation.,. 
These remarks form an addition to the memoir in pages 283 — 341 
of the fourth volume of the Opuscules. D'Alembert notices a reply 
which had been offered to one of his objections, and enforces the 

28(> d'alembeut, 

justness of his objections. Nevertheless he gives his reasons for 
regarding Inoculation as a useful practice. 

526. The seventh and eighth volume of the Opuscules were 
published in 1780. D'Alembert says in an Advertisement pre- 
fixed to the seventh volume, ''... Ce seront vraisemblablement, ^ 
peu de chose pr^s, mes derniers Ouvrages Mathematiques, ma tete, 
fatiguee par quarante-cinq annees de travail en ce genre, n'etant 
plus gu^re capable des profondes recherches qu'il exige." D'Alem- 
bert died in 1788. It would seem according to his biographers 
that he suffered more from a broken heart than an exhausted 
brain during the last few years of his life. 

527. The seventh volume of the Opuscules contains a memoir 
Sur le calcul des Prohahilites, which occupies pages 39 — 60. We 
shall see that D'Alembert still retained his objections to the 
ordinary theory. He begins thus : 

Je demande pardon aux Geometres de revenir encore sur ce sujet. 
Mais j'avoue que j)lus j'y ai pense, plus je me suis confirme dans mes 
<k>utes sur les principes de la theorie ordinaire; je desire qu' on eclaircisse 
ces doutes, et que cette tlieorie, soit qu'on y change quelques principes, 
soit qu'on la conserve telle qu'elle est, soit du moins exposee desormais 
de maniere a ne plus laisser aucuii nnage. 

528. We will not delay on some repetition of the old remarks ; 
but merely notice what is new. We find on page 42 an error which 
D'Alembert has not exhibited elsewhere, except in the article 
Cartes in the Encyclopedie Methodique, which we shall notice 

hereafter. He says that taking two throws there is a chance ^ of 

1 -^ 

head at the first throw, and a chance - of head at the second 


throw ; and thus he infers that the chance that head will arrive at 

least once is - +-^ or 1. He says then, Or je demande si cela est 

vrai, ou du moins si un pareil r^sultat, fonde sur de pareils prin- 
cipes, est bien propre a satisfaire I'esprit, The answer is that the 
result is false, being erroneously deduced : the error is exposed in 
elementary works on the subject. 

529. The memoir is chiefly devoted to the Petersburg Problem. 
D'Alembert refers to the memoir in Yol. vi. of the Memoires...par 

d'alembeht. 287 

divers Savans... in which Laplace had made the supposition that 
the coin has a gTeater tendency to fall on one side than the other, 
but it is not known on which side. Suppose that 2 crowns are to 
be received for head at the first trial, 4 for head at the second, 
8 for head at the third, . . . Then Laplace shews that if the game is 
to last for X trials the player ought to give to his antagonist less 
than X crowns if x be less than 5, and more than x crowns if x be 
greater than 5, and just x crow^ns if x be equal to 5. On the com- 
mon hj^pothesis he would always have to give x crowns. These 
results of Laplace are only obtained by him as approximations ; 
D'Alembert seems to present them as if they were exact. 

530. Suppose the probability that head should fall at first to 

be ft) and not ^ ; and let the game have to extend over n trial s 

Then if 2 crowns are to be received for head at the first trial, 4 
for head at the second, and so on ; the sum which the player 
ouQ:ht to orive is 

2(o ;i + 2 (1 - ft)) + 2^ (1 - ft>)^ + ... + 2"-^ (1 - ft))"-'}, 

which we will call H. 

D'Alembert suggests, if I understand him rightly, that if we 
know nothing about the value of co we may take as a solution of 

the problem, for the sum which the player ought to give I fldo). 

But this involves all the difficulty of the ordinary solution, for the 
result is infinite wdien n is. D'Alembert is however very obscure 
here ; see his pages 45, 46. 

He seems to say that I Cldco will be greater than, equal to, or 


less than ??, according as n is greater than, equal to, or less than 5. 
But this result is false ; and the argument unintelligible or incon- 

elusive. We may easily see by calculation that I D-dw = n when 

n = l\ and that for any value of n from 2 to 6 inclusive 

I Hc^ft) is less than n ; and that when n is 7 or any greater number 


I Q.du> is greater than n. 


288 d'alembert. 

531. D'Alembert then proposes a method of solving the Peters- 
hiirg Prohlem which shall avoid the infinite result ; this method is 
perfectly arbitrary. He says, if tail has arrived at the first throw, 

let the chance that head arrives at the next be ^ , and not 


- , where a is some small quantity ; if tail has arrived at the first 
throw, and at the second, let the chance that head arrives at the 

next throw be ^ , and not ^ ; if tail has arrived at the first 

throw, at the second, and at the third, let the chance that head 

arrives at the next throw be — , and not - ; and so on. 

^ Ji 

The quantities a, h, c, ... are supposed small positive quantities, 
and subjected to the limitation that their sum is less than unity, 
so that every chance may be less than unity. 

On this supposition if the game be as it is described in Art. 389, 
it may be shewn that A ought to give half of the following series : 


+ (!+«) 

-f (1 - a) (1 + a + ^) 

+ (1 - «) (1 - a - Z>) (1 + a + Z> + c) 

■^(l-a){l- a-h-c) {l + a-\-h + c-\-d) 


It is easily shewn that this is finite. For 

(1) Each of the factors 1+a, \ -\-a-\-h, l + a + Z>+c, ...is less 
than 2. 

(2) \ — a — h is less than 1 — a\ 

1 — a — 5 — c is less than 1 — a — h, and a fortiori less than 
1 — a ; 

and so on. 

Thus the series excluding the first two terms is less than the 
Geometrical Progression 

2 {1 - a + (1 - a)^ -f (1 - ay + (1 _ a)\ . .), 
and is therefore finite. 

d'alembert. 289 

This is D'Alembert's principle, only he uses it thus: he shews 
that all the terms beginning with 

are less than 

where s denotes the geometrical progression 

r being = l^a — b-c — d. * 

532. Thus on his arbitrary hypotheses D'Alembert obtains a 
finite result instead of an infinite result. Moreover he performs 
what appears a work of supererogation ; for he shews that the suc- 
cessive terms of the infinite series which he obtains form a con- 
tinually diminishing series beginning from the second, if we suppose 
that a, h,Cjd, ... are connected by a certain law which he gives, 

where p is a small fraction, and m — 1 is the number of the quan- 
tities a, h, c, d, e, ,.. Again he shews that the same result holds if 
we merely assume that a,h,c,d,e... form a continually diminish- 
ing series. We say that this appears to be a work of supereroga- 
tion for D'Alembert, because we consider that the infinite result 
Avas the only supposed difficulty in the Petersburg Problem, and 
that it was sufficient to remove this without shewing that the 
series substituted for the ordinary series consisted of terms con- 
tinually decreasing. But D'Alembert apparently thought differ- 
ently ; for after demonstrating this continual decrease he says, 

En voila assez pour faire voir que les termes de Tenjeu vont en 
diininuant des le troisieme coup, jusqu'au dernier. Nous avons prouve 
d'ailleurs que I'enjeu total, somme de ces termes, est fini, en supposant 
meme le nombre de coups infini. Ainsi le resultat de la solution que 
nous donnons ici du probleme de Petersbourg, n'est pas sujet a la diffi- 
culte insoluble des solutions ordinaires. 

583. We have one more contrilnition of D'Alembert's to our 
subject to notice; it contains errors which seem extraordinary, 


290 d'alembert. 

even for him. It is the article Cartes in the Encyclo^edie Metho- 
dique. The following problem is given, 

Pierre tient huit cartes dans ses mains qui sont : tin as, lin deux, 
un trois, im quatre, un cinq, un six, un sept et un huit, qu'il a melees : 
Paul parie que les tirant Tune apres I'autre, il les devinera k mesure 
qu'il les tirera. L'on demande combien Pierre doit parier centre un 
que Paul ne reussira pas dans son enterprise "? 

It is correctly determined that Paul's chance is 


Then follow three problems formed on this ; the whole is ab- 
surdly false. We give the words : 

Si Paul parioit d'amener ou de deviner juste a un des sept coups 

.11 1 

seulement, son esperance seroit -+=+...+ -^ , et par consequent 

I'enjeu de Pierre a celui de Paul, comme 

11 1 . - 1 1 1 

— 1 — 4- -I — a, I 

8 7 2 8 7 "* 2* 

Si Paul parioit d'amener juste dans les deux premiers coups seule- 

1 1 
ment, son esperance seroit o + ^ > et le rapport des enjeux celui de 

g + ^ a i-g-7. 

S'il parioit d'amener juste dans deux coups quelconques, son espe- 

.^11 11 11 

ranee seroit ——+—— + ... ^ — ^ — + ... ^ — ^ — ^+... 

8x7 8x6 S xz 7x6 7x2 6x5 

The first question means, I suppose, that Paul undertakes to be 
right once in the seven cases, and wrong six times. His chance 
then is 


8(,7"^6 + 5 + 4 + 3'^2 + V- 

For his chance of being right in the first case and wrong in the 
other six is 

16 5 4 8 2 1.. 1 


d'alembert. 291 

his chance of being right in the second case and wrong in all the 

others is 

7154321,,,. 1 

^X;iX^x-^XjX-Xx, that IS 

8 76 5 432' 8x6' 

and so on. 

If the meaning be that Paul undertakes to be right once at 

least in the seven cases, then his chance is - . For his chance of 


being wrong every time is 

8^7^6^5^4^3^2' ^^ 8 ' 

therefore his chance of being right once at least is 1 — - , that is ^ . 

o 8 

Tlie second question means, I suppose, that Paul undertakes 
to be right in the first two cases, and wrong in the other five. 
His chance then is 

1154321,,,. ■» 

^XsX-X-XtX^Xt;, that IS 

8 7 6 5 4 3 2' 8x7x6* 

Or it may mean that Paul undertakes to be right in the first 
two cases, but undertakes nothing for the other cases. Then his 

. 1 1 

chance is ^ x =■ . 

The third question means, I suppose, that Paul undertakes to 
be right in two out of the seven cases and wrong in the other five 
cases. The chance then will be the sum of 21 terms, as 21 combi- 
nations of pairs of things can be made from 7 things. The chance 
that he is right in the first two cases and wrong in all the others is 

1154321,. 1 

gX^x^x^x-x^x^, that IS 3 ^ ^ ^ g ; 

similarly we may find the chance that he is right in any two 
assigned cases and wrong in all the others. The total chance will 
be found to be 

8{7(6 + 5- + 4 + 3 + 2 + V + 6(5+4 + S + 2 + V 


292 d'alembekt. 

Or tlie third question may mean that Paul undertakes to be 
right twice at least in the course of the seven cases, or in other 
words he undertakes to be right twice and undertakes nothing 
more. His chance is to be found by subtracting from unity his 
chance of being never right, and also his chance of being right only 
once. Thus his chance is 

1_1/1 1 1 

8 8 1 7 "^ 6 "^ 5 

^ + 5+9 + ... + i). 

53-i. Another problem is given unconnected with the one we 
have noticed, and is solved correctly. 

The article in the Encyclopedie Metliodique is signed with the 
letter which denotes D'Alembert. The date of the volume is 1784, 
which is subsequent to D'Alembert's death ; but as the work was 
published in parts this article may have appeared during D'Alem- 
bert's life, or the article may have been taken from his manu- 
scripts even if published after his death. I have not found it in 
the original EncycloiJedie : it is certainly not under the title Cartes, 
nor under any other which a person would naturally consult. It 
seems strange that such errors should have been admitted into the 
Encyclopedie Methodique. 

Some time after I read the article Cartes and noticed the 
errors in it, I found that I had been anticipated by Binet in the 
Comptes Rendus ... Vol. xix. 1844. Binet does not exhibit any 
doubts as to the authorship of the article ; he says that the three 
problems are wrong and gives the correct solution of the first. 

535. We will in conclusion briefly notice some remarks which 
have been made respecting D'Alembert by other writers. 

536. Montucla after alluding to the article Croix ou Pile says 
on his page 406, 

D'Alembert ne s'est pas borne a cet exemple, il en a accumule plu- 
sieurs autres, soit dans le qiiatrieme volume de ses Opuscules, 1768, page 
73, et page 283 du cinquieme; il s'est aussi etaye dii suffrage de divers 
geometres qu'il qiialifie de distingues. Condorcet a appuye ces objec- 
tions dans plusieurs articles de rEiicyclopedie methodique ou par ordre 
de matieres. D'un autre cote, divers autres geometres out entrepris 

d'alembert. 293 

de r^pondre aux raisonnemens de d'Alembert, et je crois qu en par- 
ticulier Daniel Bernoulli a pris la defense de la theorie ordinaire. 

In this passage tlie word cinquieme is wrong; it should be 
quatrihne. It seems to me that there is no foundation for the 
statement that Condorcet supports D'Alembert's objections. Nor 
can I find that Daniel Bernoulli gave any defence of the ordinary 
theory ; he seems to have confined himself to repelling the attack 
made on his memoir respecting Inoculation. 

537. Gouraud after referring to Daniel Bernoulli's controversy 
with D'Alembert says, on his page 59, 

...et quant au reste des mathematiciens, ce ne fut que par le silence 
ou le dedain qu'il r^jDondit aux doutes que d'Alembert s'etait permis 
d'emettre. Mepris injuste et malhabile ou tout le monde avait a perdre 
et qu'une posterite moins prevenue ne devait point sanctionner. 

The statement that D'Alembert's objections were received with 
silence and disdain, is inconsistent with the last sentence of the 
passage quoted from Montucla in the preceding Article. According 
to D'Alembert's own words which we have given in Art. 490, he 
was attacked by some indifferent mathematicians. 

538. Laplace briefly replies to D'Alembert ; see Theorie... des 
Proh. pages vii. and x. 

It has been suggested that D'Alembert saw his error respecting 
the game of Croix ou Pile before he died ; but this suggestion 
does not seem to be confirmed by our examination of all his 
■writings : see Cambridge Philosophical Transactions, Yol. ix. 
page 117. 



589. The name of Bayes is associated with one of the most 
important parts of our subject, namely, the method of estimating 
the probabihties of the causes by which an observed event may 
have been produced. As we shall see, Bayes commenced the in- 
vestigation, and Laplace developed it and enunciated the general 
principle in the form which it has since retained. 

540. We have to notice two memoirs which bear the fol- 
lowing titles : 

An Essay towards solving a Prohlem in the Doctrine of Chances. 
By the late Rev. Mr. Bayes^ F.R.S. communicated hy Mr Price in a 
Letter to John Canton^ A.M. F.R.S. A Demonstration of the Second 
Rule in the Essay towards the Solution of a Prohlem in the Doctrine of 
Chances, published in the Philosoi')hical Transactions, Vol. liii. Com- 
municated hy the Rev. Mr. Richard Price, in a Letter to Mr. John 
Canton, M. A. F.R.S. 

The first of these memoirs occupies pages 870 — 418 of Vol. Liii. 
of the Philosophical Transactions ; it is the volume for 1763, and 
the date of publication is 1764. 

The second memoir occupies pages 296 — 825 of Vol. Liv. of the 
Philosophical Transactions; it is the volume for 1764, and the 
date of publication is 1765. 

541. Bayes proposes to establish the following theorem : If 

BAYES. 295 

an event has happened p times and failed ^ times, the probability 
that its chance at a single trial lies between a and h is 


x^ (1 - xy cix 


Bayes does not use this notation ; areas of curves, according to 
the fashion of his time, occur instead of integrals. Moreover we 
shall see that there is an important condition implied which we 
have omitted in the above enunciation, for the sake of brevity: 
we shall return to this point in Art. 552. 

Bayes also gives rules for obtaining approximate values of the 
areas which correspond to our integrals. 

542. It will be seen from the title of the first memoir that it 
was published after the death of Bayes. The Rev. Mr Richard 
Price is the well known writer, whose name is famous in connexion 
with politics, science and theology. He begins his letter to 
Canton thus : 

Dear Sir, I now send you an essay which I have found among the 
papers of our deceased friend Mr Bayes, and which, in my opinion, has 
gi-eat merit, and well deserves to be preserved. 

543. The first memoir contains an introductory letter from 
Price to Canton ; the essay by Bayes follows, in which he begins 
with a brief demonstration of the general laws of the Theory 
of Probability, and then establishes his theorem. The enuncia- 
tions are given of two rules which Bayes proposed for finding 
approximate values of the areas which to him represented our 
integrals ; the demonstrations are not given. Price himself added 
An Appendix containing an Application of the foregoing Rides 
to some particular Cases. 

The second memoir contains Bayes's demonstration of his prin- 
cipal rule for approximation ; and some investigations by Price 
which also relate to the subject of approximation. 

544. Bayes begins, as we have said, with a brief demonstra- 
tion of the general laws of the Theory of Probability ; this part of 
his essay is excessively obscure, and contrasts most unfavourably 
with the treatment of the same subject by De Moivre. 

296 BATES. 

Bayes gives the principle by which we must calculate the 
probability of a compound event. 

Suppose we denote the probability of the compound event by 


-^y the probability of the first event by z, and the probability 

of the second on the supposition of the happening of the first 

7 P h 

by -^ . Then our principle gives us ^^T = ^ '^Jf> ^^^ therefore 


z = — . This result Bayes seems to present as something new 

and remarkable ; he arrives at it by a strange process, and enun- 
ciates it as his Proposition 5 in these obscure terms : 

If there be two subsequent events, the probability of the 2nd -^ 

P . . 

and the probability of both together -^, and it being 1st discovered 

that the 2nd event has happened, from hence I guess that the 1st event 

. . P 
has also happened, the probability I am in the right is -r-. 

Price himself gives a note which shews a clearer appreciation 
of the proposition than Bayes had. 

b^o. We pass on now to the remarkable part of the essay. 

Imagine a rectangular billiard table ABCD. Let a ball be rolled on 

it at random, and when the ball comes to rest let its perpendicular 

distance from A She measured ; denote this by x. Let a denote the 

distance between AB and CD. Then the probability that the 

. c — h 

value of X lies between two assio^ned values J and c is . This 


we should assume as obvious ; Bayes, however, demonstrates it 

very elaborately. 

54<6. Suppose that a ball is rolled in the manner just ex- 
plained ; through the point at which it comes to rest let a line EF 
be drawn parallel to AB, so that the billiard table is divided into 
the two portions AEFB and EDCF. A second ball is to be rolled 
on the table ; required the probability that it will rest within the 

BATES. 297 

space AEFB. If x denote the distance between AB and ^i^tlie 


required probability is - : this follows from the preceding Article. 

547. Bayes now considers the following compound event : 
The first ball is to be rolled once, and so EF determined ; then 
p +q^ trials are to be made in succession with the second ball : 
required the probability, before the first ball is rolled, that the 
distance of EF from AB will lie between h and c, and that the 
second ball will rest p times within the space AEFB, and q times 
without that space. 

We should proceed thus in the solution : The chance that EF 

falls at a distance x from AB is — ; the chance that the second 


event then happens p times and fails q^ times is 

hence the chance of the occurrence of the two contino^encies is 

a \p_\q_ \«/ \ «/ * 
Therefore the whole probability required is 



Bayes's method of solution is of course very different from the 
above. With him an area takes the place of the integral, and 
he establishes the result by a rigorous demonstration of the ex 
ahsurdo kind. 

548. As a corollary Bayes gives the following: The proba- 
bility, before the first ball is rolled, that EF will lie between AB 
and CD, and that the second event will happen p times and fail q 
times, is found by putting the limits and a instead of h and c. 
But it is certain that EF will lie between AB and CD. Hence we 

298 BATES. 

have for the probability, before the first ball is thrown, that the 
second event will happen^ times and fail ^ times 


P <1 



549. We now arrive at the most important point of the essay. 
Suppose we only know that the second event has happened p times 
and failed q times, and that we wish to infer from this fact the 
probable position of the line ^i^" which is to us unknown. The 
probability that the distance of EF from AB lies between h 
and c is 

I x'^ {a — xy dx 




This depends on Bayes's Proposition 5, which we have given 
in our Art. 544. For let z denote the required probability ; 

z X probability of second event = probability of compound event. 

The probability of the compound event is given in Art. 547, 
and the probability of the second event in Art. 548 j hence the 
value of z follows. 

550. Bayes then proceeds to find the area of a certain curve, 
or as we should say to integrate a certain expression. We have 


^i>+i ^ ^P^ q{q-l) x'^' 

X I jL ^ X) CLX —~ — — ^ ~I~ 

p + 1 1 J9+ 2 ' 1.2 ^ + 3 "• 

This series may be put in another form ; let u stand for 1 — x, 
then the series is equivalent to 

jj + l'^p+l p + 2 '^ (p + 1) {p-^2) p + S 

q(q-l)(q-2) x^^r' 

{p + l){p-\-'2){p + '6) iJ + 4 ■^••• 

This may be verified by putting for u its value and rearranging 
according to powers of x. Or if we differentiate the series with 

BAYES. 299 

respect to x^ we shall find that the terms cancel so as to leave 
only ^u^, 

551. The general theory of the estimation of the probabilities 
of causes from observed events was first given by Laplace in the 
Memoires ...par divers 8avans, Vol. vi. 1774. One of Laplace's 
results is that if an event has happened p times and failed q 
times, the probability that it will happen at the next trial is 


x''^' (1 - xY dx 



x'' (1 - xY dx 

Lubbock and Drinkwater think that Bayes, or perhaps rather 
Price, confounded the probability given by Bayes's theorem with 
the probability given by the result just taken from Laplace ; see 
Lubbock and Drinkwater, page 48. But it appears to me that 
Price understood correctly what Bayes's theorem really expressed. 
Price's first example is that in which p = 1, and ^ = 0. Price says 
that "there would be odds of three to one for somewhat more 
than an even chance that it would happen on a second trial." 
His demonstration is then given ; it amounts to this : 


af{l-xYdx .^ 

I x^Q.- xy dx 




where p = l and q = 0. Thus there is a probability - that the 

chance of the event lies between ^ and 1, that is a probability 


7 that the event is more likely to happen than not. 

552. It must be observed with respect to the result in Art. 549, 
that in Bayes's own problem we hnonj that a priori any position 
of ^jF between AB and CD is equally likely ; or at least we know 
what amount of assumption is involved in this supposition. In 
the applications which have been made of Bayes's theorem, and 
of such results as that which we have taken from Laplace in 

300 BAYES. 

Art. 551, there has however often been no adequate ground for 
such knowledge or assumption. 

553. We have already stated that Bayes gave two rules for 
approximating to the value of the area which corresponds to the 
integral. In the first memoir, Price suppressed the demonstrations 
to save room ; in the second memoir, Bayes's demonstration of the 
principal rule is given : Price himself also continues the subject. 
These investigations are very laborious, especially Price's. 

The following are among the most definite results which Price 
gives. Let n =p + q, and suppose that neither p nor q is small ; 

let h = — //IN • Then if an event has happened p times and 

failed q times, the odds are about 1 to 1 that its chance at 

a single trial lies between - + -7^ and 7^ ; the odds are about 

2 to 1 that its chance at a single trial lies between - ■\- h and 


-^ — h'. the odds are about 5 to 1 that its chance at a sinsfle 
n ° 

trial lies between ^ + A V2 and ^ — h J% These results may be 

n n "^ 

verified by Laplace's method of approximating to the value of the 

definite integrals on which they depend. 

554. We may observe that the curve y — x^ (1— xy has two 
points of inflexion, the ordinates of which are equidistant from the 
maximum ordinate ; the distance is equal to the quantity h of the 
preceding Article. These points of inflexion are of importance in 
the methods of Bayes and Price. 



555. Lagrange was born at Turin in 1736, and died at 
Paris in 1813. His contributions to our subject will be found to 
satisfy the expectations which would be formed from his great 
name in mathematics. 

556. His first memoir, relating to the Theory of Probability, 
is entitled Memoire sur VutiliU de la methode de prendr^e le milieic 
entre les resultats de plusieurs observations ; dans lequel on examine 
les avantages de cette methode par le calcul des prohahilites ; et ou 
Von resoud differens prohlenies relatifs a cette matiere. 

This memoir is published in the fifth volume of the Miscellanea 
Taurinensia, which is for the years 1770 — 1773 : the date of 
publication is not given. The memoir occupies pages 167 — 232 
of the mathematical portion of the volume. 

The memoir at the time of its appearance must have been 
extremely valuable and interesting, as being devoted to a most 
important subject ; and even now it may be read with ad- 


557. The memoir is divided into the discussion of ten pro- 
blems ; by a mistake no problem is numbered 9, so that the last 
two are 10 and 11. 

The first problem is as follows : it is supposed that at every 
observation there are a cases in which no error is made, h cases 
in which an error equal to 1 is made, and h cases in which an 


error equal to — 1 is made ; it is required to find the probability 
that in taking the mean of n observations, the result shall be 

In the expansion of {« + 5 (ic + cc~^)}" according to powers of x, 
find the coefficient of the term independent of x\ divide this 
coefficient by {a + 2^)" which is the whole number of cases that 
can occur ; we thus obtain the required probability. 

Lagrange exhibits his usual skill in the management of the 
algebraical expansions. It is found that the probability diminishes 
as n increases. 

558. We may notice two points of interest in the course of 
Lagrange's discussion of this problem. Lagrange arrives indirectly 
at the following relation 

„ [n (n — 1)1 ^ {n(n — 1) (n — 

2.3 J"^*" 

^ 1.3.5... (2n~l) , 

and he says it is the more remarkable because it does not seem 
easy to demonstrate it a i^riori. 

The result is easily obtained by equating the coefficients of the 
term independent of x in the equivalent expressions 

(1 + ^rfl + iy, and^li^ 

XI ' X'' 

This simple method seems to have escaped Lagrange's notice. 

Suppose we expand ■ in powers of z ; let the 

V 1 — 2as — cz^ 

result be denoted by 

1 + A^z + A/ + A/ -f ... ; 

Lagrange gives as a known result a simple relation which exists 
between every three consecutive coefficients ; namely 

. _2n — l . n — 1 J 


This may be established by differentiation. For thus 

that is 

(a+cz) {l-{-A^z + A,/ + .., +Ay+ ...} 

= (l-2a2-cs') [Aj^ + 2A^z + .,, +nA^z''~'-^ ...}; 
then by equating coefficients the result follows. 

559. In the second problem the same suppositions are made 
as in the first, and it is required to find the probability that the 

error of the mean of n observations shall not surpass + — . 

Like the first problem this leads to interesting algebraical ex- 

We may notice here a result which is obtained. Suppose we 
expand {a + 5 (ic + £c"^)}" in powers of x\ let the result be de- 
noted by 

A^ + A^ (x-^x-') +A^ {x'^x-') -{-A, {x'+x-^ + ... ; 

Lagrange wishes to shew the law of connexion between the co- 
efficients Aq, A^, A^, ... This he effects by taking the logarithms 
of both sides of the identity and differentiating with respect to x. 
It may be found more easily b}" putting 2 cos ^ for a? + x~^, and 
therefore 2 cos rO for a?*" + x~'\ Thus we have 

(a + 25 cos ey = ^0 + ^A cos 6 + 2A^ cos 26 + 2A^ cos 8^ + . . . 

Hence, by taking logarithms and differentiating, 

Tib sin 6 _ A^ sin 6 + 2A^ sin 26 + ^A^ sin 3^ +. . . 
a-^2bco^6~ A^ + 2A^ cos 6 + 2A^ cos 2^ + . . . 

Multiply up, and arrange each side according to sines of mul- 
tiples of 6 \ then equate the coefficients of sin r6 : thus 

rib [A,_^ - A,^,] = raA, + b [{r - 1) A,_^ -f (r + 1) A,^,] ; 
therefore A^^, = b {n-r^rl) A -raA^ 


560. In the third problem it is supposed that there are a 
cases at each observation in which no error is made, h cases in 
which an error equal to — 1 is made, and c cases in which an error 
equal to r is made ; the probability is required that the error of 
the mean of n observations shall be contained within given 

In the fourth problem the suppositions are the same as in the 
third problem ; and it is required to find the most probable error 
in the mean of n observations ; this is a particular case of the 
fifth problem. 

561. In the fifth problem it is supposed that every observation 
is subject to given errors which can each occur in a given number 
of cases ; thus let the errors be p, q^ r, s, ... ^ and the numbers of 
cases in which they can occur be a, h, Cyd, ... respectively. Then 
we require to find the most probable error in the mean of n ob- 

In the expansion of {ax^ + hx^ + cic** + ...)" let M be the coeffi- 
cient of iC* ; then the probability that the sum of the errors is yit, 

and therefore that the error in the mean is — is 



Hence we have to find the value of //. for which M is greatest. 

Suppose that the error p occurs a times, the error q occurs 
/3 times, the error r occurs 7 times, and so on. Then 

a + /3 + 7+ =n, 

pOL + ql3 + ry -\- = fi. 

It appears from common Algebra that the greatest value of fjL 

is when 

a_/3_7_ _ n 

a h c a4-& + c+..'' 

^T , Lb pa-^- qh + rc-\- ... 

so that - —^ S • 

n a + 6 + c+ ... 

This therefore is the most probable error in the mean result. 

562. With the notation of Art. 561, suppose that a, h, c, ... 


are not known d priori; but that ct, /S, y, ... are known by ob- 
servation. Then in the sixth problem it is taken as evident that 
the most probable values of a, h, c, ... are to be determined from 
the results of observation by the relations 

a = ;8 = 7"--" 
so that the value of - of the jjreceding Article may be written 

fM _ pa. + ql3 +ry+ ... 
n a + /3 + 7+... 

Lagrange proposes further to estimate the probability that the 
values of a, h, c, ... thus determined from observation do not differ 
from the true values by more than assigned quantities. This is an 
investigation of a different character from the others in the 
memoir; it belongs to what is usually called the theory of in- 
verse probability, and is a difficult problem. 

Lagrange finds the analytical difficulties too great to be over- 
come ; and he is obliged to be content with a rude approxi- 

563. The seventh problem is as follows. In an observation it 
is equally probable that the error should be any one of the 
following quantities —a, - (a - 1), ... — 1, 0, 1, 2 ... 13 ; required 
the probability that the error of the mean of n observations shall 
have an assigned value, and also the probability that it shall lie 
between assigned limits. 

We need not delay on this problem ; it really is coincident 
with that in De Moivre as continued by Thomas Simpson : see 
Arts. 14^8 and S64<. It leads to algebraical work of the same kind 
as the eighth problem which we will now notice. 

oQ4^. Suppose that at each observation the error must be 
one of the following quantities — &, - (a — 1), ... 0, 1, ... a ; and 
that the chances of these errors are proportional respectively to 
1, 2, ... a + 1, a, ... 2, 1 : required the probability that the error in 


the mean of n observations shall be equal to - . 



We must find the coefficient of x>^ in the expansion of 

{^-« + 2a?-"+^ + ... + aa?-' + (a + 1) x° + ao; + .. . + 2a;"-' + a;"}", 

and divide it by the vahie of this expression when aj = 1, which is 
the whole number of cases ; thus we obtain the required pro- 

Now 1+ 2x + 3a;'+ ... + (a+ 1) a;"+ ... + 2a;""-' + x^ 


a+i\ 2 

= {iJ,x+x'-\-... + xy=(Kj^^ . 

Hence finally the required probability is the coefficient of 
a;'* in the expansion of 

1 a;-"" (1 - a;"-^y" ^ 
that is the coefficient of a;'^"^"" in the expansion of 


Lagrange gives a general theorem for effecting expansions, of 
which this becomes an example ; but it will be sufficient for our 
purpose to employ the Binomial Theorem. We thus obtain for 
the coefficient of a?'^"^"" the expression 

+ \ ^ ^ </)(7ia+At + l-2«-2) 

%i {271 - 1) {2n - 2) ^ , . o ON 1 
12 3 " 0(wa+/^ + l-3a-S)4-...|; 

where (r) stands for the product 

r (r+1) (r + 2) . . . (r + 2w - 2) ; 

the series within the brackets is to continue only so long as r is 
positive in (j) (r). 

565. We can see a priori that the coefficient of xf^ is equal 
to the coefficient of x~'^, and therefore when we want the former 
we may if we please find the latter instead. Thus in the result of 

LAGRANGE. " 307 

Art. 564>, we may if we please put — //, instead of /jl, without 
changing the vakie obtained. It is obvious that this would be 
a gain in practical examples as it would diminish the number 
of terms to be calculated. 

This remark is not given by Lagrange. 

566. We can now find the probability that the error in the 
mean result shall lie between assigned limits. Let us find the 
probability that the error in the mean result shall lie between 

and - , both inclusive. We have then to substitute in the 

n n 

expression of Article 56^ for //, in succes.sion the numbers 

— ny, —(iia — l), ...7 — 1, 7, 

and add the results. Thus we shall find that, usingf ^, as is 
customary, to denote a summation, we have 

S^ (7ia + /^ + 1) = — -^/r (7ia + 7 + 1), 

where -^/r (?-) stands for 

r (r + 1) (?' + 2) . . . (r + %i - 1). 

When we proceed to sum <^ (?ia + //- — ct) we must remember 
that we have only to include the terms for which noL + fi — a is 
positive; thus we find 

Xcj) (na + fJ' — OL) = ~ yjr {iiOL 4- 7 - a). 
Proceeding in this way we find that the probability that the 

710L "V 

error- in the mean result will lie between and - , both in- 

n n 

elusive, is 

r^r- J-v/r (nOL + 7 + 1) — 2/1 -v/r (nct. + 7 + 1— a— 1) 

+ \ ^ — ' -^ (71a + 7 + 1 - 2a - 2) 

2w i^n - 1) (2?i - 2) , , , , . „ ^s . \ 
^ ^ ./ ^^ ^ ^ {no, + 7 + 1 - 3a - 3) + . . .| ; 



the series tuithin the brackets is to continue only so long as r is 
positive in yjr (r). We will denote this by F^y). 

The probability that the mean error will lie between /3 and y, 
where 7 is greater than /3, is F[y) — F {^) if we include 7 and 
exclude ^ ; it is F{y — 1) — F{/3 — 1) if we exclude 7 and include 
/9; it is F{y)—F[(3—1) if we include both 7 and yS ; it is 
F{y — 1) —F{/3) if we exclude both 7 and /3. 

It is the last of these four results which Lagrange gives. 

We have deviated slightly from his method in this Article in 
order to obtain the result with more clearness. Our result is 
F {y — 1) — F {^) ; and the number of terms in F (y-l) is de- 
termined by the law that r in ^fr (r) is always to be positive : 
the number of terms in F ((3) is to be determined in a similar 
manner, so that the number of terms in F (/3) is not necessarily 
so great as the number of terms in F (y — l). Lagrange gives an 
incorrect law on this point. He determines the number of terms 
in F{y — 1) correctly; and then he j^'^ohngs F {,6) until it has 
as many terms as F{y — 1) by adding fictitious terms. 

567. Let us now modify the suppositions at the beginning 
of Art. 564^. Suj^pose that instead of the errors — a, — (a — l), ... 
we are liable to the errors — ka, — k {a — l), ... Then the investi- 
gation in Art. 5Q4! gives the probability that the error in the mean 

result shall be equal to — ; and the investigation in Art. 5G6 

gives the probability that the error in the mean result shall lie 

between — and - . Let a increase indefinitely and k diminish 
71 n 

indefinitely, and let o.k remain finite and equal to h. Let 7 and /3 

also increase indefinitely ; and let 7 = c« and I3 = h(x where c and h 

are finite. We find in the limit that F [y] — F {/S) becomes 

J- L + ny''-2n (c + n-ir^ + ^"^ ^^"^ ~ ^^ (c + n- 2^- .. 

each series is to continue only so long as the quantities which 
are raised to the power 2n are positive. 


This result expresses the probability that the error in the 

mean result will lie between — and — on the followinof hy- 

n n o J 

pothesis ; at every trial the error may have any value between 
— h and + h ; positive and negative errors are equally likely ; 
the probability of a positive error z is proportional to h — z, and 

in fact ~ — — - is the probability that the error will lie be- 
tween z and z + Sz. 

We have followed Lagrange's guidance, and our result agrees 
with his, except that he takes 7i = l, and his formula involves 
many misprints or errors. 

568. The conclusion in the preceding Article is striking. We 
have an exact expression for the probability that the error in 
the mean result will lie between assigned limits, on a very 7^ea- 
sonahle hypothesis as to the occiirrence of single errors. 

Suppose that positive errors are denoted by abscissse measured 
to the right of a fixed point, and negative errors by abscissae 
measured to the left of that fixed point. Let ordinates be drawn 
representing the probabilities of the errors denoted by the re- 
spective abscissae. The curve which can thus be formed is called 
the curve of errors by Lagrange ; and as he observes, the curve 
becomes an isosceles triangle in the case which we have just 

569. The matter which we have noticed in Arts. 563, dQ>^, 
566, 567, 568, had all been published by Thomas Simpson, in his 
Miscellaneous Tracts, 1757 ; he gave als(3 some numerical illus- 
trations : see Art. 371. 

570. The remainder of Lagrange's memoir is very curious ; 
it is devoted to the solution and exemplification of one general 
problem. In Art. 567 we have obtained a result for a case in 
which the error at a single trial may have any value between 
fixed limits ; but this result was not obtained directly : we started 
with the supposition that the error at a single trial must be one 
of a certain specified number of errors. In other words we started 
with the hypothesis of errors changing per saltum and passed on 



to the supposition of continuous errors. Lagrange wishes to solve 
questions relative to continuous errors without starting with the 
supposition of errors changing per saltum. 

Suppose that at every observation the error must lie between h 
and c; let ^ {x) dx denote the probabiUty that the error will lie 
between x and x-\-dx\ required the probability that in n obser- 
vations the sum of the errors will lie between assigned limits say 
/3 and 7. Now what Lagrange effects is the following. He trans- 
forms \\ ^{pc)a^dx\ into \f{z)(idz, where f{z) is a known 

function of z which does not involve a, and the limits of the 
integral are known. When we say that f {£) and the limits of 
z are known we mean that they are determined from the known 
function ^ and the known limits h and c. Lagrange then says 
that the probability that the sum of the errors will lie between 

/? and 7 is 1 f{z) dz. He apparently concludes that his readers 

will admit this at once ; he certainly does not demonstrate it. 
We will indicate presently the method in which it seems the de- 
monstration must be put. 

571. After this general statement we will give Lagrange's 
first example. 

Suppose that ^ {x) is constant = K say ; then 

6 (x) «* dx = — i^ , 

J h loof a 


therefore \j (b(x)a'dx[ = — —^ — r-f— 

Vb^' j (log a)" 

Now we may suppose that a is greater than unity, and then it 
may be easily shewn that 



(log ay' 

thus \ (f){x) a^ dx\ = -^ {a' - a^ j if ''a'" dy. 


Let c-'h = t, and expand {a' — a^y by the Binomial Theorem ; 
thus ' W (fi {x) a" dx\ 


^j— yja -na + 2. 2 ~***l/ ^ «^ «^- 

Now decompose I ^" ^oP'dy into its elements; and multiply 

them by the series within brackets. AVe obtain for the coefficient 

of a^'^ the expression 

where the series within brackets is to continue only so long as the 
quantities raised to the power n — 1 are positive. 

Let nc—y = z ; then dy — — dz\ when y—^ we have z = nc, 
and when y = 00 we have = — 00 . Substitute nc — z for ?/, and 
we obtain finally 

where f{z) = \ [nc — zy ^ - n {nc - z -ty 

+ \,2 ' {nc-z-2ty'-.. 

the series within brackets being continued only so long as the 
quantities raised to the power n — 1 are positive. 

Lagrange then says that the probability that the sum of the 
errors in n observations will lie between /3 and 7 is 

f V(.) dz. 


572. The result is correct, for it can be obtained in another 
way. We have only to carry on the investigation of the problem 
enunciated in Art. 563 in the same way as the problem enunciated 
in Art. 564 was treated in Art. 567; the result will be very similar 
to those in Art. 567. Lagrange thus shews that his process is 
verified in this example. 


573. In the problem of Art. 570 it is obvious that the sum 
of the errors must lie between nb and nc. Hence f[z) ought 
to vanish if z does not lie between these limits; and we can 
easily shew that it does. 

For if z be greater than 7ic there is no term at all in f{z), 
for every quantity raised to the power n — 1 would be negative. 

And if z be less than nh, then f{z)- vanishes by virtue of the 
theorem in Finite Differences which shews that the n^^ difference 
of an algebraical function of the degree n—1 is zero. 

This remark is not given by Lagrange. 

574. We will now supply what we presume would be the 
demonstration that Lagrange must have had in view. 

Take the general problem as enunciated in Art. 570. It is 
not difficult to see that the following process v/ould be suitable 
for our purpose. Let a be any quantity, which for convenience 
we may suppose greater than unity. Find the value of the ex- 

\ i(f) {xj a^i dxjr \ Icj) {x^) a^2 dxA J j</) {x^) a^» dxA , 

where the integrations are to be taken under the following 
limitations ; each variable is to lie between b and c, and the sum 
of the variables between z and z + Bz. Put the result in the 

form Pa^Sz ; then I Pdz is the required probability. 


Now to find P we proceed in an indirect way. It follows from 
our method that 


(f> {x) d" dx\ =i Pddz. 

J b ) J lib 

But Lagrange by a suitable transformation shews that 

' (f> {x) d'dxi = I ^f{z) a'dz, 

h ) J Zo 

where z^ and ^^ are known. Hence 

rnc fz 

Pa'dz= f[z)a'dz. 

J nb J Xo ' 

It will be remembered that a may be ani/ quantity which 


is greater than unity. We shall shew that we must then have 

Suppose that z^ is less than nh^ and z^ greater than nc. Then 
we have 

1 f{z)a'dz+ {f{z)-F} a'dz'-\- f{z)a'dz = ^, 

J SSq J nb '1 nc 

for all values of a. Decompose each integTal into elements ; put 
a^^ = p. We have then idtimately a result of the following 


^0 jr, + T^p + V + ^3P'+ - ^^^ ^V- •••} = 0, 

where T^, T^,... are independent of p. And p may have any 
positive value we please. Hence by the ordinary method of in- 
determinate coefficients we conclude that 

Thus P=f{^)- 

The demonstration will remain the same whatever supposition 
be made as to the order of magnitude of the limits z^ and z^ 
compared with nh and 7ic. 

57o. Lagrange takes for another example that which we have 
akeady discussed in Art. 567, and he thus again verifies his 
new method by its agreement with the former. 

He then takes two new examples ; in one he supposes that 

<f) {x) = K \/ c^ — x\ the errors lying between — c and c; in the 
other he supposes that cj) (x) = Kcosoo, the errors lying between 

- :=: and ^ . 
2 2 

576. We have now to notice another memoir by Lagrange 
which is entitled Becherches sw les suites reciirrentes dont les 
termes varient de plusieurs manieres di0rentes, qu sur Vintegra- 
tion des equations lineaires aux differences jinies et partielles ; et 
sur Tusage de ces equations dans la theorie des hazards. 

This memoir is published in the Nouveaux Menioires de VAcad. 
... Berlin. The volume is for the year 1775; the date of pub- 


lication is 1777. The memoir occupies pages 183 — 272 ; the ap- 
l^lication to the Theory of Chances occupies pages 240 — 272. 

577. The memoir begins thus ; 

J'ai clonne dans le premier Volume des Memoires de la Societe des 
Sciences de Turin une metliode nouvelle pour traiter la theorie des suites 
recurrentes, en la faisant dependre de Tintegration des equations lineaires 
aux differences finies. Je me proposois alors de pousser ces recherches 
l>lus loin et de les appliquer principalement a la solution de plusieurs 
problemes de la theorie des liasards; mais d'autres objets m'ayant depuis 
fait perdre celui la de vue, M. de la Place m'a prevenu en grand partie 
dans deux excellens Memoires sur les suites recurro-recurrentes, et sur 
V integration des equations differentielles finies et leur iisage dans la 
theorie des liasards^ imprimes dans les Volumes vi et vii des Memoires 
pr^sentes a 1' Academic des Sciences de Paris. Je crois cependant qu'on 
peut encore aj outer quelque chose au travail de cet illustre Geometre, et 
traiter le meme sujet d'une maniere plus directe, plus simple et surtout 
plus generale ; c'est I'objet des Recherches que je vais donner dans ce 
Memoire; on y trouvera des methodes nou veil es pour I'integration des 
equations lineaires aux differences finies et partielles, et I'application de 
ces methodes a plusieurs problenies interessans du calcul des probabilites ; 
mais il n'est question ici que des equations dont les coefficiens sont con- 
stants, et je reserve pour un autre Memoire I'examen de celles qui ont 
des coefficiens variables. 

578. We shall not delay on the part which relates to the 
Integration of Equations ; the methods are simple but not so good 
as that of Generating Functions. We proceed to the part of the 
memoir which relates to Chances. 

579. The first problem is to find tlie chance of the happening 
of an event h times at least in a trials. 

Let j9 denote the chance of its happening in one trial ; let 
?/^^^ denote the probability of its happening t times in x trials ; 
then Lagrange puts down the equation 

He integrates and determines the arbitrary quantities and thus 
arrives at the usual result. 

In a Corollary he applies the same method to determine the 


chance that the event shall happen just h times ; he starts from 
the same equation and by a different determination of the arbi- 
trary quantities arrives at the result which is well known, 

y (1 -pr' \a_ 

\b \a — h 

Lagrange refers to De Moivre, page 15, for one solution, and 
adds : mais celle que nous venons d'en donner est non seulement 
plus simple, mais elle a de plus I'avantage d'etre d^duite de prin- 
cipes directs. 

But it should be observed that De Moivre solves the problem 
again on his page 27; and here he indicates the modern method, 
which is self-evident. See Art. 257. 

It seems curious for Lagrange to speak of his method as more 
simple than De Moivre's, seeing it involves an elaborate solution 
of an equation in Finite Differences. 

580. Lagrange's second problem is the following : 

On sujDpose qu'a chaqiie coup il puisse arriver deux 6venemens dont 
les probabilites respectives soient p et q; et on demande le sort d'un 
joueur qui parieroit d'amener le premier de ces evenemens h fois au 
moins et le second c fois au moins, en un nombre a de coups. 

The enunciation does not state distinctly what the suppositions 
really are, namely that at every trial either the first event happens, 
or the second, or neither of them ; these three cases are mutually 
exclusive, so that the probability of the last at a single trial 
is 1 —p — q. It is a good problem, well solved ; the solution is 
presented in a more elementary shape by Trembley in a memoir 
which we shall hereafter notice. 

581. The third problem is the following : 

Les memes choses etant supposees que daus le Probleme li, on de- 
mande le sort d'un joueur qui parieroit d'amener, dans un nombre de 
coups indetermine, le second des deux Evenemens h fois avant que le 
premier fut arrive a fois. 

Let 7/^ J be the chance of the player when he has to obtain the 
second event t times before the first event occurs x times. Then 

316 LAGl^ANGE. 

This leads to 

yx,t - q |i + f/? + — 2 — P + 273 ' ^ 

+ ... 

(5 + ic- 2 

^ - 1 1 .-r - 1 

This result agrees with the second formula in Art. 172. 

582. The fourth problem is like the third, only three events 
may now occur of which the probabilities are p, q, r respectively. 
In a Corollary the method is extended to four events; and in 
a second Corollary to any number. 

To this problem Lagrange annexes the following remark : 
Le Probleme dont nous venons de donner une solution tres generale 
et tres simple renferme d'luie maniere generale celui qu'on nomme com- 
munement dans I'analyse des liasards le probleme des partis, et qui 
n'a encore ete resolu complettement que pour le cas de deux joueurs. 

He then refers to Montmort, to De Moivre's second edition, 
Problem VI, and to the memoir of Laplace. 

It is very curious that Lagrange here refers to De Moivre's 
second edition, while elsewhere in the memoir he always refers to 
the third edition ; for at the end of Problem vi. in the third 
edition De Moivre does give the general rule for any number of 
players. This he first published in his Miscellanea Analytica, 
page 210 ; and he reproduced it in his Doctrine of Chances. But 
in the second edition of the Doctrine of Chances the rule was not 
given in its natural place as part of Problem vi. but appeared as 
Problem LXix. 

There is however some difference between the solutions given 
by De Moivre and by Lagrange ; the difference is the same as 
that which we have noticed in Art. 175 for the case of two players. 
De Moivre's solution resembles the first of those which are given 
in Art. 172, and Lagrange's resembles the second. 

It is stated by Montucla, page 397, that Lagrange intended 
to translate De Moivre's third edition into French. 

583. Lagrange's fifth problem relates to the Duration of Play, 
in the case in which one player has unlimited capital ; this is De 
Moivre's Problem LXV: see Art. 307. Lagrange gives three solu- 
tions. Lagrange's first solution demonstrates the result given 



without demonstration in De Moivres second solution ; see 
Art. 309. We will give Lagrange's solution as a specimen of his 
methods. We may remark that Laplace had preceded Lagrange 
in the discussion of the problem of the Duration of Play. La- 
place's investigations had been published in the Memoires . . . par 
Divers Savans, Vols. vi. and Yii. 

Laplace did not formally make the supposition that one player 
had unlimited capital, but we arrive at this case by supposing 
that his symbol i denotes an infinite number ; and we shall thus 
find that on page 158 of Laplace's memoir in Vol. vii. of the 
Memoires... par Divers Savans, we have in effect a demonstration 
of De Moivre's result. 

We proceed to Lagrange's demonstration. 

584. The probability of a certain event in a single trial is^ ; 
a player bets that in a trials this event will happen at least 
h times oftener than it fails : determine the player's chance. 

Let y^i represent his chance when he has x more trials to 
make, and when to ensure his success the event must happen at 
least t times oftener than it fails. Then it is obvious that we re- 
quire the value of 7/„^j^. 

Suppose one more trial made ; it is easy to obtain the follow- 
ing equation 

The player gains when ^ = and x has any value, and he loses 
when x=0 and t has any value greater than zero ; so that y^^^=\ 
for any value of x, and y^^t^ for any value of t gTeater 
than 0. 

Put ^ for 1 —p, then the equation becomes 

To integrate this assume y = ^a'^/3* ; we thus obtain 

p - a/B + q/3' = 0. 

From this we may by Lagrange's Theorem expand /S' in powers 
of a ; there will be two series because the quadratic equation 
gives two values of /S for an assigned value of a. These two 
series are 


^~a''^ 0.'^' ^ 1.2 a'^' '^ 1.2.3 ^^^^ +••• 

0.^ fpo!-' t{t-Z) p'o!-' t{t-^) (t-5) for" 
i i~^ 1.2 2'"' 1-2.3 2'"' 

If then we put in succession these values of /3* in the ex- 
pression Ao^ ^^ we obtain two series in powers of a, namely, 

Af |a^- + ipq^^'-' + ^-^^ //a--^ + . . . J , 

and Aq-' \o^' - tjpqa''^'-' + *-^j^ fi^'^'" - . • 

Either of these series then would be a solution of the equation 
in Finite Differences, whatever may he the values of A and a ; 
so that we should also obtain a solution by the sum of any number 
of such series with various values of A and a. 

Hence we infer that the general solution will be 

y., = p' {/ {^-t) + tpqfix -t-2)+ ^^t^pYfix - < - 4) 

+ ^^T4^i'W(— 6) + ...} 
+ q-' U, ix + t)- tfq ,^ (a; + « - 2) + '-^^ pY <l>{x+t-i) 

Here f [x) and <^ {x) represent functions, at present arbitrary, 
which must be determined by aid of the known particular values 
of Vx,^ and ?/„,,. 

Lagrange says it is easy to convince ourselves, that the con- 
dition 2/^^=0 when t has any value greater than leads to the 
following results : all the functions with the characteristic must 
be zero, and those with the characteristic / must be zero for all 
negative values of the quantity involved. [Perhaps this will not 
appear very satisfactory ; it may be observed that q~*' will become 
indefinitely great with t, and this suggests that the series whicli 
multiplies q~^ should be zero.] 

Thus the value of y^^t becomes a series with a finite number 
of terms, namely, 


y... =P' {/(^ -t) + tpqfix - < - 2) + '-^J^^Y/(^ - < - 4) 

the series extends to ^ (a? — ^ + 2) terms, or to ^ (a? - ^ + 1) terms, 

according as ic — ^ is even or odd. 

The other condition is that j/a;,o— ^y ^''^^ ^^7 vakie of x. But if 
we put ^ = we have yx,Q=f{p^)' Hence f{x) = l for every 
positive value of x. Thus we obtain 

the series is to extend to 3 (x — t + 2) terms, or to ^ (x — t-\-l) 

terms. This coincides with the result in De Moivre's second form 
of solution : see Art. 309. 

585. Lagrange gives two other solutions of the problem just 
considered, one of which presents the result in the same form as 
De Moivre's first solution. These other two solutions by Lagi^ange 
differ in the mode of integrating the equation of Finite Differences ; 
but they need not be further examined. 

586. Lagrange then proceeds to the general problem of the 
Duration of Play, supposing the players to start with different 
capitals. He gives two solutions, one similar to that in De 
Moivre's Problem LXiii, and the other similar to that in De 
Moivre's Problem Lxviii. The second solution is very remarkable ; 
it demonstrates the results which De Moivre enunciated without 
demonstration, and it puts them in a more general form, as De 
Moivi'e limited himself to the case of equal capitals. 

587. Lagrange's last problem coincides with that given by 
Daniel Bernoulli which we have noticed in Art. 417. Lagrange 
supposes that there are n urns ; and in a Corollary he gives some 
modifications of the problem. 

588. Lagrange's memoir would not now present any novelty 
to a student, or any advantage to one who is in possession of the 
method of Generating Functions. But nevertheless it may be read 


with ease and interest, and at the time of pubhcation its value 
must have been great. The promise held out in the introduction 
that something would be added to the labours of Laplace is 
abundantly fulfilled. The solution of the general problem of the 
Duration of Play is conspicuously superior to that which Laplace 
had given, and in fact Laplace embodied some of it subsequently 
in his own work. The important pages 231 — 233 of the Theorie 
. . . des Proh. are substantially due to this memoir of Lagrange's. 

589. We may notice a memoir by Lagrange entitled Me- 
moire sur une question concernant les annuiies. 

This memoir is published in the volume of the Memoires de 
V Acad. ... Berlin for 1792 and 1793; the date of publication is 
1798 ; the memoir occupies pages 235 — 246. 

The memoir had been read to the Academy ten years before. 

590. The question discussed is the following: A father wishes 
to pay a certain sum annually during the joint continuance of his 
own life and the minority of all his children, so as to ensure an 
annuity to his children after his death to last until all have attained 
their majority. 

Lagrange denotes by A, B, G, ... the value of an annuity of 
one crown for the minority of the children A, B, G ... respectively. 
Then by AB he denotes the value of an annuity of one crown 
for the joint minority of two children A and B ; and so on. Hence 
he obtains for the value of an annuity payable as long as either 
^ or ^ is a minor, 

~A + B- AB. 

Lagrange demonstrates this ; but the notation renders it almost 
obviously self evident. 

Similarly the value of an annuity payable as long as one of 
three children A, B, G remains a minor is 

A + B + C - AB - AG - BG + ABG. 

De Moivre however had given this result in his Treatise of 
Annuities on Lives, and had used the same notation for an annuity 
on joint lives. 

Lagrange adds two tables which he calculated from his 
formulae, using the table of mortality given in the work of 



Between the Years 1750 and 1780. 

591. The present Chapter will contain notices of various con- 
tributions to our subject which were made between the years 1750 
and 1780. 

592. We first advert to a work bearing the following title : 
Piece qui a remport^ le prix sur le sujet des Evenemens Fortuits, 
propose par VAcademie Roy ale des Sciences et Belles Lettres de 
Berlhi pour Vann^e 1751. Avec les p)ieces qui ont concouru. 

This work is a quarto volume of 238 pages ; we notice it 
because the title might suggest a connexion with our subject, 
which we shall find does not exist. 

The Academy of Berlin proposed the following subject for dis- 
cussion : 

Les Evenemens heureux et malheurenx, ou ce que nous apj)elIons 
Bonheur et Malheur dependant de la volonte ou de la permission de 
Dieu, de sorte que le terme de fortune est un nom sans realite; on de- 
mande si ces Evenemens nous obligent a de certains devoirs, quels sont 
ces devoirs et quelle est leur etendue. 

The prize was awarded to Kaestner professor of Mathematics at 
Leipsic ; the volume contains his dissertation and those of his 

There are nine dissertations on the whole ; the prize disserta- 
tion is given both in French and Latin, and the others in French 



or German or Latin. The subject was perhaps unpromising ; the 
dissertations are not remarkable for novelty or interest. One of 
the best of the writers finishes with a modest avowal which might 
have been used by all : 

Ich maclie hier den Schluss, weil ich ohnehin mit gar zii guten 
Griinden fiirchte, zu weitliiufig gewesen zu seyn, da ich so wenig neues 
artiges und scharfsinniges gesagt habe. Ich finde auch in dieser Probe, 
dass mein Wille noch einmahl so gut als meine iibrige Tahigkeit, ist. 

593. A work entitled the Mathematical Repository, in three 
volumes, was published by James Dodson, Accomptant and Teacher 
of the Mathematics. The work consists of the solution of Mathe- 
matical problems. The second volume is dated 1753 ; pages 
82 — 136 are occupied with problems on chances : they present 
nothing that is new or important. The remainder of this volume 
is devoted to annuities and kindred subjects ; and so also is the 
Avhole of the third volume, which is dated 1755. 

594. Some works on Games of Chance are ascribed to Hoyle 
in Watt's Bihliotheca Britannica. I have seen only one of them 
which is entitled: An Essay towards making the Doctrine of 
Chances easy to those who understand Vidgar Arithmetick only: 
to which is added, some useful tables on annuities for lives (&c. &c. &c. 
By Mr Hoyle... It is not dated; but the date 1754 is given in 
"Watt's Bihliotheca Britannica. 

The work is in small octavo size, with large tjrpe. The title, 
preface, and dedication occupy viii pages, and the text itself occu- 
pies 73 pages. Pages 1 — 62 contain rules, without demonstration, 
for calculating chances in certain games ; and the remainder is de- 
voted to tables of annuities, and to Halley's Breslau table of life, 
with a brief explanation of the latter. I have not tested the rules. 

595. We advert in the next place to a work which is en- 
titled DelV Azione del Caso nelle Invenzioni, e deW influsso degli 
Astri ne Corpi Terrestri Dissertazioni due. 

This is a quarto volume of 220 pages, published anonymously 
at Padua, 1757. It is not connected with the Theory of Pro- 
bability ; we notice it because the title might perhaps suggest 


such connexion, especiallysvLen abbreviated, as in the Catalogues 
of Booksellers. 

The first dissertation is on the influence of chance in inven- 
tions, and the second on the influence of the celestial bodies on 
men, animals, and plants. The first dissertation recognises the 
influence of chance in inventions, and gives various examples ; the 
second dissertation is intended to shew that there is no influence 
produced by the celestial bodies on men, animals, or plants, in the 
sense in which astrologers understood such influence. 

The author seems to have been of a sanguine temperament ; 
for he obviously had hopes that the squaring of the circle would 
be eventually obtained ; see his pages 31, 40, 85. 

On the other hand his confidence is not great in the Newtonian 
theory of gravitation ; he thinks it may one day follow its prede- 
cessor, the theory of vortices, into oblivion ; see his pages 45, 172. 

The following is one of his arguments against Lunar influence. 
If there be such influence we must conceive it to arise from exhala- 
tions from the Moon, and if the matter of these exhalations be 
supposed of appreciable density it will obstruct the motions of the 
planets, so that it will be necessary from time to time to clean up 
the celestial paths, just as the streets of London and Paris are 
cleaned from dust and dirt. See his page 164. 

The author is not very accurate in his statements. Take the 
following specimen from his page 74 : Jacopo III. Re d'Inghilterra 
alia vista d'una spada ignuda, come riferisce il Cavaliere d'Igby, 
sempre era compreso d'un freddo, e ferale spavento. This of 
course refers to James I. Again ; we have on his page 81 : ...ci5 
che disse in lode d'Aristotile il Berni : II gran Maestro de color 
die sanno. It is not often that an Italian ascribes to any inferior 
name the honour due to Dante. 

596. We have next to notice a work by Samuel Clark en- 
titled TheLaius of Chance : or, a Mathematical Investigation of the 
Prohabilities arising from amj proposed Circumstance of Play. 
London, 1758. 

This is in octavo ; there is a Preface of 2 pages, and 204 
pages of text. The book may be described as a treatise based on 
those of De Moivre and Simpson; the abstruse problems are 



omitted, and many examples and illustrations are given in order 
to render the subject accessible to persons not very far advanced 
in mathematics. 

The book presents nothing that is new and important. The 
game of bowls seems to have been a favourite with Clark ; he 
devotes his pages 44 — 68 to problems connected with this game. 
He discusses at great length the problem of finding the chance of 
throwing an assigned number of points with a given number of 
similar dice; see his pages 113 — ISO. He follows Simpson, but 
he also indicates De Moivre's Method ; see Art. 364. Clark 
begins the discussion thus : 

In order to facilitate the solution of this and the following problem, 
I shall lay down a lemma which was communicated to me by my inge- 
nious friend Mr William Fayne, teacher of mathematics. 

The Le7tima. 

The sum of 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, &c. continued to (n) number 

J, ^ . , ^ n + 2 n + 1 n 

01 terms is equal to — ^ — x — ^— x - . 

It was quite unnecessary to appeal to William Pa3riie for such 
a well-known result ; and in fact Clark himself had given on his 
page 84 Newton's general theorem for the summation of series ; 
see Art. 152. 

Clark discusses in his pages 139 — 153 the problem respecting 
a run of events, which we have noticed in Art. 325. Clark detects 
the slight mistake which occurs in De Moivre's solution ; and from 
the elaborate manner in which he notices the mistake we may 
conclude that it gave him great trouble. 

Clark is not so fortunate in another case in which he ventures 
to differ with De Moivre ; Clark discusses De Moivre's Problem ix. 
and arrives at a different result ; see Art. 269. The error is 
Clark's. Taking De Moivre's notation Clark assumes that A must 
either receive q G from B, or pay jiL to B. This is wrong. Sup- 
pose that on the whole A wins in 5' -F m trials and loses in m trials ; 
then there is the required difference of q games in his favour. In 
this case he receives from B the sum {(i + 111) G and pays to him 
the sum m.L ; thus the balance is qG + m {G — L) and not qG SiS 
Clark says. 


597. We have next to notice a memoir by Mallet, entitled 
Recherches sur les avantages de trots Joueurs qui font entreux une 
Poule au trictrac ou a un autre Jeu quelconque. 

This memoir is published in the Acta Helvetica... Basilece, 
Vol. V. 1762 ; the memoir occupies pages 230 — 248. The problem 
is that of De Moivre and Waldegrave ; see Art. 211. Mallet's 
solution resembles that given byDe Moivre in his pages 132 — 138. 

Mallet however makes some additions. In the problem as treated 
by De Moivre the fine exacted from each defeated player is con- 
stant; Mallet considers the cases in which the fines increase in 
arithmetical progression, or in geometrical progression. A student 
of De Moivre will see that the extensions given by Mallet can be 
treated without any difficulty by De Moivre's process, as the series 
which are obtained may be summed by well-known methods. 

598. The same volume which contains Euler's memoir which 
we have noticed in Art. 438, contains also two memoirs by Beguelin 
on the same problem. Before we notice them it will be convenient 
to consider a memoir by John Bernoulli, which in fact precedes 
Beguelin's in date of composition but not in date of publication. 
This John Bernoulli was grandson of the John whom we named 
in Art. 194. John Bernoulli's memoir is entitled Sur les suites ou 
sequences dans la loterie de Genes. It was published in the volume 
for 1769 of the Histoii^e de VAcad Berlin; the date of pub- 
lication is 1771 : the memoir occupies pages 234 — 253. The fol- 
lowing note is given at the beginning : 

Ce Memoire a ete In en 1765, apres le Memoire de Mr. Euler sur 
cette matiere insere dans les Memoires de I'Academie pour cette annee. 
Comme les Memoires de Mr. Beguelin imprimes a la suite de celui de 
Mr. Euler se rapportent au mien en plusieurs endroits, et que la Loterie 
qui I'a occasione est phis en vogue que jamais, je ne le supprimerai pas 
plus longtems. Si ma methode ne mene pas aussi loin que celle de 
Mrs. Euler et Beguelin, elle a du moins, je crois, I'avantage d'etre plus 
facile a saisir. 

599. In the first paragraph of the memoir speaking of the 
question respecting sequences, John Bernoulli says : 

Je m'en occupai done de terns en tems jusqu'a ce que j'appris de 
Mr. Euler qu'il traitoit le meme sujet; e'en fiit assez pour me faire 


abandonner mon dessein, et je me reservai seulement de voir par le 
Memoire de cet illustre Geometre si j'avois raisonue juste; il a eu la 
bonte de me le commuDiquer et j'ai vu que le peu que j'avois fait, etoit 
fonde sur des raisonnemens qui, s'ils n'etoient pas sublimes, n'etoient du 
moins pas faux. 

600. Jobn Bernoulli does not give an Algebraical investiga- 
tion ; lie confines himself to the arithmetical calculation of the 
chances of the various kinds of sequences that can occur when 
there are 90 tickets and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 are drawn. His method 
does not seem to possess the advantage of facility, as compared 
with those of Euler and Beguelin, which he himself ascribes to it. 

601. There is one point of difference between John Bernoulli 
and Euler. John Bernoulli supposes the numbers from 1 to 90 
ranged as it were in a circle ; and thus he counts 90, 1 as a 
binary sequence ; Euler does not count it as a sequence. So also 
John Bernoulli counts 89, 90, 1 as a ternary sequence ; with Euler 
this would count as a binary sequence. And so on. 

It might perhaps have been anticipated that from the greater 
symmetry of John Bernoulli's conception of a sequence, the in- 
vestigations respecting sequences would be more simple than on 
Euler's conception ; but the reverse seems to be the case on ex- 

In the example of Art. 440 corresponding to Euler's results 

o / ON/ ON (n-2) (n-S) {n-4<) 
n-2, {n - 2) (n - 3), -^^ ^ ^ ^ g , 

we shall find on John Bernoulli's conception the results 

602. There is one Algebraical result given which we may 
notice. Euler had obtained the following as the chances that there 
would be no sequences at all in the case of n tickets ; if two 

tickets be drawn the chance is , if three -^^ ^'-W^ — , if 

n n{n — l) 

four ( ^-4)(^-5)(n-6) (^,5)(.^ -6)(^-7) (/^-8) . 

n{n-\){n-2) ' " "^^ n{n-l) {n-2) {n-^) ' 

and so the law can be easily seen. Now John Bernoulli states 


that on his conception of a sequence these formulae will hold if we 
change n into n — 1. He does not demonstrate this statement, 
so that we cannot say how he obtained it. 

It may be established by induction in the following way. Let 
^ (n, r) denote the number of ways in which we can take r tickets 
out of n, free from any sequence, on Euler's conception of a se- 
quence. Let B [n, r) denote the corresponding number on John 
BernoulH's conception. Then we have given 

^, . (n—r-{-l)(n — r)...(n — 2r-\-2) 
E{n, r) = ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ , 

and we have to shew that 

^ , . n(n — T — 1) ... (71— 2r + 1) 
B in, r) = — ^ '- ^ . 

For these must be the values of E (w, r) and B [n, r) in order 
that the appropriate chances may be obtained, by dividing by the 
total number of cases. Now the following relation will hold : 

E{n,r)=B{n,r) + B{7i-l, r -1) -E{n-2, r-l). 

The truth of this relation will be seen by taking an example. 
Suppose n is 10, and r is 3. Now every case which occurs in 
the total B [n, r) will occur among the total E {n, r) ; but some 
which do not occur in B{n,r) will occur in E{n,r), and these 
must be added. These cases which are to be added are such as 

(10, 1, 3) (10, 1, 4) (10, 1, 8). We must then examine by what 

general law we can obtain these cases. We should form all the 
binary combinations of the numbers 1 . 2, ... 9 which contain no 
Bernoullian sequence, and which do contain 1. 

And generally we should want all the combinations r — 1 at a 
time which can be made from the first n—1 numbers, so as to con- 
tain no Bernoullian sequence, and to contain 1 as one of the num- 
bers. It might at first appear that B (n — 1, r — V)—B(7i—2, r — 1) 
would be the number of such combinations ; but a little con- 
sideration will shew that it is B {n — 1, r — 1) — E {n — 2, 7* — 1), as 
we have given it above. 

Thus having established the relation, and found the value of 
B {ti, 1) independently we can infer in succession the values of 
B (n, 2), B {n, 3), and so on. 


603. We now consider Beguelin's two memoirs. These as we 
have stated are contained in the same volume as Euler's memoir 
noticed in Art. 438. The memoirs are entitled Bur les suites ou 
sequences dans la lotterie de Genes ; they occupy pages 231 — 280 
of the volume. 

604. Beguelin's memoirs contain general Algebraical formulae 
coinciding with Euler's, and also similar formulae for the results on 
John Bernoulli's conception; thus the latter formulae constitute 
what is new in the memoirs. 

605. We can easily give a notion of the method which 
Beguelin uses. Take for example 13 letters a, h, c, ... i,j, h, l, m. 
Arrange 5 files of such letters side by side, thus 
















• • ■ 

,m m m 771 m 

Consider first only two such files ; take any letter in the first 
file and' associate it with any letter in the second file ; we thus 
get 13^^ such associations, namely aa, ah, ac ... ha, hh, he, ... 

Here we have ah and ha both occurring, and so ac and ca, and 
the like. But suppose we wish to prevent such repetitions, we can 
attain our end in this way. Take any letter in the first file and 
associate it with those letters only in the second file, which are in the 
same rank or in a lower rank. Thus the a of the first file will be 
associated with any one of the 13 letters of the second file ; the h of 
the second file will be associated with any one of the 12 letters 
in the second file beginning with h. Thus the whole number of 

13 X 14 

such associations will be 13 + 12 + . .. + 1; that is .. ^ . 

' 1.2 

Similarly if we take three files we shall have 13^ associations 

if we allow repetitions ; but if we do not allow repetitions we 

13 X 14 X 15 

shall have — ^ — ^— , Proceeding in this way we find that if 

JL X ^ X o 

there are five files and we do not allow repetitions the number of 

associations is 



All this is well known, as Beguelin says, but it is introduced 
by him as leading the way for his further investigations. 

606. Such cases as a, a, a, a, a cannot occur in the lottery 
because no number is there repeated. Let the second file be 
raised one letter, the third file two letters; and so on. Thus 
we have 

a h c d e 

h c d e f 

• • • 




I m 












We have thus 13 — 4 complete files, that is 9 complete files ; 
and, proceeding as before, the number of associations is found to be 

9 X 10 X 11 X 12 X 13 ,. , , . 

— — ^ — -. z — ; that IS, the number is what we know to 


be the number of the combinations of 13 things taken 5 at a time. 

607. Suppose now that we wish to find the number of asso- 
ciations in which there is no sequence at all. Raise each file two 
letters instead of one, so that we now have 






















































Here there are only 13 — 8, that is, 5 complete files; and 
proceeding as in Art. 605, we find that the whole number of asso- 

ciations IS 


In this way we arrive in fact at the value which we quoted 
for E{7i, r) in Art. 602. 

608. The method which we have here briefly exemplified is 
used by Begnelin in discussing all the parts of the problem. 
He does not however employ letters as we have done ; he supposes 
a series of medals of the Roman emperors, and so instead of 
a, h, c,...he uses Augustus^ Tiberius, Caligula, ... 

609. It may be useful to state the results which are obtained 
when there are n tickets of which 5 are drawn. 

In the following table the first column indicates the form, the 
second the number of cases of that form according to Euler's 
conception, and the third the number according to John Ber- 
noulli's conception. 

Sequence of 5, n — 4, n. 

Sequence of 4, {n — 5) {n — 4), n{n — Q). 

Sequence of 3 

combined with (n-5) {n — 4<), n{n-6). 

a sequence of 2, 

Sequence of 3, 

and the other (n — 6) {n— o) [n — 4) n {n — 7) {n — 6) 

numbers not 1.2 ' 1.2 

in sequence, 

Two sequences {n — 6) {n— 5) {n — 4) n{n — 7) (n — 6) 

of 2, 1.2 ' 172 • 

Single sequence {n-7) (w-6) (n-5) (m-4) n {n-8) {n-7) (w-6) 
of 2, 1.2.3 ' 17273 • 

No sequence, see Art. 602. 


The chance of any assigned event is found by dividing the 
corresponding number by the whole number of cases, that is by the 
number of combinations of n things taken 5 at a time. 

610. We have now to notice another memoir by Beguehn. 
It is entitled, Sur V usage du principe de la raison suffisante dans 
le calcul des jprohabilites. 

This memoir is published in the volume of the Histoire de 
V Acad.... Berlin iox 1767; the date of publication is 1769: the 
memoir occupies pages 382 — 412. 

611. Beguelin begins by saying, J'ai montre dans un Memoire 
precedent que la doctrine des probabilites etoit uniquement fondee 
sur le principe de la raison suffisante : this refers apparently to 
some remarks in the memoirs which we have just examined. 
Beguelin refers to D'Alembert in these words. Un illustre Auteur, 
Geometre et Philosophe a la fois, a public depuis peu sur le 
Calcul des probabilites, des doutes et des questions bien dignes 
d'etre approfondies ... Beguelin proposes to try how far meta- 
physical principles can assist in the Theory of Probabilities. 

612. Beguelin discusses two questions. The first he says is 
the question : 

... si les evenemens simmetriques et regnliers, attribues an hazard, 
sont (toutes choses d'ailleurs egales) aiissi probables que les evenemens 
qui n'ont ni ordre ni regularity, et au cas qu'ils aient le nieme degre de 
probabilite, d'ou vient que leur regularite nous frappe, et qu'ils nous 
paroissent si singuliers ? 

His conclusions on this question do not seem to call for any 

613. His next question he considers more difficult ; it is 

. . . lorsqu'un meme evenement est deja arrive nne ou plusieurs fois 
de suite, on demande si cet evenement conserve autant de probabilite 
pour sa future existence, que Tevenement contraire qui avec une egale 
probabilite primitive n'est point arrive encore. 

BegTielin comes to the conclusion that the oftener an event 
has happened the less likely it is to happen at the next trial; 


thus he adopts one of D'Alembert's errors. He considers that if 
the chances would have been equal according to the ordinary 
theory, then when an event has happened t times in succession 
it is ^ + 1 to 1 that it will fail at the next trial. 

(314. Beguelin applies his notions to the Petersburg Problem. 

Suppose there are to be n trials ; then instead of 3 which the 

common theory gives for the expectation Beguelin arrives at 
112 2' 2' 2"-' 

2"^2"^2 + l'^2.3 + l^[4 + l ••• l^-l + l' 

The terms of this series rapidly diminish, and the sum to 
infinity is about 2 J. 

615. Besides the above result Beguelin gives five other 
solutions of the Petersburg Problem. His six results are not 
coincident, but they all give a small finite value for the expecta- 
tion instead of the large or infinite value of the common theory. 

616. The memoir does not appear of any value whatever; 
Beguelin adds nothing to the objections urged by D'Alembert 
against the common theory, and he is less clear and interesting. 
It should be added that Montucla appears to have formed a 
different estimate of the value of the memoir. He says, on his 
page 403, speaking of the Petersburg Problem, 

Ce probleme a 6te aussi le siijet de savantes considerations metapliy- 
siques pour Beguelin... ce metaphysicien et analyste examine au flam- 
beau d'une metapliysique profonde plusieurs questions sur la nature du 
calcul des probabilites... 

617. We have next to notice a memoir which has attracted 
considerable attention. It is entitled An Inquiry into the pro- 
bable Parallax, and Magnitude of the fixed Stars, from the Quantity 
of Light which they afford us, and the particidar Circumstances of 
their Situation, by the Rev. John Michell, B.D., F.RS. 

This memoir was published in the Philosophical Transactions, 
Vol. LVII. Part I., which is the volume for 1767 : the memoir 
occupies pages 234 — 264. 


(il8. The part of the memoir with which we are concerned 
is that in which Michell, from the fact that some stars are very 
close together, infers the existence of design. His method ^vill be 
seen from the following extract. He says, page 243, 

Let us then examine what it is jDrobable would have been the least 
apj)arent distance of any two or more stars, any where in the whole 
heavens, ui^on the supposition that they had been scattered by mere 
chance, as it might happen. Now it is manifest, upon this supposition, 
that every star being as likely to be in any one situation as another, 
the probability, that any one particular star should happen to be within 
a certain distance (as for example one degree) of any other given star, 
would be represented (according to the common way of computing 
chances) by a fraction, whose numerator would be to it's denominator, 
as a circle of one degree radius, to a circle, whose racUus is the diameter 
of a great circle (this last quantity being equal to the whole surface of 

the sphere) that is, by the fraction . ..[^, ^ j or, reducing it to a deci- 

( Oo / D'O ) 

mal form, -000076154 (that is, about 1 in 13131) and the complement 

of this to unity, viz. -999923846, or the fraction y^Yqt will represent 

1 1 Ox 

the probability that it would not be so. But, because there is the same 
chance for any one star to be within the distance of one degree from 
any given star, as for every other, multiiDlying this fraction into itself 
as many times as shall be equivalent to the whole number of stars, of 
not less brightness than those in question, and jDutting oi for this number, 

(-999923846)", or the fraction (^|^)" will represent the probability, 

that no one of the whole number of stars n would be within one de- 
gree from the proposed given star ; and the complement of this quan- 
tity to unity will represent the probability, that there would be some 
one star or more, out of the whole number oi, within the distance of 
one degree from the given star. And farther, because the same event 
is equally likely to ha^Dpen to any one star as to any other, and there- 
fore any one of the whole number of stars 7i might as well have been 
taken for the given star as any other, we must again repeat the last 
found chance n times, and consequently the number {('999923846)"}", 

or the fraction I ( ^kj^. ) [ will represent the probability, that no 

where, in the whole heavens, any two stars, amongst those in question, 
would be within the distance of one degi-ee from each other; and the 


complement of this quantity to unity will represent tlie probability of 
the contrary. 

619. Michell obtains the following results on his page 246, 

If now we compute, according to the principles above laid down, 
what the probability is, that no two stars, in the whole heavens, should 
have been within so small a distance from each other, as the two stars 
P Capricorni, to which I shall suppose about 230 stars only to be equal 
in brightness, we shall find it to be about 80 to 1. 

For an example, where more than two stars are concerned, we may 
take the six brightest of the Pleiades, and, supj)osing the whole number 
of those stars, which are equal in splendor to the faintest of these, to 
be about 1500, we shall find the odds to be near 500000 to 1, that no 
six stars, out of that number, scattered at random, in the whole hea- 
vens, would be within so small a distance from each other, as the Plei- 
ades are. 

Michell ofi ves the details of the calculation in a note. 

620. Laplace alludes to Michell in the Theorie . . . des Proh., 
page LXiii., and in the Connaissa^ice des Terns for 1815, page 219. 

621. The late Professor Forbes wrote a very interesting criti- 
cism on Michell's memoir; see the London, Edinhui^gh and Buhlin 
Philosophical Magazine, for August 181^9 and December 1850. He 
objects with great justice to Michell's mathematical calculations, 
and he also altogether distrusts the validity of the inferences 
drawn from these calculations. 


622. Struve has given some researches on this subject in his 
Catalogus Kovus Stellarum Duplicium et Midtipliciiim . . . Dorpati, 
1827, see the pages xxxvii. — XLVIII. Struve's method is very 
different from Michell's. Let n be the number of stars in a given 
area S of the celestial surface ; let (/> represent the area of a small 

circle of x" radius. Then Struve takes ^ — - ^ as the chance 

of having a pair of the n stars within the distance x", supposing 
that the stars are distributed by chance. Let 8 represent the 
surface beginning from —15'' of declination and extending to the 
north pole; let n = 10229, and ic = 4 : then Struve finds the above 
expression to become '007814. 


See also Struve's SteUarum Duplicium et Multiplicium Men- 
surce Micrometricce ...Petrop. 1837, page xci., and his SteUarum 
Fixarum ... Positiones Medice ... Petroj:^. 1852, page CLXXXViii. 

Sir John Herschel in his Outlines of Astronomy , 1849, page 565, 
ofives some numerical results which are attributed to Struve ; but 
I conclude that there is some mistake, for the results do not 
appear to agree with Struve's calculations in the works above cited. 

628. For a notice of some of the other subjects discussed in 
Michell's memoir, see Struve's Etudes d'Astronomie Stellaire, 
St Peter shourg, 1847. 

624. We have next to notice another memoir by John Ber- 
noulli ; it is entitled Memoire sur un prohleme de la Doctrine du 

This memoir is published in the volume of the Histoire de 
V Acad. ... Berlin for 1768; the date of publication is 1770: the 
memoir occupies pages 384 — 408. 

The problem discussed may be thus generally enunciated. 
Suppose n men to marry 7i women at the same time ; find the 
chance that when half the 2n people are dead all the marriages 
will be dissolved ; that is, find the chance that all the survivors 
will be widows or widowers. John Bernoulli makes two cases ; 
first, when there is no limitation as to those who die ; second, when 
half of those who die are men and half women. 

The memoir presents nothing of interest or importance ; the 
formulas are obtained by induction from particular cases, but are 
not really demonstrated. 

625. We have next to notice a memoir by Lambert, en- 
titled Exameri d'une espece de Superstition ramenee au calcul 
des prohahilites. 

This memoir is published in the volume for 1771 of the 
Nouveaux Memoir es ... Berlin ; the date of publication is 1773: 
the memoir occupies pages 411 — 420. 

626. Lambert begins by adverting to the faith which many 
people in Germany had in the predictions of the almanack makers 
respecting the weather and other events. This suggests to him to 


consider what is the chance that the predictions will be verified 
supposing the predictions to be thrown out at random. 

The problem which he is thus led to discuss is really the old 
problem of the game of Treize, though Lambert does not give this 
name to it, or cite any preceding writers except Euler's memoir of 
1751 : see Arts. 162, 280, 430. 

627. We may put the problem thus : suppose n letters to be 
written and n corresponding envelopes to be directed ; the letters 
are put at random into the envelopes : required the chance that 
all, or any assigned number, of the letters are placed in the wrong 

The total number of ways in which the letters can be put into 
the envelopes is n. There is only one way in which all can be 

placed in the right envelopes. There is no way in which just one 
letter is in the wrong envelope. Let us consider the number of 
ways in which just two letters are in the wrong envelopes : take 

a pair of letters ; this can be done in — ^- — ^-^ ways j then find 

in how many ways this pair can be put in the wrong envelopes 

without disturbing the others : this can only be done in one way. 

Next consider in how many ways just three letters can be put in 

the wrong envelopes ; take a triad of letters ; this can be done 

7X in 1 ) in 2 ) 

in -^ L \ ways, and the selected triad can be put in 

wrong envelopes in 2 ways, as will be seen on trial. 
Proceeding thus we obtain the following result, 

A A ^ ^ (*^ — 1) 

A ^ (^ - 1) (^ - ^) A \jl 


where A^ expresses the number of ways in which r letters, for 
which there are r appropriate envelopes, can all be placed in wrong 
envelopes. And 

Ao = ^, A^ = \), A^=l, A^ = 2, .., 

Now Aq, A^, A^, ... are independent of 7i ; thus we can deter- 
mine them by putting for w in succession the values 1, 2, 3, ... in 


the above identity. This last remark is in fact the novelty of 
Lambert's memoir. 

Lambert gives the general law which holds among the quan- 
tities -4j, A^, ... , namely 

A,= rA,_^+(-iy (2). 

He does not however demonstrate that this law holds. "We 
have demonstrated it implicitly in the value which we have found 
for (f) {n) in Art. 161. 

We get by this law 

A, = 9, X=44, ^, = 265, ^7=1854, A= 14833, ... 

We can however easily demonstrate the law independently of 
Art. 161. 

T \V — 1 ) 

Let A** I stand for \r — r r — \ -\ ^^^ — ^ 


so that the notation is analogous to that which is commonly used 
in Finite Differences. Then the fundamental relation (1) sug- 
gests that 

^. = A-[0; (3), 

and we can shew that this is the case by an inductive proof For 
we find by trial that 

A"Lo = Lo = i = A> 

A^ [0 = 1 -1=0 = ^,, 
A^[0= 2 -2 + 1=^,; 

and then from the fundamental relation (1) it follows that if 
-4^ = A** [0 for all values of r up to w — 1 inclusive, then A^ = A" [0. 
Thus (3) is established, and from (3) we can immediately shew 
that (2) holds. 

628. We now come to another memoir by the writer whom we 
have noticed in Art. 597. The memoir is entitled Sur le Calcul 
des Prohahilites, par Mr. Mallet, Prof. d'Astronomie a Geneve. 

This memoir is published m the Acta Helvetica ... Basilece, 
Vol. VII. ; the date of publication is 1772 : the memoir occupies 
pages 133—163. 


338 MALLET. 

629. The memoir consists of the discussion of two problems r 
the first is a problem given in the Ars Conjectandi of James Ber- 
noulli ; the other relates to a lottery. 

630. The problem from the Ars Conjectandi is that which 
is given on page 161 of the work ; we have given it in Art. 117. 

Mallet notices the fact that James Bernoulli in addition to 
the correct solution gave another which led to a different result 
and was therefore wrong, but which appeared plausible. Mallet 
then says, 

Mr. Bernoulli s'etant contente d'indiquer cette singularity apparente, 
sans en donner Texplication, j'ai cru qu'il ne seroit pas inutile d'entrer 
dans un plus grand detail ladessus, pour eclaircir parfaitement cette 
petite difficulte, on verra qu'on peut imaginer une infinite de cas sem- 
hlables a celui de Mr. Bernoulli, dans la solution desquels il seroit aussi 
aise d'etre induit en erreur. 

631. Mallet's remarks do not appear to offer any thing new or 
important ; he is an obscure writer for want of sufficiently develop- 
ing his ideas. The following illustration was suggested on reading 
his memoir, and may be of service to a student. Suppose we 
refer to the theory of duration of life. Let abscissae measured 
from a fixed point denote years from a certain epoch, and the cor- 
responding ordinates be proportional to the number of survivors 
out of a large number born at the certain epoch. Now suppose we 
wish to know whether it is more probable than not that a new 
born infant will live more than n years. James Bernoulli's plausi- 
ble but false solution amounts to saying that the event is more 
probable than not, provided the abscissa of the centre of gravity of 
the area is greater than n : the true solution takes instead of the 
abscissa of the centre of gravity the abscissa which corresponds to 
the ordinate bisecting the area of the curve. See Art. 485. 

632. We pass to Mallet's second problem which relates to a 
certain lottery. 

The lottery is that which was called by Montmort la lotterie 
de Loraine, and which he discussed in his work ; see his pages 
257—260, 313, 317, 326, 346. The following is practically the 
form of the lottery. The director of the lottery issues n tickets to 

MALLET. 339 

n persons, charging a certain sum for each ticket. He retains for 
himself a portion of the money which he thus receives, say a ; the 
remainder he distributes into n prizes which will be gained by 
those who bought the tickets. He also offers a further inducement 
to secure buyers of his tickets, for he engages to return a sum, say 
5, to every ticket-holder who does not gain a prize. The jDrizes are 
distributed in the following manner. In a box are placed n coun- 
ters numbered respectively from 1 to n. A counter is drawn, and 
a prize assigned to the ticket-holder whose number corresponds to 
the number of the counter. The counter is then replaced in the box. 
Another drawing is made and a prize assigned to the corresponding 
ticket-holder. The counter is then replaced in the box. This pro- 
cess is carried on until n drawings have been made ; and the prizes 
are then exhausted. 

Hence, owing to the peculiar mode of drawing the lottery, one 
person might gain more than one prize, or even gain them all ; for 
the counter which bears his number might be drawn any number 
of times, or even every time. 

The problem proposed is to find the advantage or disadvantage 
of the director of the lottery. 

633. Montmort solved the problem in the following manner. 
Consider one of the ticket-holders. The chance that this per- 
son's number is never drawn throughout the whole process is 

) . If it is not drawn he is to receive h from the director ; 

so that his corresponding expectation is h ( J • ^ similar ex- 
pectation exists for each of the ticket-holders, and the sum of these 
expectations is the amount by which the director's gain is di- 
minished. Thus the director's advantage is 

a — nh I j . 

In the case which Montmort notices h was equal to a, and n 
was 20000 ; thus the director's advantage was negative, that is, it 
was really a disadvantage. Before Montmort made a complete 
investigation he saw that the director's position was bad, and he 


340 MALLET. 

suspected that there was a design to cheat the public, which 
actually happened. 

634. Mallet makes no reference to any preceding writer on 
the subject ; but solves the problem in a most laborious manner. 
He finds the chances that the number of persons without prizes 
should be 1, or 2, or 3, . . . up to n ; then he knows the advantage 
of the banker corresponding to each case by multiplying the 
chance by the gain in that case ; and by summing the results he 
obtains the total advantage. 

635. One part of Mallet's process amounts to investigating 
the following problem. Suppose a die with r faces ; let it be 
thrown s times in succession : required the chance that all the 
faces have appeared. The number of ways in which the desired 
event can happen is 

and the chance is obtained by dividing this number by r'. 

This is De Moivre's Problem xxxix ; it was afterwards dis- 
cussed by Laplace and Euler ; see Art. 448. 

Mallet would have saved himself and his readers great labour 
if he had borrowed De Moivre's formula and demonstration. But 
he proceeds in a different way, which amounts to what we should 
now state thus : the number of ways in which the desired event 
can happen is the product of [r by the sum of all the homogeneous 
products of the degree s — r which can be formed of the numbers 
1, 2, 3, ... 7\ He does not demonstrate the truth of this statement ; 
he merely examines one very easy case, and says without offering 
any evidence that the other cases will be obtained by following the 
same method. See his page 144. 

Mallet after giving the result in the manner we have just indi- 
cated proceeds to transform it ; and thus he arrives at the same 
formula as we have quoted from De Moivre. Mallet does not 
demonstrate the truth of his transformation generally; he contents 
himself with taking some simple cases. 

636. The transformation to which we have just alluded, 


involves some algebraical work which we will give, since as we 
have intimated Mallet himself omits it. 

Let there be r quantities a,h,c, ... h. Suppose x^ to be di- 
vided by (x — a) (x — b) (x — c) ... {x — h). The quotient will be 

x'-" + H^ x^-' + H^ x^-'^ + . . . in infinitum, 

where E^ denotes the sum of all the homogeneous products of the 
degree r which can be formed from the quantities a,h,c, ... Ic. This 
can be easily shewn by first dividing a;^ by x — a] then dividing 

the result by x — h, that is multiplying it by a?~M 1 J , and 

so on. 

Again, if ^ be not less than r the expression 


(x — a) (x—b) ... (x — k) 

will consist of an integral part and a fractional part ; if ^ be less 
than r there will be no integral part. In both cases the fractional 
part will be 


X — a x — b x — c x — k' 

where A = 


(a — b)(a — c),.. (a — k)^ 

and similar expressions hold for B, C, ... K. Now expand each of 

A B 

the fractions , 7 , . . . according to negative powers of x ; 

X "~" a X ~~ 

and equate the coefficient of £c~*~^ to the coefficient in the first 

form which we gave for x^ -^[(x — a) (x — b) ... (x — k)]. Thus 

Aa'+BU+ Cc' + ... + Kk' = E, 


Put m for ^ — r + ^ + 1 ; then p + ^ = m + r — 1; thus we may 
express our result in the following words : the sum of the homoge- 
neous products of the degree m, which can be formed of the r quan- 
tities a, b, c, ... k, is equal to 

m+r-l 7,m+r- 1 

+ 77 TTI ^ 77 fT+ ... 

(a — b) (a — c) ... (a — k) (b —a) (b — c) ... (b — k) 



This is the general theorem which Mallet enunciates; but only 
demonstrates in a few simple cases. 

If we put 1, 2, 3, ... r respectively for a, h, c, .,,k we obtain 
the theorem by which we pass from the formula of Mallet to that 
of De Moivre, namely, the sum of the homogeneous products of 
the degree s — r which can be formed of the numbers 1, 2, ... r is 
equal to 


The particular case in which s — r+l gives us the following 


l+2 + S-\- ...+r 

, ^(r-l) r(r^l)(r- 2) ^^, ] 

+ 1.2 ^"^ ^^ 1.2.3 ^"^ ^^ ^"V 

which is a known result. 

687. When Mallet has finished his laborious investigation he 
says, very justly, il y a apparence que celui qui fit cette Lotterie ne 
setoit pas donne la peine defaire tons les calculs pr^cedens. 

638. Mallet's result coincides with that which Montmort gave, 
and this result being so simple suggested that there might be an 
easier method of arriving at it. Accordingly Mallet gives another 
solution, in which like Montmort he investigates directly not the 
advantage of the director of the lottery, but the expectation of each 
ticket-holder. But even this solution is more laborious than Mont- 
mort's, because Mallet takes separately the case in which a ticket- 
holder has 1, or 2, or 3, . . . , or ?^ prizes ; while in Montmort's 
solution there is no necessity for this. 

639. Mallet gives the result of the following problem : Re- 
quired the chance that in p throws with a die of n faces a specified 
face shall appear just m times. The chance is 

\m p —m n^ 


The formula explains itself; for the chance of throwing the 
specified face at each throw is -, and the chance of not throwing 

71 — 1 

it is . Hence by the fundamental principles of the subject 

the chance of having the specified face just m times in p throws is 

I m \p — m \nj 


Since the whole number of cases in the p throws is if, it follows 
that the number of cases in which the required event can happen is 


I m I p — m 

(n - 1) 

p-m . 

and the result had been previously given by Montmort in this 
form : see his page 307. 

640. On the whole we may say that Mallet's memoir shews 
the laborious industry of the writer, and his small acquaintance 
with preceding works on the subject. 

641. William Emerson published in 1776 a volume entitled 
Miscellanies, or a Miscellaneous Treatise ; containing several Mathe- 
matical Subjects. 

The pages 1 — 48 are devoted to the Laws of Chance. These 
pages form an outline of the subject, illustrated by thirty-four 
problems. There is nothing remarkable about the work except 
the fact that in many cases instead of exact solutions of the 
problems Emerson gives only rude general reasoning which he 
considers may serve for approximate solution. This he himself 
admits ; he says on his page 47, 

It may be observed, that in many of these problems, to avoid more 
intricate methods of calculation, I have contented myself with a more 
lax method of calculating, by which I only approach near the truth. 

See also the Scholium on his page 21. 

Thus Emerson's work would be most dangerous for a beginner 
and quite useless for a more advanced student. 

We may remark that pages 49 — 138 of the volume are devoted 
to Annuities and Insurances. 

S4i4i BUFFON". 

642. We have now to examine a contribution to our subject 
from the illustrious naturalist Buffon whose name has already- 
occurred in Art. 85 -i. 

Buffon's Ussai d' Arithmetique Morale appeared in 1777 in the 
fourth volume of the Supplement a VHistoire Naturelle, where it 
occupies 103 quarto pages. Gouraud says on his page 54, that the 
Essay was composed about 1760. 

643. The essay is divided into 35 sections. 

Buffon says that there are truths of different kinds ; thus there 
are geometrical truths which we know by reasoning, and physical 
truths which we know by experience ; and there are truths which 
we believe on testimony. 

He lays down without explanation a peculiar principle with 
respect to physical truths. Suppose that for n days in succession 
the Sun has risen, what is the probability that it will rise to- 
morrow ? 

Buffon says it is proportional to T~^. See his 6th section. 

This is quite arbitrary ; see Laplace Theoine. . .des Prob. page XIII. 

644. He considers that a probability measured by so small 
a fraction as cannot be distinguished from a zero proba- 
bility. He arrives at the result thus ; he finds from the tables 
that this fraction represents the chance that a man 56 years 
old will die in the course of a day, and he considers that such 
a man does practically consider the chance as zero. The doctrine 
that a very small chance is practically zero is due to D'Alembert ; 

see Art. 472 : Buffon however is responsible for the value Yoooo ' 
see his 8th section. 

645. Buffon speaks strongly against gambling. He says at 
the end of his 11th section : 

Mais nous aliens donner un puissant antidote centre le mal ^pi- 
demique de la passion du jeu, et en meme-temps quelques priservatifs 
centre rillusion de cet art dangereux. 

He condemns all gambling, even such as is carried on under 
conditions usually considered fair ; and of course still more 

BUFFON. 345 

gambling in which an advantage is ensured to one of the parties. 
Thus for example at a game like Pharaon, he says : 

... le banquier n'est qu'im fripon avoue, et le ponte une dupe, dont 
on est convenu de ne se pas moquer. 

See his 12th section. He finishes the section thus : 

...je dis qu'en general le jeu est un pacte mal-entendu, un contrat 
d^savantageux aux deux parties, dont I'effet est de rendre la perte tou- 
jours plus grande que le gain; et d'oter au bien pour ajouter au mal. 
La demonstration en est aussi aisee qu'evidente. 

64iQ. The demonstration then follows in the ISth section. 

Buffon supposes two players of equal fortune, and that each 
stakes half of his fortune. He says that the player who wins 
will increase his fortune by a third, and the .player who loses will 
diminish his by a half ; and as a half is greater than a third 
there is more to fear from loss than to hope from gain. Buffon 
does not seem to do justice to his own argument such as it is. 
Let a denote the fortune of each player, and h the sum staked. 

Then the 2:ain is estimated by Buffon by the fraction , and 

^ -^ -^ a+b 

the loss by - ; but it would seem more natural to estimate the 

loss by 7, which of course increases the excess of the loss 

to be feared over the gain to be hoped for. 

The demonstration may be said to rest on the principle that 
the value of a sum of money to any person varies inversely as his 
whole fortune. 

647. Buffon discusses at length the Petersburg Problem which 
he says was proposed to him for the first time by Cramer at 
Geneva in 1730. This discussion occupies sections 15 to 20 
inclusive. See Art. 389. 

Buffon offers four considerations by which he reduces the ex- 
pectation of A from an infinite number of crowns to about five 
crowns only. These considerations are 

(1) The fact that no more than a finite sum of money exists 
to pay A. Buffon finds that if head did not fall until after the 

24:6 BUFFON. 

twenty-ninth throw, more money would be required to pay A than 
the whole kingdom of France could furnish. 

(2) The doctrine of the relative value of money which we 
have stated at the end of the preceding Article. 

(3) The fact that there would not be time during a life for 
playing more than a certain number of games ; allowing only 
two minutes for each game including the time necessary for 

(4) The doctrine that any chance less than is to be 

considered absolutely zero : see Art. 644. 

Buffon cites Fontaine as having urged the first reason : see 
Arts. 892, 393. 

648. The 18th section contains the details of an experiment 
made by Buffon respecting the Petersburg Problem. He says he 
played the game 2084 times by getting a child to toss a coin in 
the air. These 2084 games he says produced 10057 crowns. There 
were 1061 games which produced one crown, 494 which produced 
two crowns, and so on. The results are given in De Morgan's 
Formal Logic, page 185, together with those obtained by a re- 
petition of the experiment. See also Cambridge Philosophical 
Transactions, Vol. ix. page 122. 

649. The 23rd section contains some novelties. 

Buffon begins by saying that up to the present time Arith- 
metic had been the only instrument used in estimating probabilities, 
but he proposes to shew that examples might be given which 
would require the aid of Geometry. He accordingly gives some 
simple problems with their results. 

Suppose a large plane area divided into equal regular figures, 
namely squares, equilateral triangles, or regular hexagons. Let 
a round coin be thrown down at random; required the chance 
that it shall fall clear of the bounding lines of the figure, or fall 
on one of them, or on two of them ; and so on. 

These examples only need simple mensuration, and we need 
not delay on them ; we have not verified Bufifon's results. 

Buffon had solved these problems at a much earlier date. We 
find in the Hist de VAcad. ...Paris for 1733 a short account of 

BUFFON. 3-i7 

them ; they were communicated to the Academy in that year ; 
see Art. 354. 

650. Buffon then proceeds to a more difficult example which 
requires the aid of the Integi'al Calculus. A large plane area is 
ruled with equidistant parallel straight lines ; a slender rod is 
thrown down : required the probability that the rod will fall across 
a line. Bufifon solves this correctly. He then proceeds to con- 
sider what he says might have appeared more difficult, namely to 
determine the probability when the area is ruled with a second 
set of equidistant parallel straight lines, at right angles to the 
former and at the same distances. He merely gives the result, 
but it is wrong. 

Laplace, without any reference to Buffi^n, gives the problem in 
the T]ieorie..,des Proh., pages 359 — 362. 

The problem involves a compound probability ; for the centre 
of the rod may be supposed to fall at any point within one of 
the figures, and the rod to take all possible positions by turning 
round its centre : it is sufficient to consider one figure. Bufifon and 
Laplace take the two elements of the problem in the less simple 
order ; we mil take the other order. 

Suppose a the distance of two consecutive straight lines of one 
system, h the distance of two consecutive straight lines of the 
other system ; let 2r be the length of the rod and assume that 
2r is less than a and also less than h. 

Suppose the rod to have an inclination 6 to the line of length 
a ; or rather suppose that the inclination Hes between 6 and 
6 + dd. Then in order that the rod may cross a line its centre 
must fall somewhere on the area 

ah — {a — 2r cos 6) {h — 2r sin 6), 

that is on the area 

2r (a sin ^ + Z* cos 0) — h-^ sin 6 cos 0. 

Hence the whole probability of crossing the lines is 
1 2r {a sinO + b cos 0) - 4r^ sin 6 co&6\ dO 




3^8 BUFFON. 


The limits of 6 are and -^ . Hence the result is 

4r {a-\-h) - ^^r^ 
t irah 

li a = h this becomes 

8ar — 4r^ 

2 • 

Buffon's result expressed in our notation is 

2 (a — r) r 

If we have only one set of parallel lines we may suppose 
h infinite in our s^eneral result : thus we obtain — . 

651. By the mode of solution which we have adopted we 
may easily treat the case in which 2r is not less than a and 
also less than h, which Buffon and Laplace do not notice. 

Let h be less than a. First suppose 2r to be greater than 
h but not greater than a. Then the limits of 6 instead of being 

and 5- will be and sin"^ — . Next suppose 2r to be greater 

than a. Then the limits of will be cos~^ x- and sin"^ ^r- : this 

Zr Zr 


holds so long- as cos"^ ^r- is less than sin"^ — , that is so long as 
° zr Zr 

fJiAiT^—a^) is less than h, that is so long as 2r is less than ^^{a^ + h'^), 

which is geometrically obvious. 

652. Buffon gives a result for another problem of the same 
kind. Suppose a cube thrown down on the area; required the 
probability that it will fall across a line. With the same meaning 
as before for a and h, let 2r denote the length of a diagonal of 
a face of the cube. The required probability is 

I Lh -(a- 2r cos 6) {h - 2r cos ^)l dO 



the limits of 6 being and 7- . Thus we obtain 

FUSS. 349 

^ ^ 4 V2 / _ 4 («2+Z>)r V2 -r^ (27r4-4) 

ao -r 

BufFon gives an incorrect result. 

653. The remainder of Buffon's essay is devoted to subjects 
unconnected with the Theory of Probability. One of the sub- 
jects is the 5ca^^5 0/ 7iotof ton; Buffon recommends the duodenary 
scale. Another of the subjects is the unit of length : Buffon re- 
commends the length of a pendulum which beats seconds at the 
equator. Another of the subjects is the quadrature of the circle : 
Buffon pretends to demonstrate that this is impossible. His de- 
monstration however is worthless, for it would equally apply to 
any curve, and shew that no curve could be rectified ; and this we 
know would be a false conclusion. 

654. After the Essay we have a large collection of results 
connected with the duration of human life, which Buffon deduced 
from tables he had formerly published. 

Buffon's results amount to expressing in numbers the following 
formula : For a person aged n years the odds are as a to 5 that 
he will live x more years. 

Buffon tabulates this formula for all integral values of n up 
to 99, and for various values of x. 

After these results follow other tables and observations con- 
nected with them. The tables include the numbers of births, 
marriages, and deaths, at Paris, from 1709 to 1766. 

655. Some remarks on Buffon's views will be found in Con- 
dorcet's JEJssai...de V Analyse... ^^digQ LXXI., and in Dugald Stewart's 
Works edited by Hamilton, Vol. i. pages 369, 616. 

656. We have next to notice some investigations by Fuss 
under the following titles : Recherches sur tin j^^^oblhne du Calcul 
des Frobahilites par Nicolas Fuss. Supplement au m^moire sur un 
prohleme du Calcid des Prohabilites... 

The Recherckes... occupy pages 81 — 92 of the Pars Postei^or 
of the volume for 1779 of the Acta Acad. ...Petrop.; the date of 
publication is 1783. 

350 FUSS. 

The Supplement... occupies pages 91 — 96 of the Pars Posterior 
of the volume for 1780 of the Acta Acad. ... Petrop.; the date of 
publication is 1784. 

The problem is that considered by James Bernoulli on page 161 
of the Ars Conjectandi ; see Art. 117. 

In the Recherches . . . Fuss solves the problem ; he says he had 
not seen James Bernoulli's own solution but obtained his know- 
ledge of the problem from Mallet's memoir ; see Art. 628. Fuss 
published his solution because his results differed from that 
obtained by James Bernoulli as recorded by Mallet. In the Sup- 
plement. . . Fuss says that he has since procured James Bernoulli's 
work, and he finds that there are two cases in the problem ; his 
former solution agreed with James Bernoulli's solution of one 
of the cases, and he now adds a solution of the other case, which 
agrees with James Bernoulli's solution for that case. 

Thus in fact Fuss would have spared his two papers if he 
had consulted James Bernoulli's own work at the outset. We may 
observe that Fuss uses the Lemma given by De Moivre on his 
page 39, but Fuss does not refer to any previous writer for it ; 
see Art. 149. 



657. CoNDOKCET was born in 17-i3 and died in 1794. He 
wrote a work connected with our subject, and also a memoir. It 
will be convenient to examine the work first, although part of the 
memoir really preceded it in order of time. 

658. The work is entitled Essai siir Vapplication de Vanalyse 
a la prohctbilite des decisions rendaes a la pluralite des voix. Par 
M. Le Ma7^quis de Condor cet ... Paris 1785. 

This work is in quarto ; it consists of a Discours Preliminaire 
which occupies cxci. pages, and of the Essai itself which occupies 
304 pages. 

659. The object of the Preliminary Discourse is to give the 
results of the mathematical investigations in a form which may be 
intelligible to those who are not mathematicians. It commences 
thus : 

Un grand homme, dont je regretterai toujours les legons, les exem- 
ples, et sur-tout I'amitie, etoit persuade que les verites des Sciences 
morales et politiques, sent susceptibles de la meme certitude que celles 
qui forment le systeme des Sciences physiques, et meme que les branches 
de ces Sciences qui, comme rAstronomie, paroissent approcher de la 
certitude mathematique. 

Cette opinion lui etoit chere, parce qu'elle conduit a I'esperance con- 
solante que I'espece humaine fera necessairement des progres vers le 
bonheur et la perfection, comme elle en a fait dans la connoissance de la 

C'etoit pour lui que j'avois entrepris cet ouvrage 


The great man to whom Condorcet here refers is named in 
a note : it is Turgot. 

Condorcet himself perished a victim of the French Revolution, 
and it is to be presumed that he must have renounced the faith 
here expressed in the necessary progress of the human race to- 
wards happiness and perfection. 

660. Condorcet's Essai is divided into five parts. 

The Discours Preliminaire, after briefly expounding the funda- 
mental principles of the Theory of Probability, proceeds to give 
in order an account of the results obtained in the five parts of 
the Essai. 

We must state at once that Condorcet's work is excessively 
difficult ; the difficulty does not lie in the mathematical investi- 
gations, but in the expressions which are employed to introduce 
these investigations and to state their results : it is in many cases 
almost impossible to discover what Condorcet means to say. The 
obscurity and self contradiction are without any parallel, so far as 
our experience of mathematical works extends ; some examples 
will be given in the course of our analysis, but no amount of 
examples can convey an adequate impression of the extent of 
the evils. We believe that the work has been very little studied, 
for we have not observed any recognition of the repulsive peculi- 
arities by which it is so undesirably distinguished. 

661. The Preliminary Discourse begins with a brief exposition 
of the fundamental principles of the Theory of Probability, in 
the course of which an interesting point is raised. After giving 
the mathematical definition of probability, Condorcet proposes to 
shew that it is consistent with ordinary notions ; or in other words, 
that the mathematical measure of probability is an accurate 
measure of our degree of belief See his page vil. Unfortunately 
he is extremely obscure in his discussion of the point. 

We shall not delay on the Preliminary Discourse, because it 
is little more than a statement of the results obtained in the 

The Preliminary Discourse is in fact superfluous to any person 
who is sufficiently acquainted with Mathematics to study the 
Essay, and it would be scarcely intelligible to any other person. 


For in general when we have no mathematical symbols to guide 
us in discovering Condorcet's meaning, the attempt is nearly 

We proceed then to analyse the Essay. 

662. Condorcet's first part is divided into eleven sections, 
devoted to the examination of as many Hypotheses ; this part 
occupies pages 1 — 136. 

We will consider Condorcet's first Hypothesis. 

Let there be 2^ + 1 voters who are supposed exactly alike as to 
judgment ; let v be the probability that a voter decides correctly, 
e the probability that he decides incorrectly, so that v-\-e — l ; 
required the probability that there will be a majority in favour 
of the correct decision of a question submitted to tiie voters. We 
may observe, that the letters v and e are chosen from commencing 
the words lerite and eiTeur. 

The required probability is found by expanding (v + e)^^"^^ by 
the Binomial Theorem, and taking the terms from v^^'^^ to that 
which involves v^'^^ e^, both inclusive. Two peculiarities in Con- 
dorcet's notation may here be noticed. He denotes the required 
probability by V^; this is very inconvenient because this symbol 
has universally another meaning, namely it denotes V raised to 

the power q. He uses — to denote the coefficient of ^;""^'e'" in 


the expansion of (v + e)"; this also is very inconvenient because 

the symbol — has universally another meaning, namely it denotes 

a fraction in which the numerator is w and the denominator is m. 
It is not desirable to follow Condorcet in these two innovations. " 
We will denote the probability required by </> (q) ; thus 

^ (q) = v^^^ + (2q + 1) v'^ e + ^^^^^^^"1 v''-' e^ + . .. 

I 2^ + 1 

663. The expression for (/> {q) is transformed by Condorcet 
into a shape more convenient for his purpose ; and this trans- 
formation we will now give. Let </> (2' + 1) denote what ^ {q) 



becomes when q^ is changed into $' -H 1, that is let ^ (g + 1) denote 
the probability that there will be a majority in favour of a correct 
decision when the question is submitted to 2^' + 8 voters. There- 

<^ (^ + 1) = ^,^^- + (2^ + 3) v^-'^ e + (?i±|I|i±21 ^...i ,. 

+ ...+ 

2^ + 3 

(7 + 2 q + 1 

v'"-' e'^\ 

' Since v-\-e = l we have 

^ (2) = (« + «)" <!> fe). 

Thus ^(j + l)_,/,(j) = ^(2 + l)_(„ + e)»^(j). 

Now (f> (q + 1) consists of certain terms in the expansion of 
(v + ey^^^, and cp (q) consists of certain terms in the expansion of 
{v + ey^'^^ ; so we may anticipate that in the development of 
(j> (q+l) — (v + ey (j) (q) very few terms will remain uncancelled. 
In fact it will be easily found that 

I 2^ + 1 \2q + l 

g + 1 [I |g + l |g 

2q + l 

l+i [9 

Hence we deduce 

^ (^) = y + (v -e) jve + ji;V+ J^^'^'+ 7V3 ^*^* 

... + r==f^v (2). 

664<. The result given in equation (2) is the transformation 
to which we alluded. We may observe that throughout the first 
part of his Essay, Condorcet repeatedly uses the method of trans- 
formation just exemplified, and it also appears elsewhere in the 
Essay ; it is in fact the chief mathematical instrument which 
he employs. 

It will be observed that we assumed v + e = l in order to 
obtain equation (2). We may however obtain a result analogous 


to (2) which shall be identically true, whatever v and e may be. 
We have only to replace the left-hand member of (1) by 

^(^ + l)-(v + ey<f>(q), 

and we can then deduce 

q_±l ^ 

=^v{v + ef" + (v - e) \ve {v + ey' + ? ^^e^ [v + e)^"* 
5 4 1 2a - 1 1 

1.2^^ [£ [£— 1 

This is identically true ; if we suppose v-{-e=l, we have the 
equation (2). 

665. We resume the consideration of the equation (2). 

Suppose V greater than e ; then we shall find that <j) (q) =1 
when q is infinite. For it may be shewn that the series in powers 
of ve which occurs in (2) arises from expanding 

in powers of ve as far as the term which involves vV. Thus when 
q is infinite, we have 

^(^g^) = v + {v-e) 1-2 + 2 (1 -^^^)"4- 

Now 1 — 4<ve= (v+ ef — ^ve= (v —ey. Therefore when q is 

/ \ { V — e , V + 6 ] 

— v+{v — e)<— 777 \ + o^ \C 

^ ^ [ 2(v-e) 2{v- e)} 

= V + e = 1. 

The assumption that v is greater than e is introduced when 
we put v — e for (1 — 4re)i 



Thus we have the following result in the Theory of Probability : 
if the probability of a correct decision is the same for every voter 
and is greater than the probability of an incorrect decision, then 
the probability that the decision of the majority will be correct 
becomes indefinitely nearly equal to unity by sufficiently in- 
creasinof the number of voters. 

It need hardly be observed that practically the hypotheses on 
which the preceding conclusion rests cannot be realised, so that 
the result has very little value. Some important remarks on the 
subject will be found in Mill's Logic, 1862, Vol. II. pages Qo, Q>Q, 
where he speaks of '' misapplications of the calculus of probabilities 
which have made it the real opprobrium of mathematics." 

666. We again return to the equation (2) of Art. 663. 

If we denote by -v/r (^q) the probability that there will be a 
majority in favour of an incorrect decision, we can obtain the 
value of yfr^q) from that of ^ (q) by interchanging e and v. 

We have also ^ (^) + '*/^ fe) = 1. 

Of course if v = e we have obviously ^(^q) ='\fr {q), for all 
values of q ; the truth of this result when q is infinite is esta- 
blished by Condorcet in a curious way ; see his page 10. 

667. We have hitherto spoken of the probability that the 
decision will be correct, that is we have supposed that the result 
of the voting is not yet known. 

But now suppose we know that a decision has been given and 
that m voters voted for that decision and n against it, so that m 
is greater than n. We ask, what is the probability that the de- 
cision is correct ? Condorcet says briefly that the number of com- 
binations in favour of the truth is expressed by 

12^ + 1 


and the number in favour of error by 

12^ + 1 


m n 

Thus the probabilities of the correctness and incorrectness of the 
decision are respectively 



jiijn I jni^jn ^-^-^ ^.tnjn > jn^jn 

See his page 10. 

668. The student of Condorcet's work must carefully dis- 
tinguish between the probability of the correctness of a decision 
that has been given when we know the numbers for and against, 
and the probability when we do not know these numbers. Con- 
dorcet sometimes leaves it to be gathered from the context which 
he is considering. For example, in his Preliminary Discourse 
page XXIII. he begins his account of his first Hypothesis thus : 

Je considere d'abord le cas le plus simple, celui ou le nombre des 
Votans etant impair, on prononce simplemeBt a la plurality. 

Dans ce cas, la probabilite de ne pas avoir uue decision fausse, celle 
d'avoir une decision vraie, celle que la decision rendue est conforme a la 
verite, sont les memes, puisqu'il ne peut y avoir de cas oii il n'y ait 
pas de decision. 

Here, although Condorcet does not say so, the words celle que 
la decision rendue est conforme a la verite mean that we know 
the decision has been given, but we do not know the numbers 
for and against. For, as we have just seen, in the Essay Con- 
dorcet takes the case in which we do know the numbers for and 
against, and then the probability is not the same as that of the 
correctness of a decision not yet given. Thus, in short, in the 
Preliminary Discourse Condorcet does not say which case he takes, 
and he really takes the case which he does not consider in the 
Essay, excluding the case which he does consider in the Essay; 
that is, he takes the case which he might most naturally have 
been supposed not to have taken. 

669. We will now proceed to Condorcet's second H3rpothesis 
out of his eleven ; see his page 14. 

Suppose, as before, that there are 2q -\-l voters, and that a 
certain plurality of votes is required in order that the decision 
should be valid ; let 2q + 1 denote this plurality. 

Let </) (q) denote the terms obtained from the expansion of 
(v + ey'"-', from v'^"-' to the term which involves t*^'-^^^ e^'^, both 
inclusive. Let yfr (^) be formed from </> (q) by interchanging e 
and V. 


Then (f> (q) -^'^ (q) is the probability that there will be a valid 
decision, <^ (q) is the probability that there will be a valid and 
correct decision, and yjr (q) is the probability that there will be a 
valid and incorrect decision. Moreover 1 — -yfr (q) is the probability 
that there will not be an incorrect decision, and 1 — cj) {q) is the 
probability that there will not be a correct decision. 

It will be observed that here (q) + yjr (q) is not equal to unity. 
In fact 1 — <f> {q) — yjr (q) consists of all the terms in the expansion 
of (v + e)'^^^^ lying between those which involve v^'^'^'^^ e'^'^' and 
^«-<z' g3+2'+i both exclusive. Thus 1 — cj) (q) — ylr (q) is the probability 
that the decision will be invalid for want of the prescribed 

It is shewn by Condorcet that if v is greater than e the 
limit of <p {q) when q increases indefinitely is unity. See his 
pages 19 — 21. 

670. Suppose we know that a valid decision has been given, 
but do not know the numbers for and against. Then the pro- 
bability that the decisian is correct is , , , . , ^ , and the pro- 

bability that it is incorrect is r ^^ 


Suppose we know that a valid decision has been given, and 
also know the numbers for and against. Then the probabilities 
of the correctness and incorrectness of the decision are those which 
have been stated in Art. 667. 

671. We will now indicate what Condorcet appears to mean 
by the principal conditions which ought to be secured in a de- 
cision ; they are : 

1. That an incorrect decision shall not be given ; that is 
l — '^iq) must be large. 

2. That a correct decision shall be given ; that is <p (q) must 
be large. 

3. That there shall be a valid decision, correct or incorrect ; 
that is </) (2') + '^ (q) must be large. 

4. That a valid decision which has been given is correct, 


supposing the numbers for and against not to be known ; that is 

. / N . / \ must be large. 

5. That a vaHd decision which has been given is correct, 
supposing the numbers for and against to be known ; that is 

-jjp^^ :j^^-^ must be large, even when m and 7i are such as to 

give it the least value of which it is susceptible. 

These appear to be what Condorcet means by the principal 
conditions, and which, in his usual fluctuating manner, he calls 
in various places Jive conditions, four conditions, and tivo con- 
ditions. See his pages xviii, xxxi, LXix. 

672. Before leaving Condorcet's second Hypothesis we will 
make one remark. On his page 17 he requires the following 

{l + ^(l_4^)p^(l_4^) ^' 1 -^ • 1.2 

I w + 2r — 1 

• • • T ', ; ; T ^ "!"••• 

7' \7i + r— I 

On his page 18 he gives two ingenious methods by which the 
result may be obtained indirectly. It may however be obtained 
directly in various ways. For example, take a formula which may 
be established by the Differential Calculus for the expansion of 
(1 + \/(l — 4^)}""^ ii^ powers of s, and differentiate with respect 
to z, and put n — 2 for 771. 

673. Condorcet's third Hjrpothesis is similar to his second ; 
the only difference is that he here supposes 2q voters, and that 
a plurahty of 2q is required for a valid decision. 

674<. In his fourth, fifth, and sixth H^^otheses Condorcet 
supposes that a plurality is required which is proportional, or 
nearly so, to the whole number of voters. We will state the 
results obtained in one case. Suppose we require that at least 
two-thirds of the whole number of voters shall concur in order 
that the decision may be valid. Let n represent the whole num- 
ber of voters ; let ^ (n) represent the probability that there will 


be a valid and correct decision, and -^/r (n) the probability that 

there will be a valid and incorrect decision ; let v and e have the 

same meaning as in Art. 662. Then, when n is infinite, if v is 

2 , , 2 

greater than ^ we have ^ (n) =1, if v is less than ^ we have 

(w) = ; and similarly if e is greater than ^ > that is if v is 


1 . . 2 . 

less than ^ , we have -^ (n) = 1, and if e is less than -^ , that is 
o o 

if t; is greater than ^ , we have ylr (n) ==0. 


We shall not stop to give Condorcet's own demonstrations of 

these results ; it will be sufficient to indicate how they may be 

derived from Bernoulli s Theorem; see Art. 123. We know from 

this theorem that when n is very large, the terms which are in 

the neighbourhood of the greatest term of the expansion of 

{v-\-eY overbalance the rest of the terms. Now </> {n) consists of 

the first third of all the terms of (v + e)", and thus if v is greater 

than - the greatest term is included within <j> (n), and therefore 

(f> (n) =1 ultimately. 

The same considerations shew that when v = -^, we have 

1 . ^ 

^(n) = ^ ultimately. 

675. Condorcet's seventh and eighth Hypotheses are thus 
described by himself, on his page xxxiii : 

La septieme hypothese est celle ou I'on renvoie la decision a un autre 
temps, si la pluralite exigee n'a pas lieu. 

Dans la huitieme hy]^)othese, on suppose que si I'assemblee n'a pas 
rendu sa premiere decision a la pluralite exigee, on prend une seconde 
fois les avis, et ainsi de suite, jusqu^a ce que Ton obtienne cette pluralite. 

These two Hypotheses give rise to very brief discussions in the 


676. The ninth Hypothesis relates to the decisions formed 
by various systems of combined tribunals. Condorcet commences 
it thus on his page 57 : 


Jusqu'ici nous avons suppose iin seul Tribunal ; dans plusieurs pays 
cependant on fait juger la meme affaire par plusieurs Tribunaux, ou 
plusieurs fois par le meme, mais d'apres une nouvelle instruction, jus- 
qu'^ ce qu'on ait obtenu un certain nombre de decisions conformes. 
Cette bypotbese se subdivise en plusieurs cas differens que nous aliens 
examiner separement. En effet, on peut exiger, 1". I'unanimite de ces 
decisions ; 2°. une certaine loi de pluralite, formee ou par un nombre 
absolu, ou par un nombre proportionnel au nombre des decisions 
prises ; 3^ un certain nombre consecutif de decisions conformes. Quand 
la forme des Tribunaux est telle, que la decision peut etre nulle, comma 
dans la septieme hypotbese, il faut avoir ^gard aux decisions nulles. 
Enfin il faut examiner ces differens cas, en supposant le nombre de ces 
decisions successives, ou comme determine, ou comme indefini. 

677. The ninth Hypothesis extends over pages 57 — 86 ; it 
appears to have been considered of gi'eat importance by Condorcet 
himself We shall give some detail respecting one very in- 
teresting case which is discussed. This case Condorcet gives on 
pages 73 — 86. Condorcet is examining the probability of the 
correctness of a decision which has been confirmed in succession 
by an assigned number of tribunals out of a series to which the 
question has been referred. The essential part of the discussion 
consists in the solution of two problems which we will now enun- 
ciate. Suppose that the probability of the happening of an event 
in a single trial is v, and the probability of its failing is e, required, 
1st the probability that in r trials the event will happen p times 
in succession, 2nd the probability that in r trials the event will 
happen p times in succession before it fails p times in succession. 

It is the second of these problems which Condorcet wishes 
to apply, but he finds it convenient to begin with the solution 
of the first, which is much the simpler, and which, as we have 
seen, in Art. 325, had engaged the attention of De Moivre. 

678. We have already solved the first problem, in Art. 325, 
but it will be convenient to give another solution. 

Let (/) {r) denote the probability that in r trials the event will 
happen^ times in succession. Then we shall have 

^ (r) =ifJ^v^~' e<j)(r-p)+ if^e ^ (r -^ + 1) + ... 

,..+ve(j){r-2)+e(j>{r-l) (1). 


To shew the truth of this equation we observe that in the 
first p trials the following p cases may arise ; the event may- 
happen 2^ times in succession, or it may happen p — 1 times in 
succession and then fail, or it may happen /:> - 2 times in succes- 
sion and then fail, , or it may fail at the first trial. The 

aggregate of the probabilities arising from all these cases is </> (r). 
The probability from the first case is v^. The probability from 
the second case is v^"^ ecj) (r —p) : for v^"^ e is the probability that 
the event will happen p— \ times in succession, and then fail ; 
and <j>(r —p) is the probability that the event will happen p 
times in succession in the course of the remaining r—p trials. 
In a similar way the term ?;^~V </> (r — p + 1) is accounted for ; and 
so on. Thus the truth of equation (1) is established. 

679. The equation (1) is an equation in Finite Differences ; 
its solution is 

* (r) = (7.2/,-+ C,y:+ C^:+ ...+ C,y;+G (2). 

Here (7^, C^, ,.. C^ are arbitrary constants ; y^ V^y "-y^ are the 
roots of the following equation in y, 

y^ = e{v'-' +v'-'y ^v'-'f + ,.. +y'-') (8); 

and C is to be found from the equation 

0=^^ + 6(t^^-' + v^"^+... + v + l) C, 

that is (7=^^ + 6-1 G\ 

and as e = 1 — v we obtain (7= 1. 

We proceed to examine equation (3). Put 1—v for e, and 
assume y = - : thus 

'" --^^ «. 

We shall shew that the real roots of equation (3) are nu- 
merically less than unity, and so also . arc the moduli of the im- 
aginary roots ; that is, we shall shew that the real roots of 


equation (4) are numerically greater than v, and so also are the 
moduli of the imaginary roots. 

"We know that v is less than unity. Hence from (4) if z be 
real and positive it must be greater than v. For if z be less than 

V, then _ is less than z , and a fortiori — ^ ~ is less 


than -z . If s be negative in (4) we must have 1 — z^' nega- 
tive, so that p must be even, and z numerically greater than unity, 
and therefore numerically gi'eater than v. Thus the real roots of 
(4) must be numerically greater than v. 
Again, we may put (4) in the form 

v + v' + v^+ ... = z + z^-\- ...+z^ (5). 

Now suppose that z is an imaginary quantity, say 

z =zJc (cos d 4- V— 1 sin 0) ; 

then if k is not greater than v, we see by aid of the theorem 

0" = k"" (cos nd + V^ sin nO), 

that the real terms on the right-hand side of (5) will form an 
aggregate less than the left-hand side. Thus k must be greater 
than V. 

After what we have demonstrated respecting the values of the 
roots of (3), it follows from (2) that when r is infinite <f> (r) = 1. 

680. We proceed to the second problem. 

Let (f) (r) now denote the probability that in r trials the event 
will happen p times in succession before it fails p times in suc- 

Let ^jr (n) denote the probability that the event will happen 
p times in succession before it fails p times in succession, supposing 
that one trial has just been made in ivhich the event failed, and that 
n trials remain to be made. 

Then instead of equation (1) we shall now obtain 

^(r)='yP + ?;^~'ei/r(r-;?) + v''"' eyjr (r - p + 1) -{- ... 

. . . + ve^{r (r-2) +eylr(r-V) ... (6). 
This equation is demonstrated in the same manner as (1) w^as. 


We have now to shew the connexion between the functions 
(j) and yjr; it is determined by the following relation ; 

'>lr(n)==(l) (n) - e^"^ [cf> {n-p +l)-ef (n-p)} (7). 

To shew the truth of this relation we observe that yjr (n) is 
less than <f> (n) for the following reason, and for that alone. If the 
one failure had not taken place there might be ^ — 1 failures in 
succession, and there would still remain some chance of the 
happening of the event p times in succession before its failing 
p times in succession ; since the one failure has taken place this 
chance is lost. The corresponding probability is 

e^-' {(f> (n -p + 1)- ef {n -p)}. 

The meaning of the factor e^~^ is obvious, so that we need only 
explain the meaning of the other factor. And it will be seen 
that (j) (n — p -h 1) — eyjr {n — p)) expresses the probability of the 
desired result in the n—p + 1 trials which remain to be made; 
for here the rejected part eyjr{n—p) is that part which would 
coexist with failure in the first of these remaininof trials, which 
part would of course not be available when p—1 failures had 
already taken place. 

Thus we may consider that (7) is established. 

In (6) change r into r —p ; therefore 

^ (r-p) = v^ + v'^'^ef {r-2p) + if-' e^^r [r-2p-\-V) + ... 

. . . + ve-^ (r —p — 2) + ei/r (r —p — 1) (8). 

Now multiply (8) by e^ and subtract the result from (6), ob- 
serving that by (7) we have 

i/r in) — e^'yjrin —p) = ^ (n) — e^"* <^ {n —p + 1) ; 

thus we obtain 

<f> ir) - e^ ^ (r -p) =v^ - eV 

+ v""'' e {(p {r -p) - e^-' <^ (r - 2p + 1)} 
+ v''-'e{<\>{r-p-\-l) -e^"'^ (r-2^+2)} 
+ ... ' 

j^e[^(r-r)-e"<t>{^-p)] (9). 

681. The equation in Finite Differences which we have just 


obtained may be solved in the ordinary way ; we shall not how- 
ever proceed with it. 

One case of interest may be noticed. Suppose r infinite ; then 
fj) (^r—p), (/> (r — 2/? + 1), ... will all be equal. Thus we can obtain 
the probability that the event will happen p times in succession 
before it fails p times in succession in an indefinite number of 
trials. Let F denote this probability ; then we have from (9), 

-e^F(t;^-'+^;^-'+... + v + l). 
Hence after reduction we obtain 

F= ^^-^g-o (10) 

682. The problems which we have thus solved are solved by 
Laplace, Theorie...des Proh. pages 2^7 — 251. In the solution 
we have given we have followed Condorcet's guidance, with some 
deviations however which we will now indicate ; our remarks will 
serve as additional evidence of the obscurity which we attribute 
to Condorcet. 

Our original equation (1) is given by Condorcet ; his demon- 
stration consists merely in pointing out the following identity ; 

(v + ey = 'if{v +e)'^ + v'-'e {v + e)'^ + v'^e {v + e)"^^' + ... 
...+v''e{v + ey-^ + ve {v + e)'""' + e (t; + e)^-\ 

He arrives at an equation which coincides with (4). He shews 
that the real roots must be numerically greater than v ; but wdth 
respect to the imaginary roots he infers that the moduli cannot 
be greater than unity, because if they were </> (r) would be infinite 
when T is infinite. 

We may add that Condorcet shews that (4) has no root which 

is a simple imaginary quantity, that is of the form a v — 1. 

If in our equation (7) we substitute successively for ^/r in t^rms 
of <^ we obtain 

-i/r (r) = </) (r) - e^"' {0 [r -^ + 1) - ec/) [r - p)] 

- i'-^ [^ (r - 2^ + 1) - ec/) (r - 2/?)} 

- i^-^ {cf> (r -Sp + l)-e<l> {r - Sp)} 


On his page 75 Condorcet gives an equivalent result without 
explicitly using (7) ; but he affords very little help in establish- 
ing it. 

Let X (^') tlenote what </> (r) becomes when v and e are inter- 
changed ; that is let % (r) denote the probability that in r trials 
the event will fail^ times in succession before it happens ^ times 
in succession. 

Let E denote the value of % (r) when r is infinite. Then we 
can deduce the value of E from that of V by interchanging v and 
e ; and we shall have V+ E= 1, as we might anticipate from the 
result at the end of Art. 679. 

Condorcet says that we shall have 

where f is une fonction semhlable de v et de e. 

Thus it would appear that he had some way of arriving at 
these results less simple than that which we have employed ; for 
in our way we assign V and E definitely. 

It will be seen that 

E ~ e-' l-v"' 

and this is less than — if v be greater than e. 

We have then two results, namely 

^_(£)_^ V tf 

the first of these results is obvious and the second has just been 
demonstrated. From these two results Condorcet seems to draw 

the inference that , ; continually diminishes as r increases ; see 

his page 78. The statement thus made may be true but it is not 

Condorcet says on his page 78, La probabilite en general que 
la decision sera en faveur de la vcrite, sera exprimee par 

^^ (1 -v)[l- e") 
e" (1 -e){l- v^) * 


. V 

This is not tnie. In fact Condorcet gives -p for the probability 

when he ought to give -^ — ^ , that is V. 

Condorcet says on the same page, Le cas le plus favorable est 
celui oil Ton aura d'abord j^ decisions consecutives, sans aucun 
melange. It would be difficult from the words used by Condorcet 
to determine what he means ; but by the aid of some s^^mbolical 
expressions which follow we can restore the meaning. Hitherto 
he has been estimating the probability before the trial is made ; 
but he now takes a different position altogether. Suppose we are 
told that a question has been submitted to a series of tribunals, and 
that at last p opinions in succession on the same side have been 
obtained ; we are also told the opinion of every tribunal to which 
the question was submitted, and we wish to estimate the pro- 
bability that the decision is correct. Condorcet then means to 
say that the highest probability will be when the first ^ tribunals 
all concuiTed in opinion. 

Condorcet continues, S'il y a quelque melange dans le cas de 

jo = 2, il est clair que le cas le plus defavorable sera celui 

de toutes les valeurs paires de r, oil le rapport des probabilites 

. v^ e V ^ ^ • ^1 • 

est -3- . - = - , Let us examine tnis. 

Suppose that p = 2. Suppose we are told that a decision has 

been obtained after an odd number of trials ; then we estimate the 

probability of the correctness of the decision at . For sup- 
pose, for example, that there were five trials. The probabilities of the 
correctness and of the incorrectness of the decision are proportional 
respectively to evev^ and veve"^, that is to v and e. On the other 
hand, suppose we are told that the decision has been obtained after 
an even number of trials ; then in the same way we shall find that 
the probabilities of the correctness and of the incorrectness of the 
decision are proportional respectively to v^ and e^. Thus the 

. . v" . 

probability of the correctness of the decision is -^ ^ ; and this 


is greater than , assuming that v is greater than e. Thus 


we see the meaning which Condorcet should have expressed, and 
although it is almost superfluous to attempt to correct what is 
nearly unintelligible, it would seem that paires should be changed 
to impaires. 

683. Condorcet's problem may be generalised. We may ask 
what is the probability that in r trials the event will happen 
p times in succession before it fails q times in succession. In this 
case instead of (7) we shall have 

'^{7i) = <i> {n) — e^~^ [(f> {n — g -^ 1) — e^lr {n - q)] ; 
instead of (9) we shall have 


+ v""-' e {(/) (r -p) - e^"' <f> (r -p-q + l)\ 

+ V ^"' e {(^ (r -^ + 1 ) - e«-' (f> {r -^- q+ 2)] 

+ ... 

and instead of (10) we shall have 

^^" (1 - e^ 

684. We will introduce here two remarks relating to that 
part of Condorcet's Preliminary Discourse which bears on his 
ninth Hypothesis. 

On page xxxvi. he says, 

...c'est qu'en supposant que I'on connoisse le nombre des decisions 
et la pluralite de chacune, on pent avoir la somme des pluralites obte- 
nues contre I'opinion qui I'emporte, plus graiide que celle des pluralites 
conformes a cet avis. 

This is a specimen of a kind of illogical expression which is 
not uncommon in Condorcet. He seems to imply that the result 
depends on our knoiving something, whereas the result might 
happen quite independently of our knowledge. If he will begin 
his sentence as he does, his conclusion ought to be that we may 
have a certain result and know that lue have it. 

On page xxxvii. he alludes to a case which is not discussed 
in the Essay. Suppose that a question is submitted to a series 


of tribunals until a certain number of opinions in succession on 
the same side has been obtained, the opinions of those tribunals 
being disregarded in which a sj^ecified plurality did not concur. 
Let V be the probability of an opinion for one alternative of the 
question, "svhich we will call the affirmative; let e be the proba- 
bility of an opinion for the negative ; and let z be the j)robability 
that the opinion will have to be disregarded for want of the re- 
quisite plurality. Thus v + e + z = 1. Let r be the number of 
ojDinions on the same side required, q the number of tribunals. 
Suppose (v-}-zy to be expanded, and let all the terms be taken 
between v^ and v*" both inclusive ; denote the aggTegate by (v). 
Let (f> (e) be formed from (f> (v) by putting e for v. Then (/> {v) is 
the i^i'obability that there will be a decision in the affirmative, 
and (f> {e) is the jDrobability that there will be a decision in the 
negative. But, as we have said, Condorcet does not discuss the 

685. Hitherto Condorcet has always supposed that each voter 
had only two alternatives presented to him, that is the voter had 
a proposition and its contradictory to choose between ; Condorcet 
now proposes to consider cases in which more than two proj)o- 
sitions are submitted to the voters. He saj^s on his page 86 that 
there will be three Hy23otheses to examine ; but he really arranges 
the rest of this j^art of his Essay under tiuo H}qDotheses, namely the 
tenth on pages 86 — 94?, and the eleventh on pages 95 — 136. 

686. Condorcet's tenth Hypothesis is thus given on his 
page XLII : 

...celle oil Ton suppose que les Yotans peuvent non-seulement voter 
pour ou centre une proposition, mais aussi declarer qu'ils ne se croient 
pas assez instruits pour prononcer. 

The pages 89 — 94? seem even more than commonly obscure. 

687. On his page 94< Condorcet begins his eleventh H}-]30- 
thesis. Suppose that there are 6^ + 1 voters and that there are 
three propositions, one or other of which each voter affirms. Let 
V, e, i denote the probabilities that each voter will affirm these 
three propositions respectively, so that ?; + e + /=l. Condorcet 
indicates various problems for consideration. We may for example 
suppose that three persons A, B, C are candidates for an office, 



and that v, e, i are the probabiHties that a voter will vote for A, B, C 
respectively. Since there are 6^+1 voters the three candidates 
cannot be bracketed, but any two of them may be bracketed. We 
may consider three problems. 

I. Find the probability that neither B nor C stands singly at 
the head. 

II. Find the probability that neither B nor C is hefore A, 

III. Find the probability that A stands singly at the head. 

These three probabilities are in descending order of magnitude. 
In III. we have all the cases in which A decisively beats his two 
opponents. In II. we have, in addition to the cases in III., those 
in which A is bracketed with one opponent and beats the other. 
In I. we have, in addition to the cases in II., those in which A is 
beaten by both his opponents, who are themselves bracketed, so 
that neither of the two beats the other. 

Suppose for example that q = l. We may expand {v + e + iy 
and pick out the terms which will constitute the solution of each 
of our problems. 

For III. we shall have 

v' + 7v' {e + i) + 21v' (e + if + 85y* (e + if + ^ov' ^ii\ 

For II. we shall have in addition to these 

For I. we shaJl have in addition to the terms in II. 

7v 1^eH\ 

These three problems Condorcet briefly considers. He denotes 
the probabilities respectively by IF ^ TF/, and W"^. It will scarcely 
be believed that he immediately proceeds to a fourth problem in 
which he denotes the probability by TF/^, which is nothing hut the 
second problem over again. Such however is the fact. His enun- 
ciations appear to be so obscure as even to have misled himself 
But it will be seen on examination that his second and fourth 
problems are identical, and the final expressions which he gives 
for the probabilities agree, after allowing for some misprints. 


688. It may be interesting to give Cordorcet's own enun- 

I. ...soit TF^ la probabilite que ni e ni i n'obtiendront sur les deux 
autres opinions la pluralite, . . . page 95. 

II. ... W/ exprimant la probabilite que e et i n'ont pas sur v la 
pluralite exigee, sans qu'il soit necessaire, pour rejeter un terme, que 
I'un des deux ait cette pluralite sur I'autre,... page 100. 

III. . . . TF'^, c'est-a-dire, la probabilite que v obtiendra sur i et e la 
pluralite exigee, . . . page 1 02. 

lY. ...TF/^, c'est-a-dire, la probabilite que v surpassera un des 
deux i ou e, et pourra cependant etre egal a I'autre,... page 102. 

Of these enunciations I., III., and TV. present no difficulty; 
II. is obscure in itself and is rendered more so by the fact that 
we naturally suppose at first that it ought not to mean the same 
as IV. But, as we have said, the same meaning is to be given 
to II. as to lY. 

Before Condorcet takes these problems individually he thus 
states them together on his page 95 : 

...nous chercherons la probabilite joour un nombre donne de Yotans, 
ou que ni e uii ne I'emportent sur v d'une i^luralite exigee, ou que e et i 
I'emportent chacun sur v de cette pluralite sans I'emporter Tun sur 
I'autre, ou enfin que v I'emporte a la fois sur e et sur i de cette pluralite. 

Thus he seems to contemplate three problems. The last clause 
ow enfin ... pluralite gives the enunciation of the third problem 
distinctly. The clause ou que ni . . . exigee may perhaps be taken 
as the enunciation of the second problem. The clause ou que ... 
Vautre will then be the enunciation of the first problem. 

In the Preliminary Discourse the problems are stated together 
in the following words on page XLIV : 

...qu'on cherche...ou la probabilite d'ayoir la pluralite d'un avis sur 
les deux,..., ou la probabilite que, soit les deux autres, soit un seul des 
deux, n' auront pas la pluralite ;... 

In these words the problems are enunciated in the order 
III., IL, I. ; and knowing what the problems are we can see that 
the words are not inapplicable. But if we had no other way of 
testing the meaning we might have felt uncertain as to what 

problems II. and I. were to be. 



689. Condorcet does not discuss these problems with much 
detail. He gives some general considerations with the view of 
shewing how what he denotes by W^^^ may be derived from TV^; 
but he does not definitely work out his suggestions. 

We will here establish some results w^hich hold when the 
number of voters is infinite. 

We wdll first shew that when q is infinite W/ is equal to unity, 
provided that v is greater than either e or i Suppose {v + e+iY^'^^ 
expanded in the form 

{v + 6)^^^ + {6q + l){v + er i + ^t^-^ (^ ^. ey 

' 4^ + 1 zg' ^ ' 

\Gq-l '2 

^^ + 

Now take the last term which we have here explicitly given, 
and pick out from it the part which it contributes to W^. 

We have {v + e)*^"^^ = {v + eY'"-' -f- + -— , 

Expand \ 1 \ as far as the term which involves 

f V \^^^^ f V e \ 

, and denote the sum by / , J . Then finally 

the part which we have to pick out is 


+ ey 

(V 6 \ 
, ) is equal to 

unity when q is infinite, as we have already shewn ; see Art. 660. 

Hence we see that when q is infinite the value of W/ is the 
limit of 

{v + e)^^^ + {6q + l){v + 6)^ I + ^^^ ^ ^J ^^ {v + e)*^-^ i' + 

16(7 + 1 

Now we are at liberty to suppose that { is not greater than e, 
and then i?4-6 is greater than 2i; so that v-\-e must be greater 



than ^. Hence by Art. 67^ the value of W/ will be unity when 

q is infinite. 

Let </) (v, ei) stand for W^, where we mean by our notation to 
draw attention to the fact that TF/ is a symmetrical function of e 
and ^. We have then the following result strictly true, 

(j> {v, ei) + (j) {e, vi) + <j> {i, ev) — 1. 

Now suppose q infinite. Let v be greater than e or /; then as 
we have just shewn {v, ei) = 1, and therefore each of the other 
functions in the above equation is zero. Thus, in fact, </> {x, yz) 
vanishes if x be less than y 07^ z, and is equal to unity if x be 
greater than hotli y and z. 

Next suppose v — e, and i less than v or e. By what we have 
just seen (/, ev) vanishes ; and (/> (v, ei) = c^ {e, vi), so that each 

of them is ^ . 

Lastly, suppose that v — e — i. Then 

<^ [Vy ei) = (e, vi) = <f> [i, ev) ; 

hence each of them is ^ . 


We may readily admit that wlien q is infinite W^ and W"^ 
are each equal to TF/ ; thus the results which we have obtained 
with respect to Problem li. of Art. 687 will also apply to Problems 
I. and III. 

Condorcet gives these results, though not clearly. He estab- 
lishes them for W^ without using the fundamental equation we 
have used. He says the same values will be obtained by examining 
the formula for TT/^. He proceeds thus on his page 10^ : Si 
maintenant nous cherchons la valeur de TT^ nous trouverons que 
TF* est ^gal a I'unite moins la somme des valours de TF'*, on Ton 
auroit mis v pour e, et reciproquement v pour i, et reciproquement. 
The words after TF'* are not intelligible; but it would seem that 
Condorcet has in view such a fundamental equation as that we 
have used, put in the form 

(/) {v, ei) = 1 — <^ (e, vi) — (j> {i, ev). 

But such an equation will not be true except on the assumption 


that W'^ and W"^ are equal toTf/ ultimately; and on this assump- 
tion we have the required results at once without the five lines 
which Condorcet gives after the sentence we have just quoted. 

690. In the course of his eleventh Hypothesis Condorcet 
examines the propriety of the ordinary mode of electing a person 
by votes out of three or more candidates. Take the^ following 
example ; see his page LViil. 

Suppose A, B, C are the candidates ; and that out of 60 votes 
23 are given for A, 19 for B, and 18 for C. Then A is elected 
according to ordinary method. 

But Condorcet says that this is not necessarily satisfactory. For 
suppose that the 23 who voted for A would all consider C better 
than B ; and suppose that the 19 who voted for B would all con- 
eider (7 better than A ; and suppose that of the 18 who voted for 
C, 16 would prefer B to A, and 2 would prefer A to B. Then on 
the whole Condorcet gets the following result. 

The two propositions in favour of C are C is better than A, 
C is better than B. 

The first of these has a majority of 87 to 23, and the second 
a majority of 41 to 19. 

The two propositions in favour of B are B is better than A, 
B is better than G. 

The first of these has a majority of 35 to 25, the second is 
in a minority of 19 to 41. 

The two propositions in favour of A are A is better than B, 
A is better than C. 

The first of these is in a minority of 25 to 35, and the second 
in a minority of 23 to 37. 

Hence Condorcet concludes that G who was lowest on the 
poll in the ordinary way, really has the greatest testimony in his 
favour ; and that A who was highest on the poll in the ordinary 
way, really has the least. 

Condorcet himself shews that his own method, which has just 
been illustrated, will lead to difficulties sometimes. Suppose, for 
example, that there are 23 voters for A, 19 for B, and 18 for G. 
Suppose moreover that ah the 23 who voted for A would have 
preferred B to G; and that of the 19 who voted for By there 


are 17 who prefer C to A, and 2 who prefer A to C; and lastly 
that of the 18 who voted for C there are 10 who prefer A to B, 
and 8 who jDrefer B to A. Then on the whole, the following three 
projDositions are affirmed: 

B is better than (7, by 42 votes to 18 ; 

G is better than A, by 35 votes to 25 ; 

A is better than B, by 38 votes to 27. 

Unfortunately these propositions are not consistent with each 

Condorcet treats this subject of electing out of more than 
two candidates at great length, both in the Essay and in the 
Preliminary Discourse ; and it is resumed in the fifth part of 
his Essay after the ample cUscussion which it had received in the 
first part. His results however appear of too little value to detain 
us any longer. See Laplace, Theorie . . . des Proh. page 27i. 

691. The general conclusions which Condorcet draws from 
the first part of his work do not seem to be of great importance ; 
they amount to little more than the very obvious principle that 
the voters must be enlightened men in order to ensure our con- 
fidence in their decision. We will quote his own words : 

On voit done ici que la forme la plus propre a remphr toutes les 
conditions exigees, est en nieme temps la plus simple, celle ou une 
assemblee unique, composee d'hommes eclaires, prononce seule un juge- 
ment a une pluralite telle, qu'on ait une assui'ance suffisante de la 
verite du jugement, meme lorsque la pluralite est la moindre, et il faut 
de plus que le nombre des Yotans soit assez grand pour avok une grande 
probabihte d'obtenir une decision. 

Des Votans eclaires et une forme simple, sent les moyens de reunir 
le plus d'avantages. Les formes compliquees ne remedient point au 
defant de lumieres dans les Yotans, ou n'y remedient qu'imparfaitement, 
ou meme entrainent des inconveniens plus grands que ceux qu'on a 
vouhi eviter. Page XLii. 

... 11 faut, 1° dans le cas des decisions sur des questions compliquees, 
faire en sorte qne le systeme des propositions simples qui les forment 
soit rigoureusement developpe, que chaque avis possible soit bien expose, 
que la voix de chaque Yotant soit prise sur chacune des propositions qui 
forment cet avis, et non sur le resultat seul 


2°. II faiit de plus que les Yotans soient eclaires, et d'autant plus 
eclaires, que les questions qu'ils decident sont plus compliquees ; sans 
cela on trouvera bien ime forme de decision qui preservera de la crainte 
d'une decision fausse, mais qui en meme temps rendant toute decision 
presque impossible, ne sera qu'un moyen de perpetuer les abus et les 
mauvaises loix. Page lxix. 

692. We now come to Condorcet's second part, which occupies 
his pcages 137 — 175. In the first part the following three elements 
were always supposed known, the number of voters, the hypothesis 
of plurality, and the probability of the correctness of each voter's 
vote. From these three elements various results were deduced, 
the i^rincipal results being the probability that the decision will 
be correct, and the probability that it will not be incorrect ; these 
probabilities were denoted by (j> {q) and 1— 'v/r(^) in Art. 669. 
Now in his second part Condorcet supposes that we know only huo 
of the three elements, and that we know one of the two results ; 
from these known quantities he deduces the remaining element 
and the other result; this statement applies to all the cases 
discussed in the second part, except to two. In those two cases 
we are supposed to know the probability of the correctness of a 
decision which we know has been given with the least admissible 
plurality ; and in one of these cases we know also the probability 
of the correctness of each voter s vote, and in the other case the 
hypothesis of plurality. 

Condorcet himself has given three statements as to the con- 
tents of his second part ; namely on pages xxil, 2, and 187; of 
these only the first is accurate. 

693. Before proceeding to the main design of his second part 
Condorcet adverts to two subjects. 

First he notices and condemns Buffon's doctrine of moral cer- 
tainty ; see Condorcet's pages LXXi and 138. One of his objections 
is thus stated on page 138 : 

Cette opinion est inexacte en elle-meme, en ce qu'elle tend a con- 
fondre deux clioses de nature essentiellement differente, la probabilite et 
la certitude : c'est precisement comme si on confondoit I'asymptote 
d'une courbe avec ime tangente menee a un point fort eloigne ; de telles 
suppositions ne pourroient etre admises dans les Sciences exactes sans en 
detruire toute la precision. 


Without undertaking the defence of BufFon we may remark 
that the illustration given by Condorcet is not fortunate ; for the 
student of Geometry knows that it is highly important and useful 
in many cases to regard an asymptote as a tangent at a very re- 
mote point. 

Secondly, Condorcet adverts to the subject of Mathematical 
Expectation; see his pages LXXV and 142. He intimates that 
Daniel Bernoulli had first pointed out the inconveniences of the 
ordinary rule and had tried to remedy them, and that D'Alembert 
had afterwards attacked the rule itself; see Arts. 378, 4G9, 471. 

694. The second part of Condorcet's Essay presents nothing 
remarkable; the formuloe of the first part are now employed again, 
with an interchange of given and sought quantities. Methods of 
approximating to the values of certain series occupy pages 155 — 171. 
Condorcet quotes from Euler what we now call Stirling's theorem 
for the ajDproximate calculation of \x ; Condorcet also uses the 

formula, due to Lagrange, which we now usually express symboli- 
cally thus 

See also Lacroix, Traite du Cole. Diff. ... Vol. iii. jDage 92. 

Condorcet's investigations in these approximations are dis- 
figured and obscured by numerous misprints. The method which 
he gives on his pages 168, 169 for successive approximation to a 
required numerical result seems unintelligible. 

695. We now arrive at Condorcet's third part which occupies 
his pages 176 — 241. Condorcet says on his page 176, 

Nous avons suffisammeiit expose Tobjet ole cette troisieme Partie : on 
a vu qu'elle devoit renfermer I'examen de deux questions differentes. 
Dans la premiere, il s'agit de conuoitre, d'apres I'observatiou, la proba- 
bilite des jugemens d'uii Tribunal ou de la voix de chaque Votant ; dans 
la seconde, il s'agit de determiner le degre de probabilite necessaire ])0\\v 
qu'on puisse agir dans differentes circonstances, soit avec prudence, soit 
avec justice. 

Mais il est aise de voir que I'examen de ces deux questions demaude 
d'abord qu'on ait etabli en general les j^rincipes d'apres lesquels on peut 
determiner la probabilite d'un ^venement futur ou inconnu, nou par la 


connoissance dii nombre des combinaisons possibles que donnent cet 
eveuement, ou revenement oppose, mais seulement par la connoissance 
de I'ordre des evenemens connus ou passes de la meme espece. C'est 
I'objet des problemes suivans. 

696. Condorcet devotes his pages 176 — 212 to thirteen pre- 
liminary problems, and then his pages 213 — 241 to the application 
of the problems to the main purposes of his Essay. 

With respect to these preliminary problems Condorcet makes 
the following historical remark on his page LXXXIII, 

L'idee de cherclier la probabilite des evenemens futurs d'apres la loi 
des evenemens passes, paroit s'etre presentee a Jacques Bernoulli et a 
Moivre, mais ils n'ont donne dans leurs ouvrages aucune metliode pour 
y parvenir. 

M". Bayes et Price en ont donne una dans les Transactions philo- 
sophiques, annees 1764 et 1765, et M. de la Place est le premier qui ait 
traite cette question d'une maniere analytique. 

697. Condorcet's first problem is thus enunciated : 

Soient deux evenemens seuls possibles A et N, dont on ignore la 
probabilite, et qu'on sache seulement que A est arrive m fois, et N^ 
n fois. On suppose I'un des deux Evenemens arrives, et on demande la 
probabiUte que c'est I'evenement A, ou que c'est I'evenement N, dans 
riiy]^)othese que la probabilite de chacun des deux evenemens est con- 
stamment la meme. 

We have already spoken of this problem in connexion with 
Bayes, see Art. 551. 

Condorcet solves the problem briefly. He obtains the ordinary 
result that the probability in favour of A is, 

f x"^-"' (1 - xy dx 

[ a:'" (1 - xY dx 
J ft 

Wl -|- 1 

and this is equal to ^r . Similarly the probability in favour 

^ m + ?i -h 2 J 1 J 

^j . n-\-\ 
of N IS 

m + ?i+ 2* 

It will of course be observed that it is only by w\ay of abbrevia- 
tion that we can speak of these results as deduced from the hypo- 
thesis that the probability of the two events is constantly the 


same ; the real hypothesis involves much more, namely, that the 
probability is of unknown value, any value between zero and unity 
being equally likely a priori. 

Similarly we have the following result. Suppose the event A 
has occurred m times and the event N has occurred n times ; sup- 
pose that the probability of the two events is constantly the same, 
but of unknown value, any value between a and h being equally 
likely a priori ; required the probability that the probability of A 
lies between certain limits a and ^ which are themselves com- 
prised between a and h. 

The required probability is 


' x'^il-xYdx 


J a 

x"^ (1 - xy dx 


Laplace sometimes speaks of such a result as the jyrohahilitii 
that the p)Ossihilitij oi A lies between a and /3 ; see Theorie...des 
Proh. Livre ii. Chapitre vi. See also De Morgan, Theory of Proba- 
bilities, in the Encyclopcedia Metropolitana, Art. 77, and Essay on 
Probahilities in the Cabinet Cyclopedia, page 87. 

698. Condorcet's second problem is thus enunciated : 

On suj^pose dans ce Problem e, que la probabilite de A et de N n'est 
pas la meine dans tous les evenemens, mais qu'elle pent avoir pour 
chacun une valeur quelconque depuis zero jusqu'a I'unite. 

Condorcet's solution depends essentially on this statement. The 
probability of m occurrences of A, and n occurrences of N is 

\m-\-n ( r^ ) "' f f ^ ] " \m-\-n \ 

. I \ xdx \ \\ {1-x) dx\ , that is '. , -^^^i^Tn • 
\]]}[^ [Jo ) Ih J lull!}. ^ 

The probability of having A again, after A has occurred m times 

and N has occurred n times, is found by changing the exponent m 

into m + 1, so that it is 

\m + n 1 

Proceeding in this way Condorcet finally arrives at the conclu- 
sion that the probability of having A is ^ and the probability of 


Laving iV is ^ . In fact the hypothesis leads to the same conclu- 

sion as we should obtain from the hypothesis that A and N are 
always equally likely to occur. 

In his first problem Condorcet assumes that the probability of 
each event remains constant during the observations ; in his second 
problem he says that he does not assume this. But we must 
observe that to abstain from assuming that an element is constant 
is different from distinctly assuming that it is not constant. Con- 
dorcet, as we shall see, seems to confound these two things. His 
second problem does not exclude the case of a constant probability, 
for as we have remarked it is coincident with the case in which 

there is a constant probability equal to ^ . 

The introduction of this second problem, and of others similar 
to it is peculiar to Condorcet. We shall immediately see an appli- 
cation which he makes of the novelty in his third problem ; and we 
shall not be able to commend it. 

699. Condorcet's third problem is thus enunciated : 

On suppose dans ce probleme que Ton ignore si a chaque fois la pro- 
bahilite d' avoir A qvl N reste la meme, on si elle varie a chaque fois, de 
nianiere quelle puisse avoir une valeur quelconque depuis zero jusqu'a 
r unite, et Ton demande, sacliant que Ton a eu m evenemens -4, et n 
evenemens N^ quelle est la probabilite d'amener A ou -^V. 

The following is Condorcet's solution. If the probability is 

constant, then the probability of obtaining m occurrences of A 

I m -\- n r^ 
and 71 occurrences of N is ', , - x"' (1 — xY dx, that is 

If the probability is not constant, then, as in 

\m \n \m-\-7i + l 

the second problem, the probability of obtaining 7n occurrences of ^ 

I !ii -\-n \ 
and n occurrences of N is ^r^^rr^ . Hence he infers that the 

P Q 

probabilities of the hypothesis are respectively and ^ , 

\m\n 1 

where P= — — — ^ and Q = 

m-]-n + l 2 



He continues in the usual way. If the first hypothesis be true 

tn -j- 1 

the probability of another A is ; if the second hypo- 

^ "^ 771 + W + 2 ^^ 

thesis be true the probability of another ^ is ^ . Thus finally the 
probability in favour of A is 

P+ (3 V^ + ^ + 2 ^2 ^J- 
Similarly the probability in favour of N is 

1 f ?2 + 1 


It should be noticed that in this solution it is assumed that 
the two hypotheses were equally probable d yrioriy which is a very 
important assumption. 

700. Suppose that m + n is indefinitely large ; if m = n it may 
be shewn that the ratio of P to Q is indefinitely small ; this ratio 
obviously increases as the difference of m and n increases, and is 
indefinitely large when m or n vanishes. Condorcet enunciates 
a more general result, namely this ; if we suppose m = an and 
n infinite, the ratio of P to Q is zero if a is unity, and infinite 
if a is greater or less than unity. Condorcet then proceeds, 

Ainsi supposons m et n donnes et inegaiix ; si on continue d' observer 
les evenemens, et que m et n conservent la meme proportion, on parvi- 
endra a une valeur de m et de n, telle qu'on aura une probabilite anssi 
grande qu'on voudra, que la probabilite des evenemens A et J^ est con- 

Par la meme raison, lorsque m et n sont fort grands, leur difference, 
quoique tres-grande en elle-meme, pent etre assez petite par rapport au 
nornbre total, pour que Ton ait une tres-grande probabilite que la pro- 
babilite d'avoir A ou iV^n'est pas constante. 

The second paragi^aph seems quite untenable. If in a very 
large number of trials A and N had occurred very nearly the same 
number of times we should infer that there is a constant proba- 
bility namely ^ for A and ^ for N. It is the more necessary to 


record dissent because Condorcet seems to attach great importance 
to his third problem, and the inferences he draws from it ; see his 
pages Lxxxiv, xcii, 221. 

701. Condorcet's fourth problem is thus enunciated : 

On suppose ici un evenement A arrive m fois, et tin evenement N 
arrive oi fois ; que Ton sache que la probabilite inconnue d'un des eve- 

nemens soit depuis 1 jusqu'a ^, et celle de 1' autre depuis ;;r jusqu'a zero, 

et Ton demande, dans les trois hypotheses des trois problemes precedens, 

P. la probabilite que c'est A ou iVdont la probabilite est depuis 1 jusqu'a ^; 

2°. la probabilite d'avoir A ou iV dans le cas d'un nouvel evenement ; 
3". la probabilite d'avoir un evenement dont la probabilite soit depuis 

1 jusqu'a ^ . 

Condorcet uses a very repulsive notation, namely, 

The chief point in the solution of this problem is the fact to 
which we have drawn attention in the latter part of Art. G97. 

We may remark that Condorcet begins his solution of the 
second part of his problem thus : Soit supposee maintenant la pro- 
babilite changeante a chaque evenement. He ought to say, let the 
probability not be assumed constant. See Art. 698. 

702. Condorcet's fifth problem is thus enunciated : 

Conservant les memes hypotheses, on demande quelle est, dans le cas 
du probleme premier, la probabilite, 1°. que celle de I'evenement A n'est 
pas au-dessous d'une quantite donnee j 2°. qu'elle ne dilBfere de la valeur 

moyenne que d'une quantite a ; 3°. que la probabilite d'amener A, 

n'est point au-dessous d'une limite a ; 4". qu'elle ne differe de la pro- 
babilite moyenne ^ que d'une quantite moindre que a. On 

demande aussi, ces probabilites etant donnces, quelle est la limite a 
pour laquelle elles ont lieu. 

The whole solution depends on the fact to which we have 
drawn attention in the latter part of Art. 697. 


As is very common with Condorcet, it would be uncertain from 
his language what questions he proposed to consider. On examin- 
ing his solution it appears that his 1 and 3 are absolutely identical, 
and that his 2 and 4 differ only in notation. 

703. In his sixth problem Condorcet says that he proposes the 
same questions as in his fifth problem, taking now the hypothesis 
that the probability is not constant. 

Here his 1 and 3 are really different, and his 2 and 4 are really 

It seems to me that no value can be attributed to the discus- 
sions which constitute the problems from the second to the sixth 
inclusive of this part of Condorcet's work. See also Cournot's 
Exposition de la Theorie cles Chances... -psige 166. 

704. The seventh problem is an extension of the first. Sup- 
pose there are two events A and N, which are mutually exclusive, 
and that in m + n trials A has happened m times, and N has hap- 
pened n times : required the probability that in the next p +q 
trials A will happen j; times and N happen q times. 

Suppose that x and 1 — x were the chances of A and JSf s.t a 
single trial ; then the probability that in m + n trials A would 
happen m times and iV^ happen n times would be proportional to 
x"' (1 — xy. Hence, by the rule for estimating the probabilities of 
causes from effects, the probability that the chance of A lies be- 
tween X and x + dx at a single trial is 


{ r»'" (1 - xf dx y 


And if the chance of ^ at a single trial is x the probability 
that mp-\-q trials A will occur j) times and N occur q times is 

^^ , . 

Hence finally the probability required in the problem is 

, , ^ \ x"^-"' il - xY^'' dx 
\P±± K 

\e[i fx^'{i-xydx 


This important result had been given in effect by Laplace in 
the memoir which we have cited in Art. 551 ; but in Laplace's me- 
moir we must suppose the ^-? + </ events to be required to happen 

\P -^ ^ . 
in an assiqned order, as the factor , — :' is omitted. 

We shall see hereafter in examining a memoir by Prevost 
and Lhuilier that an equivalent result may also be obtained by an 
elementary algebraical process. 

705. The remaining problems consist chiefly of deductions 
from the seventh, the deductions being themselves similar to the 
problems treated in Condorcet's first part. We will briefly illus- 
trate this by one example. Suppose tliat A has occurred m times 
and B has occurred n times ; required the probability that in the 
next 2q + l trials there will be a majority in favour of A. Let 
F{q) denote this probability ; then 

[ x''' (1 - xY cj, (q) dx 

ic'" (1 - xY dx 


where <^ (q) stands for 

x'^-"' + {2q + 1) x'' {l-x) + ^^^ + 1^^^^ x'^-' (1 - xy+ 

~==r X'^' (1 - xy. 


Hence if we use, as in Art. 663, a similar notation for the case 
in which q is changed into q + 1, we have 

[ x'''{l-xy^(q + l)dx 

x'"" (1 - xy dx 


Therefore, as in Art. 663, 


F(q+1)-F(q)=i^ ^.r-^ ^ , 


J n 


where i> (g + 1) - 4> iq) ^ I^TT^ I""'" ^^ ~ "''^'" ~ '"'*' ^^ -^)'' j • 

In this manner Condorcet deduces various formulae similar to 
equation (2) of Art. 663. 

We may remark that at first Condorcet does not seem to deduce 
his formulae in the simplest way, namely by applying the results 
which he has already obtained in his first part ; but he does 
eventually adopt this plan. Compare his pages 191 and 208. 

706. Condorcet now proceeds to the ai^plication of the problems 
to the main purposes of his Essay. As he says in the passage we 
have quoted in Art. 695, there are two questions to be considered. 
The first question is considered in pages 213 — 223, and the second 
question in pages 223 — 241. 

707. The first question asks for two results ; Condorcet barely 
notices the first, but gives all his attention to the second. 

Condorcet proposes two methods of treatment for the first ques- 
tion ; the premier moyen is in pages 213 — 220, and the seconde 
methode in pages 220 — 223. Neither method is carried out to a 
practical application. 

708. We will give a simple illustration of what Condorcet pro- 
poses in his first method. Suppose we have a tribunal composed 
of a large number of truly enlightened men, and that this tribunal 
examines a large number of decisions of an inferior tribunal. Sup- 
pose too that we have confidence that these truly enlightened men 
will be absolutely correct in their estimate of the decisions of the 
inferior tribunal. Then we may accept from their examination 
the result that on the whole the inferior tribunal has recorded m 
votes for truth and n votes for error. We are now ready to apjDly 
the problem in Art. 704, and thus determine the probability that 
out of the next 2q + l votes given by members of the inferior tri- 
bunal there will be a majority in favour of the truth. 

This must be taken however only as a very simple case of the 
method proposed by Condorcet ; he himself introduces circum- 
stances which render the method much more complex. For in- 
stance he has not complete confidence even in his truly enlightened 



men, but takes into account the probability that they will err in 
their estimate of the decisions of the inferior tribunal. But there 
would be no advantage gained in giving a fuller investigation of 
Condorcet's method, especially as Condorcet seems to intimate on 
his page 216 that the following is the chief result : 

...ce qui conduit en general a cette conclusion tres-importante, que 
tout Tribunal dont les jugemens sont rendus a une petite pluralite, 
relativement au nombre total des Yotans, doit inspirer peu de confiance, 
et que ses decisions n'ont qu'une tres-petite probabilite. 

Such an obvious result requires no elaborate calculation to 
support it. 

709. In the second method of treating the first question Con- 
dorcet does not suppose any tribunal composed of truly enlightened 
men to review the decisions of those who are less enlightened. 

But he assumes that the probability of the correctness of each vote 

lies between ^ and 1 ; and then he proposes to apply some of the 

formulse which he obtained in the solutions of the preliminary 
problems. Nothing of any practical value can be extracted from 
this part of the book. Condorcet himself says on his page c, 

II auroit 6te curieux de faire a la suite des decisions de quelque 
Tribunal existant, I'application de ce dernier principe, mais il ne nous 
a ete possible de nous procurer les donnees necessaires pour cette appli- 
cation. D'ailleurs les calculs auroient et6 tres-longs, et la necessite 
d'en supprimer les resultats, s'ils avoient et6 trop defavorables, n'etoit 
pas propre a donner le courage de s'y livrer. 

710. Condorcet now proceeds to the second question which we 
have seen in Art. 695 that he proposed to consider, namely the 
numerical value of the probability which ought to be obtained 
in various cases. This occupies pages 223 — 21^1 of the Essay ; 
the corresponding part of the Preliminary Discourse occupies 
pages cii — c XXVIII. This discussion is interesting, but not of 
much practical value. Condorcet notices an opinion enunciated 
by Buffon. Buffon says that out of 10,000 persons one will die in 
the course of a day ; but practically the chance of dying in the 


course of a day is disregarded by mankind ; so that may 

be considered tbe numerical estimate of a risk which any person is 
willing to neglect. Condorcet objects to this on various grounds ; 
and himself proposes a different numerical estimate. He finds 
from tables of mortality that the risk for a person aged 37 of a 

sudden death in the course of a week is -r-^ — zttt^ , and that the 

o2 X o80 

risk for a person aged 47 is — — j^ . He assumes that prac- 
tically no person distinguishes between these risks, so that their 
difference is in fact disregarded. The difference between these 

fractions is TTi>fw^, and this Condorcet proposes to take as a risk 

which a man would practically consider equivalent to zero in the 
case of his own life. See Art. 644. 

711. Condorcet considers however that the risk which we 
may with propriety neglect will vary with the subject to which it 
relates. He specially considers three subjects, the establishment 
of a new law, the decision between claimants as to the right to a 
property, and the condemnation of an accused person to capital 
punishment. We may observe that he records the opinion that 
capital punishments ought to be abolished, on the ground that, 
however large may be the probability of the correctness of a 
single decision, we cannot escape having a large probability that in 
the course of many decisions some innocent person will be con- 
demned. See his pages cxxvi, 241. 

712. We now arrive at Condorcet's fourth part, which occupies 
pages 242 — 278. He says on his page 242, 

Jusqu'ici nous n'avons considere notre sujet que d'une maniere ab- 
straite, et les suppositions generales que nous avons faites s'eloignent 
trop de la rialite. Cette Partie est destinee h developper la methode de 
faire entrer dans le calcul les principales donnees auxquelles on doit 
avoir egard pour que les resultats oil Ton est conduit, soient applicables 
a la pratique. 

Condorcet divides this part into six questions. In these ques- 



tions he proposes to examine the modifications which the results of 
the preceding parts of his book require, before they can be applied 
to practice. For instance we cannot in practice suppose it true 
that all the voters are of equal skill and honesty ; and accordingly 
one of the six questions relates to this circumstance. 

But the subjects proposed for investigation are too vague to be 
reduced with advantage to mathematical calculation ; and ac- 
cordingly we find that Condorcet's researches fall far below what 
his enunciations appear to promise. For example, on page 264, 
he says, 

Nous examinerons ici I'influence qui peut resulter de la passion ou 
de la mauvaise foi des Yotans. 

These words may stimulate our curiosity and excite our atten- 
tion ; but we are quite disappointed when we read the paragraph 
which immediately follows : 

Comme la probahilite n'a pu etre determinee que par I'experience, 
si I'on suit la premiere methode de la troisieme Fartie, ou qu'en sui- 
vant la seconde, ou suppose que rinfluence de ]a corruption ou de la 
passion sur les jugemens ne fait pas tomber la probahilite au-dessous de 

- , alors il est evident que cet element est entre dans le calcul, et qu'il 

n'y a par consequent rien a corriger. 

Condorcet himself admits that he has here effected very little ; 
he says on his page CLiv, 

Ainsi Ton doit regarder sur-tout cette quatrieme Partie comme un 
simple essai, dans lequel on ne trouvera ni les developpemens ni les 
details que rimportance du sujet pouri-oit exiger. 

713. Condorcet himself seems to attach great importance to 
his fifth question which relates to that system of forced unanimity 
which is established for English juries. This question he dis- 
cusses in his pages 267 — 276 and CXL — CLi. He believes that he 
shews that the system is bad. He introduces the subject thus on 
page CXL : 

Les jugemens criminels en Angleterre se rendent sous cette forme : 
on oblige les Jures de rester dans le lieu d'assemblee jusqu'a ce qu'ils 
soient d'accord, et on les oblige de se reunir par cette espece de torture ; 
car non-seulement la faim seroit un tourment reel, mais I'ennui, la 


contrainte, le mal-aise, portes a un certain point, peuvent devenir un 
veritable siipplice. 

Aiissi poun'oit-on faire a cette forme de decision un reproclie sem- 
blable a celui qii'on faisoit, avec tant de justice, a I'usage barbare et 
inutile de la torture, et dire qu'elle donne de I'avantage a un Jure 
robuste et fripon, sur le Jure integre, mais foible. 

He says that there is a class of questions to which this method 
of forced unanimity cannot he applied ; for example, the truths of 
Physical Science, or such as depend on reasoning. He says on 
page CXLI, 

Aussi, du moins dans des pays ou des siecles eclaires, n'a-t-on jamais 
exige cette unanimite pour les questions dont la solution depend du 
raisonnement. Personne n'hesite k recevoir comme une verite 1' opinion 
unanime des gens instruits, lorsque cette unanimite a ete le produit 
lent des reflexions, du temps et des recherches : mais si Ton enfermoit 
les vingt plus habiles Pliysiciens de 1' Europe jusqu'a ce qu'ils fussent 
convenus d'un point de doctrine, personne ne seroit tente d'avoir la 
moindre confiance en cette espece d'unanimite. 

714'. We shall not reproduce Condorcet's investigations on the 
English jury S3^stem, as they do not seem to us of any practical 
value. They can be easily read by a student who is interested in 
the subject, for they form an independent piece of reasoning, and 
thus do not enforce a perusal of the rest of the book. 

We will make a few remarks for the use of a student who con- 
sults this part of Condorcet's book; these will occupy our next 

715. On page CXLI Condorcet says that we ought to dis- 
tinguish three sorts of questions, and he at once states the first ; 
as usual with him he is not careful in the subsequent pages to indi- 
cate the second and third of these questions. The second is that 
beginning on page CXLII, II y a un autre genre cT opinions.... The 
third is that beginning on page CLi, On pent considerer encore.... 

On his page 267 Condorcet says. 

Si Ton prend rhy]3othese huitieme de la premiere Partie, et qu'en 
consequence Ton suppose que Ton prendra les voix jusqu'a ce que 
r unanimite se soit reuuie pour un des deux avis, nous avons vu que le 


calcul donnoit la meme probabilite, soit que cette unanimite ait lieu 
immediatement, soit qu'elle ne se forme qu'apres plusieurs changemens 
d'avis, soit que Ton se remiisse a la majoritej soit que Tavis de la 
minorite finisse, par avoir tous les suj0frages. 

We quote this passage in order to draw attention to a practice of 
which Condorcet is very fond, and which causes much obscurity in 
his writings ; the practice is that of needlessly varying the lan- 
guage. If we compare the words soit que Ton se reimisse a la 
viajoy^ite with those which immediately follow, we discover such a 
great diversity in the language that we have to ascertain whether 
there is a corresponding diversity in the meaning which is to be 
conveyed. We shall conclude on examination that there is no 
such diversity of meaning, and we consequently pronounce the 
diversity of language to be very mischievous, as it only serves to 
arrest and perplex the student. 

It would be well in this paragraph to omit all the words soit 
que Von... suffrages; for without these everything is fully expressed 
which Condorcet had obtained in his first part. 

We would indicate the first eleven lines of Condorcet's page 270 
as involving so much that is arbitrary as to render all the conclu- 
sions depending on them valueless. We are not prepared to offer 
more reasonable suppositions than those of Condorcet, but we 
think that if these are the best which can be found it will be 
prudent to give up the attempt to apply mathematics to the 

We may remark that what is called Trial hy Jury would more 
accurately be styled Trial hy Judge and Jury. Accordingly a most 
important element in such an investigation as Condorcet under- 
takes would be the influence which the Judge exercises over the 
Jury ; and in considering this element we must remember that 
the probability is very high that the opinion of the Judge will be 
correct, on account of his ability and experience. 

716. We now arrive at Condorcet's fifth part; which occupies 
the remainder of his book, that is, pages 279 — 304. Condorcet 
says on page CLVii, 

L'objet de cette derniere Partie, est d'appliquer a quelques exemples 
les principes que nous avons developpcs. II auroit 6t^ I. desirer que 


cette application eut pu etre faite d'apres des donnees reelles, mais la 
difficulte de se procurer ces donnees, difficultes qu'un particulier ne 
pouvoit esperer de vaincre, a force de se contenter d'appliquer les prin- 
cipes de la theorie a de simples liyjootlieses, afin de montrer du moins 
la marclie que pourroient suivre pour cette application reelle ceux a qui 
on auroit j)rocure les donnees qui doivent en etre la base. 

But it would be rather more correct to describe this part as 
furnishing some additions to the preceding investigations than as 
giving examples of them. 

Four so-called examples are discussed. 

717. In the first example Condorcet proposes what he thinks 
would be a good form of tribunal for the trial of civil cases. He 
suggests a court of 25 judges, to decide by majority. He adds, 
however, this condition ; suppose the case tried is the right to a 
certain property, then if the majority is less than 3 the court 
should award compensation to the claimant against whom de- 
cision is given. 

718. In the second example Condorcet proposes what he 
thinks would be a good form of tribunal for the trial of criminal 
cases. He suggests a court of 80 judges, in which a majority of at 
least 8 is to be required to condemn an accused person. 

719. The third example relates to the mode of electing from 
a number of candidates to an ofiice. This example is really a 
supplement to the investigation given in the first part of the Essay. 
Condorcet refers to the memoir on the subject by a celebrated 
geometer, and records his own dissent from that geometer's sug- 
gestions ; the geometer alluded to is Borda. See Art. 690. 

720. The fourth example relates to the probability of the 
accuracy of the decision of a large assembly in which the voters 
are not all alike. Condorcet considers the case in which the num- 
ber of voters whose probability of accuracy is x, is proportional to 

\—x\ and he supposes that cc lies between ^ and 1. In such a 

case the mean probability is 


I (1 — x) xdx 
^ ^ 

I {1 — x) dx 

which is ^ . If the value of x lies between a and 1 the mean pro- 

bability is found in the same way to be • — ^ — . 

This example is interesting, but some parts of the investiga- 
tions connected with it are very obscure. 

As in other parts of his book Condorcet draws a very in- 
significant inference from his difficult investigations. He says, 
page 303, 

On voit done combien il est important, non-seulement que les 
hommes soient eclaires, mais qu'en meme temps tous ceux qui, dans 
I'opinion publique, passent pour instruits ou liabiles, soient exempts de 
prejuges. Cette deriiiere condition est meme la plus essentielle, puisqu'il 
paroit que rien ne peut remedier aux inconveniens qu'elle entraine. 

721. Besides the Essai Condorcet wrote a long memoir on the 
Theory of Probability, which consists of six parts, and is published 
in the volumes of the Hist de V A cad.... Paris, for the years 1781, 
1782, 1783, and 1784. 

The first and second parts appear in the volume for 1781 ; 
they occupy pages 707 — 728. The dates of publication of the 
volumes are as usual later than the dates to which the volumes 
belong ; the portion of the memoir which appears in the volume 
for 1781 is said to have been read on August 4th, 1784. 

722. The first part of the memoir is entitled Reflexions sur la 
regie generate qui prescrit de prendre pour valeur d'lm evenement 
incertain, la prohahilite de cet evenement, multipliee par la valeur de 
Vevenement en lui-meme. 

Suppose that p represents the probability that an event will 
happen, and that if the event happens a person is to receive a sum 
of money denoted by a ; then the general rule to which Condorcet 
refers is the rule which estimates the person's advantage at the 
sum pa. On this rule Condorcet makes some remarks ; and these 
remarks arc also given in substance in the Essai, in pages 


142 — 147. The sum of the remarks is this ; Condorcet justifies the 
rule on the ground that it will lead to satisfactory results if a very 
large number of trials be made. Suppose for example that A and 
B are playing together, and that -4's chance of winning a single 
game is p, and 5's chance is q : then the rule prescribes that if -4's 
stake be denoted by hp, then ^'s stake must be hq. Now we 
know, by Bernoulli's Theorem, that if A and B play a very large 
number of games, there is a very high probability that the number 
which A wins will bear to the number which B wins a ratio ex- 
tremely near to the ratio oi p to q. Thus if the stakes are adjusted 
according to the general rule there is a very high probability that 
A and B are on terms of equality as to their prospects ; if any 
other ratio of the stakes be adopted a proportional advantage is 
given to one of the players. 

There can be no doubt that this view of the ground on which 
the rule is to be justified is correct. 

723. Condorcet adverts to the Petersburg Problem. The 
nature of his remarks may be anticipated. Suppose that p in 
the preceding Article is extremely small and q very nearly equal to 
unity. Then ^'s stake is very large indeed compared with ^'s. 
Hence it may be very imprudent for B to play with A on such 
terms, because B may be ruined in a few games. Still it remains 
true that if A and B agree to continue playing through a very 
long series of games no proportion of stakes can be fair except that 
which the general rule assigns. 

724. The second part of Condorcet's memoir is entitled Ap- 
plication de r analyse a cette question: Determiner la probabilite 
quun arrangement regulier est Veffet d'une intention de le pro- 

This question is analogous to one discussed by Daniel Ber- 
noulli, and to one discussed by Michell ; see Arts. 395 and 618. 

Condorcet's investigations rest on such arbitrary hypotheses 
that little value can be attached to them. We will give one 

Consider the following two series : 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. 

1, 3, 2, 1, 7, 13, 23, 44, 87, 167. 


In the first series each term is equal to twice the preceding 
term diminished by the term which precedes that ; and in the 
second series each term is the sum of the four which precede it. 
Condorcet says, 

II est clair que ces deux suites sent reguheres, que tout Mathe- 
maticien qui les examinera, verra qu'elles sent toutes deux assujetties 
a une loi ; mais il est sensible en meme temps que, si Ton arrete une de 
ces suites au sixieme terme, par exemple, on sera plutot porte a regarder 
la premiere, comme etant reguliere, que la seconde, puisque dans la 
premiere il y aura quatre termes assujettis a une loi, tandis qu'il n'y en 
a que deux dans la seconde. 

Pour evaluer le rapport de ces deux probabilites, nous supposerons 
que ces deux suites soient continuees a I'infini. Comme alors il y aura 
dans toutes les deux un nombre infini de termes assujettis a la loi, nous 
supposerons que la probabilite seroit egale; mais nous ne connoissons 
qu'un certam nombre de termes' assujettis a cette loi ; nous aurons 
done les probabilites que I'une de ces suites sera reguliere plutot que 
I'autre, egales aux probabilites que ces suites etant continuees ^ I'infini, 
• resteront assujetties a la m^me loi. 

Soit done pour une de ces suites e le nombre des termes assujettis 
a une loi, et e le nombre correspondant pour une autre suite, et qu'on 
cberche la probabihte que pour un nombre q de termes suivans, la meme 
loi continuera d'etre observee. La premiere probabilite sera exprimee 

par =-, la seconde par -. -, et le rapport de la seconde a la 

^ e+^+1 ^ e+q+\ ^ 

{e'^\)(e + q+\) 

premiere par 7 —^, — - — -f . 

^ ^ (e+ 1) (e +2'+ 1) 

1 . e' + 1 
Soit g = 7j > et e, q' des nombres finis, ce rapport devient r- . 

Ainsi dans Texemple precedent, si Ton s'arrcte au sixieme terme, on aura 


e = 4, e' = 2, et le rapport sera - : si on s'arrcte au dixieme, on aura 

e = 8, e' = 6, et le rapport sera ^ . 

Si Ton suppose que e et d sent du meme ordre que g, le memo 
rapport devient ^^ , ^^ , et si on suppose e = g- = 1, il sera - 

ee +eq 1 + e 

We will make some remarks on this investigation. 


e + 1 ' 
The result, that the first probability is — ■ -^ and the second 

6 + ^+1 
' _i_ 1 

is -7 =- , is we presume obtained by Bayes's Theorem. 

After supposing that q is infinite it is perplexing to be told 
that e = q = l. Condorcet should have proceeded thus. Sup- 
pose e = q, then 

ee + eq 2e' 2x , e' 

—. = -. = Y>^here x= - . 

ee + eq e -\- e 1 + x e 

The followinsf then is the result which Condorcet considers 

himself to have obtained. Let us suppose we have observed in 

a certain series that a certain law holds during so many terms 

as form the fraction x of the whole series, then the comparative 

probability that the whole series is subject to this law is ^j . 

JL ^p JO 

It is however obvious that this result has been obtained by 
means of several most arbitrary hypotheses. 

725. The remainder of this part of Condorcet's memoir is dif- 
ficult, but the meaning can be discovered by patience. There is 
nothing that appears self-contradictory excej^t perhaps on page 727. 
In the last line Condorcet takes for the limits of a certain integra- 
tion b and 1 — a + Z> ; it would seem that the latter limit should -be 
1 — a, for otherwise his Article vil. is only a repetition of his 
Article VI. 

726. The third part of Condorcet's memoir is entitled Svr 
devaluation des Droits eventuels. It is published in the Hist, cle 
V Acad.... Paris, for 1782 ; it occupies pages 674 — 691. 

This part commences thus : 

La destruction du Goiivernement feodal a laiss'e snbsister en Europe 
un grand nomhre de droits eventuels, mais on pent les reduire a deux 
classes principales j les uns se payeut lorsque les proprietes viennent a 
changer par vente, les autres se payent aux mutations par succession, 
soit directe ou collaterale, soit collaterale seulement. 

Condorcet then proposes to determine the sum of money which 
should be paid down in order to free any proj)erty from such feudal 
rights over it. 


727. The following paragraph appears very remarkable when 
we reflect how soon the expectations it contains were falsified by 
the French Kevolution. 

Premier Principe. Nous supposerons d'ahord que I'ordre sui^ant 
lequel les dernieres mutations se sont succedees, sera indefiniment con- 

Le motif qui nous a fait adopter ce principe, est la grande proba- 
bility que nous avons moins de grands changemens, nioins de grandes 
revolutions a attendre pour I'avenir, qu'il n'y en a eu dans le pass6 : le 
progres des lumieres en tout genre et dans toutes les parties de I'Europe, 
I'esprit de moderation et de paix qui y regno, I'espece de m6pris ou le 
Machiavelisnie commence a tomber, semblent nous assurer que les guerres 
et les revolutions deviendront a I'avenir moins frequentes j ainsi le 
principe que nous adoptons, en memo temps qu'il rend les calculs et les 
observations plus faciles, a de plus I'avantage d'etre plus exact. 

728. The memoir is neither important nor interesting, and it 
is disfigured by the contradiction and obscurity which we have 
noticed in Condorcet's Essay. Condorcet says that he will begin by 
examining the case in which the event producing the right neces- 
sarily happens in a certain length of time, as for example, when 
the right accrues on every succession to the property ; and then he 
will consider the case in which the event does not necessarily hap- 
pen, as, for example, when the right accrues on a sale of the pro- 
perty, or on a particular kind of succession. He then gives three 
methods for the first case, and in direct contradiction to what he 
has said, it will be found that only his first method applies to the 
case in which the event producing the right necessarily happens. 

729. We will give the results of the second of Condorcet's 
methods, though not in his manner. 

Let us suppose for simplicity that the sum to be paid if 
the event happens is one pound ; let c represent the present worth 
of one pound due at the end of a year ; let x be the probability 
that the event will happen in the course of one year. Then xc 
represents the value of that part of the right which arises from the 
first year, x(^ the value of that part which arises from the second 
year, xc^ the value of that part which arises from the third year, 
and so on. Thus the value of the whole right is 


a? (c 4- c^ + c' + . . .), that is :j — 


The question now arises what is the value of xl Suppose that 
during m + n past years the event hapjoened 771 times and did not 


happen n times ; we mio^ht reasonably take for x, so that the 

rr > O -^771+71 

C 711/ 

whole value of the rio^ht would be -z . Condorcet how- 

\ — c m-\-7i 

ever prefers to employ Bayes's Theorem, and so he makes the 

whole value of the risfht 




1 — c 


that is 

x""' (1 - xy dx 

m+ 1 c 

m + 7i-\- 2 1 — c * 

Moreover Condorcet supposes that at the present moment the 
event has just happened on which the right depends, so that he 
adds unity to the result and obtains for the value of the whole right 

m + 1 c 

1 + 

7Jl + 71 -^ 2 1 — C * 

730. The investigation of the preceding Article goes over the 
same ground as that on page 680 of the volume which contains the 
memoir, but is we hope more intelligible. We proceed to make 
two remarks. 

First. It is clear that Condorcet is quite wrong in giving this 
method as applicable to the first case, namely that in which the 
event must happen in a certain length of years. The method is 
quite inapplicable to such an example as he mentions, namely 
when the right would accrue on the next succession to the property, 
that is, on the death of the present holder ; for the probability of 
such an event would not be constant from year to year for ever as 
this method assumes. The method would be applicable to the 
example of the second case in which the right is to accrue upon 
a sale, for that might without absurdity be supposed as likely to 
happen in one year as in another for ever. 


Secondly. We see no advantage in applying Bayes's Theorem. 
Condorcet is very fond of it; and throughout this memoir as well 
as in his other writings on the subject indulges to excess in signs 
of integration. In the above example if m and n are very large 
numbers no practical change is made in the result by using Bayes's 
Theorem ; if m + w is a small number our knowledge of the past 
would be insufficient to justify any confidence in our anticipations 
of the future. 

731. From what we have said it may be expected that when 
Condorcet comes to his second case he should be obscure, and this 
is the fact. He gives on his page 685 the modifications which his 
three methods now require. The second method is really un- 
altered, for we merely suppose that observation gives m and n in- 
stead of m and n. The modification of the third method seems 
unsound ; the modification of the first method is divided into two 
parts, of which only the former appears intelligible. 

But we leave these to students of the original memoir. 

732. We may add that on pages 687 — 690 Condorcet gives an 
investigation of the total value arising from two different rights. 
It is difficult to see any use whatever in this investigation, as the 
natural method would be to calculate each separately. Some idea 
of the unpractical character of the result may be gathered from the 
fact that we have to calculate a fraction the numerator and deno- 
minator of which involve n + n + 7i' + n" — 2 successive integra- 
tions. This complexity arises from an extravagant extension and 
abuse of Bayes's Theorem. 

733. The fourth part of Condorcet's memoir is intitled Re- 
flexions SUV la methode de determiner la Prohahilite des Mnemens 
futurs, d'apres I' Observation des evenemens passes. The fourth and 
fifth parts appeared in the Hist de V A cad.... Paris, for 1783 ; they 
occupy pages 539 — 559. This volume was published in 1786, 
that is after Condorcet's Fssai which is referred to on page 54? 1. 

734. Suppose that in m -f n trials an event has happened m 
times and failed n times ; required the probability that in the next 


p + q trials it will happen p times and fail q times. The required 
probability is 

j^ + q ff'*'{i-^r''i^ 


as we have already remarked in Art. 704. 

Condorcet quotes this result ; he thinks however that better 
formulae may be given, and he proposes two. But these seem 
quite arbitrary, and we do not perceive any reason for preferrino- 
them to the usual formula. We will indicate these formulae pro- 
posed by Condorcet. 

I. Let t = 7n+ 71 + 2) + 2' ^^^ P^"^ 

3?, ~r ^o I "^Q ~r • • • I '^t 

U = -^ 2 3 . 


then the proposed formula is 

\p + q j • ' ' ^"'"^ (^ ~ ^^y^' ^^1 ^^2 • • • ^^t 
L^ Li jj[..,u'^ (1 - uy dx^ dx^ .,.dx 

The limits of each integration are to be and 1. 

II. Suppose an event to have happened n times in succession, 
required the probability that it will hap|)en p times more in suc- 

_ X^ "p Xr, X^ -p X^^ -f- X^ 3/j ~t" X^ i~ • • • I Xf^ 

XjQXi U ^— X^ ;:: ;;; • t . • 

^23 n 

let V be an expression similar to u but extended to n +^:> factors ; 
then Condorcet proposes for the required probability the formula 

I I I • • I C/ U/tX'j Cf/Xn • • • ^Xf^ip 

III ...u dx^ dx,^ . . . dx^ 

The limits of each integration are to be and 1. 

Condorcet proposes some other formulae for certain cases ; tliey 


are as arbitrary as those which we have ah*eady given, and not 
fully intelligible ; see his pages 550 — 553. 

735. The fifth part of Condorcet's memoir is entitled Sur la 
prohahilite desfaits extraordinaires. 

Suppose that p is the probability of an event in itself; let t 
denote the probability of the truth of a certain witness. This wit- 
ness asserts that the event has taken place ; required the proba- 
bility that the event did take place, and that it did not. The 
required probabilities are 

Pt and (1 -P) (1 - 

jyt+{\-p){\-t) "^ pt^(l-p][\-t)- 

Condorcet gives these formulae with very little explanation. 

The application of these formulae is not free from difficulty. 
Suppose for example a trustworthy witness asserts that one ticket 
of a lottery of 10000 tickets was drawn, and that the number of 

the ticket drawn was 297. Here if we put p = we obtain 

such a very small value of the truth of the witness's statement that 
we lose our confidence in the formula. See Laplace Theorie...des 
Proh. pages 446 — 451. De Morgan, Cambridge Philosophical 
Transactions, Vol. ix. page 119. 

736. Condorcet makes remarks on two points, namely the 
mode of estimating p and the mode of estimating t He recurs to 
the former point in the sixth part of his memoir, and we shall give 
an extract which will shew the view he advocated in his fifth part, 
and the view which he advocated in his sixth part. 

With respect to the second point Condorcet's chief remark is 
that the probability of a witness is not the same for all facts. If 
we estimate it at u for a simple fact, then we should estimate it at 
v^ for a compound fact consisting of two simple facts, and so on. 
One witness however may be as capable of observing a compound 
fact consisting of two or more simple facts as another is of observ- 
ing a simple fact. 

737. The sixth part of Condorcet's memoir is entitled Appli- 


cation des joTincipes de Varticle 2^^^^^cede}it a quelqves questions de 
critique. It is published in the Hist, de I' Acad. ... Paris for 1784; 
it occupies pages 454 — 468. 

738. In this part Condorcet begins by adverting to some 
remarks which he had made in his fifth part as to the mode of 
estimating the value of what we denoted by ^ in Article 735. He 

J'ai observe en meme-temps qu'il ne falloit pas dans ce cas entendre, 
par la probabilite propre d'un fait, le rap^Dort du nombre des combi- 
naisons ou il a lieu, avec le nombre total des combinaisons. Par ex- 
emple, si d'un jeu de dix cartes on en a tire une, et qu'un temoin me 
dise que c'est telle carte en particulier, la probal)ilite propre de ce fait, 
qu'il s'agit de comparer avec la i^robabilite qui nait du temoignage, n'est 

pas la probabilite de tirer cette carte, qui seroit yr j iiiais la probabilite 

d'amener cette carte plutot que telle autre carte determinee en parti- 
culier; et comma toutes ces probabilites sont egales, la probabilite 

propre est ici -^ . 

Cette distinction etoit necessaire, et elle suffit pour expliquer la 
contrariete d' opinions entre deux classes de philosophes. Les uns ne 
peuvent se persuader que les memes temoignages puissent produire, 
pour un fait extraordinaire, une probabilite egale a celle qu'ils produi- 
sent pour un fait ordinaire; et que, par exemple, si je crois un homme 
de bon sens qui me dit qu'une femme est accoucliee d'un gargon, je 
dusse le croire egalement s'il me disoit qu'elle est accoucliee de douze. 

Les autres au contraire sont convaincus que les temoignages conser- 
rent toute leur force, pour les faits extraordinaires et tres-peu proba- 
bles, et ils sont frapp6s de cette observation, que si on tire une loterie 
de 100000 billets, et qu'un homme, digne de foi, dise que le numero 
256, par exemple, a eu le premier lot, personne ne doutera de son tem- 
oignage, quoiqu'il y ait 99999 a parier centre 1 que cet evenement 
n'est pas arrive. 

Or, au moyen de 1' observation precedente, on voit que dans le second 

cas la probabilite propre du fait etant -^ , le temoignage conserve toute 

sa force, au lieu que dans le premier, cette probabilite etant tres-petite, 
reduit presque a rien celle du temoignage. 

J'ai propose ensuite de prendre, pour la probabilite propre du fait, 



le rapport clu noinbre de combinaisons qui donnent ce fait, ou un fait 
semblable an nombre total des combinaisons. 

Ainsi, par exemj^le, dans le cas on on tire une carte d'nn jeu de 
dix cartes, le nombre des combinaisons ou Ton tire une carte determin6e 
quelconque est un ; celui des combinaisons ou Ton tire une autre carte 


determinee est aussi un ; done ^^ exprimera la probabilite propre. 

Si on me dit qu'on a tire deux fois de suite la meme carte, alors on 
trouvera qu'il n'y a que dix combinaisons qui donnent deux fois une meme 
carte, et quatre-vingt-dix qui donnent deux cartes difFerentes : la proba- 
bilite projDre du fait n'est done que ~, et celle du temoignage com- 
mence a devenir plus foible. 

Mais je crois devoir abaudonner cette maniere de considerer la 
question, 1" parce qu'elle me paroit trop bypotlietique ; 2'^ parce que 
souvent cette comparaison d'evenemens semblables seroit difficile a faire, 
ou, ce qui est encore pis, ne se feroit que d'apres des suppositions arbi- 
traires ; 3° parce qu'en I'appliquant a des exemples, elle conduit a des 
resultats trop eloignes de ceux que donneroit la raison commune. 

J'en ai done clierclie une autre, et il m'a paru plus exact de 
prendre, pour probabilite jDropre d'un evenement, le rapport de la 
probabilite de cet evenement prise dans le sens ordinaire, avec la pro- 
babilite moyenne de tons les autres evenemens. 

739. Thus we see that Condorcet abandons the suggestion 
which he made in the fifth part of his memoir and offers another. 
It does not seem that the new suggestion escapes any of the objec- 
tions which Condorcet himself advances ao^ainst the old suofpfestion, 
as will appear by the analysis we shall now give of Condorcet's 

7-iO. Suppose there are ten cards and it is asserted that a 
specified card has been drawn tAvice running; we proceed to estimate 
the j^'^^ohahilite projwe of the event. There are 9 other ways in 
which the same card can be drawn twice, and the ordinary proba- 

. . 1 

bility of each drawing is r-rr ; there are 45 ways in which two dif- 
ferent cards are obtained in two drawings, and the ordinary proba- 

bility of each drawing is zr^ • Hence the mean probability of all 

the other events is 


If '2 11 99 

54r^Ioo + ^^10o|'^^^*^^5400- 

I-Ience according to Condorcet's own words the lovohahilite p^opre 

1 99 .54 

should be — — - -h- . , that is — . But he himself says that the 

prohaUlite projjve is —r^, so that he takes ^-ttt -^ \ ^'^^ + tttt, 

lo3 100 [o400 lOOJ 

1 99 

and not — -r -^ ^'. .. ,. . That is, as is so frequently the case with 
100 o400 ^ *^ 

Condorcet, his own words do not express his own meaning. 

Again sujDpose that there are ten cards and it is asserted that a 
specified card has been drawn thrice running ; we proceed to esti- 
mate the prohahilite propre of the event. Here the mean proba- 
bility of all the other events is 

6 ^^ 3 9 ) , , . 999 

120 X ~~ + 90 X — -r + ——A , that is 

219 Y ^ ^ 1000 1000 ^ lOOOJ ' 219000 ' 


Condorcet says that the jyrohabilite propre is , so that he 

1 I 999 1 \ ■ 

1000 • 1219000 "^ lOOOJ • 

741. Condorcet now proceeds to apply these results in the 
following words : 

Ainsi siipposons, par exemple, que la probabilite du temoignage soit 

r— -, c'est-a-dire, que le temoin ne se trompe ou ne veuille tromper 

qu'une fois sur cent, on aura, d'apres son temoignage, la probabilite 

99 9900 , \. . . 1^. • ^ 1 T T.-rf' ^^^^ 

IT— ^ OU qu on a tire une carte determmee ; la probabilite 

^ .... , 9540 
qu'on a tire deux fois la meme carte ; et la probabilite n-Q7rQ?| <1^^ on 

I'a tiree trois fois. 

We find some difficulties in these numbers. 
Let p denote the prohahilite propre and t the probability of 
the testimony ; then the formula to be applied is, we presume, 

^ In the first case it seems that Condorcet 




supposes p = 1, that is lie takes apparently the j^rohahilite j^'i^ojwe 
to be 177: -=- TT -^ 9 X r-r k which agrees indeed with his own ivords 

but not with his practice which we have exhibited in Art. 740 ; if 


we follow that practice we shall have P = ^^ 


In the second case we have p = zry^ , and with this value the 

54 . . 
formula gives -^ which is approximately "981 8. 

In the third case we have p — ^^^, , and with this value the 

^ 1218 


formula gives -— ^ which however is very nearly '9560 instead of 


•9540 as Condorcet states. 

742. Condorcet's next example seems very arbitrary and ob- 
scure. His words are, 

Supposons encore que robservation ait constate que, sur vingt mil- 
lions d'hommes, un seul ait vecu 120 ans, et que la plus longue vie 
ait ete de 130 ; qu'un homme me dise que quelqu'un vient de mourir a 
120 ans, et que je cherclie la probabilite propre de cet eveneraent : je 
regarderai d'abord comme iin fait unique, celui de vivre plus de 130 
ans, fait que je suppose n'etre pas arrive; j'aurai done 131 faits dif- 
ferens, dont celui de moui'ir a 120 ans est un seul. La probabilite de 

celui-ci sera ^^^^^, o-, ; la probabihte moyenne des 130 autres sera 
20000131 ' ^ '' 

20000130 , , , ,.,.^. . , , 130 

2000 0131 X 130 ^ ^"^' ^"^ probabdite propre cherchee sera ^00002^00 ' 


ou environ 


743. Condorcet's next example seems also arbitrary. His 
words are, 

Cette methode s'appliquera egalement aux dvcnemens indetermines. 
Ainsi, en continuant le meme exemple, si le temoin a dit seulement 
que Ton a deux fois amenc la meme carte, sans la nommer, alors ces dix 

cvenemens, ayant cliacun la probabilite y— - , -— exprimera leur pro- 


. . 2 

babilite rooyenne; — r- exprimera de meine celle des 45 aiitras evene- 

mens ayaut cliacun la probabilite y— : ainsi la probabilite propre de 

I'evenemeiit sera - . 


Condorcet himself observes that it may appear singular that 
the result in this case is less than that which was obtained in 
Ai't. 74;0 ; so that a man is less trustworthy when he merely says 
that he has seen the same card drawn twice, than when he tells us 
in addition what card it was that he saw drawn twice. Condorcet 
tries to explain this apparent singularity; but not with any ob- 
vious success. 

The singularity however seems entirely to arise from Con- 
dorcet 's own arbitrary choice ; the rule which he himself lays do^\ai 
requires him to estimate la prohabilite moyenne de tons les autres 
evenemens, and he estimates this mean probability differently in 
the two cases, and apparently without sufficient reason for the dif- 

744. Condorcet's next example is as follows : We are told that 
a person with two dice has five times successively thrown higher 
than 10 ; find the prohabilite lyropre. With two dice the number 
thrown may be 2, 3, ... up to 12 ; the respective probabilities are 

86' 36' 36' 36' 36' 36' 36' 36' 36' 36' 36* 

_, , , 1 c , . 11 X 12 X 13 X 14 X 15 ,, ^ . 
The whole number ol events is r^ , that is 


3003 ; and of these only 6 belong to the proposed combination. 


Since the probability of these 6 throws is :r^ their mean proba- 
bility is -^ -^ . The mean probability of the other throws will 

u X J-^ 

11^ . 2997 

he ^gc)- X 12^ * ^^^^^ ^^^® prohahiliie propre is g >< ir + 2997 * 

It is obvious that all this is very arbitrary. Wlien Condorcet 
says there are 6 throws belonging to the proposed combination he 
means that all the throws may be 12, or all 11, or four 12 and one 
11, or three 12 and two 11, . . . And he says the mean probability is 


But if we consider tlie different orders in which these 

6x 12^* 

throws can occur we may say that the whole number is 2^ and the 

1 / 1 2 \^ 1 

mean probabihty ^ ( 35 + 35 j ^ ^^^^^ ^^ 2^2" ' 

Again let us admit that there are 8003 cases in all, and that of 
these only 6 belong to the proposed combination. The other 
2997 cases form two species, namely those in which every throw is 
below 11, and those in which some throws are below 11 and the 


others above 10 ; when Condorcet takes -—^ — -^ as the mean 
probability, he forgets this division of species and only con- 
siders the first species. He should take ^ [ 1 — ^-^1 instead 



2997 X 12' • 

7-i5. Suppose two classes of events A and B; let the pro- 
bability of an A he a and the probability of a i> be ^ ; let there 
be m events A and n events B. The ]^'t^obabilite projore of an 
assigned event of the class B will be, according to Condorcet's 

h ^1 . • (m + n— 1) h 

- ""-- ■■ " ^ , that IS ; -: —, . 

ma 4- {ii — l)u -. ma + {^ni + Zr — 'I) 

m -\- n—1 


If m and n be equal and very large this becomes ^ . If 

a -p ou 

we suppose h extremely small and consequently a very nearly 

unity we obtain 2h as an approximate value. 

716. Condorcet proceeds to apply his doctrine to the credi- 
bility of two statements in the History of Home. He says, 

Je vais maintenant essay er de faire a nne question de critique 
rapplication des principes que je viens d'etablir. Newton paroit etre 
le premier qui ait eu I'idee d'appliquer le calcul des probabilites a la 
critique des faits. II propose, dans son ouvrage sur la clironologie, 
d'employer la connoissance de la durce moyenne des generations et des 
regncs, telle que I'experience nous la donue, soit pour fixer d'une 
manicre du moins approchee, des points de clironologie fort incertains, 


soit pour juger dii plus on clii moins de coiifiance que meritent les 
differens systemes imagines pour concilier entr'elles des ^poques qui 
paroissent se contredire. 

Condorcet names Freret as having opposed this apphcation of 
the Theory of Probabihty, and Yoltaire as having supported it ; but 
he gives no references. 

747. According to some historians the whole duration of the 
reigns of the seven kings of Rome was 257 years. Condorcet pro- 
poses to examine the credibility of this statement. He assumes 
that in an elective monarchy we may suppose that a king at the 
date of his election will be between 30 years old and 60 years old. 
He adopts De Moivre's hypothesis respecting human mortality ; 
this hypothesis, as Condorcet uses it, amounts to assuming that 
the number of people at any e230ch who are y years old is 
h (90 — ?/), where h is some constant, and that of these Iz die every 

Let n denote the greatest number of years which the youngest 
elected king can live, m the greatest number of years which the 
oldest elected king can live ; then the probability that a single 
reign will last just r years is the coefficient of ^ in the expan- 
sion of 

ill - m -\-X)x(X-x)- .t"^^ + rr"^" 

A few words will be necessary to shew how this formula can be 
verified. It follows from our hypothesis that the number of per- 
sons from whom the king must be elected is 

h [n + (?i - 1) + (?i - 2) + . . . + m], 
that is Iz — ^— [n — m 4- 1). And if r be less than m + 1 the num- 
ber of persons who die in the r*'^ year will be I: {n — m + 1) ; if r be 
between m 4- 1 and n+1, both inclusive, the number who die in 
the r^^ year will be k {n — r + 1) ; if r be greater than n + 1 the 
number who die in the r"' year will be zero. Now the coefficient 
of ic*" in the expansion of 

1-x (1 - -^j' 


will be found to be n — m + 1 if r is less than m + l, and if r is 
greater than n + 1, and in other cases to be w - r + 1. 

748, Hence the probability that the duration of seven reigns 
will amount to just 257 years is the coefficient of ic^" in the expan- 
sion of the seventh power of 

{n - m + 1) a^ (1 - x) -^^ x"""^ 
(1 — x) — ^ — (n - m + 1) 

Now Condorcet takes n = 60 and m = SO; and he says that the 
value of the required coefficient is '000792, which we will assume 
he has calculated correctly. 

Thus he has obtained the probability in the ordinary sense, 
which he denotes by P; he requires the j)rohahilite projyre. He 
considers there are 414 events possible, as the reigns may have 
any duration in years between 7 and 420. Thus the mean proba- 

.1 -P 

bility of all the other events is , ; and so the prohahilite p^opre 

413P , 1 

1 ^ 412P ' ^i^^^^^^^S- 


749. Condorcet says that other historians assign 140 years in- 
stead of 257 years for the duration of the reigns of the kings. 
He says the ordinary probability of this is '008887, which we 
may denote by Q. He then makes the prohahilite propre to be 

which IS more than - . 

He seems here to take 413, and not 414, as the whole number 
of events. 

750. Condorcet then proceeds to compare three events, namely 
that of 257 years' duration, that of 140 years' duration, and what 
he calls wi autre dvenement mdetermine quelconque qui auroit pu 
avoir lieu. He makes the prohahilites jyrojn-es to be respectively 

411P 411^ 1-P-Q 

410 (P+ Q) + i' 410 (p+ Q) + 1 ""'"'^ n^pToy+i' 

3 37 10 

which are approximately — , , '-— , -— . 

•^ 50 oO 50 


Here again he seems to take 413 as the whole number of 

He proceeds to combine these probabihties with probabilities 
arising from testimony borne to the first or second event, 

751. Condorcet considers another statement which he finds in 
Roman History, namely that the augur Accius Nsevius cut a stone 

with a razor. Condorcet takes rv/^rir^rvrv ^s the ordinaiy proba- 
bility, and then by Art. 745 makes the prohahilite ijropre to be 

1000000 * 

752. We have spent a long space on Condorcet's memoir, on 
account of the reputation of the author ; but we fear that the 
reader will conclude that we have given to it far more attention 
than it deserves. It seems to us to be on the whole excessively 
arbitrary, altogether unpractical, and in parts very obscure, 

753. We have in various plaices expressed so decidedly our 
opinion as to the obscurity and inutility of Condorcet's investiga- 
tions that it will be just to notice the opinions which other writers 
have formed. 

Gouraud devotes pages 89 — 101? of his work to Condorcet, and 
the following defects are noticed : Un style embarrasse, denue de 
justesse et de coloris, une philosophie souvent obscure ou bizarre, 
une anatyse que les meilleurs juges ont trouvee confuse. With this 
drawback Condorcet is praised in terms of such extravagant eulogy, 
that we are tempted to apply to Gouraud the reflexion which Du- 
gald Stewart makes in reference to Voltaire, who he says " is so 
lavish and undistinguishing in his praise of Locke, as almost to 
justify a doubt whether he had ever read the book Avhich he extols 
so highly." Stewart's Works, edited hy Hamilton, Vol. i. j)age 220. 

Galloway speaks of Condorcet's Essay as '' a work of gi'eat in- 
genuity, and abounding with interesting remarks on subjects of 
the highest importance to humanity." Ai'ticle Prohahilitij in the 
Encyclopcedia Britan nica. 

Laplace in his brief sketch of the history of the subject does 
not name Condorcet ; he refers however to the kind of questions 


which Condorcet considers and says, Tant de passions, d'interets 
divers et de circonstances compliquent les questions relatives a 
ces objets, qu'elles sont presque toujours insolubles. Theorie...des 
Froh. page cxxxviii. 

Poisson names Condorcet expressly; with respect to his Prelimi- 
nary Discourse, he says, ... ou sont developpees avec soin les con- 
siderations propres a montrer I'utilite de ce genre de recherches. 
And after referring to some of Laplace's investigations Poisson 
adds, ... il est juste de dire que c'est a Condorcet quest due I'idee 
ingenieuse de faire dependre la solution, du princijDe de Bayes, en 
considerant successivement la culpabilite et I'innocence de I'accuse, 
comme une cause inconnue du jugement prononce, qui est alors le 
fait observe, duquel il s'agit de deduire la probabilite de cette 
cause. Recherches sur la Proh. . . . page 2. 

We have already referred to John Stuart Mill, see Art. QGo. 
One sentence of his may perhaps not have been specially aimed 
at Condorcet, but it may well be so applied. Mr Mill says, " It is 
obvious, too, that even when the probabilities are derived from ob- 
servation and experiment, a very slight improvement in the data, 
by better observations, or by taking into fuller consideration the 
special circumstances of the case, is of more use than the most 
elaborate application of the calculus to probabilities founded on the 
data in their jDrevious state of inferiority." Logic, Vol. ii. page 65. 
Condorcet seems really to have fancied that valuable results could 
be obtained from any data, however imperfect, by using formulae 
with an adequate supply of signs of integration. 



75^. We have now to examine a series of memoirs by 
Trembley. He was born at Geneva in 1749, and died in 1811. 

The first memoir is entitled Disquisitio Elementaris circa Cal- 
culinn Prohahilium. 

This memoir is published in the Commentationes Societatis 
Regice Scientiarum Gottingensis, Yol. Xll. The volume is for the 
years 1793 and 1791^ ; and the date of publication is 1796. The 
memoir occupies pages 99 — 136 of the mathematical portion of 
the volume. 

755. The memoir begitis thus : 

Plurimae extant hie et ilUc sparsae meditationes analyticae circa cal- 
culum Probabilium, quas hie recensere non est animus. Quae cum 
plerumque quaestiones j)ai^iculares spectarent, summi Geometrae la 
Place et la Grange hanc theoriam generalius tractare sunt aggressi, 
auxilia derivantes ex intimis calculi integralium visceribus, et eximios 
quidem fructus inde perceperunt. Cum autem tota Probabilium theoria 
principiis simplicibus et obviis sit innixa, quae nihil aliud fere requirunt 
quam doctrinam combinationum, et pleraeque difficultates in enume- 
randis et distinguendis casibus versentur, e re visum est easdem quaes- 
tiones generaliores methodo elementari tractare, sine uUo alieno auxilio. 
Cujus tentaminis primum sj^ecimen hae paginae complectuntur, continent 
quippe solutiones elementares Problematum generaliorum quae vir 
illustrissimus la Grange soluta dedit in Commentariis Academiae Regiae 
Berolinensis pro anno 1775. Si haec Geometris non displicuerint, alias 
deinde ejusdem generis cUlucidationes, deo juvante ipsis proponam. 

756. The intention expressed at the end of this paragTaph was 


carried into effect in a memoir in the next volume of the Gottin- 
gen Commentationes. The present memoir discusses nine problems, 
most of which are to be found in De Moivre's Doctrine of Chances. 
To this work Trembley accordingly often refers, and his references 
obviously shew that he used the second edition of De Moivre's 
work ; we shall change these references into the corresponding 
references to the third edition. 

In this and other memoirs Trembley proposes to give elemen- 
tary investigations of theorems which had been previously treated 
by more difficult methods ; but as we shall see he frequently leaves 
his results really undemonstrated. 

7o7. The first problem is, to find the chance that an event 
shall happen exactly h times in a trials, the chance of its haj)peniug 
in a single trial being p. Trembley obtains the well known result, 


p^ (1 — i^Y ' ^® ^^^^^ ^li® modern method ; see Art. 257. 



758. The second problem is to find the chance that the event 
shall happen at least h times. Trembley gives and demonstrates 
independently both the formulae to which we have already drawn 
attention ; see Art. 172. He says, longum et taediosum foret has 
formulas inter se comparare a priori; but as we have seen in 
Art. 174 the comparison of the formulae is not really difficult. 

759. The third problem consists of an application of the second 
problem to the Problem of Poiyits, in the case of tw^o players ; the 
fourth problem is that of Points in the case of three players ; and 
the fifth problem is that of Points in the case of four players. The 
results coincide with those of De Moivre; see Art. 267. 

760. Trembley's next three problems are on the Duration of 
Play. He begins with De Moivre's Problem LXV, which in effect 
supposes one of the players to have an unlimited capital ; see 
Arts. 807, 309. Trembley gives De Moivre's second mode of 
solution, but his investigation is unsatisfactory ; for after havino- 
found in succession the first six terms of the series in brackets, he 
says Perspicua nunc est lex progressionis, and accordingly writes 
down the general term of the series. Trembley thus leaves the 
main difficulty quite untouched. 


7(31. Trembley's seventh problem is De Moivre's Problem LXiv, 
and he gives a result equivalent to that on De Moivre's page 207; 
see Art. 806. But here again after investigating a few terms the 
main difficulty is left untouched mth the words Perspicua nunc 
est lex progressionis. Trembley says, Eodem redit solutio Cel. 
la Grange, licet eaedem formulae non prodeant. This seems to 
imply that Lagrange's formulae take a dilterent shape. Trembley 
.probably refers to Lagrange's second solution which is the most 
completely worked out ; see Art. 583, 

Trembley adds in a Scholium that by the aid of this problem 
we can solve that which is LXVII. in De Moivre ; finishing with 
these words, in secunda enim formula fieri debet c =]p — 1, which 
appear to be quite erroneous. 

762. Trembley's eighth problem is the second in Lagrange's 
memoir ; see Art. 580 : the chance of one event is p and of an- 
other q, find the chance that in a given number of trials the first 
shall happen at least h times and the second at least c times. 
Trembley puts Lagrange's solution in a more elementary form, so 
as to avoid the Theory of Finite Differences. 

763. Trembley's ninth problem is the last in Lagrange's me- 
moir ; see Art. 587. Trembley gives a good solution. 

76-t. The next memoir is entitled De Prohahilttate Causarum 
ah effectihus oriunda. 

This memoir is published in the Comm. Soc. Reg....GoU. 
Yol. XIII. The volume is for the years 1795 — 1798 ; the date of 
publication is 1799. The memoir occupies pages 64 — 119 of the 
mathematical portion of the volume. 

765. The memoir begins thus : 

Hanc materiam pertractarunt eximii Geometrae, ac potissimum Cel. 
la Place in Commentariis Academiae Parisinensis. Cum autem in 
hiijusce generis Problematibus solvendis sublimior et ardua analysis 
fuerit adliibita, easdem qiiaestiones metliodo elementari ac idoneo usii 
doctrinae serierum aggredi operae pretium diixi. Qua ratione haec altera 
pars calculi Probabihum ad theoriam combinationum reduceretur, sicut 
et primam reduxi in dissertatione ad Kegiam Societateui transmissa. 


Primarias quaestiones hie breviter attingere couabor, methodo diluci- 
dandae imprimis intentiis. 

^QQ. The first problem is the following. A bag contains an 
infinite number of white balls and black balls in an unknown 
ratio ; p white balls and q black have been drawn out in ^ + ^ 
drawings ; what is the chance that m + n new drawings will give 
m white and w black balls ? 

The known result is 

\m -f- n ^ ' 

m It 

that is, 

1 x^ {1 -xydx 


I m + n \)yi-\- p \n-{-q \p -\- q-\-l 

\'m\n \p \q\'m-\-p-\-7i+q-\-l 

Trembley refers to the memoir which w^e have cited in 
Art. 551, where this result had been given by Laplace ; see also 
Art. 704. 

Trembley obtains the result by ordinary Algebra ; the investi- 
gations are only approximate, the error being however inappreci- 
able when the number of balls is infinite. 

If each ball is replaced after being drawn we can obtain an 
exact solution of the problem by ordinary Algebra, as we shall see 
when we examine a memoir by Prevost and Lhuilier ; and of course 
if the number of the balls is supposed infinite it will be indifferent 
whether we replace each ball or not, so that we obtain indirectly 
an exact elementary demonstration of the important result which 
Trembley establishes approximately. 

767- We proceed to another problem discussed by Trem- 
bley. A bag is known to contain a very large number of balls 
which are white or black, the ratio being unknown. In p-\-q 
drawings p white balls and q black have been drawn. Required 
the probability that the ratio of the white to the black lies between 
zero and an assigned fraction. This question Trembley proceeds 
to consider at great length ; he supposes p) and q very large and 
obtains approximate results. 

If the assigned fraction above referred to be denoted by 


— ^^- 6, lie obtains as the numerator of the required probability, 


\p + <t ) \p + q ) L pq + {p + qf S' 

\ p \q 
The denominator would be ' ,, . 

Trembley refers to two places in which Laplace had given this 
result; they are the Hist de T Acad.... Par is for 1778, page 270, 
and for 1783 page 445. In the Theorie...des Frob. Laplace does 
not reproduce the general formula ; he confines himself to suppos- 

.7) X 

ing —^ — —0 = -- see pao^e 379 of the work. 

Trembley's methods are laborious, and like many other at- 
tempts to bring high mathematical investigations into more 
elementary forms, would probably cost a student more trouble 
than if he were to set to work to enlarge his mathematical know- 
ledge and then study the original methods. 

7G8. Trembley follows Laplace in a numerical application 
relating to the births of boys and girls at Vitteaux in Bourgogne. 
Laplace first gave this in the Hist, de V A cad.... Paris for 1783, 
page 448; it is in the Theorie . . . des Proh. page 380. It appears 
that at Vitteaux in five years 212 girls were born to 203 boys. 
It is curious that Laplace gives no information in the latter work 
of a more recent date than he gave in the Hist, de V Acad.... Paris 
for 1783 ; it would have been interesting to know if the anomaly 
still continued in the births at Vitteaux. 

769. We may observe that Laplace treats the problem of 
births as analogous to that of drawing black and white balls from a 
bag. So he arrives at this result ; if we draw 212 black balls to 203 
white balls out of a bag, the chance is about '67 that the black 
balls in the bag are more numerous than the white. It is not 
very easy to express this result in words relating to births ; Laplace 
says in the Hist, de V Acad.... Par is, la difference "670198 sera la 


probability qua Viteaux, la 2:)ossibilite des naissances des filles est 
superieure h celle des naissances des gardens; in the Theorie... 
des F7vh. he says, la superiorite de la facilite des naissances des 
filles, est done indiquee par ces observations, avec une probabilite 
egale k '67. These phrases seem much better adapted to the idea 
to be expressed than Trembley's, Probabilitas numerum puellarum 
superaturum esse numerum puerorum erit = •67141. 

770. Trembley now takes the following problem. From a 
basf containing; white balls and black balls in a larg^e number but 
in an unknown ratio j^ white balls and q black have been drawn ; 
required the chance that if 2a more drawings are made the white 
balls shall not exceed the black. This problem leads to a series 
of which the sum cannot be found exactly. Trembley gives some 
investigations respecting the series which seem of no use, and of 
which he himself makes no application ; these are on his pages 
103 — 105. On his page 106 he gives a rough approximate value 
of the sum. He says, Similem seriem refert Gel. la Place. This 
refers to the Hist de V Acad.... Paris for 1778, page 280. But the 
word similem must not be taken too strictly, for Laplace's approxi- 
mate result is not the same as Trembley's. 

Laplace applies his result to estimate the probability that more 
boys than girls will be born in a given year. This is not repeated 
in the Theorie... des Proh., but is in fact included in what is there 
given, pages 397 — 401, which first appeared in the Hist, de 
r Acad.... Paris for 1783, page 458. 

771. Trembley now takes another of Laplace's problems, 
namely that discussed by Laplace in the Memoires . . . par divers 
So.vans, Vol. vi. page 633. 

Two players, whose respective skills are unknown, play on the 
condition that he who first gains 7i games over his adversary shall 
take the whole stake ; at a certain stage when A wants f games 
and B wants h games they agree to leave off playing : required 
to know how the stake should be divided. Suppose it were given 
that the skill of ^ is a? and that of jB is 1 — x. Then we know 
by Art. 172 that B ought to have the fraction <j) (x) of the stake, 


. / N /I \m (-, ^ ^ m(m — 1) x^ 

m (m — 1) (m — 2) x^ 

+ ^ 

where m =f+ 7i — 1. 

Now if X represents ^'s skill the probability that in 2n —f— h 
games A would win 7i —f and B would win n — li is ic""-^ (1 — x)""'^, 
disregarding a numerical coefficient which we do not want. 

Hence if A wins n —f games and B wins n — h, which is now 
the observed event, we infer that the chance that A's skill is x is 

x""-^ (1 - x)''-"" dx 


J a 

x^-f (1 _ xf-'' dx 

Therefore the fraction of the stake to which B is entitled is 

<f> {x) x''-' (1 - a?)"-' dx 


x""-^ (1 - xy-"" dx 

All this involves only Laplace's ordinary theory. Now the 
following is Trembley's method. Consider ^ (x) ; the first term 
is (1 — xy ; this represents the chance that B will win m games 
running on the supposition that his skill is 1 — x. If we do not 
know his skill a ^7^iori we must substitute instead of (1 — a?)"* the 
chance that B will win m games running, computed from the 
observed fact that he has won 7i — h games to ^'s n —f games. 
This chance is, by Art, 7Q6, 

Ui+f-l\2fi-f-h + l 

' ''"^ ^—j^r^r- = ^^ say. 

I — h [2n '^ 

Again consider the term rax (1 - xf'"^ in ix). This represents 
the chance that B will win m - 1 games out of m, on the suppo- 
sition that his skill is \-x. If we do not know his skill a jpriori 
w^e must substitute instead of this the chance that B will win 



m — 1 games out of m, deduced from the observed fact that he has 
won n — h games to ^'s n —/games. This chance is, by Art. 760, 

m (n -/+ 1) j^ 

It is needless to go farther, as the principle is clear. The final 
result is that the fraction of the stake to which B is entitled is 

[ ^-^ ^w+/-l 1.2 n-\-f-ln+f-2 

(/+ 7, - 1) ... (A + 1) {n -/+ 1) {n -/+ 2)...(n-l) 

/-I (^+/_l)(,^+/_2)...(n + l) 

This process is the most interesting in Trembley's memoir. 
Laplace does not reproduce this problem in the Theorie . . . des 

772. Trembley gives some remarks to shew the connexion 
between his own methods and Laplace's. These amount in fact 
to illustrations of the use of the Integral Calculus in the summa- 
tion of series. 

For example he gives the result which we may write thus : 

j) + l lp + 2'^ 1.2 p + 3 1.2.3 p + 4<'^"' 

p + q + 1 

==! X^{1- txydx = -^ f'x^ (1 - X^dx. 
Jo *" J 

773. Trembley remarks that problems in Probability consist 
of two parts ; first the formulae must be exhibited and then modes 
of approximate calculation found. He proposes to give one ex- 
ample from Laplace. 

Observation indicates that the ratio of the number of boys 
born to the number of girls born is greater at London than at 

Laplace says : Cette difference semble indiquer a Londres une 
plus grande facilite pour la naissance des gardens, il s'agit de deter- 
miner combien cela est probable. See Hist de V Acad. .,, Paris 


for 1778, page 304, for 17S3, page 419; and Theorie . . . des Proh. 
page 381. 

Trembley says, 

Supponit Cel. la Place nates esse Parisiis intra certnm tempus, ^) 
puA-os q puellas, Londini autem intra aliud temporis spatiiim p' pueros 
q puellas, et quaerit Probabilitatem, causam quae Parisiis producit 
pueros esse efficaciorem quam Londini. E supra dictis sequitur hanc 
Probabilitatem rejDraesentari per formulam 



y (1 - xf x'' (1 - x'Y dxdx' 

Trembley tben gives the limits of the integrations ; in the 
numerator for x from a^' = to ic' = x, and then for x from a? = 
to x = l\ in the denominator both integrations are between 
and 1. 

Trembley considers the numerator. He expands x'^ (1 — x'Y in 
powers of x and integrates from a?' = to x = x. Then he expands 
x^ {1 — xY and integrates from a; = to a? = 1 ; he obtains a result 
which he transforms into another more convenient shape, which 
he might have obtained at once and saved a page if he had not 
expanded x^ (1 — xY- Then he uses an algebraical theorem in 
order to effect another transformation ; this theorem he does not 
demonstrate generally, but infers it from examining the first three 
cases of it ; see his page 113. 

We will demonstrate his final result, by another method. We 

jx [L x)ax-x ^^'^i lp' + 2^ 1.2 p' + S J 

Multiply by x^ (1 - xY and integrate from x = to a; = 1 ; 
thus we obtain by the aid of known formula 

[q \p+p +1 ( 1 ^'1 p +y + ^ 
p+p'+q + ^ I^TTi ~ r y + 2 ]r+/T7T3 

q' jq' - 1) 1 (P + P+^)(P + P+^) 

"^ 1.2 y + 3 (p+2^' + 2 + 3)(P+/ + 2 + "^) 



This result as we have said Trembley obtains, though he goes 
through more steps to reach it. 

Suppose however that before effecting the integration with 
respect to x we use the following theorem 

1 4 X , ^'(^'-1) orJ^ q'{q'-V){q'-^) x^ , 

/ + 1 1/ + 2'^1.2 y + 3 1.2.3 _p' + 4 

= (^ ~ ''^' liTTT+T ^ (/ + 2+1) (/ + 2') i^^ 

(P' + 2' + 1) (/ + 2 ) (/ + 2' - 1) (1 - •'^) 

^_ 2'(2'-l )(2'-2) ^ , ' 

(/ + 2+1) {P + 2') (/ + 2' - 1) (P +2-2) (l-.^)^ . 

Then by integrating with respect to x, we obtain 
\qj\-q | j9+p' + l f 1 9^' ^+y + g + g +^ 

y)4j/+£+</+2 Ip'+^'+l (/^'■+^'+l)(/+^') ^ + 2 

q{q~l) (7^+7y+g+g'+2)(^+/+g+g+l) 

It is in fact the identity of these two results of the final inte- 
gration which Trembley assumes from observing its truth when 
q = 1, or 2, or 3. 

With regard to the theorem we have given above we may 
remark that it may be obtained by examining the coefficient of a?*" 
on the two sides ; the identity of these coefficients may be estab- 
lished as an example of the theory of partial fractions. 

774. Trembley then proceeds to an approximate summation 
of the series ; his method is most laborious, and it would not repay 
the trouble of verification. He says at the end, Series haec, quae 
similis est seriei quam refert Cel. la Place ... He gives no refer- 
ence, but he i^robably has in view the Hist, de VAcad Paris 

for 1778, page 310. 

775. We have next to consider a memoir entitled Recherches 
SUV une question relative au calcid des prohahilites. This memoir is 
published in the volume for 1794 and l79o of the Memoir es de 


r Acad.... Berlin; the date of publication is 1799: tlie memoir 
occupies pages 69 — 108 of tlie mathematical portion of the volume. 
The problem discussed is that which we have noticed in Art. 44:8. 

776. Trembley refers in the course of his memoir to what had 
been done by De Moivre, Laplace and Euler. He says, 

L'analyse dont M. Euler fait usage dans ce. Memoire est tres-inge- 
nieuse et digne de ce grand geometre, mais comme elle est un peu 
iudirecte et qu'il ne seroit pas aise de I'appliquer au probleme general 
dont celui-ci n'est qu'un cas particulier, j'ai entrepris de traiter la chose 
directement d'apres la doctrine des combinaisons, et de donner a la 
question toute I'etendue dont elle est susceptible. 

777. The problem in the degree of generality which Trembley 
gives to it had already engaged the attention of De Moivre ; see 
ilrt. 293. De Moivre begins with the simpler case in his Pro- 
blem XXXIX, and then briefly indicates how the more general 
question in his Problem XLI. is to be treated. Trembley takes the 
contrary order, beginning Vvdth the general question and then 
deducing the simpler case. 

When he has obtained the results of his problem Trembley 
modifies them so as to obtain the results of the problem discussed 
by Laplace and Euler. This he does very briefly in the manner 
we have indicated in Aii. 453. 

778. Trembley gives a numerical example. Suppose that a 
lottery consists of 90 tickets, and that 5 are drawn at each time ; 
then he obtains 74102 as the approximate value of the probability 
that all the numbers mil have been drawn in 100 drawings. 
Euler had obtained the result -7419 in the work which we have 
cited in Art. 456. 

779. Trembley's memoir adds little to what had been given 
before. In fact the only novelty which it contains is the investi- 
gation of the probability that n-1 kinds of faces at least should 
come up, or that n-2 kinds of faces at least, or n - 3, and so on. 
The result is analogous to that which had been given by Euler and 
which we have quoted in Ai^t. 458. Nor do Trembley's methods 
present any thing of importance ; they are in fact such as would 
naturally occur to a reader of De Moivre's book if he wished to 


reverse the order which De Moivre has taken. Trembley does not 
supply general demonstrations ; he begins with a simple case, then 
he proceeds to another which is a little more complex, and when 
the law which governs the general result seems obvious he enun- 
ciates it, leaving to his readers to convince themselves that the law 
is universally true. 

780. Trembley notices the subject of the summation of a cer- 
tain series which we have considered in Art. 460. Trembley says, 
M. Euler remarque que dans ce cas la somme de la suite qui donne 
la probabilite, pent s'exprimer par des produits. Cela pent se de- 
montrer par le calcul integral, par la methode suivante qui est 
fort simple. But in what follows in the memoir, there is no use of 
the Integral Calculus, and the demonstration seems quite unsatis- 
factory. The result is verified when a? = 1, 2, 3, or 4 and then is 
assumed to be universally true. And these verifications them- 
selves are unsatisfactory; for in each case r is put successively 
equal to 1, 2, 8, 4, and the law which appears to hold is assumed 
to hold universally. 

Trembley also proposes to demonstrate that the sum of the 
series is zero, if ti be greater than rx. The demonstration how- 
ever is of the same unsatisfactory character, and there is this ad- 
ditional defect. Trembley supposes successively that n = r (a? + 1), 
7i = r{x + 2), n = 7^ {x+S), and so on. But besides these cases ?i 
may have any value between rx and r (x + l), or between r {x+1) 
and r {x+2), and so on. Thus, in fact, Trembley makes a most 
imperfect examination of the possible cases. 

781. Trembley deduces from his result a formula suitable for 
approximate numerical calculation, for the case in which n and x 
are large, and r small ; his formula agrees with one given by La- 
place in the Hist de V Acad.,.. Paris 1783, as he himself observes. 
Trembley obtains his formula by repeated use of an approximation 
which he establishes by ordinary Algebraical expansion, namely 


Trembley follows Laplace in the numerical example which 
we have noticed in Art. 455. Trembley moreover finds that in 


about 86927 drawings there is an even chance that all the tickets 
except one will have been drawn ; and he j^i'oceeds nearly to the 
end of the calculation for the case in which all the tickets except 
two are required to be drawn. 

782. The next memoir is entitled Becherches sur la mortalite 
cle la petite verole. 

This memoir is published in the Memoir es de VAcad....Be7'lin 
for 1796 ; the date of publication is 1799 : the memoir occupies 
pages 17 — 38 of the mathematical portion of the volume. 

783. This memoir is closely connected with one by Daniel 
Bernoulli ; see Art. 398. Its object may be described as twofold; 
first, it solves the problem on the hypotheses of Daniel Bernoulli 
by common Algebra without the Integral Calculus ; secondly, it 
examines how far those hypotheses are verified by facts. The 
memoir is interesting and must have been valuable in a practical 
point of view at the date of publication. 

784. Let m and n have the same signification as in Daniel 
Bernoulli's memoir ; see Art. 402 : that is, suppose that every year 
small-pox attacks 1 in n of those who have not had the disease, 
and that 1 in m of those who are attacked dies. 

Let a^ denote a given number of births, and suppose that 
a^, a^, a^, ... denote the number of those who are alive at the end 
of 1, 2, 3, ... years : then Trembley shews that the number of per- 
sons alive at the beginning of the x^^ year who have not had the 
small-pox is 


m 711 V 'nJ 

For let h^ denote the number alive at the beginning of the a^"' 
year who have not had the small-pox, and ^^^^ the number at the 
beginning of the {x + 1)*^ year. Then in the x^^' year small-pox 

attacks — persons ; thus h^ (l j would be alive at the begin- 
ning of the next year without having had the small-pox if none of 
them died by other diseases. We must therefore find how many of 


these h^fl 1 die of other diseases, and subtract. Now the total 

number who die of other diseases during the x^^ year is 

_ A 

these die out of the number a^ ~ , HencO; by proportion, the 

number who die out of &^ f 1 — - ] is 

a^ — a, 


K \' ""~W- 

Therefore 5,^, = 5, 1 1 — — 

n Mill)/ ^ K\ 

a^ — a^^, 

'^' n n) h \-- --+1 r^nl 






We can thus estabHsh our result by induction; for we may 
shew in the manner just given that 

3.^ "-(^-^- 

1- — 


and then universally that 

m tn V nj 

785. We may put our result in the form 

, ma. 
J. = ' 



Now there is nothing to hinder us from supposing the intervals 
of time to be much shorter than a year ; thus n may be a large 
number, and then 

(1 j = e'' nearly. 

The result thus agrees with that given by Daniel Bernoulli, see 
Art. 402 : for the intervals in his theory may be much shorter than 
a year. 

786. Hitherto we have used Daniel Bernoulli's hypotheses ; 
Trembley however proceeds to a more general hypothesis. He 
supposes that m and 7i are not constant, but vary from year to 
year ; so that we may take m^ and oi^ to denote their values for the 
x^^ year. There is no difficulty in working this hypothesis by 
Trembley's method ; the results are of course more complicated 
than those obtained on Daniel Bernoulli's simpler hypotheses. 

787. Trembley then compares the results he obtains on his 
general hypothesis with a table which had been furnished by ob- 
servations at Berlin during the years 1758 — 1774. The comparison 
is effected by a rude process of approximation. The conclusions he 
arrives at are that 7i is very nearly constant for all ages, its value 
being somewhat less than 6 ; but m varies considerably, for it be- 
gins by being equal to 6, and mounts up to 120 at the eleventh 
year of age, then diminishes to 60 at the nineteenth year of 
age, and mounts up again to 133 at the twenty-fifth year of age, 
and then diminishes. 

Trembley also compares the results he obtains on his general 
hypothesis with another table which had been furnished by obser- 
vations at the Hague. It must be confessed that the values of m 
and n deduced from this set of observations differ very much from 
those deduced from the former set, especially the values of m. 
The observations at Berlin were nearly five times as numerous as 
those at the Hague, so that they deserved more confidence. 

788. In the volume for 1804 of the Memoires de VAcad..., 
Berlin, which was published in 1807, there is a note by Trem- 
bley himself on the memoir which we have just examined. 
This note is entitled Eclaircissement relatif au Memoire sur la 


mortalite....(i'C.; it occurs on pages 80 — 82 of the mathematical 
portion of the vokime. 

Trembley corrects some misprints in the memoir, and he says : 

Au reste, je dois avertir que la metliode d' approximation que j'ai 
donn^e dans ce memoire comme un essai, en attendant que des obser- 
vations plus detaillees nous missent en etat de proceder avec plus de 
regularite, que cette methode, dis-je, ne vaut absolument rien, et je dois 
des excuses au public pour la lui avoir presentee. 

He then shews how a more accurate calculation may be made ; 
and he says that he has found that the values of n instead of 
remaining nearly constant really varied enormously. 

789. The next memoir is entitled Essai sur la maniere de 
trouver le teime general des series r^currentes. 

This memoir is published in the volume for 1797 of the Me- 
moires de V Acad.... Berlin ; the date of publication is 1800, The 
pages 97 — 105 of the memoir are devoted to the solution of a pro- 
blem which had been solved by Laplace in Vol. vii. of the 
Me moires... par divers Savans ; Trembley refers to Laplace. 

The problem is as follows : Suppose a solid having n equal 
faces numbered 1, 2, 3 ...jy, required the probability that in the 
course of n throws the faces will appear in the order 1, 2, 8, ...p. 

This problem is very nearly the same as that of De Moivre on 
the run of luck ; see Art. 325. Instead of the equation 

'^«+i =Un+ 0-- Un_p) ha^, 
we shall now have 

^^«+i = '^^n + (1 — Wn_") «^' ; and a=-. 


Trembley solves the problem in his usual incomplete manner ; 
he discusses in succession the cases in which p = 2, 3, 4 ; and then 
he asssumes that the law which holds in these cases will hold 

790. The next memoir is entitled Ohservations sur les calculs 
relatifs a la dur^e des mariages et au nornhre des dpoux suhsistans. 

This memoir is published in the volume for 1799 — 1800 of 
the Memoir es de T Acad... Berlin ; the date of publication is 1803; 
the memoir occupies pages 110 — 130 of the mathematical portion 
of the volume. 


791. The memoir refers to that of Daniel Bernoulli on the 
same subject which we have noticed in Art. 412. Trembley ob- 
tains results agreeing with those of Daniel Bernoulli so far as the 
latter was rigorous in his investigations ; but Trembley urges ob- 
jections against some of the results obtained by the use of the 
infinitesimal calculus, and which were only presented as aiDproxi- 
mate by Daniel Bernoulli. 

792. As is usual with Trembley, the formula which occur 
are not demonstrated, but only obtained by induction from some 
simple cases. Thus he spends three pages in arriving at the re- 
sult which we have given in Art. 410 from Daniel Bernoulli ; he 
examines in succession the five most simple cases, for which 
m = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then infers the general formula by analogy. 

793. . For another example of his formulae we take the follow- 
ing question. Suppose n men marry n women at the same time ; 
if w out of the 2n die^ required the chance that m marriages are 

We may take m pairs out of n in j ways. In each 


n — in 

of the m pairs only one person must die ; this can happen in 2'" 
ways. Thus the whole number of cases favourable to the result 

is , = — . But the whole number of cases is the whole 


n — m 

number of ways in which 77i persons out of 2n may die ; that is 

\2n ^ ^ 

. Hence the required chance is 


2n — 7n 

2'" [^ I 2?i — m 

2 II 

n — in 

Trembley spends two pages on this problem, and then does 
not demonstrate the result. 

794. Trembley makes some api^lications of his formulae to the 
subject of annuities for widows. He refers to a work by Karstens, 
entitled Theorie von Wittwencassen, Halle, 1784; and also names 
Tetens. On the other hand, he names Michelsen as a writer who 


had represented the calculations of mathematicians on such sub- 
jects as destitute of foundation. 

Trembley intimates his intention of continuing his investi- 
gations in another memoir, which I presume never appeared. 

795. The next memoir is entitled Observations sur la metJiode 
de prendre les milieux entre les observations. 

This memoir is published in the volume for 1801 of the 
Memoir es de T Acad. ... Berlin ; the date of publication of the 
volume is 1804 : the memoir occupies pages 29 — 58 of the mathe- 
matical portion of the volume. 

796. The memoir commences thus : 

La maniere la plus avantagense de prendre les milieux entre les 
observations a ete detaillee par de grands geometres. M. Daniel Ber- 
noidli, M. Lambert, M. de la Place, M. de la Grange s'en sont occupes. 
Le dernier a donne la-dessus un tres-beau memoire dans le Tome v. des 
Memoires de Turin. II a employe pour cela le calcul integral. Mon 
dessein dans ce memoire est de montrer comment on peut parvenir aux 
niemes resultats par un simple usage de la doctrine des combinaisons. 

797. The preceding extract shews the object of the memoir. 
We observe however that although Lagrange does employ the 
Integral Calculus, yet it is only in the latter part of his memoir, 
on wdiich Trembley does not touch ; see Arts. 570 — 575. In the 
other portions of his memoir, Lagrange uses the Differential Cal- 
culus ; but it was quite unnecessary for him to do so ; see 
Art. 564. 

Trembley's memoir appears to be of no value whatever. The 
method is laborious, obscure, and imperfect, while Lagrange's is 
simple, clear, and decisive. Trembley begins with De Moivre's 
problem, quoting from him ; see Art. 149. He considers De 
Moivre's demonstration indirect and gives another. Trembley's 
demonstration occupies eight pages, and a reader would probably 
find it necessary to fill up many parts with more detail, if he were 
scrupulous about exactness. 

After discussing De Moivre's problem in this manner, Trem- 
bley proceeds to inflict similar treatment on Lagrange's problems. 

We may remark that Trembley copies a formula from La- 


grange with all tlie misprints or errors which it involves; see 
Art. 567. 

798. The last memoir by Trembley is entitled Observations 
sur le calcul cVun Jeu de hasard. 

This memoir is published in the volume for 1802 of the 
Memoir es de V Acad. ... Berlin ; the date of publication is 180-i : 
the memoir occupies pages 86 — 102 of the mathematical portion 
of the volume. 

799. The game considered is that of Her, which gave rise to 
a dispute between Nicolas Bernoulli and others ; see Art. 187. 
Trembley refers to the dispute. 

Trembley investigates fully the chance of Paul for every case 
that can occur, and more briefly the chance of Peter. He states 
his conclusion thus : 

...M. de Montmort et ses amis concluoient de la centre Nicolas 
Bernoulli, que ce cas 6toit insoluble, car disoient-ils, si Paul sait que 
Pierre se tient au huit, il cliangera an sept, mais Pierre venant k savoir 
que Paul change au sept, changera au huit, ce qui fait un cercle vicieux. 
Mais il resulte seulement de la que chacun sera perjDetuellement dans 
I'incertitude sur la maniere de jouer de son adversaire; des lors il con- 
viendra a Paul de changer au sept dans un coup donne, mais il ne 
pourroit suivre constamment ce sjsteme plusieurs coups de suite. II 
conviendra de meme a Pierre de changer au huit dans un coup donn6, 
sans pouvoir le faire plusieurs coups de suite, ce qui s'accorde avec les 
conclusions de M. Nicolas Bernoulli contre celles de M. de Montmort. 

800. It is hardly correct to say that the conclusion here 
obtained agrees with that of Nicolas Bernoulli against that of 
Montmort. The opponents of Nicolas Bernoulli seem only to 
have asserted that it was impossible to say on which rule Paul 
should uniformly act, and this Trembley allows. 

801. In Trembley's investigation of the chance of Peter, he 
considers this chance at the epoch before Paul has made his choice 
ivhether he will exchange or not. But this is of little value for 
Peter himself ; Peter would want to know how to act under cer- 
tain circumstances, and before he acted he would know whether 
Paul retained the card he obtained at first or compelled an ex- 


change. Hence Trembley's investigation of Peter's chance differs 
from the method which we have exemplified in Art. 189. 

802. Trembley makes an attemjDt to solve the problem of 
Her for three players ; but his solution is quite unsound. Sup- 
pose there are three players, Paul, James, and Peter. Trembley 
considers that the chances of Paul and James are in the propor- 
tion of the chance of the first and second players when there are 
only two players ; and he denotes these chances by x and y. He 
takes aj to ?/ as 8496 to 8079 ; but these numbers are of no con- 
sequence for our purpose. He supposes that the chances of James 
and Peter are also in the same proportion. This would not be 
quite accurate, because when James is estimating his chance with 
respect to Peter he would have some knowledge of Paul's card ; 
whereas in the case of Paul and James, the former had no know- 
ledge of any other card than his own to guide him in retaining or 

But this is only a minute point. Trembley's error is in the 

next step. He considers that is the chance that Paul will 

x + y 

beat James, and that —^ — is the chance that Peter will beat 


James ; he infers that -. — ^-^ is the chance that both Paul and 


Peter will beat James, so that James will be thrown out at the 
first trial. This is false: the game is so constructed that the 

players are nearly on the same footing, so that - is very nearly 


the chance that a given player will be excluded at the first trial. 


Trembley's solution would give - as the chance that James will 

be excluded ii x=y) whereas -^ should then be the value. 

X 11 

The error arises from the fact that and — '- do not 

x-\- y ^ + y 

here represent independent chances ; of course if Paul has a higher 

card than James, this alone affords presumption that James will 

rather have a card inferior to that of Peter than superior. This 

error at the beginning vitiates Trembley's solution. 


803. As a subsidiary part of his solution Trembley gives 
a tedious numerical investigation which might be easily spared. 
He wishes to shew that supposing James to have a higher card 
than both Peter and Paul, it is an even chance whether Peter 
or Paul is excluded. He might have proceeded thus, which will 
be easily intelligible to a person who reads the description of the 
game in Montmort, pages 278, 279 : 

Let n denote the number of James's card. 

I. Suppose n — r and n — s the other two cards ; where r and 
s are positive integers and different. Then either Paul or Peter 
may have the lower of the two n — r and n — s\ that is, there are 
as many cases favourable to one as the other. 

II. Peter's card may also be n\ then Paul's must be 1, or 
2, or 3, ... or ?i — 1. Here are n — 1 cases favourable to Peter. 

III. Peter and Paul may both have a card with the same 
mark n — r\ this will give n — 1 cases favourable to Paul. 

Thus II. and III. balance. 


Between the Years 1780 and 1800. 

804. The present Chapter will contain notices of various 
contributions to our subject wliicli were made between the years 
1750 and 1780. 

805. We have first to mention two memoirs by Prevost, en- 
titled, Sur les principes de la Theorie des gains fortuits. 

The first memoir is in the volume for 1780 of the Nouveaux 
Memoires .., Berlin ; the date of publication is 1782: the memoir 
occupies pages 430 — 472. The second memoir is in the volume 
for 1781 ; the date of publication is 1783 : the memoir occupies 
pages 463 — 472. Prevost professes to criticise the account of the 
elementary principles of the subject given by James Bernoulli, 
Huygens, and De Moivre. It does not seem that the memoirs 
present anything of value or importance ; see Art. 103. 

806. We have next to notice a memoir by Borda, entitled 
Memoir e sur les Elections an Scrutin. 

This is in the Hist....de V Acad.... Paris for 1781 ; the date of 
publication is 1784 : the memoir occupies pages 657 — QQo. 

This memoir is not connected with Probability, but we notice 
it because the subject is considered at great length by Condorcet, 
who refers to Borda's view ; see Art. 719. 

BORDA. 433 

Borda observes that the ordinary mode of election is liable to 
error. Suppose, for example, that there are 21 voters, out of 
whom 8 vote for A, 7 for B, and 6 for (7; then A is elected. But 
it is possible that the 7 who voted for B and the 6 who voted 
for C may agree in considering A as the worst of the three can- 
didates, although they differ about the merits of B and G. In such 
a case there are 8 voters for A and 13 against him out of the 
21 voters ; and so Borda considers that A ought not to be elected. 
In fact in this case if there were only A and B as candidates, or 
only A and C as candidates, A would lose ; he gains because he 
is opposed by two men who are both better than himself. 

Borda suggests that each voter should arrange the candidates 
in what he thinks the order of merit. Then in collecting the 
results w^e may assign to a candidate a marks for each lowest 
place, a + h marks for each next ^Dlace, a + 2b marks for each next 
place, and so on if there are more than three candidates. Suppose 
for example that there are three candidates, and that one of them 
is first in the lists of 6 voters, second in the lists of 10 voters, and 
third in the lists of 5 voters ; then his aggregate merit is ex- 
pressed by 6 {a + 2h) + 10 {a + h) + oa, that is by 21a + 225. It 
is indifferent what proportion w^e establish between a and h, be- 
cause in the aggregate merit of each candidate the coefficient of a 
will be the whole number of voters. 

Condorcet objects to Borda's method, and he gives the follow- 
ing example. Let there be three candidates. A, B, and C\ and 
suppose 81 voters. Suppose that the order ABC is adopted by 
30 voters, the order A CB by 1, the order CAB by 10, the order 
BAG hy 29, the order BGA by 10, and the order GBA by 1. In 
this case B is to be elected on Borda's method, for his aggTegate 
merit is ex^Dressed by 81a + 1095, while that of ^ is expressed 
by 81a + 1015, and that of G by 81a + 335. Condorcet decides 
that A ought to be elected ; for the proposition A is better than B 
is affirmed by 30 + 1 + 10 voters, w^hile the proposition B is better 
than A is affirmed by 29 + 10 + 1 voters, so that A has the ad- 
vantage over B in the ratio of 41 to 40. 

Thus suppose a voter to adopt the order ABG; then Condorcet 
considers him to affirm with equal emphasis the three propositions 
A is better than B, B is better than C, A is better than 0; but 



Borda considers him to affirm the first two with equal emphasis, 
and the last with double emphasis. See Condorcet's Discours 
Preliminaire, page CLXXVii, Laplace, Theorie . . . des Froh. page 274. 

807. We have next to notice a memoir by Malfatti, entitled 
Esame Critico di un Prohlema di pjvhahilita del Sig. Baniele 
Bernoulli, e soluzione d'un cdtro Prohlema analogo al Bermdliano. 
Del Sig. Gio: Francesco Malfatti Professore di Matematica nell' 
Universita di Ferrara. 

This memoir is published in the Memorie di Matematica e 
Fisica delta Societa Italiana, Tomo i. 1782 ; the memoir occupies 
pages 768 — 824. The problem is that which we have noticed in 
Art. 416. Malfatti considers the solution of the problem about 
the balls to be erroneous, and that this problem is essentially 
different from that about the fluids which Daniel Bernoulli used 
to illustrate the former ; see Art. 420. Malfatti restricts himself 
to the case of two urns. 

Malfatti in fact says that the problem ought to be solved by 
an exact comparison of the numbers of the various cases which 
can arise, and not by the use of such equations as we have given 
in Art. 417, which are only probably true ; this of course is quite 
correct, but it does not invalidate Daniel Bernoulli's process for 
its own object. 

Let us take a single case. SujDpose that originally there are two 
white balls in A and two black balls in B ; required the probable 
state of the urn A after x of Daniel Bernoulli's operations have 
been performed. Let u^ denote the probability that there are 
two black balls in A ; v^ the probability that there is one black 
ball and one white one, and therefore 1-u^-v^ the probability 
that there are two white balls. 

808. We will first give a Lemma of Malfatti's. Suppose there 
tiren-p white balls in A, and therefore p black balls ; then there 
are n —p black balls in B and p white balls. Let one of Daniel 
Bernoulli's operations be performed, and let us find the number 
of cases in which each possible event can happen. There are w^ 
cases altogether, for any ball can be taken from A and any ball 
from B. Now there are three possible events ; for after the opera- 
tion A may contain n—p-^\ white balls, or n—p, or n—p — \. 


For the first event a black ball must be taken from A and a white 
ball from B ; the number of cases is p\ For the second event a 
black ball must be taken from A and a black one from B, or else 
a white one from A and a white one from B ; the number of cases 
is 2p{7i—j)). For the third event a white ball must be taken 
from A and a black ball from B; the number of cases is 

{n —]pf- 

It is obvious that 

as should be the case. 

809. Now returning to the problem in Art. 807 it will be 
easy to form the follov/ing equations : 



Integrating these equations and determining the constant by 
the condition that ^^^ = 1, we obtain 

2 f (- 1)-) 1 j (_ 1)-) 

Daniel Bernoulli's general result for the probable number of 
white balls in A after x trials if there were 7i originally would be 

Thus supposing x is infinite Daniel Bernoulli finds that the 


probable number is ^ . This is not inconsistent with our result ; 

2 1 

for w^e have when x is infinite Vy, = -^y ^^ = t^ > ^iid therefore 

o u 


\ — Vy, — u^—-, so that the case of one white ball and one black 

ball is the most probable. 

810. Malfatti advances an objection against Daniel Bernoulli's 


result which seems of no weight. Daniel Bernoulli obtains as 


we see ^ for the probable number of white balls in A after an 

infinite number of operations. Now Malfatti makes Daniel Ber- 
noulli's statement imply conversely that it will require an infinite 


number of trials before the result ^ will probably be reached. 

But Daniel Bernoulli himself does not state or imply this con- 
verse, so that Malfatti is merely criticising a misapprehension of 
his own. 

811. Malfatti himself gives a result equivalent to our value 
of u^ in Art. 809 ; he does not obtain it in the way we use, but 
by induction founded on examination of successive cases, and not 
demonstrated generally. 

812. The problem which Malfatti proposes to solve and which 
he considers analogous to Daniel Bernoulli's is the following. 
Let r be zero or any given integer not greater than n : required 
to determine the probability that in x operations the event will 
never occur of having just n — r white balls in A. This he treats 
in a most laborious way ; he supposes r = 2, 3, 4, 5 in succession, 
and obtains the results. He extracts by inspection certain laws 
from these results which he assumes will hold for all the other 
values of r between 6 and n inclusive. The cases r — 0, and r = 1, 
require special treatment. 

Thus the results are not demonstrated, though perhaps little 
doubt of their exactness would remain in the mind of a student. 
The patience and acuteness which must have been required to 
extract the laws will secure high admiration for Malfatti. 

813. We will give one specimen of the results which Malfatti 
obtains, though we shall adopt an exact method instead of his in- 
duction from particular cases. 

Required the probability that in x trials the number ?i — 2 of 
white balls will never occur in A. Let (/> {x, n) represent the whole 
number of favourable cases in x trials which end with 7i white balls 
in ^ ; let (ic, n — 1) be the whole number of favourable cases 
which end with n — 1 white balls in A. There is no other class of 


favourable cases ; by favourable cases we mean cases of non-occur- 
rence o{ n — 2 white balls. 

By aid of the Lemma in Art. 808 the following equations are 
immediately established, 

</) (ic + 1, ??) = (f) (x, n - 1), 
<f> (x-\-l, n — l) — '}f<j> {x, n) + 2 (?2 — 1) ^ (x, n — 1). 

By aid of the first the second becomes 

<f)[x+l,n-l)= n^cf) {x - 1, n - 1) + 2 {n -1) (f) (x, n - 1). 

Thus denoting (^ (x, n — 1) by u^ we have 

«x-+i = i^u^_^ + 2 (?i - 1) u^. 

This shews that ii^ is of the form Aa^ + B/S'^ where a and /3 are 
the roots of the quadratic 

From the first of the above equations we see that </) (x + 1, n) 
is of the same /or??i as ^ {x, n — 1); thus finally we have 

</) (ic, w) + </) (x, n - 1) = arj." + h/S", 

Avhere a and h are constants. The required probability is found by 
dividing by the whole number of cases, that is by ?i^* Thus we 


We must determine the constants a and h by special examina- 
tion of the first and second operations. After the first oj^eration 
we must have m - 1 white balls and one black ball in A ; all the 
cases are favourable ; this will give 

aa + h^ = n^. 
Similarly we get 

for tlie second operation must either give n white balls in A, or 
n-1, or 71-2; and the first and second cases are favourable. 

Thus a and b become known, and the problem is completely 


814. We will briefly indicate the steps for the solution of the 
problem in which we require the probability that n — S white balls 
shall never occur in A. 

Let (j) {oc, n), </> {x, n — 1), (/) [x, n — 2) represent the number of 
favourable cases in x trials, where the final number of white balls 
in A is 01, n — 1, n— 2, respectively. 

Then we have the following equations 

(f> (x + 1, n) =(j) (x, n — V), 
(f){x+l,n-l)= ?i'</) (x, n) + 2{n-l) ^ {x, ?j - 1) + 4(/) {x, n - 2), 
<j>{x^l,n-2) = (n-rf<^{x, n- 1) + 4 {ii - 2) ^ i^x, 7i-2). 

If we denote </> (x, n — 2) by u^ we shall arrive by elimination at 
the equation 

w^+3 ~ {Qn - 10) u^^^ + (Sti' - 16?i + 12) ii^^^ + W (?i - 2) u^ = 0. 

Then it will be seen that <f>(x, n — V) and (x, n) will be ex- 
pressions of the same form as </> (x, n — 2). Thus the whole num- 
ber of favourable cases will be aa""' + h^'' + 07""', where a, h, c are 
arbitrary constants, and a, ft 7 are the roots of 

z' - {6n - 10) z'' + (Sn' - 16?i + 12) z + W (n-2) = 0. 

815. A work on our subject was published by Bicquilley, en- 
titled Die Calcul des Prohabilites. Par C. F. de Bicquilley, Garde- 
du-Corps du Roi. 1783. 

This work is of small octavo size, and contains a preface of 
three pages, the Privilege du Roi, and a table of contents ; then 
164 pages of text with a plate. 

According to the Catalogues of Booksellers there is a second 
edition published in 1805 which I have not seen. 

816. The author's object is stated in the following sentence 
from the Preface : 

La theorie des Prohabilites ebaucliee par des Geometres celebres m'a 
paru susceptible d'etre approfondee, et de faire j)artie de renseignement 
^lementaire : j'ai pense qu'un traite ne seroit point indigne d'etre offert 
au public, qui pourroit enriclier de nouvelles verites cette matiere inte- 
ressante, et la mettre a la portee du plus grand nombre des lecteurs. 


The choice of matter seems rather unsuitable for an elementary 
work on the Theory of Probability. 

817. Pages 1 — 15 contain the definitions and fundamental 
principles. Pages 15 — 25 contain an account of Figurate numbers. 
Passes 26 — 39 contain various theorems which we should now 
describe as examples of the Theory of Combinations. Pages 40 — 80 
contain a number of theorems which amount to little more than 
easy developments of one fundamental theorem, namely that which 
we have given in Art. 281, supposing ^ = 0. 

818. Pages 81 — 110 may be said to amount to the following 

theorem and its consequences : if the chance of an event at a 

single trial be ^ the chance that it will occur m times and fail n 

m + 7i 
times in m-{-7i trials is i^'" 0- ~PT' 

m n 

Here we may notice one problem which is of interest. Sup- 
pose that at every trial we must have either an event P alone, oi 
an event Q alone, or both P and Q, or neither P nor Q, Let p 
denote the chance of P alone, q the chance of Q alone, t the 
chance of both P and Q : then 1 — ^ — ^ — ^ is the chance of nei- 
ther P nor Q ; we will denote this by tc. Various problems may 
then be projDOsed ; Bicquilley considers the following : required 
the chance that in fi trials P will happen exactly m times, and Q 
exactly n times. 

I. Suppose P and Q do not happen together in any case. 
Then we have P happening m times, Q happening 7i times, and 
neither P nor Q happening (m — m — n times. The corresponding 
chance is 

I m 1 n fi — 771 — n 


m - n 

II. Suppose that P and Q happen together once. Then we 
have also P happening m — 1 times, Q happening ?i — 1 times, and 
neither P nor Q happening /i, - m - /i + 1 times. The correspond- 

ing chance is 

m — 1 71 — 1 ^6 — 1)1 — u-r^ 


III. Suppose that P and Q happen together tivice. Tlie cor- 
responding chance is 

r" ..w._f? _n_5 42,.u.-m-n + 2 

[2 I m - 2 I ?i-2 I ^ - 9?? - ?2 + 2 
And so on. 

819. As another example of the hind of problem noticed in 
the preceding Article, we may require the cliance that in \l trials P 
and Q shall each happen at least once. The required chance is 

1 _ (1 _^; _ ^)^ _ (1 _ ^ _ Q/^ + (1 -^ - 5^ - ty. 

See also Algehra, Chapter LVI. 

820. Pages 111 — 133 contain the solution of some examples. 
Two of them are borrowed from Buffon, namely those which we 
have noticed in Art. 649, and in the beginning of Art. 650. 

One of Bicquilley's examples may be given. Suppose p and q 
to denote respectively the chances of the happening and failing of 
an event in a single trial. A pla3^er lays a wager of a to & that the 
event will happen ; if the event does not happen he repeats the 
wager, making the stakes ra to rh ; if the event fails again he 
repeats the wager, making the stakes r'^a to r^5 ; and so on. If the 
player is allowed to do this for a series of n games, required his 
advantage or disadvantage. 

The player's disadvantage is 

This is easily shewn. For qa ~])h is obviously the player's dis- 
advantage at the first trial. Suppose the event fails at the first 
trial, of which the chance is q ; then the wager is renewed ; and 
the disadvantage for that trial is qar — ph\ Similarly (f is the 
chance that the event will fail twice in succession ; then the wager 
is renewed, and the disadvantage is qar^—pbr^. And so on. If 
then qa is greater than ph the disadvantage is j)ositive and in- 
creases with the number of games. 

Bicquilley takes the particular case in which a = 1, and 

5 + 1 . 

^ = — -J — ; his solution is less simple than that which we have 


given. The object of the problem is to shew to a gambler, by an 
example, that if a wager is really unfavourable to him he suffers 
still more by increasing his stake while the same proportion is 
maintained between his stake and that of his adversary. 

821. Pages 134 — 149 relate to the evaluation of probability 
from experience or observation. If an event has happened m 

times and failed n times the book directs us to take — - — as its 

m-\- n 

chance in a single trial. 

822. Pages 150 — 164 relate to the evaluation of probability 
from testimony. Bicquilley adopts the method which we have 
exhibited in Art. 91. Another of his peculiarities is the following. 
Suppose from our own experience, independent of testimony, we 
assign the probability P to an event, and suppose that a witness 
whose probability is 2^ offers his evidence to the event, Bicquilley 
takes for the resulting probability P+ (1 — P) Pp, and not as we 
might have expected from him P + (1 — P) ^. He says that the 
reliance which we place on a witness is proportional to our own 
previous estimate of the probability of the event to which he 

823. We will now notice the matter bearing on our subject 
which is contained in the Encyclopedie Methodique; the mathema- 
tical portion of this work forms three quarto volumes which are 
dated respectively 1784, 1785, 1789. 

Absent This article is partly due to Condorcet : he applies 
the Theory of Probability to determine when a man has been ab- 
sent long enough to justify the division of his property among his 
heirs, and also to determine the portions which ought to be assigned 
to the different claimants. 

Assurances. This article contains nothing remarkable. 

ProhoMlite. The article from the original Encyclopedie is re- 
peated : see Art. 467. This is followed by another article under 
the same title, which professes to give the general principles of 
the subject. The article has not Condorcet's signature formally 
attached to it ; but its last sentence shews that he was the author. 
It may be described as an outline of Condorcet's own writings on 


the subject, but from its brevity it would be far less intelligible 
than even those writings. 

Substitutions. Condorcet maintains that a State has the autho- 
rity to change the laws of succession to property ; but when such 
changes are made the rights which existed under the old laws 
should be valued and compensation made for them. In this article 
Condorcet professes to estimate the amount of compensation. The 
formulae however are printed in such an obscure and repulsive 
manner that it would be very difficult to determine whether they 
are correct ; and certainly the attempt to examine them would be 
a waste of time and labour. 

824. It should be observed that in the Encydopedie Metlio- 
dique various threats are uttered which are never carried into 
execution. Thus in the article Assurances we are referred to 
Evenemens and to Societe ; and in the article Prohabilite we are 
referred to Verite and to Votans. Any person who is acquainted 
with Condorcet's writings will consider it fortunate that no articles 
are to be found under the titles here named. 

825. The only important article connected with our subject 
in the Encydopedie Metliodique is that under the title Milieu, 
which we will now proceed to notice. The article is by John 
Bernoulli, the same person, we presume, whom we have noticed 
in Arts. 598 and 624. 

The article gives an account of two memoirs which it asserts 
had not then been printed. The article says : 

Le premier memoire dont je me propose de doiiner I'extrait, est un 
petit ecrit latin de M. Daniel Bernoulli, qu'il me communiqua, en 
1769, et qu'il gardoit depuis long-tems parmi ses manuscrits dans le 
dessein sans doute de I'ctendre davantage. II a pour titre : Dijudicatio 
niaxime j^'^ohahilis plurium ohservationimi discrepmitiu^n ; atque verisi- 
niillima inductio inde formanda. 

The title is the same as that of the memoir which we have 
noticed in Art. 424 ; but this article Milieu gives an account of 
the memoir which does not correspond with what we find in the 
Acta Acad..,.Petrop., so we conclude that Daniel Bernoulli modi- 
fied his memoir before publishing it. 


The following is the method given in the article Milieu. Let 
the numerical results of discordant observations be set off as 
abscissae from a fixed point ; draw ordinates to represent the pro- 
babilities of the various observations ; trace a curve through the 
extremities of these ordinates and take the abscissa of the centre 
of gravity of the area of the curve as the correct value of the 
element sought. The probabilities are to be represented by the 
ordinates of a certain semi-ellipse or semicircle. The article says 
that to determine analytically the centre of the semicircle would 
be very difficult, because we arrive at an equation which is almost 
unmanageable ; accordingly a method of approximation is pro- 
posed. First take for the centre the point corresponding to the 
mean of all the observations; and determine the centre of gravity 
of the area corresponding to the observations ; take this point 
as a new centre of a semicircle, and repeat the operation ; and 
so on, until the centre of gravity obtained corresponds with 
the centre of the respective semicircle. The magnitude of the 
radius of the semicircle must be assigned arbitrarily by the cal- 

This is ingenious, but of course there is no evidence that w^e 
thus obtain a result which is specially trustworthy. 

The other memoir which is noticed, in this article Milieu is 
that by Lagrange, published in the Miscellanea Taurinensia ; see 
Art. boQ. It is strange that the memoirs by Daniel Bernoulli 
and Lagrange should be asserted to be unprinted in 1785, when 
Daniel Bernoulli had published a memoir with the same title in 
the Acta Acad....Petrop. for 1777, and Lagrange's memoir was 
published in the Miscellanea Taurinensia for 1770 — 1773. The 
date of publication of the last volume is not given, but that it 
was prior to 1777 w^e may infer from a memoir by Euler; see 
Art. 447. 

826. We will now notice the portions of the Encyclopedie 
Methodique which relate to games of chance. The three volumes 
which we have mentioned in Ai't. 817 contain articles on various 
games ; they do not give mathematical investigations, with a slight 
exception in the case of Bassette : see Art. 467. The commence- 
ment of the article Breland is amusing: il se joue a tant de 


jjersonnes que Von veut: mais il n^est beau, c'est-d-dire, tres-ridneux, 
qiid trois ou cinq. 

There is however a distmct work on games, entitled Biction- 
naire des Jeuoc, faisant suite au Tome III. des Mathematiques. 
1792. The Avertissement begins thus : Comme il y a, dit Mon- 
tesquieu, une infinite de choses sages qui sont menees d'une 
mani^re trbs-folle, il y a aussi des folies qui sont conduites d'une 
maniere tr^s-sage. The work contains 316 pages of text and 
16 plates. There are no mathematical investigations, but in three 
cases the numerical values of the chances are given. One of these 
cases is the game of Trente et quarante ; but the results given are 
inaccurate, as Poisson shewed in the memoir which we have cited 
in Art. 358. The other two cases in which the results are given 
are the games Krahs and Passe-dix. 

The copy of the Encyclopedie MHliodique which belongs to the 
Cambridge University Library includes another work on games 
which is wanting in other copies that I have examined. This is 
entitled Dictionnaire des Jeux Mathematiques.... Kn. Yii. The 
advertisement states that after the publication of the Dictionary 
of Games in 1792 many of the subscribers requested that this 
treatise should be enlarged and made more complete. The pre- 
sent Dictionary is divided into two parts ; first, the Dictionnaire 
des Jeux Mathematiques, which occupies 212 pages ; secondly, a 
Dictionnaire de Jeux familiers, which is unfinished, for it extends 
only from A to Gi^ammairien, occupying 80 pages. 

The Dictionnaire des Jeux Mathematiques does not contain 
any thing new or important in the calculation of chances. The 
investigations which are given are chiefly taken from Montmort, 
in some cases with a reference to him, but more often without. 
Under the title Joueur we have the names of some writers on the 
subject, and we find a very faint commendation of Montmort to 
whose work the Dictionary is largely indebted ; 

Plusieiirs aiiteurs se sont exerces sur I'analyse des jeux ; on en a im 
traite elementaire de Huygens ; on en a un phis profoiid de Moivre ; 
on a des morceaiix tres-savans de Bernoulli sin- cette matiere. II y a 
un analyse des jeux de hasard par Montmaur, qui n'est pas sans m6rite. 

The game oi Draughts obtains 16 images, and the game of Chess 

d'anieres. 445 

73 pages. Under the title Cartes {jeu de) we have the problem 
which we noticed in Art. 533, omitting however the part which 
is false. 

Under the title Wliish ou Wisth we have 8 pages, beginning 
thus : 

Jeu de cartes mi-parti de hasard et de science. II a ete invente par 
les Anglais, et continue depuis long terns d'etre en vogue dans la 

C'est de tons les jeux de cartes le plus judicieux dans ses principes, 
le plus convenable a la societe, le plus difficile, le plus interessant, le 
plus piquant, et celui qui est combine avec le plus d'art. 

The article quotes some of the results obtained by De Moivre 
in his calculations of the chances of this game : it also refers to 
Hoyle's work, which it says was translated into French in 1770. 

With respect to the Dictionnaire de Jeux familiers we need 
only say that it comprises descriptions of the most trifling games 
which serve for the amusement of children ; it begins with Taime 
mon amant par A, and it includes Colin-Maillard. 

827. We next advert to a memoir by DAnieres, entitled 
Reflexions sur les Jeux de hazard. 

This memoir is published in the volume of the Kouveaux 
Memoires de V Acad.... Berlin for 1784; the date of publication is 
1786 ; the memoir occupies pages 391 — 398 of the volume. 

The memoir is not mathematical ; it alludes to the fact that 
games of hazard are prohibited by governments, and shews that 
there are different kinds of such games, namely, those in which a 
man may ruin his fortune, and those which cannot produce more 
than a trifling loss in any case. 

There is a memoir by the same author, entitled Sur les Paris, 
in the volume of the Kouveaux Memoires de V Acad.... Berlin for 
1786 ; the date of publication is 1788 : the memoir occupies 
pages 273^-278 of the volume. 

This memoir is intended as a supplement to the former by the 
same author, and is also quite unconnected with the mathematical 
Theory of Probability. 

828. We have now to notice a curious work, entitled On the 

446 WARING. 

Princijdes of translating Algebraic quantities into probable rela- 
tions and annuities, (Ssc. By E. Waring, M.B. Lucasian Professor 
of Mathematics at Cambridge, and Fellow of the Royal Societies 
of London, Bononia and Gottingen, Caynbridge, Printed by J. Arch- 
deacon, Printer to the University ; For J. Kicholson, Bookseller y in 
Cambridge. 1792. 

This is an octavo pamphlet. Besides the leaf on which the 
title is printed there are 59 pages of text, and then a page with 
a few corrigenda. The work is excessively scarce ; for the use 
of a copy I am indebted to the authorities of Queens' College, 

829. The author and the printer seem to have combined their 
efforts in order to render the work as obscure and repulsive as 
possible ; and they have attained a fair measure of success. The 
title is singularly inaccurate ; it is absurd to pretend to translate 
algebraical quantities into probable relations or into annuities. 
What Waring means is that algebraical identities may be trans- 
lated so as to afford propositions in the Theory of Probabilities or 
in the Theory of Annuities. 

830. Waring begins with a Lemma. He proposes to sum the 

1 + 2^-' r + 3^-^ r" + 4?-^r^ + S^'V* + . . . in infinitum. 

The sum will be 

A^-Br-\- Cr^ + Dr' + ... +y*-^ 


The coefficients A, B, C ... are independent of r ; they must 
be determined by multiplying up and equating coefficients. Thus 

B = 2''-''-z, 

G = 3*-^ - z2'-^ + ^ ^^~ -^^ , 

j^_,z-x ^ ^.-1 , g (^ - 1) 9.-1 z{z-l) (g-2) 
U-^ -Z6 + ^ Z ^-^ . 

Proceeding in this way we shall find that in the numerator of 
the fraction which represents the sum the last term is r""^ ; that 

WARING. 447 

is there is no power of r higher than this power, and the coefficient 
of this power is unity. Waring refers to another work by himself 
for the demonstration ; the student will see that it may be deduced 
from the elementary theorem in Finite Differences respecting the 
value of A"a;*^, when n is not less than m. 

Waring does not apply his Lemma until he comes to the 
part of the work which relates to Annuities, which forms his 
pages 27 — 59. 

831. Waring now proceeds to his propositions in the Theory 
of Probabilities ; one of his examples will suffice to indicate his 

It is identically true that ^ — ^^^ — = — — -^ . Suppose -^ 

to represent the chance of the happening of an assigned event in 

N — a 
one trial, and therefore — :^ — the chance of its failing : then the 

identity shews that the chance of the happening of the event in 
the first trial and its failing in the second trial is equal to the dif- 
ference between the chance of the happening of the event once 
and the chance of its happening twice in succession. 

882. There is nothing of any importance in the work respect- 
ing the Theory of Probability until we come to page 19. Here 
Waring says, 

Let the chances of the events A and B happening be respectively 

and J ; then the chance of the event A happening r times 

a + h a + b 

more than B in r trials will be 

in r -f- 2 trials will be 



{a + by ' 


in r + 4 trials will be 


{a + by\ {a+bf 

ah r (r + 3) a%- 

{a-vby\ (« + 6/ 2 (a + 6) 

and in general it will be 

448 WARING. 

a"- f ah r (r + 3) a%' r (r + 4) (r + 5) a'6' 

{a + by i {^tT+Vf "^ 2 {a + by ^ "~ [3 (^^« 

+ H — ^ ^^-^ n / TT^ + m infinitum >• 

\l_ (a + by'' j 

This may be deduced from the subsequent arithmetical theorem, viz. 
2m{2m-l) (2m -2)... (2m -s) (2m- 2)(2m ~ S)...(2m - s - 1) 

— - f. , 

+ 1 [s 

r (r + 3) (2m - 4) (2y?i - 5) . . . (27;t - g - 2) 


^(^+4)(r + 5) (2m-6)...(2m-s-3) 

+ 's-2 

+ ... 


T (r + s + 2) (r + s + 3) . . . (r + 25 + 1) 

+ 1 

(r + 27??.) (r + 2y?z, - 1) ... (r + 2y?i - s) 


Waring's words, "^ happening r times more than B" are 
scarcely adequate to convey his meaning. We see from the for- 
mula he gives that he really means to take the problem of the 
Duration of Play in the case where B has a capital r and A has un- 
limited capital. See Art. 309. 

Waring gives no hint as to the demonstration of his arith- 
metical theorem. We may demonstrate it thus : take the formula 
in Art. 584, suppose a = l+^, ^ = 1, ^ = ^; we shall find that 

Thus we get 

^- (i+zy'^' {1 + zy'''^ 2 (i+^r 

^ (^ + 4) (^ + 5) z 

U3 (1 + z) 


+ [4 {1 + zy^''^"" 

Multiply both sides by (1 + z^"^' : thus 

WARING. 449 

(1 + ^)'""^ = (1 + ZY' + ^^ (1 + ^)"^"-'+ i^t^ ^2 (1 + ^)2n-4 

If we exjDand the various 230wers oil+ z and equate the coeffi- 
cients of z' we shall obtain the arithmetical theorem with t in 
place of r. 

But it is not obvious how Waring intended to deduce the 
theorem on the Duration of Play from this arithmetical theorem. If 

we put - for z we obtain 
^ a 

{a + hf'^' = a'{a + hf' + ta' {a + by''-' ah + H^A a' (a + 1)'"-* a'l/ 
+ ^ (^ + ^) (^ + ^) a} (a + Z.)^"-^ a^Z.^ + . . . 

and it was perhaps from this result that Waring considered that 
the theorem on the Duration of Play might be deduced ; but it 
seems difficult to render the process rigidly strict. 

833. Waring gives another problem on the Duration of Play ; 
see his page 20. 

If it be required to find the chance of ^'s succeeding n times as 
oft as ^'s precisely : in ?i + 1 trials it will be found 

in 2n + 2 trials it will be found 

P^n{n + \)^^^^,r.Q; 

in 3/1 + 3 it will be 

^ n {n + 1) (?>n + 1) a'"6' 

V ■• ^ ■/.. . Z,\3n + 3 • 

2 {a + by 

Waring does not give the investigation ; as usual with him 
until we make the investigation we do not feel quite certain of 
the meaning of his problem. 

The first of his three examples is obvious. 


450 WARING. 

In the second example we observe that the event may occur m 
the first % + 1 trials, and the chance of this is P ; or the event may 
have failed in the first n + 1 trials and yet may occur if we proceed 
to « + 1 more trials. This second case may occur in the following 
ways : B may hajDpen twice in the first n+1 trials, or twice in 
the second w + 1 trials ; while A happens in the remaining 2)i 
trials. Thus we obtain 

2 {n + 1) n ^'V 

2n+2 ) 

2 [a^hf 

which must be added to P to give the chance in the second ex- 

In the third example we observe that the event may occur in 
the first 2n + 2 trials, and the chance of this is Q ; or the event 
may have failed in the first 2n-\-2 trials, and yet may occur if we 
proceed to w + 1 more trials. This second case may occur in the 
following ways : 

Jj may happen three times in the fii^st n + 1 trials, or three 
times in the second n+1 trials, or three times in the last n + 1 
trials ; while A happens in the remaining S?i trials. 

Or B may happen twice in the first n + 1 trials and once in the 
second n + 1 trials, or once in the second n + 1 trials and twice in 
the third n + 1 trials ; while A happens in the remaining 3/^ trials. 

Thus we obtain 

:^ {n + l)nin-l) ^ ^ {n + 1)' nl a'^'P 

371+3 ) 

[3 2 ) {a + by 

wliich must be added to Q to give the chance in the third ex- 

834. * The following specimen may be given of Waring's imper- 
fect enunciations ; see his page 21 : 

Let a, h, c, d, &c. be the respective chances of the happening of 
a, /5, y, 8, &c. : in one trial, and 

(ax'^ + hx^ + cxy + doc^ + &c.)" = a^x'"^ + . . . + Nx^^ + &c.; 

then will iV be the chance of the happening of tt in ti trials. 

Nothing is said as to what ir means. The student will see that 
the only meaning which can be given to the enunciation is to 

WARixa 451 

suppose that a, h, c, d, ... are the chances that the numbers 
®> A 7j ^> • • • respectively will occur in one trial ; and then N is the 
chance that in n trials the sum of the numbers will be tt. 

835. "Waring gives on his page 22 the theorem which we 
now sometimes call by the name of Yanclermonde. The theorem 
is that 

(a + Z>) (a + Z»-l) ... (a + Z'-w+ 1) 
= a (a — 1) .,. [a — n+l) 
-f wa (a — 1) . .. (a — n 4- 2) J 


+ ^^(^-1)... {l-n+l). 

From this he deduces a corollary which we will give in our 
own notation. Let <f> {x, y) denote the sum of the products that 
can be made from the numbers 1. 2, 3, ... x, taken y together. 
Then will 


S — 1 

- (f) ill — 1, ?l — 5) 

= ; — • <h (n — r — \, n — s) 

I r \n — r ^ ^ 

+ ^, ^ -<l>{n-r-%n-s-\)<i>[r,l) 

r+1 n — r — L 

+ ..,^ - ^^(n-r-3,?i-5-2)0(r+l, 2) 

r + 2 [ 


n — r 

+ — TTTT^ ^i>{n-r-i,n-s-9)4>{r+%'i) 


It must be observed that 5 is to be less than n, and r less than 
s ; and the terms on the right-hand side are to continue until we 
arrive at a term of the form ^ {x, 0), and this must be replaced 
by unity. 


452 Waring. 

This result is obtained by equating the coefficients of the term 
^s-rj^r -^^ ^-j^g ^^Q members of Vandermonde's identity. 

The result is enunciated and printed so badly in Warings 
work that some difficulty arose in settling what the result was and 
how it had been obtained. 

836. I do not enter on that part of Waring's work which relates 
to annuities. I am informed by Professor De Morgan that the late 
Francis Baily mentions in a letter the following as the interesting 

parts of the work : — the series 8 — mS' -\ ^-^ S" — ...., the 

Problem III, and the observations on assurances payable imme- 
diately at death. 

837. Another work by Waring requires a short notice ; it is 
entitled A^i essay on the jirinciples of human knowledge. Cam- 
bridge 1794. This is an octavo volume ; it contains the title-leaf, 
then 240 pages, then 3 pages of Addenda, and a page containing 

838. This work contains on pages 35 — 40 a few common theo- 
rems of probability ; the first two pages of the Addenda briefly 
notice the problem discussed by De Moivre and others about a 
series of letters being in their proper places ; see Art. 281, and De 
Moivre Prob. xxxv. Waring remarks that if the number of 
letters is infinite the chance that they will occur all in their right 
places is infinitesimal. He gives page 49 of his work as that on 
which this remark bears, but it would seem that 49 is a misprint 
for 41. 

839. Two extracts may be given from this book. 

I know that some mathematicians of the first class have endeavoured 
to demonstrate the degree of probabihty of an event's happening 7^ times 
from its having happened m preceding times; and consequently that 
such an event will probably take place ; but, alas, the problem far ex- 
ceeds the extent of human understanding : who can determine the time 
when the sun will probably cease to run its present course ? Page 35. 

...I have myself wrote on most subjects in pure matliematics, and in 


these books inserted nearly all tlie inventions of the moderns with 
which I was acquainted. 

In my prefaces I have given an history of the inventions of the dif- 
ferent writers, and ascribed them to their respective authors ; and like- 
wise some account of my own. To every one of these sciences I have 
been able to make some additions, and in the whole, if I am not mis- 
taken in enumerating them, somewhere between three and four hundred 
new propositions of one kind or other, considerably more than have 
been given by any English writer ; and in novelty and diiEculty not 
inferior ; I wish I could subjoin in utility : many more might have 
been added, but I never could hear of any reader in England out of 
Cambridge, who took the pains to read and understand what I have 
written. Page 115. 

Waring proceeds to console himself under this neglect in Eng- 
land by the honour conferred on him by D'Alembert, Euler and 
Le Grange. 

Dugald Stewart makes a remark relating to Waring; see his 
Works edited hy Hamilton, Vol. IV, page 218. 

840. A memoir by Ancillon, entitled Doutes sur les bases du 
calcul des probabiliUs, was pviblished in the volume for 1794 and 
1795 of the Memoires de F Acad.... Berlin; the memoir occupies 
pages 3 — 32 of the part of the volume which is devoted to specu- 
lative philosophy. 

The memoir contains no mathematical investigations ; its ob- 
ject is to throw doubts on the possibility of constructing a Theory 
of Probability, and it is of very little value. The author seems to 
have determined that no Theory of Probability coidd be con- 
structed without giving any attention to the Theory which had 
been constructed. He names Moses Mendelsohn and Garve as 
having already examined the question of the admissibility of such 
a Theory. 

841. There are three memoirs wTitten by Pre vest and Lhuilier 
in conjunction and published in the volume for 1796 of the 
Memoires de VAcad... .Berlin. The date of pubhcation is 1799. 

842. The first memoir is entitled Sur les Prohahilites ; it was 
read Nov. 12, 1795. It occupies pages 117— 14^2 of the mathe- 
matical portion of the volume. 


843. The memoir is devoted to the following problem. An 
urn contains m balls some of which are white and the rest black, 
but the number of each is unknown. Suppose that p white balls 
and q black balls have been drawn and not replaced ; required the 
probability that out of the next r + s drawings r shall give white 
balls and s black balls. 

The possible hypotheses as to the original state of the urn are, 
that there were q black balls, or g + 1 black balls, or q-\-2, ... 
or m — p. Now form the probability of these various hypotheses 
according to the usual principles. Let 

P^— (qn — q — n -^V) {m — q — n) to p factors, 

§„= (g' 4- ^ — 1) C*/ + w — 2) to q factors ; 

then the probability of the /i*'^ hypothesis is 


where S denotes the sum of all such products as P„^„. Now if 
this hypothesis were certainly true the chance of drawing r white 
balls and s black balls in the next r-\-s drawings would be 



Bn= {m — q — p — n + 1) {m — q—p — n) to r factors, 

^n = (^ — 1) (« — 2) to 5 factors, 

iV= number of combinations oi m—p— q things r + 5 at a time. 

Thus the whole required probability is the sum of all the 
terms of which the type is 

We have first to find 2. The method of induction is adopted 
in the original memoir ; we may however readily obtain X by the 
aid of the binomial theorem : see Algebra, Chapter L. Thus we 
shall find 

[p_\q_ [ m + 1 

[p + q + 1 \m — p — q 


Now PnJ^n differs from P^ only in having p + r instead of p ; 
and QnS,^ difiers from Q^ only in having q-\-s instead of q^. There- 
fore the sum of all the terms of the form P„ QnP^n^n is 

\p + r\q + s I ??i + 1 

p-{-q + r-\-s-\-l \ni — p — q — r — s 

in — p — q 
And .Y= ' ^ 

r -\- s m — p — q — r — s 

Thus finally the required probability is 

\r -\- s ' p + r \ q -{■ s \p -\- q + 1 

\IL\1 [rVL \l)-\-q-\-r + s-\-l ' 

844. Let us supf)Ose that r and 5 vary while their sum r + 5 
remains constant ; then we can a^^ply the preceding general 
result to ?' + 5 + l different cases; namely the case in which all 
the r + s drawings are to give white balls, or all but one, or all but 
two, and so on, down to the case in which none are white. The 
sum of these probabilities ought to he unitif, which is a test of the 
accuracy of the result. This verification is given in the original 
memoir, by the aid of a theorem which is proved by induction. 
No new theorem however is required, for we have only to apply 
again the formula by which we found S in the preceding Ai'ticle. 
The variable 2')art of the result of the preceding Article is 

}:)-{- r \q + s 

that is the product of the following two expressions, 

(r + 1) (r 4- 2) p) factors, 

(5 + 1) (5 + 2) q factors. 

The sum of such products then is to be found supposing r + 5 
constant ; and this is 

p-\-q + l r + 

Hence the required result, unity, is obtained by multiplying 
this expression by the constant part of the result in the preceding- 


This result had been noticed by Condorcet ; see page 189 of 
the Essai... de l' Analyse... 

845. Out of the r + s + 1 cases considered in the preceding 
Article, suppose we ask which has the greatest probability ? This 
question is answered in the memoir approximately thus. A quan- 
tity when approaching its maximum value varies slowly ; thus we 
have to find when the result at the end of Article 843 remains 
nearly unchanged if we put r — 1 for r and s + 1 for s. This 
leads to 

p + r (7 + 5 + 1 , 
= z. — , nearly ; 

therefore - = — ~- nearly. 

r s ■\-l ^ 

T 7) 

Thus if r and s are laro^e we have - = - nearly. 

s <i ^ 

846. It will be observed that the expression at the end of 
Art. 843 is independent of m the number of balls originally con- 
tained in the urn ; the memoir notices this and draws attention 
to the fact that this is not the case if each ball is replaced in the 
urn after it has been drawn. It is stated that another memoir 
will be given, which will consider this form of the problem when 
the number of balls is supposed infinite ; but it does not seem that 
this intention was carried into effect. 

847. It will be instructive to make the comparison between 
the two problems which we may pi'esume would have formed the 
substance of the projected memoir. Suppose that j:> white balls 
have been drawn and q black balls, and not replaced; and suppose 
the whole number of balls to be infinite : then by Art. 704 the pro- 
bability that the next r + s drawings will give r white balls and s 
black balls is 

and on effectinf]^ the intecjration we obtain the same result as in 


Art. 843. The coincidence of the results obtained on the two dif- 
ferent hypotheses is remarkable. 

848. Suppose that r = 1 and 5 = in the result of Art. 843 ; 
we thus obtain 


Again suppose ?^ = 2 and 5 = 0; we thus obtain 

The factor -^ is, as we have just seen, the probability 

of drawing another white ball after drawing p white balls and 

p + 2 

q black balls ; the factor — expresses in like manner the 

^ 7^ + ^ + 3 ^ 

probability of drawing another white ball after drawing^ + 1 white 

balls and q black balls : thus the formula makes the probability 

of drawing two white balls in succession equal to the product of 

the probability of drawing the first into the probability of drawing 

the second, as should be the case. This property of the formula 

holds generally. 

849. The memoir which we have now examined contains the 
first discussion of the problem to which it relates, namely, the 
problem in which the balls are not replaced. A particular case of 
the problem is considered by Bishop Terrot in the Transactions of 
the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol. xx. 

850. The other two memoirs to which we have referred in 
Art. 841 are less distinctly mathematical, and they are accordingly 
printed in the portion of the volume which is devoted to speculative 
philosophy. The second memoir occupies pages 3 — 24, and the 
third memoir pages 25 — 41. A note relating to a passage of the 
third memoir, by the authors of the memoir, is given in the volume 
for 1797 of the Memoires de V Acad.... Berlin, page 152. 

851. The second memoir is entitled 8ur Vart d'estimer la 
prohabilite des causes par les effets. It consists of two sections. 
The first section discusses the general principle by which the 


probabilities of causes are estimated. The principle is quoted as 
given by Laplace in the Memoires . . .par divers Savans, Yol. VI. : 
Si un evenement pent etre produit par un nombre n de causes 
differentes, les probabilites de I'existence de ces causes prises de 
I'evdnement, sont entre elles comme les probabilites de I'evene- 
ment prises de ces causes. The memoir considers it useful and 
necessary to demonstrate this principle ; and accordingly deduces 
it from a simple hypothesis on which it is conceived that the whole 
subject rests. Some remarks made by Condorcet are criticised ; 
and it is asserted that our persuasion of the constancy of the laws 
of nature is not of the same kind as that which is represented by 
a fraction in the Theory of Probability. See Dugald Stewart's 
Works edited hy Hamilton, Yol. i. pages 421, 616. 

The second section of the memoir applies Laplace's principle 
to some easy examples of the following kind. A die has a certain 
number of faces ; the markings on these faces are not known, but 
it is observed that out of ^ + ^ throws p have given ace and q 
not-ace. Find the probability that there is a certain number of 
faces marked ace. Also find the probability that in p' + q' more 
throws there will bej/ aces and q not-aces. 

It is shewn that the result in the last case is 

where 2 denotes a summation taken with respect to m from m = 1 

to m = n', and 7i is the whole number of faces. This is the result 

if the aces and not-aces are to come in a prescribed order \ if they 

I // + q 
are not we must multiply by — ;- — r- . 

^ *^ *^ p \q 

The memoir states without demonstration what the approxi- 
mate result is when n is supposed very great ; namely, for the 
case in which the order is prescribed. 

Li L^ \p + q+p + </' + ! ' 

852. The third memoir is entitled Remarques siir Vutilite et 
Vetendue dii 2)7'inci2)e par lequel on estime la p^i'ohahilite des causes. 
This memoir also relates to the principle which we have quoted 


in Art. 851 from Laplace. The memoir is divided into four 

853. The first section is on the lUility of the principle. It is 
asserted that before the epoch when this principle was laid down 
many errors had occurred in the waiters on Probability. 

The following paragraph is given : 

Dans I'appreciation de la valeur dii temoignage de deux tenioias 
simultanes, il paroit que, jusqu'a Lambert, on n'a point use d'un autre 
artifice, que de prendre le comjDlement de la formule employee pour le 
temoignage successif. On suivoit ^ cet egard la trace de I'appreciation 
des argumens conspirans, telle que I'avoit faite Jac. Bernoulli. Si I'on 
avoit connu la vraie methode de I'estimation des causes, on n'auroit pas 
manque d' examiner avant tout si ce cas s'y rapportoit ; et Ton auroit vu 
que I'accord entre les temoins est un evenement posterieur k la cause 
quelconque qui a determine les depositions : en sorte qu'il s'agit ici 
d'estimer la cause par I'efiet. On seroit ainsi retorabe tout naturelle- 
ment et sans effort dans la methode que Lambert a trouvee par un 
effet de cette sagacite rare qui caracterisoit son genie. 

854. The authors of the memoir illustrate this section by 
quoting from a French translation, published in Paris in 1786, of 
a w^ork by Haygarth on the small-pox. Haygarth obtained from a 
mathematical friend the following remark. Assuming that out 
of tAventy persons exjDosed to the contagion of the small-jDox 
only one escapes, then, however violent the small-pox mav 
be in a town if an infant has not taken the disease we may 
infer that it is 19 to 1 that he has not been exposed to the 
contagion ; if two in a family have escaped the probability that 
both have not been exposed to the contagion is more than 400 to 1 ; 
if three it is more than 8000 to 1. 

With respect to this statement the memoir says that M. de la 
Roche the French translator has shewn that it is ^ATong by a judi- 
cious discussion. The end of the translator's note is quoted ; the 
chief part of this quotation is the following sentence : 

Si Ton a observe que sur vingt persounes qui pontent a une table de 
pharaon il y en a dix-neuf qui se ruinent, on ne pourra pas en deduire 
qu'il y a un a parier centre dix-neuf que tout homme dont la foi-tune 


n est pas derangee, n'a pas ponte au pliaraon, ni qu'il y ait dix-neuf a 
parier centre un, que cet liomme est un joueur. 

This would be absurd, M. de la Roche says, and he asserts that 
the reasoning given by Haygarth's friend is equally absurd. We 
may remark that there must be some mistake in this note ; he has 
put 19 to 1 for 1 to 19, and vice versa. And it is difficult to see how 
Prevost and Lhuilier can commend this note ; for M. de la Roche 
argues that the reasoning of Haygarth's friend is entirely absurd, 
while they only find it slightly inaccurate. For Prevost and 
Lhuilier proceed to calculate the chances according to Laplace's 

prmciple ; and they nnd them to be ^ , — — - , — — - , which, as 

they say, are nearly the same as the results obtained by Hay- 
garth's friend. 

855. The second section is on the extent of the principle. The 
memoir asserts that we have a conviction of the constancy of the 
laws of nature, and that we rely on this constancy in our applica- 
tion of the Theory of Probability ; and thus we reason in a vicious 
circle if we pretend to apply the principle to questions respecting 
the constancy of such laws. 

856. The third section is devoted to the comparison of some 
results of the Theory of Probability with common sense notions. 

In the formula at the end of Art. 843 suppose 5 = 0; the for- 
mula reduces to 

{p+ 1) (jP + 2) ... (p + r) 

(p+2+2) (;? + $ + 3) ... (^ + g + r + l) ' 

it is this result of which particular cases are considered in the 
third section. The cases are such as according to the memoir lead 
to conclusions coincident with the notions of common sense ; in 
one case however this is not immediately obvious, and the memoir 
says, Ceci donne I'explication d'une esp(^ce de paradoxe remarque 
(sans I'expliquer) par M. De La Place ; and a reference is given to 
Ecoles no7miaIes, Qimie cahier. We will give this case. Nothing is 
known d, priori respecting a certain die ; it is observed on trial that 
in five throws ace occurs twice and not-ace three times ; find the 
probability that the next four throws will all give ace. Here 


3,4.5.6 1 

p= 2, q=S, r =4 ; the above result becomes ^ o^~n a > that is — . 

If we knew a priori that the die had as many faces ace as not-ace 
we should have -^^ , that is ^5 ' ^^^' ^^^^ required chance. The para- 

dox is that q- is o-reater than — ; ; while the fact that we have had 
14 lb 

only two aces out of five throws suggests that we ought to have a 

smaller chance for obtaining four consecutive aces, than we should 

have if we knew that the die had the same number of faces ace as 

not-ace. We need not give the explanation of the paradox, as it 

will be found in connexion with a similar example in Laplace, 

Theorie...des Proh. page cvi. 

857. The fourth section gives some mathematical develop- 
ments. The following is the substance. Suppose n dice, each 
having r faces ; and let the number of faces which are marked ace 
be m, m\ m"\ . . . respectively. If a die is taken at random, the 
probability of throwing ace is 

on -\-m -^-m + ... 

If an ace has been thrown the probability of throwing ace again 
on a second trial with the same die is 

m^ + m" + m"" + . . . 

r [in -{■ m -\- m + ...) 
The first probability is the greater; for 

{m + m 4- m" + ...y is greater than n [m^ + m'"^ + m"'^ + ...). 
The memoir demonstrates this simple inequality. 

858. Prevost and Lhuilier are also the authors of a memoir 
entitled Me mo ire sur ^application du Calcid des prohahilites a la 
valeur du temoignage. 

This memoir is published in the volume for 1797 of the Me- 
moires de V Acad.... Berlin; the date of publication is 1800: the 
memoir occupies pages 120 — 151 of the portion of the volume 
devoted to speculative philosophy. 

The memoir begins thus : 

Le but de ce memoire est plutot de reconnoitre I'etat actuel de cette 
theorie, que d'y rien aj outer de nouveau. 


The memoir first notices tlie criticism given in Lambert's Orga- 
non of James Bernoulli's formula winch we have already given in 
Art. 122. 

It then passes on to the theory of concurrent testimony now 
commonly received. Suppose a witness to speak truth m times and 
falsehood n times out oi m + n times ; let m and ?i' have similar 
meanings for a second witness. Then if they agree in an assertion 

the probability of its truth is -, r • 

mm ■\-n7i 

The ordinary theory of traditional testimony is also given. 
Using the same notation as before if one witness reports a state- 
ment from the report of another the probability of its truth is 

mm' + nn 

J\ 5 

{m + m') {71 + n) 

for the statement is true if they both tell the truth or if they both 
tell a falsehood. If there be two witnesses in succession each of 
whom reverses the statement he ought to give, the result is true ; 
that is a double falsehood gives a truth. It is stated that this con- 
sequence was first indicated in 1794 by Prevost. 

The hypothesis of Craig is noticed ; see Art. 91. 

The only new point in the memoir is an hypothesis which is 
proposed relating to traditional testimony, and which is admitted 
to be arbitrary, but of which the consequences are examined. The 
hypothesis is that no testimony founded on falsehood can give the 
truth. The meaning of this hypothesis is best seen by an example: 

suppose the two witnesses precisely alike, then instead of taking 

2 I 2 
071 "t" n 

-7 rr as the probability of the truth in the case above considered 

{m -\-n) 


we should take rj : that is we reject the term n^ in the 

[m + n) ** 

numerator which arises from the agreement of the witnesses in a 


rrn J 1 ^^ 1 ^nm -\-n^ , , . , 

Ihus we take 7 V2 ^'^^ -, \¥ to represent respectively 

[in + n) {in + ^) ^ ^ -^ 

the probabilities of the truth and falsehood of the statement on 
which the witnesses agree. 

Suppose now that there is a second pair of witnesses inde- 
pendent of the former, of the same character, and that the same 


statement is also affirmed by this pair. Then the memoir combines 
the two pairs by the ordinary rule for concurrent testimony, and so 
takes for the probability arising from the two pairs 

m^ -f i^nm + iff ' 
Then the question is asked for what ratio of m to n this expres- 

sion is equal to , so that the force of the two pairs of wit- 

m -^ n ^ 

nesses may be equal to that of a single witness. The approximate 

value of — is said to be 4*86^ so that is about -^ . 

n m-\- n b 

859. In Vol. VII. of the Transactions of the Royal Irish 
Academy there is a memoir by the Rev. Matthew Young, D.D. 
S.F.T.c.D. and M.R.I.A., entitled On the force of Testimony in esta- 
hlishing Facts contrai^y to Analogy. The date of publication of 
the volume is 1800 ; the memoir was read February 3rd, 1798 : it 
occupies pages 79 — 118 of the volume. 

The memoir is rather metaphysical than mathematical. Dr 
Young may be said to adopt the modern method of estimating the 
force of the testimony of concurrent witnesses ; in this method, 
supposing the witnesses of equal credibility, we obtain a formula 
coincidino^ with that in Art. 667. Dr Younof condemns as erroneous 
the method which we noticed in Art. 91 ; he calls it "Dr Halley's 
mode," but gives no authority for this designation. Dr Young 
criticises two rules given by Waring on the subject ; in the first of 
the two cases however it would not be difficult to explain and 
defend Waring's rule. 



860. Laplace was born in 1749, and died in 1827. He wrote 
elaborate memoirs on our subject, which he afterwards embodied 
in his great work the Theorie analytique des ProhabiliUs, and on 
the whole the Theory of Probability is more indebted to him than 
to any other mathematician. We shall give in the first place a 
brief account of Laplace's memoirs, and then consider more fully 
the work in which they are reproduced. 

861. Two memoirs by Laplace on our subject are contained in 
the Memoir es...pa7^ divers Savans, Vol. vi. 1774. A brief notice 
of the memoirs is given in pages 17 — 19 of the preface to the 
volume which concludes thus : 

Ces deux Memoires de M. de la Place, ont ete choisis parmi un 
tres-grand nombre qu'il a presentes depuis trois ans, a I'Academie, oii il 
remplit actuellement une place de Geometre. Cette Compagnie qui s'est 
empressee de recorapenser ses travaux et ses talens, n'avoit encore vu 
personne aussi jeune, lui presenter en si peu de temps, tant de Memoires 
importans, et sur des matieres si diverses et si difficiles. 

862. The first memoir is entitled Memoir e sur les suites re- 
ciirro-recurrentes et sur leurs usages dans la theorie des hasards. It 
occupies pages 353 — 371 of the volume. 

A recurring series is connected with the solution of an equation 
in Finite Differences where there is one independent variable ; see 
Art. 318. A recurro-recurrent series is similarly connected with 
the solution of an equation in Finite Differences where there are 
two independent variables. Laplace here first introduces the term 


and the subject itself; we shall not give any account of his investi- 
gations, but confine ourselves to the part of his memoir which 
relates to the Theory of Probability. 

863. Laplace considers three problems in our subject. The 
first is the problem of the Duration of Play, supposing two players 
of unequal skill and unequal capital ; Laplace, however, rather 
shews how the j)i"oblem may be solved than actually solves it. He 
begins with the case of equal skill and equal caj^ital, and then 
passes on to the case of unequal skill. He proceeds so far as to 
obtain an equation in Finite Differences with one independent 
variable which would present no difficulty in solving. He does 
not actually discuss the case of unequal capital, but intimates that 
there will be no obstacle except the length of the process. 

The problem is solved completely in the Theorie...des Proh. 
pages 225—238 ; see Art. 588. 

8GL The next problem is that connected with a lottery which 
appears in the Theorie...des Proh. pages 191 — 201. The mode of 
solution is nearly the same in the two places, but it is easier to 
follow in the Theorie...des Proh. The memoir does not contain 
any of the approximate calculation which forms a large part of the 
diiicussion in the Theorie,..des Proh. ^Ye have already given the 
history of the problem; see Arts. -11:8, 775. 

865. The third problem is the following : Out of a heap of 
counters a number is taken at random ; find the chances that this 
number will be odd or even respectively. Laplace obtains what we 
should now call the ordinary results ; his method however is more 
elaborate than is necessary, for he uses Finite Differences : in the 
Tlieorie...des Proh. page 201, he gives a more simj^le solution. 
We have already sjDoken of the problem in Art. 350. 

866. The next memoir is entitled Memoire sur la Prohahilite 
des causes par les echiemens ; it occupies pages 621 — QoQ of the 
volume cited in Art. 861. 

The memoir commences thus : 

La Theorie des hasarda est une dcs parties les plus curieuses et les 



plus del'cates de I'analyse, par la finesse dcs comblnaisons qu'elle exige 
et par la difficulte de les soumettre au calcul ; celui qui paroit I'avoir 
traitee avec le pins de succcs estM. Moivre, dans un excellent Oiivrage 
qui a pour titre, Theory of Chances ; nous devons a cet habile Geometre 
les premieres rocherches que Ton ait faites sur Fintegration des equa- 
tions differencielles aux differences finies ; ... 

867. Laplace then refers to Lagrange's researches on the 
theory of equations in Finite Differences, and also to two of his 
own memoirs, namely that which we have just examined, and one 
wdiich was about to appear in the volume of the Academy for 
1773. But his present object, he says, is very different, and is 
thus stated : 

...je me propose de determiner la probabilite des causes par les 
evenemens, maticre neuve a bicn des egards et qui merite d'autant plus 
d'etre cultivee que c'est principalement sous ce point de vue que la 
science des hasards pent etre utile dans la vie civile. 

868. This memoir is remarkable in the history of the subject, 
as being the first which distinctly enunciated the principle for 
estimating the probabilities of the causes by which an observed 
event may have been produced. Bayes must have had a notion of 
the principle, and Laplace refers to him in the Theorie...des Proh. 
page cxxxvii. though Bayes is not named in the memoir. See 
Arts. 539, 696. 

869. Laplace states the general principle which he assumes in 
the follow^ing words : 

Si un evenement peut etre produit par un nombre n de causes dif- 
ferentes, les probabilites de I'existence de ces causes prises de I'evene- 
ment, sent entre elles comme les probabilites de I'evenement prises de 
ces causes, et la probabilite de I'existence de cliacune d'elles, est egale 
a la probabilite de I'evenement prise de cette cause, divisee par la somme 
de toutes les probabilites de Tevenement prises de chacune de ces 

870. Laplace first takes tlie standard problem in this part of 
our subject : Suppose that an urn contains an infinite number of 
white tickets and black tickets in an unknown ratio ; ^ + </ tickets 


are drawn of which p are white and q are black : required the pro- 
bability of drawing m white tickets and n black tickets in the next 
m + n drawings. 

Laplace gives for the required probability 


a^^'" (1 _ xY'-'' clx 

j x" (1 -xydx 


so that of course the m white tickets and n black tickets are sup- 
posed to be draT^^l in an assigned order ; see Arts. ^0^, 76G, 843. 
Laplace effects the integration, and approximates by the aid of a 
formula which he takes from Euler, and which we usually call 
Stirling's Theorem. 

The problem here considered is not explicitly reproduced in the 
Theorie. . .des Proh., though it is involved in the Chapter which forms 
pages 363—401. 

871. After discussing this problem Laplace says, 

La solution de ce Probleme donne une methode directe pour deter- 
miner la probabilite des evenemens futurs d'apres ceux qui sont deja 
arrives ; mais cette matiere etant fort etendue, je me bornerai ici a 
donner une demonstration assez singuliere du theoreme suivant. 

On peut suppose)' les nomhres p e^ q tellement grands, qiuil devienne 
aussi ajJjirochant que Von voudra de la certitude, que le rapport du 
nomhre de billets blancs au nomhre total des billets renfermes dans 

Vurne, est compris e^itre les deux limites — w, et — 1- w, to pouvant 

p + qp-fq-^ 

etre suj^j^ose moindre quaucune grandeur donnee. 

The probability of the ratio lying between the specified limits is 

x^{l -xydx 


[ x^ (1 - xy dx 


where the inteoral in the numerator is to be taken between the 

limits — w and — V «. Laplace by a rude process of 

^ + ^ p-\-q 



approximation arrives at tlie conclusion that this probability does 
not differ much from unity. 

872. Laplace proceeds to the Problem of Points. He quotes 
the second formula which we have given in Art. 172 ; he says that 
it is now demonstrated in several works. He also refers to his 
own memoir in the volume of the Academy for 1773 ; he adds 
the followinof statement : 

...on y trouvera pareillement line solution generale du Problcme 
des partis dans le cas de trois ou d'un plus grand nombre de joueurs, 
probleme qui n'a eucore ete resolu par personno, que je sache, bien que 
les Geomutres qui ont travaille sui* ces matieres en aient desire la 

Laplace is wrong in this statement, for De Moivre had solved 
the problem ; see Art. 582. 

873. Let X denote the skill of the player A, and 1—x the skill 
of the player B ; suppose that A wants f games in order to win 
the match, and that B wants h games : then, if they agree to leave 
off and divide the stakes, the share of B will be a certain quan- 
tity which we may denote by (j) {x,f, h). Suppose the skill of each 
2)layer unhioiun; let 7i be the whole number of games which A or 
B ought to win in order to entitle him to the stake. Then Laplace 
says that it follows from the general principle which we have given 
in Art. 869, that the share of B is 

I ic"'-^ (1 - x)""-^ (f) (x, f, h) clx 



x""'^ {y - xY^ dx 

The formula depends on the fact that A must already have 
won n —f games, and B have won n — li games. See Art. 771. 

874. Laplace now proceeds to the question of the mean to be 
taken of the results of observations. He introduces the subject 
thus : 

On peut, au moyen de la Theorie precedente, parvenir a la solution 
du Problcme qui consiste \ determiner le miUeu que Ton doit prendre 


entre plusieurs observations donnees d'un meme phenomene. II j a 
deux ans que j'en donnai uue a 1' Academic, a la suite du Memoire sur 
les Series recurrorecurrentes, imi^rime dans ce volume ; mais le peu 
d'usage dont elle pouvoit etre, me la fit supprimer lors de Timpression. 
J'ai appris depuis par le Journal astronomique de M, Jean Bernoulli, 
que M". Daniel Bernoulli et la Grange se sont occupes du meme pro- 
bleme dans deux Memoires manuscrits qui ne sont point venus a ma 
connoissance. Cette annonce jointe a I'utilite de la matiere, a reveille 
mes idees sur cet objet ; et quoique je ne doute point que ces deux 
illustres Geometres ne Taient traite beaucoup plus heureusement que 
raoi, je vais cependant exposer ici les reflexions qu'il m'a fait naitre, 
persuade que les differentes manieres dont on pent I'envisager j^roduiront 
une methode moins hypothetiqiie et plus sure pour determiner le milieu 
que Ton doit prendre entre plusieurs observations. 

875. Laplace then enunciates his problem thus : 

Determiner le milieu que I'on doit prendre entre trois observations 
donnees d'un meme phenomene. * 

Laplace supposes positive and negative errors to be equally 
likely, and he takes for the probability that an error lies between 

X and x+ dx the expression — e~^^^ dx\ for this he offers some rea- 

sons, which however are very slight. He restricts himself as his 
enunciation states, to three observations. Thus the investigation 
cannot be said to have any practical value. 

876. Laplace says that by the mean which ought to be taken 
of several observations, two things may be understood. We may 
understand such a value that it is equally likely that the true 
value is above or below it ; this he says we may call the milieu 
de probdbilite. Or we may understand such a value that the sum 
of the errors, each multiplied by its probability, is a minimum ; 
this he says we may call the milieu derrein\ or the milieu astro- 
nomique, as being that which astronomers ought to adopt. The 
errors are here supposed to be all taken positively. 

It might have been expected from Laplace's words that these 
two notions of a mean value w^ould lead to different results ; he 
shews however that they lead to the same result. In both cases 
the mean value corresponds to the point at which the ordinate to 


a certain curve of probability bisects the area of the curve. See 
Theorie...des Froh. page 335. 

Laplace does not notice another sense of the word mean, 
namely an average of all the values ; in this case the mean would 
correspond to the abscissa of the centre of gravity of the area of 
a certain curve. See Art. 485. 

877. Laplace now proceeds to the subject which is considered 
in Chapter VIL of the Theorie...des Froh., namely the influence 
produced by the want of perfect symmetry in coins or dice on the 
chances of repetitions of events. The present memoir and the 
Chapter in the Theorie...des Froh. give different illustrations of 
the subject. 

The first case in the memoir is that of the Fetershurg Fro- 
hlem, though Laplace does not give it any name. Suppose the 

chance for head to be — ^ — , and therefore the chance for tail 

to be — ^^ — ; suppose there are to be x trials, and that 2 crowns 

are to be received if head appears at the first trial, 4 crowns if 
head does not appear until the second trial, and so on. Then the 
expectation is 

If the chance for head is — ^ — , and therefore the chance for 

tail is —^~ , we must change the sign of in- in the expression for 

the expectation. If we do not know which is the more likelv to 
appear, head or tail, we may take half the sum of the two expres- 
sions for the expectation. This gives 

If we expand, and reject powers of ot higher than -cj^, we obtain 

LAPLACE. . 471 

If we suppose that tis may have any value between and c we 
may multiply the last expression by d-us and integrate from to c. 
See Art. 529. 

878. As another example Laplace considers the following 

question. A undertakes to throw a given face with a common die 

in n throws : required his chance. 

If the die be perfectly symmetrical the chance is 1 — i -j ; but 

if the die be not perfectly symmetrical this result must be 
modified. Laplace gives the investigation : the principle is the 
same as in another example which Laplace also gives, and to which 
we will confine ourselves. Instead of a common die with six faces 
we will suppose a triangular prism which can only fall on one of its 
three rectangular faces : required the probability that in n throws 
it will fall on an assigned face. Let the chance of its falling on the 

three faces be — ^ — , — ^ — and — - — respectively, so that 

'UJ ■\- "UJ ■\- 'US =0. 

Then if we are quite ignorant which of the three chances belongs 
to the assigned face, we must suppose in succession that each of 
them does, and take one-third of the sum of the results. Thus we 
obtain one-third of the following sum, 


If we reject powers of ■or, tzr', and -ot" beyond the square we get 

«?« n (n _ I) 9"-2 

3'' 1 2 ' • 3'^ '^ +tu- +-57 ;. 

Suppose we know nothing about ct, ot', and ot", except that 
each must lie between — c and + c ; we wish to find what we may 
call the average value of ot^ -|- tn-'^ -h ts-''^ 

We may suppose that we require the mean value of x^ + 1^ -|- z^, 


subject to the conditions that x -\- y -{- z = 0, and that x, 7/, and z 
must each lie between — c and + c. 
The result is 

J oJ -c 

"c rc-x 

2 dxdij 


Laplace works out this result, giving the reasons for the steps 
briefly. Geometrical considerations will furnish the result very 
readily. We may consider x -^-y ■\-z = ^ to be the equation to a 
plane, and we have to take all points in this plane lying within 
a certain regular hexagon. The projection of this hexagon on the 
plane of {x, y) will be a hexagon, four of whose sides are equal to 
c, and the other two sides to c\/2. The result of the integration 

is - cl Thus the chance is 

2" n {n - 1) 2'^ 


3'^ 1.2 


^ 9 

DC . 

879. It easily follows from Laplace's process that if we sup- 
pose a coin to be not perfectly symmetrical, but do not know 
whether it is more likely to give head or tail, then the chance of 
two heads in two throws or the chance of two tails in two throws 

is rather more than - : it is in fact equal to such an expression as 

instead of being equal to ^ x ^ . Laplace after adverting to this 

case says, 

Cette aberration de la Thcorie ordinaire, qui n'a encore ete observee 
par personne, que je sache, m'a paru digne de Fatten tion des Geometres, 
et il me semble que Ton ne pent trop y avoir 6gard, lorsqu'on applique 
le calcul des probabilites, aux difTcrens objets de la vie civile. 

880. Scarcely any of the present memoir is reproduced by 
Laplace in his Theorie...des Proh. Nearly all that we have no- 
ticed in our account of the memoir u]) to Art. 876 inclusive is 


indeed superseded by Laplace's later researches; but what we 
have given from Art. 877 inclusive might have appeared in 
Chapter VIL of the Theorie...des Prob. 

881. Laplace's next memoir on our subject is in the Memoires 
...par divei^s Savans... 177 S', the date of publication is 1776. The 
memoir is entitled Recherclies sur ^integration des Equations dif- 
ferentielles aux differences Jinies, et sur leur usage dans la theorie 
des hasards, &c. 

The portion on the theory of chances occupies pages 113 — 163. 
Laplace begins with some general observations. He refers to the 
subject wdiich he had already discussed, which we have noticed 
in Art. 877. He says that the advantage arising from the w^ant 
of symmetry is on the side of the player Avho bets that head 
will not arrive in two throws : this follow^s from Art. 879 ; for to 
bet that head will not arrive in two throws is to bet that both 
throws will give tail. 

882. The first problem he solves is that of odd and even; see 
Art. 865. 

The next problem is an example of Compound Interest, and 
has nothing connected with probability. 

The next problem is as follows. A solid has p equal faces, 
which are numbered 1, 2,...^:?: required the probability that in 
the course of n throws the faces will occur in the order ], 2,...^. 

This j)roblem is nearly the same as that about a run of events 
Avhich w^e have reproduced from De Moivre in Art. 325 : instead 
of the equation there given we have 

^'n+i = ^n + (1 - ^n^i-p) «"; whcre a = - . 

883. The next problem is thus enunciated : 

Je suppose un nombre n de joueiirs (1), (2), (3), ... (?/), jouant de 
cette maniere ; (1) joue avec (2), et s'il gagne il gagne la partie ; s'il ne 
perd ni gagne, il continue de jouer avec (2), jusqu'a ce que I'un des 
deux gagne. Que si (1) perd, (2) joue avec (3) ; s'il le gagne, il gagne la 
partie ; s'il ne perd ni gagne, il continue de jouer avec (3) ; mais s'il 
perd, (3) joue avec (4), et ainsi de suite jusqu'a ce que I'un des joueurs 
ait vaincu celui qui le suit; c'est-a-dire que (1) soit vainqueur de (2), 


ou (2) de (3), ou (3) de (4), ... on (n-1) de (71), ou (n) de (1). Be plus, 
la probabilite d'lin quelconque des joueurs, pour gagner I'autre =^, et 

celle de ne gagner ni perdre =^. Cela pose, il faut determiner la pro- 

babilite que Tun de ces joueurs gagnera la partie au coup x. 

This problem is rather difficult; it is not reproduced in the 
Theorie...des Proh. The following is the general result: Let v^ 
denote the chance that any assigned player will win. the match 
at the ic*^^ trial ; then 

n n {n — 1") 1 n [n — 1) {n — 2) 1 

'^x o ^x-\ "T -j 4> q^ ^X-2 ' -j 9 O 03 ^X-^ I • • • 


syii ^x—n' 

884^. Laplace next takes the Problem of Points in the case 
of two players, and then the same problem in the case of three 
players ; see Art. 872. Laplace solves the problem by Finite Differ- 
ences. At the beginning of the volume which contains the memoir 
some errata are corrected, and there is also another solution indi- 
cated of the Pr^^blem of Points for three players; this solution 
depends on the expansion of a multinomial exj^ression, and is 
in fact identical with that which had been given by De Moivre. 

Laplace's next problem may be considered an extension of the 
Problem of Points; it is reproduced in the Theorie...des Proh. 
page 214, beginning with the words Concevons encore. 

885. The next two problems are on the Duration of Play; in 
the first case the capitals being equal, and in the second case 
unequal; see Art. 8G3. The solutions are carried further than in 
the former memoir, but they are still much inferior to those 
which were subsequently given in the TIieor{e...des Proh. 

886. The next problem is an extension of the problem of 
Duration of Play with equal capitals. 

It is supposed that at every game there is the chance ^? for 
A, the chance q for J3, and the chance r that neither wins; each 
player has m crowns originally, and the loser in any game gives 
a crown to the winner : required the probability that the play 
will be finished in x games. This problem is not reproduced in 
the Theorie...des Proh. 


887. The present memoir may be regarded as a collection of 
examples in the theory of Finite Differences ; the methods ex- 
emplified have however since been superseded by that of Gene- 
rating Functions, which again may be considered to have now 
given w^ay to the Calculus of Operations. The problems involve 
only questions in direct probability ; none of them involve what 
are called questions in inverse probability, that is, questions 
respecting the probability of causes as deduced from observed 

888. In the same volume as the memoir we have just ana- 
lysed there is a memoir by Laplace entitled, Menioire sur Tincli' 
naison moyenne des orbites des cometes ; sur la figure de la Terre, 
et sur les Fonctions. The part of the memoir devoted to the mean 
inclination of the orbits of comets occupies pages 503 — 524 of the 

In these pages Laplace discusses the problem which was started 
by Daniel Bernoulli ; see Art. 395. Laplace's result agrees wdth 
that which he afterwards obtained in the Theorie...des Proh. 
pages 253 — 260, but the method is quite different ; both methods 
are extremely laborious. 

Laplace gives a numerical example ; he finds that supposing 
12 comets or planets the chance is "339 that the mean inclination 
of the planes of the orbits to a fixed plane will lie betw^een 
45° — 7^" and 45", and of course the chance is the same that the 
mean inclination wiJl lie between 45"^ and 45^ + 7^°. 

889. The volume with which w^e have been eno^aofed in Arti- 
cles 881 — 888 is remarkable in connexion with Physical Astronomy. 
Historians of this subject usually record its triumphs, but omit its 
temporary failures. In the present volume Lagrange affects to 
shew that the secular acceleration of the Moon's motion cannot be 
explained by the ordinary theory of gravitation ; and Laplace 
affects to shew that the inequalities in the motions of Jupiter and 
Saturn cannot be attributed to the mutual action of these planets : 
see pages 47, 213 of the volume. Laplace lived to correct both his' 
rival's error and his own, by two of his greatest contributions to 
Physical Astronomy. 


890. Laplace's next memoir on our subject is entitled Me- 
vioire sur les Prohahilites ; it is contained in the volume for 1778 
of the Histoire de l Acad.... Paris: the date of publication of the 
volume is 1781. The memoir occupies pages 227 — 382. 

In the notice of the memoir which is given in the introductory 
part of the volume the names of Bayes and Price are mentioned. 
Laplace does not allude to them in the memoir. See Art. 540. 

891. Laplace begins with remarks, similar to those which we 
have already noticed, respecting the chances connected with the 
tossing of a coin which is not quite symmetrical; see Arts. 877, 881. 
He solves the simple problem of Duration of Play in the way we 
have given in Art. 107. Thus let p denote A's skill, and 1 —p de- 
note ^'s skill. Suppose A to start with m stakes, and B to start 
with n — m stakes : then ^'s chance of winning all ^'s stakes is 

P^-ii-pY ' 

1 1 

Laplace puts for p in succession - (1 + a) and « (1 ~ ^)> ^^^ 
takes half the sum. Thus he obtains for ^'s chance 

|{(l + a)"-+(l-a)"-"j{(l+ar-(l-ar} 

(1 + ay - (1 - a)" ' 

which he transforms into 

1 ln_a=)™ (! + «)""'"'- (!-«)" 


2 2^ ^ (l+a)"-(l-a)'' 

The expression for ^'s chance becomes — when a vanishes ; 

Laplace proposes to shew that the expression increases as a in- 
creases, if 2m be less than ??. The factor (1 — a^)"" obviously dimin- 
ishes as a increases. Laplace says that if 2m is less than n it is 
clear that the fraction 

(I + ay -{I -ay 


also diminishes as a increases. We will demonstrate tliis. 
Put r for w — 2m, and denote the fraction by u ; then 

idu^ (1 + cr' + (1 - ay (1 + ay-' + (1 - cy-' 

uda '' {l+OLy-{l-ay ^ (l + a)"-(l-a)" * 

where 2; = :j . We have to shew that this expression is nega- 

tive : this we shall do by shewino^ that -~. — :i — "^ increases as 

successive integral values are ascribed to r. We have 

(r + 1) (3^+1) r{z'-'+l) 
z'^' - 1 z'-\ 

_ (r + 1) (/' -l)-r (z^' - 1) (z^-' + 1) ^ 
{z""^' - 1) {z' - 1) ' 

thus we must shew that z^"" — 1 is greater than r {z'^^^ — z""^). 

Expand by the exponential theorem ; then we find we have to 
shew that 

{2ry is gi-eater than r | (r + 1)^ - (r - 1)^ I , 

where ^ is any positive integer ; that is, we must shew that 
2i>-i ,J'-i is greater than ^r"'' 4- i^ (/^ ~ ^H/> - ^) ^,^-3 _^ ^^^ 

But this is obvious, for r is supposed greater than unity, and 
the two members would be equal if all the exponents of r on the 
right hand side of the inequality were^ — 1. 

We observe that r must be supposed not less than 2 ; if r = 1 
we have s'^'" — 1 = 7- (s*^^ — s*^^). 

We have assumed that r and n are integers, and this limitation 
is necessary. For return to the expression 

(1 + a)' - (1 - a)' 

(1 + a)" -{\-a) 

n J 


and put for a in succession and 1 ; then we have to compare - with 


2 . v . n , X 

^ ; that is, we have to compare t- with — . Now consider — ; the 

differential coefficient with respect to x is ^^ — ; so that -^ 

increases as x changes from to , — - , and then diminishes. 

* log 2 ' 

Laplace treats the same question in the Theorie...des Proh. 
page 406 ; there also the difficulty is dismissed with the words il 
est facile de voir. In the memoir prefixed to the fourth volume of 
Bowditch's Translation of the Mecanique Celeste, page 62, we read : 

Dr Bowditch himself was accustomed to remark, " Whenever I meet 
in La Place with the words ' Thus it plainly appears' I am sure that 
hours, and perhaps days of hard study will alone enable me to discover 
how it plainly appears." 

892. The pages 240 — 258 of the memoir contain the im- 
portant but difficult investigation which is reproduced in the 
Theorie...des Proh. pages 262 — 272. Laplace gives in the memoir 
a reference to those investigations by Lagrange which we have 
noticed in Art. 570 ; the reference however is omitted in the 
Theorie...des Proh. 

893. Laplace now proceeds to the subject which he had con- 
sidered in a former memoir, namely, the probability of causes as 
deduced from events; see Art. 868. Laplace repeats the general 
principle which he had already enunciated in his former memoir; 
see Art. 869. He then takes the problem which we have noticed 
in Art. 870, enunciating it however with respect to the births of 
boys and girls, instead of the drawings of white and black balls. 
See Art. 770. 

894. Laplace is now led to consider the approximate evalu- 
ation of definite integrals, and he gives the method which is repro- 
duced almost identically in pages 88 — 90 of the Theorie.,.des Proh. 

He applies it to the example x^(l—xydx, and thus demon- 
strates the theorem he had already given ; see Art. 871 : the pre- 
sent demonstration is much superior to the former. 


895. There is one proposition given here which is not repro- 
duced in the Theorie...des Proh., but which is worthy of notice. 

Suppose we require the value of \ydx where y = x^ {\ — oc-y, 
the integral being taken between assigned limits. 

Put 2^— ^ ^^^ 2' ~ ' ^^^^ ^^^ 

a "a 

1 r7x 

Then, by integrating by parts, 

lydx= \uzdy = c,?/^ — a lydz (1), 

f 7 f dz y dz [ d [ dz\ , 

so that 

/y^x = «^.-a>|+./j;yi (.J)^.. (2). 

Now y vanishes with x. Laplace shews that the value of 
\ydx when the lower limit is zero and the upper limit is any 

value of X less than , is less than cyz and is fjreater than 

1 + /A ^ * 

ayz — o?yz — -; so that we can test the closeness of the approxi- 

mation. This proposition depends on the following considera- 

dz . . . 1 

tions : -^ is positive so long as x is less than , and there- 

fore \ydx is less than c.yz by (1); and — [^ -f) is also jDositive, 

r dz 

so that \ydx is greater than o.yz — (^yz -^ by (2). For we have 

a? (1 — cr) 

z = 

and this can be put in the form 


Lb X Lb 

^ = -7^-^.+ . -7-- + 

Hence we see that z and -^ both increase with x so long 

as X is less than : this establishes the required proposition. 

See also Art. 767. 

896. Laplace then takes the following problem. In 26 years 
it was observed in Paris that 251527 boys were born and 241945 
girls : required the probability that the j^ossibility of the birth 

of a boy is greater than -^ . The probability is found to differ 

from unity by less than a fraction having for its numerator 1*1521 
and for its denominator the seventh power of a million. 

This problem is reproduced in the Theorie...des Pi^oh. pages 
877 — 380, the data being the numbers of births during 40 years 
instead of during 26 years. 

897. Taking the same data as in the preceding Article, La- 
place investigates the probability that in a given year the number 
of boys born shall not exceed the number of girls born. He 


finds the probability to be a little less .than ^—^ . The 

result of a similar calculation from data furnished by observations 

in London is a little less than t^^tzti . In pa<?es 397 — 401 of the 

12410 ^ ° 

Theorie...des Prob. we have a more difficult problem, namely to 
find the probability that during a century the annual births of 
boys shall never be less than that of girls. The treatment of 
the simpler problem in the memoir differs from that of the 
more difficult problem in the Theorie...des Froh. In the memoir 
Laplace obtains an equation in Finite Differences 

hence he deduces 

%m= constant -f ?/,„.^,„_, |l - A^^,„_2 + A {z,,,_^i^z^,,_^ 


which as he says is analogous to the corresponding theorem in 
the Integral Calculus given in Art. 895 ; and, as in that Article, he 
shews that in the problem he is discussing the exact result lies 
between two approximate results. See also Art. 770. 

898. The memoir contains on page 287 a brief indication of a 
problem which is elaborately treated in pages 369 — 376 of the 
TJi eo rie . . . cles P) 'ob. 

899. Laplace now developes another form of his method of 
approximation to the value of definite integrals. Suppose we 

require lydx; let Y be the maximum value of ?/ within the 

range of the integration. Assume ?/ = Ye~^\ and thus change 

li/dx into an integi'al with respect to t. The investigation is 

reproduced in the Theor{e...des Frob. pages 101 — 103. 

n 00 

Laplace determines the value of / e~^'dt. He does this by 

taking the double integral / e'^^^-^^'^dsdu, and equating the 

results which are obtained by considering the integrations in 
different orders. 

900. Laplace also considers the case in which instead of as- 
suming y = Fe"*^^, we may assume y = Ye~^. Something similar is 
given in the TJieorie...des Proh. pages 93 — 95. 

Some formulae occur in the memoir which are not reproduced 
in the Theorie...des Proh., and which are quite wrong: we will 
point out the error. Laplace says on pages 298, 299 of the 
memoir : 

, , , , . -iff d.c dz 

Considerons presentement la double integrale 1 1 ■- —3, prise 

;y (1 -z -x^'Y 

depuis a: = jusqu'a £c = l, et depiiis z = ^ jusqu'a ^=1; en faisant 

X , „ , , . [ dz [ dx 

,=x, elle se cnano;era dans ce.le-ci /-— / — , ces 

(l-z')^ Jj{l-z')J{l-x")i 

integrales etant prises depuis x' -0 et ;^ - 0, ju^-qu'a x' —1 et z=l, 



Then, as ,,., "" .,, = ^ , Laplace infers that 

r r dxch _'TT f' dx 

Bat this is wrono^ ; for the limits of x are and 7 , and 

° (1 - £y 

not and 1, as Laplace says ; and so the process fails. 

Laplace makes the same mistake again immediately after- 
wards ; he puts -jj^ -^ — z\ and thus deduces 


dxdz [^ dx [^ dz 

J„ (1 _ ^^ _ ^^)i J, (1 _ x^)k!, (1 _ ^-)t • 

But the upper limit for z should be -j-Fx — ~T\ > ^^^ ^^^ ^ ^^ 

'Y ( X X j 

Laplace assumes ; and so the process fails. 

901. -Laplace applies his method to evaluate approximately 

I a?^ (1 — xY dx ; and he finds an opportunity for demonstrating 


Stirling's Theorem. See Art. 333. 

902. Laplace discusses in pages 304 — 313 of the memoir the 
following problem. Observation shews that the ratio of the num- 
ber of births of boys to that of girls is sensibly greater at London 
than at Paris ; this seems to indicate a greater facility for the birth 
of a boy at London than at Paris : required to determine the 
amount of probability. See Art. 773. 

Let w be the probability of the birth of a boy at Paris, p the 
number of births of boys observed there, and q the number of births 
of girls ; let z^ — ic be the possibility of the birth of a boy at Lon- 
don, p the number of births of boys observed there, and q the 
number of births of girls. If P denote the probability that the 
birth of a boy is less possible at London than at Paris, we have 

{U (1 _ uy {u - xY (1-U + xY du dx 

P = 

\ie (1 - uY {u - xY (1 - M + xY die dx 


Laplace says that the integral in the numerator is to be taken 
from ic = to u = x, and from a? = to ic = 1, and that the integral 
in the denominator is to be taken for all possible values of x and ii. 
Thus putting u — x = s the denominator becomes 

[ [ u'' (1 - u)' s^' (1 - sY du ds. 

•J {^ ■J Q 

Laplace's statement of the limits for the numerator is wrong ; 
we should integrate for x from to u, and then for u from to 1. 

There is also another mistake. Laplace has the equation 

V_ £_ ,JP_ l__ = n 

X l-X'^X-x l-X-^x 

He finds correctly that when a? = this gives 

X = 


He says that when jr = 1 it gives X = l, which is wrong. 

Laplace however really uses the right limits of integration in 
his work. His solution is very obscure ; it is put in a much clearer 
form in a subsequent memoir which we shall presently notice ; see 
Art. 909. He uses the following values, 

p = 251527, q = 24.1945, 
;/= 737629, ^' = 698958, 

and he obtains in the present memoir 

410458 ' 
he obtains in the subsequent memoir 


P = 


The problem is also solved in the Theorie . . . des Proh. pages 
381 — 384 ; the method there is different and free from the mis- 
takes which occur in the memoir. Laplace there uses values of p 
and q derived from longer observations, namely 

. ^ = 393386, ^=377555; 



he retains the same vakies oip and q as before, and he obtains 


P = 

328269 • 

It will be seen that the new values of p and q make - a little 

larger than the old values ; hence it is natural that P should be 

903. Laplace gives in the memoir some important investiga- 
tions on the probability of future events as deduced from ob- 
served events; these are reproduced in the Theorie . . . des Proh. 
pages 394—396. 

904. Laplace devotes the last ten pages of his memoir to 
the theory of errors ; he says that after his memoir in the sixth 
volume of the Memoires...par divers Savans the subject had been 
considered by Lagrange, Daniel Bernoulli and Euler. Since, how- 
ever, their principles differed from his own he is induced to resume 
the investigation, and to present his results in such a manner as to 
leave no doubt of their exactness. Accordingly he gives, with 
some extension, the same theory as before ; see Art. 874. The 
theory does not seem, however, to have any great value. 

905. The present memoir deserves to be regarded as very im- 
portant in the history of the subject. The method of approxima- 
tion to the values of definite integrals, which is here expounded, 
must be esteemed a great contribution to mathematics in general 
and to our special department in particular. The applications 
made to the problems respecting births shew the power of the 
method and its peculiar value in the- theory of probability. 

906. Laplace's next memoir on our subject is entitled Memoir e 
sur les Suites; it is published in the volume for 1779 of the 
Histoire de l' A cad... Paris; the date of publication is 1782. The 
memoir occupies pages 207 — 809 of the volume. 

This memoir contains the theory of Generating Functions. 
With the exception of pages 269 — 286 the whole memoir is 
reproduced almost identically in the T}ieorie..,des Proh.; it forms 
pages 9 — 80 of the work. The pages which are not reproduced 


relate to tlie solution of partial differential equations of the 
second order, and have no connexion with our subject. 

The formulae which occur at the top of pages 18 and 19 of 
the Theorie...des Proh. are stated in the memoir to agree with 
those which had been given in Newton's Methodus differentialis ; 
this reference is omitted in the TJieorie...des Proh. 

907. Laplace's next memoir on our subject is entitled ^itr les 
approximations des Formides qui sont fonctions de tres-grands nom- 
hres; it is published in the volume for 1782 of the Histoire de 
V Acad... Paris: the date of publication is 1785. The memoir 
occupies pages 1 — 88 of the volume. 

Laplace refers at the commencement to the evaluation of 
the middle coefficient of a binomial raised to a high power by 
the aid of Stirling's Theorem ; Laplace considers this to be one 
of the most ingenious discoveries which had been made in the 
theory of Series. His object in the memoir is to effect similar 
transformations for other functions involving large numbers, in 
order that it might be practicable to calculate the numerical 
values of such functions. 

The memoir is reproduced without any important change 
in the T]ieorie...des Proh., in which it occupies pages 88 — 171-. 
See Arts. 89-i, 899. 

A mistake occurs at the beginning of page 29 of the memoir, 
and extends its influence to the end of page 30. Suppose that a 
function of two independent variables, 6 and 6', is to be exjDanded 
in powers of these variables: we may denote the terms of the 
second degree by Md^ + 2N96'+ P6"^ : Laplace's mistake amounts 
to omitting the term 2X66'. The mistake does not occur in the 
corresponding passage on page 108 of the Tlieorie...des Proh. 

908. Laplace's next memoii* is the continuation of the pre- 
ceding; it is entitled, Suite du Memoire sur les approximations 
des Formides qui sont fonctions de tres-grands Komhres; it is pub- 
lished in the volume for 1783 of the Histoire de V Acad... Paris: 
the date of publication is 1786. The memoir occupies pages 
423 — 467 of the volume. 

909. Laplace gives here some matter which is reproduced in 
the Theorie.., des Proh. pages 363—365, 394—396. Pages 440—444 


of the memoir are not reproduced in the Theorie , . .des Proh.; 
they depend partly on those pages of the memoir of 1782 which 
are erroneous, as we saw in Art. 907. 

Laplace in this memoir applies his formulae of approxima- 
tion to the solution of questions in probability. See Arts. 767, 769. 
He takes the problem which we have noticed in Art. 896, and 
arrives at a result practically coincident with the former. He takes 
the problem which we have noticed in Art. 902, gives a much 
better investigation, and arrives at a result practically coincident 
with the former. He solves the problem about the births during a 
century to which we have referred in Art. 897, using the smaller 
values of j9 and q which we have given in Art. 902; he finds 
the required probability to be "664. In the Theorie...des Proh. 
page 401 he uses the larger values of j) and q which we have 
given in Art. 902, and obtains for the required probability "782. 

910. This memoir also contains a calculation respecting a 
lottery which is reproduced in the Theo7'ie...des Proh. page 195. 
See Arts. 455, 864. 

Laplace suggests on page 433 of the memoir that it would 

be useful to form a table of the value of \e~^'dt for successive 
limits of the integration : such a table we now possess. 

911. In the same volume there is another memoir by La- 
place which is entitled, Sur les naissances, les mcwiages et les 
marts d Paris.... This memoir occupies pages 693 — 702 of the 

The following problem is solved. Suppose we know for a 
large country like France the number of births in a year ; and 
suppose that for a certain district we know both the population 
and the number of births. If we assume that the ratio of the 
population to the number of births in a year is the same for the 
whole country as it is for the district, we can determine the popu- 
lation of the whole country. Laplace investigates the probability 
that the error in the result will not exceed an assiofned amount. 
He concludes from his result that the district ouo'ht to contain 
not less than a million of people in order to obtain a sufficient 
accuracy in the number of the population of France. 


The problem is reproduced in tlie Theorie...des Proh. pages 
391 — 39-i. The necessary observations were made by the Frencb 
government at Laplace's request ; the population of the district 
selected was a little more than two millions. 

The solutions of the problem in the memoir and in the 
Theorie. . .des Proh. are substantially the same. 

912. In the Lecons de Mathematiques donnees a Tecole normale, 
en 1795, par M. Laplace, we have one le^on devoted to the subject 
of probabilities. The legons are given in the Journal de VEcole 
Poly technique y vii^ et viii® cahiers, 1812; but we may infer from 
page 164 that there had been an earlier publication. The lecon 
on probabilities occupies pages 140 — 172. It is a popular state- 
ment of some of the results which had been obtained in the 
subject, and was expanded by Laplace into the Introduction 
which appeared with the second edition of the Theorie.,. des Proh., 
as he himself states at the beginning of the Introduction. 

913. With the exception of the unimportant matter noticed 
in the preceding Ai'ticle, Laplace seems to have left the Theory 
of Probability untouched for more than twenty-five'^years. His 
attention was probably fully engaged in embodying his own re- 
searches and those of other astronomers in his Mecanique Celeste, 
the first four volumes of which appeared between 1798 and 1805. 

914. Laplace's next memoir connected with the Theory of 
Probability is entitled Memoire sur les approximations des for- 
mules qui sont fonctions de tres-grands nomhres, et sur leur ap- 
plication aux prohoMlites. This memoir is published in the 
Memoires...de VInstitut for 1809; the date of publication is 1810 ; 
the memoir occupies pages 353 — 415 of the volume, and a supj^le- 
ment occupies pages 559 — oQo. 

915. The first subject which is discussed is the problem re- 
lating to the inclination of the orbits of the planets and comets 
which is given in the Theorie... des Proh. pages 253 — 261; see 
also Art. 888. The mode of discussion is nearly the same. [There 
is however some difference in the jDrocess relating to i\iQ planets, 
for in the memoir Laplace takes two right angles as the extreme 


angle instead of one right angle whicli he takes in the Tlieorle... 
des Prob. Laplace's words are, on page 362 of the memoir : 

Si Ton fait varier les inclinaisons depuis zero jiisqu'a la demi-cir- 
conference, on fait disparoitre la consideration des mouvemens retro- 
grades j car le mouvement direct se change ^en retrograde, quand I'incli- 
naison surpasse un angle droit. 

Laplace obtains in the memoir the same numerical result as on 
page 258 of the Theorie...des Proh. ; but in the latter place the 
fact of the motions being all in the same direction is expressly 
used, while in the former place Laplace implies that this fact still 
remains to be considered. 

The calculation for the comets, which follows some investiga- 
tions noticed in the next Article, does not materially differ from 
the corresponding calculation in the Theorie . . .des Proh.; 97 is 
taken as the number of comets in the memoir, and 100 in the 
Theorie . . . des Proh. 

916. Laplace gives an investigation the object of which is 
the approximate calculation of a formula which occurs in the 
solution of the problem noticed in the preceding Article. The 
formula is the series for Zl'^s', so far as the terms consist of 
positive quantities raised to the power which i denotes. A large 
part of the memoir bears on this subject, which is also treated 
very fully in the Theorie... des Proh. pages 165 — 171, 475 — 482. 
This memoir contains much that is not reproduced in the 
Theorie... des Proh., being in fact superseded by better methods. 

We may remark that Laplace gives two methods for finding the 

value of I fe~'^^'' cos htdt, but he does not notice the simplest 


method, which would be to differentiate e-^^^ cos htdt four times 


with respect to h, or twice with respect to c ; see pages 368 — 370 
of the memoir. 

917. In pages 383 — 389 of the memoir we have an important 
investigation resembling that given in pages 329 — 332 of the 
TJieorie...des Proh., which amounts to finding the probability that 
a linear function of a large number of errors shall have a certain 


value, the law of facility of a single error being any what- 

Pages 390 — 397 of the memoir are spent in demonstrat- 
ing the formula marked [q] which occurs at the top of page 170 
of the Theorie...des Prob. The remaining pages of the memoir 
amount to demonstrating the formula marked fp) on page 168 of 
the Theor{e...des Proh., which is again discussed in pages 475 — 482 
of the Theorie...des Prob. The methods of the memoir are very 
laborious and inferior to those of the Th^orie...des Prob. 

918. The supplement to the memoir consists of the matter 
Avhich is reproduced in pages 333 — 335 and 340 — 342 of the 
TJieorie...des Prob. In his supplement Laplace refers to his 
memoir of 1778; see Art. 901: the reference is not preserved 
in the Theorie...des Prob. He names Daniel Bernoulli, Euler, 
and Gauss; in the corresponding passage on page 335 of the 
Theorie...des Prob., he simply says, des geomUres celebres. 

919. Laplace's next memoir is entitled, Me moire sur les Inte- 
grates Definies, et leur ajyj^Ucatiori aux Probabilites, et specialement 
a la recherche dii milieu quil faut choisir entre les residtats des 
observations. This memoir is published in the Memoires ...de 
rinstitut for 1810; the date of publication is 1811 : the memoir 
occupies pages 279 — 347 of the volume. 

920. Laplace refers to his former memoirs on Generating 
Functions and on Approximations ; he speaks of the approaching 
publication of his work on Probabilities. In his former memoirs 
he had obtained the values of some definite integrals by the 
passage from real to imaginary values ; but he implies that such a 
method should be considered one of invention rather than of 
demonstration. Laplace says that Poisson had demonstrated several 
of these results in the Bidletiii de la Societe Philoinatique for March 
1811 ; Laplace now proposes to give direct investigations. 

921. The first investigation is^that which is reproduced in 
pages 482 — 484 of the Theorie...des Prob. Then follow those 
which are reproduced in pages 97 — 99 of the Theorie...des Prob. 
Next we have the problem of the Duration of Play, when the 


players are of equal skill and one of them has an infinite capital ; 
there is an approximate calculation which is reproduced in pages 
235—238 of the Theorie...des Proh. Next we have the problem 
about balls and the long dissertation on some integrals which we 
find reproduced in pages 287 — 298 of the Theorie...des Proh. 
Lastly we have the theory of errors substantially coincident with so 
much of the same theory as we find in pages 314 — 328 and 
340—342 of the Theorie...des Proh. 

922. A theorem may be taken from page 327 of the memoir, 
which is not reproduced in the Theorie...des Proh. 

To shew that if ^|r (x) always decreases as x increases between 
and 1 we shall have 

I i/r [x) dx greater than S I x'^^jr (a?) dx. 
Jo •'o 

It is sufficient to shew that 

x^ I i/r [x) dx is greater than S j x^yjr (x) dx, 

or that 2x I -v^^ (x) dx is greater than 2x^ -^ {x)y 

r X 

or that I '^ (x) dx is greater than x -v/r (x), 

1 , r \ ' , i 1 I / \ d^ (x) 

or that Y l*^) ^^ greater than y \F) + ^ — j — ? 

but this is obviously true, for ^ is negative. 

The result stated on page 321 of the Theorie...des Proh., that 

k" . 1 . 

under a certain condition -^ is less than - , is an example of this 


923. In the Connaissance des Terns for 1813, which is dated 
July 1811, there is an article by Laplace on pages 213 — 223, 
entitled, Du milieu qiiilfaut choisir entre les residtats d'tin grand 
nomhre d'ohservations. The article contains the matter which is 
reproduced in pages 322 — 329 of the Theorie...des Proh. Laplace 
speaks of his work as soon about to appear. 


924. In the Connaissance des Terns for 1815, which is dated 
November 1812, there is an article on pages 215 — 221 relating to 
Laplace's Theo7ne...des Proh. The article begins with an extract 
from the work itself, containing Laplace's account of its object 
and contents. After this follow some remarks on what is known 
as Laplace's nebular hypothesis respecting the formation of the 
solar system. Reference is made to the inference drawn by Michell 
from the group of the Pleiades ; see Art. 619. 

925. In the Connaissance des Terns for 1816, which is dated 
November 1813, there is an article by Laplace, on pages 213 — 220, 
entitled, Sur les Cometes. 

Out of a hundred comets which had been observed not one had 
been ascertained to move in an hyperbola; Laplace proposes to 
shew by the Theory of Probability that this result might have 
been expected, for the probability is very great that a comet would 
move either in an ellipse or parabola or in an hyperbola of so 
great a transverse axis that it would be undistinguishable from a 

The solution of the problem proposed is very difficult, from 
the deficiency of verbal explanation. We will indicate the steps. 

Laplace supposes that ?• denotes the radius of the sphere of 
the sun's activity, so that r represents a very great length, which 
may be a hundred thousand times as large as the radius of the 
earth's orbit. Let V denote the velocity of the comet at the 
instant wdien it enters the sphere of the sun's activity, so that r 
is the comet's radius vector at that instant. Let a be the semi- 
axis major of the orbit which the comet proceeds to describe, e 
its excentricity, D its perihelion distance, ■sr the angle which the 
direction of V makes with the radius r. Take the mass of the 
sun for the unit of mass, and the mean distance of the sun from 
the earth as the unit of distance; then we have the well-known 
formulse ; 

a r 

r V sin OT = Va (1 — e ), 
I) = a{l-e). 


From these equations by eliminating a and e we have 

sin^ OT = 


and from this we deduce 

Now if we suppose that when the comet enters the sphere of 
the sun's activity all directions of motion which tend inwards 
are equally probable, we find that the chance that the direction 
will make an angle with the radius vector lying between zero 
and OT is 1 — cos 'sr. The values of the perihelion distance which 
correspond to these limiting directions are and D. Laplace 
then proceeds thus; 

...en supposant done toutes les valeurs de D egalement possibles, on 
a pour la probabilite que la distance peiihelie sera comprise entre zero 
et D, 



II faut multiplier cette valeur par dV ; en I'integrant ensuite dans 
des limites determinees, et divisant I'integrale j^ar la plus grande valeur 
de V, valeur que nous designerons par U ; on aura la probabihte que la 
valeur de V sera comprise dans ces limites. Cela pose, la plus petite 
valeur de V est celle qui rend nulle la quantite renfermee sous le radical 
precedent ; ce qui donne 


rV = 




It would seem that the above extract is neither clear nor 
correct ; not clear for the real question is left uncertain ; not 
correct in what relates to U. We will proceed in the ordinary way, 
and not as Laplace does. Let 'yjr ( V) stand for 




then we have found that supposing all directions of projection 
equally probable, if a comet starts with the velocity V the chance 
is >/r ( F) that its perihelion distance will lie between and D. 
Now suppose we assume as a fact that the perihelion distance 
does lie between and D, but that we do not know the initial 
velocity: required the probability that such initial velocity lies 
between assigned limits. This is a question in inverse probability ; 
and the answer is that the chance is 



where the integral in the numerator is to be taken between the 
assigned limits ; and the integral in the denominator between the 
extreme admissible values of V. 

Laplace finds the value of l'^{V)dV; for this pmpose he 


For the assigned limits of V he takes ^ and — 

The value of \^|r{V)dV between these limits he finds to be ap- 

2r ir sjr ' 

the other terms involve higher powers of r in the denominator, 
and so are neglected. 

The above expression is the numerator of the chance which 
we require. For the denominator we may suppose that the upper 
limit of the velocity is infinite, so that i will now be infinite. 
Hence we have for the required chance 

■{ it -2) si IB _ ^ \ ^ (tt - 2) V27> 
2r ir^/r) ' 2r ' 


that is, 

i (tt — 2)\lr' 

If for example we supposed ^' = 2, we should have the extreme 
velocity which would allow the orbit to be an ellipse. 

1 2 
In the equation - = -— V^ suppose a = — 100 ; then 

^^, r + 200 ,, .., r + 200 

^=T()or' '^'''' ^=-100-- 

If we use this value of i we obtain the chance that the orbit 
shall be either an ellipse or a parabola or an hyperbola with 
transverse axis greater than a hundred times the radius of the 
earth's orbit. The chance that the orbit is an hyperbola with a 
smaller transverse axis will be 


i (tt — 2) ^r ' 

Laplace obtains this result by his process. 

Laplace supposes D = 2, r = 100000 ; and the value of i to be 
that just given: he finds the chance to be about v^^tt • 

Laplace then says that his analysis supposes that all values of 
I) between and 2 are equally probable for such comets as can 
be perceived; but observation shews that the comets for which 
the perihelion distance is greater than 1 are far less numerous 
than those for which it lies between and 1. He proceeds to 
consider how this will modify his result. 

926. In the Connaissance des Terns for 1818, which is dated 
1815, there are two articles by Laplace on pages 361 — 381 ; the 
first is entitled, Sur VajypUcation du Calcid des Prohabilites a la 
Pkilosophie naturelle; the second is entitled, Sur le Calcul des 
Prohabilites, applique a la Philosophie naturelle. The matter is 
reproduced in the first Supplement to the Theorie...des Proh. 
pages 1 — 25, except two pages, namely, 376, 377: these contain 
an application of the formulge of probability to determine from 
observations the length of a seconds' pendulum. 


927. In the Connaissance des Terns for 1820, which is dated 
1818, there is an article by Laplace on pages 422 — 440, entitled, 
Ajyplication dii Calcul des ProhahiUtes, aux ojje rations geodesiqiies: 
it is reproduced in the second Supplement to the Theorie...des 
Proh. pages 1 — 25. 

928. In the Connaissance des Terns for 1822, which is dated 
1820, there is an article by Laplace on pages 346 — 348, entitled, 
Application dii Calcul des ProhahiUtes aux operations geodesiqnes 
de la meridienne de France: it is reproduced in the third Supple- 
ment to the Theorie . . ,des Proh. pages 1 — 7. 

929. We have now to speak of the great work of Laplace which 
is entitled, Theorie analytique des ProhahiUtes, This was published 
in 1812, in quarto. There is a dedication to Napoleon-le-Grand ; 
then follow 445 pages of text, and afterwards a table of contents 
which occupies pages 446 — 464 : on another page a few errata 
are noticed. 

The second edition is dated 1814, and the third edition is 
dated 1820. 

The second edition contains an introduction of cvi. pages ; then 
the text paged from 3 to 484 inclusive ; then a table of contents 
which occujiies pages 485 — 506 : then two pages of errata are 

The pages 9 — 444 of the first edition luere not reprinted for 
the second or third edition ; a few pages Avere cancelled and re- 
placed, apparently on account of errata. 

The third edition has an introduction of CXLII. pages ; and 
then the remainder as in the second edition. There are, however;, 
four supplements to the work which appeared subsequently to the 
first edition. The exact dates of issue of these supplements do not 
seem to be given ; but the first and second supplements were 
probably published between 1812 and 1820, the third in 1820, 
and the fourth after 1820. Copies of the third edition generally 
have the first three supplements, but not the fourth. 

930. Since the bulk of the text of Laplace's work ivas not 
reprinted for the editions which appeared during his life time. 


a reference to the page of the work will in general suffice for 
any of these editions : accordingly we shall adopt this mode of 

An edition of the works of Laplace was published in France 
at the national expense. The seventh volume consists of the 
Theorie...des Proh.; it is dated 1847. This volume is a reprint of 
the third edition. The title, advertisement, introduction, and 
table of contents occupy cxcv. pages ; the text occupies 532 
pages, and the four supplements occupy pages 533 — 691. 

It will be found that in the text a page n of the editions pub- 

lished by Laplace himself will correspond nearly to the page ^ + tt; 

of the national edition : thus our references will be easily available 
for the national edition. We do not think that the national 
edition is so good as it ought to have been ; we found, for example, 
that in the second supplement the misprints of the original were 
generally reproduced. 

931. We shall now proceed to analyse the work. We take the 
third edition, and we shall notice the places in which the introduc- 
tion differs from the introduction to the second edition. 

The dedication was not continued after the first edition, so that 
it may be interesting to reproduce it here. 

A Napoleon-le-Grand. Sire, La bienveillance avec laquelle Yotre 
Majeste a daigne accueillir rhommage de mon Traite de Mecanique 
Celeste, m'a inspire le desir de Lui dedier cet Ouvrage sur le Calcul des 
Prohabilites. Ce calcul delicat s'etend anx questions les plus impor- 
taiites de la vie, qui ne sout en effet, pour la plupart, que des j^roblemes 
de probabilite. 11 doit, sous ce rapport, interesser Yotre Majeste dont 
le genie sait si bien apprecier et si dignement encourager tout ce qui 
peut contribuer au progres des lumieres, et de la prosperite publique. 
J'ose La supplier d'agreer ce nouvel hommage dicte par la plus vive 
reconnaissance, et par les sentimens profonds d'adiniration et de respect, 
avec lesquels je suis, Sire, de Votre Majeste, Le tres-liumble et tres- 
obeissant serviteur et fidele sujet, Laplace. 

Laplace has been censured for suppressing this dedication after 
the fall of Napoleon ; I do not concur in this censure. The dedi- 
cation appears to me to be mere adulation ; and it would have 


been almost a satire to have repeated it when the tyrant of Europe 
had become the mock sovereign of Elba or the exile of St Helena : 
the fault was in the original publication, and not in the final sup- 

932. We have said that some pages of the original impression 
were cancelled, and others substituted ; the following are the pages : 
25, 26, 27, 28, 37, 38, 147, 148, 303, 304, 359, 360, 391, 392; we 
note them because a student of the first edition will find some 
embarrassing errata in them. 

933. The introduction to the Theorie...des Proh. was pub- 
lished separately in octavo under the title of Essai pkilosophique 
sur les Prohahilites; we shall however refer to the introduction 
by the pages of the third edition of the Theorie...des P7'ob. 

934. On pages I — xvi. of the introduction we have some gene- 
ral remarks on Probability, and a statement of the first principles 
of the mathematical theory ; the language is simple and the 
illustrations are clear, but there is hardly enough space allotted to 
the subject to constitute a good elementary exposition for be- 

935. On pages xvi — xxxvii. we have a section entitled Des 
mModes analytiques dii Calcul des Probahilites ; it is principally 
devoted to an account of the Theory of Generating Functions, the 
account being given in words with a very sparing use of symbols. 
This section may be regarded as a complete waste of space ; it 
would not be intelligible to a reader unless he were able to master 
the mathematical theory delivered in its appropriate symbolical 
language, and in that case the section would be entirely super- 

This section differs in the two editions ; Laplace probably 
thought he improved in his treatment of the difficult task he had 
undertaken, namely to explain abstruse mathematical processes in 
ordinary language. We will notice two of the changes. Laplace 
gives on pages xxiiL and xxiv. some account of De Moivre's 
treatment of Recurring Series; this account is transferred fi'om page 
CI. of the second edition of the introduction : a student however 



who wished to understand the treatment would have to consult 
the original work, namely De Moivre's Miscellanea Analytical 
pages 28 — 83. Also some slight historical reference to Wallis and 
others is introduced on pages xxxv— xxxvn. ; this is merely an 
abridgement of the pages 3 — 8 of the Theorie . . .des Proh. 

936. We have next some brief remarks on games, and then 
some reference to the unknown inequalities which may exist in 
chances supposed to be equal, such as would arise from a want of 
symmetry in a coin or die ; see Arts. 877, 881, 891. 

937. We have next a section on the laws of probability, which 
result from an indefinite multiplication of events ; that is the 
section is devoted to the consideration of James Bernoulli's theorem 
and its consequences. Some reflexions here seem aimed at the 
fallen emperor to whom the first edition of the work was dedicated ; 
we give two sentences from page XLiii. 

Voyez au contraire, dans quel abime de mallieurs, les peuples ont 
ete souvent precipites par I'ambition et par la perfidie de leurs chefs. 
Toutes les fois qu'une grande puissance enivree de I'amonr des conquetes, 
aspire h la dominatiou universelle; le sentiment de I'mdependance pro- 
duit entre les nations menacees, une coalition dont elle devient presque 
toiijours la victinie. 

The section under consideration occurs in the second edition, 
but it occupies a different position there, Laplace having made 
some changes in the arrangement of the matter in the third 

We may notice at the end of this section an example of the 
absurdity of attempting to force mathematical expressions into 
unmathematical language. Laplace gives a description of a certain 
probability in these words : 

La theorie des fonctions generatrices donne une expression tres 
simple de cette probabilite, que Ton obtient en integrant le produit de 
la differentielle de la quantite dont le resultat deduit d'un grand nombre 
d' observations s'ecarte de la verite, par une coustante moindre que 
I'unite, dependante de la nature du probleriie, et elevee a une puissance 
dont I'exposant est le rapport du carre de cet ccart, au nombre des 
observations. L'integrale prise entre des limites donnces, et divisee 


par la meme integrale etendue a rinfini positif et negatif, exprimera la 
probabilite que I'ecart de la veiite, est compris entre ces limites. 

A student familiar with the Theorie...des Proh. itself might 
not find it easy to say what formula Lajolace has in view ; it must 
be that which is given on page 309 and elsewhere, namely 

dre 4A". 

7 " 

/J TT 

Other examples of the same absurdity will be found on page LL 
of the introduction, and on page 5 of the first supplement. 

938. A section occupies pages XLix — LXX. entitled Applica' 
tion du Calcul des Probahilites, d la Pliilosophie naturelle. Tbe 
principle which is here brought forward is simple ; we will take 
one example which is discussed in the Theorie . . .des Prob. If a 
large number of observations be taken of the height of a barometer 
at nine in the morning and at four in the afternoon, it is found 
that the average in the former case is higher than in the latter ; 
are we to ascribe this to chance or to a constant cause ? The 
theory of probabilities shews that if the number of observations be 
large enough the existence of a constant cause is very strongly in- 
dicated. Laplace intimates that in this way he had been induced 
to undertake some of his researches in Physical Astronomy, be- 
cause the theory of probabilities shewed irresistibly that there 
were constant causes in operation. 

Thus the section contains in reality a short summary of La- 
place's contributions to Physical Astronomy ; and it is a memor- 
able record of the triumphs of mathematical science and human 
genius. The list comprises — the explanation of the irregularity 
in the motion of the moon arising from the sj)heroidal figure of the 
earth — the secular equation of the moon — the long inequalities of 
Jupiter and Saturn — the laws connecting the motions of the 
satellites of Jupiter — the theory of the tides. See Gouraud, 
page 115 ; he adds to the list — the tem23erature of the earth shewn 
'to be constant for two thousand years : it does not appear that 
Laplace himself here notices this result. 

939. Li the second edition of the Theorie ...des Proh. 



Laplace did not include the secular acceleration of the moon and 
the theory of the tides in the list of his labours suggested by the 
Theory of Probability. Also pages Li— LVL of the introduction 
seem to have been introduced into the third edition, and taken 
from the first supplement. 

Laplace does not give references in his Theorie...des Proh., so 
we cannot say whether he published all the calculations respecting 
probability which he intimates that he made; they would how- 
ever, we may presume, be of the same kind as that relating to 
the barometer which is given in page 350 of the Theorie...desFroh., 
and so would involve no novelty of principle. 

Laplace alludes on page Liv. to some calculations relating to 
the masses of Jupiter and Saturn; the calculations are given in 
the first supplement. Laplace arrived at the result that it was 
1000000 to 1 that the error in the estimation of the mass of 

Jupiter could not exceed — of the whole mass. Nevertheless it 


has since been recognised that the error was as large as — ; see 

Poisson, Recherches sur la Proh..., page 816. 

9-iO. Laplace devotes a page to the Application dii Calcul 
des Prohabilites aux Sciences morales; he makes here some inter- 
esting remarks on the opposing tendencies to change and to con- 

9-tl. The next section is entitled, De la Prohahilite des 
temoignages; this section occupies pages Lxxi — Lxxxii : it is an 
arithmetical reproduction of some of the algebraical investigations 
of Chapter XL of the Theorie...des Proh. One of Laplace's discus- 
sions has been criticised by John Stuart Mill in his Logic; see 
Vol. 11. page 172 of the fifth edition. The subject is that to which 
we have alluded in Art. 735. Laplace makes some observations 
on miracles, and notices with disapprobation the language of 
Racine, Pascal and Locke. He examines with some detail a 
famous argument by Pascal which he introduces thus : 

Ici se presente naturellement la discussion d'un argument fameux 
de Pascal, que Craig, mathematicieii anglais, a reproduit sous une forme 


geomtStriqiie. Des t^moiiis attestent qu'ils tieunent de la Divinite meme, 
qu'en se conformant k telle chose, on jouira, non pas d'une ou de deux, 
mais d'une infinite de vies heureuses. Quelque faible que soit la proba- 
bilite des temoignages, pourvu quelle ne soit pas infiniment petite; 11 
est clair que I'avantage de ceux qui se conforment a la chose prescrite, 
est infini, puisqu'il est le produit de cette probabilite par un bien 
infiDi; on ne doit done point balancer a se procurer cet avantage. 

See also the Athenceum for Jan. 14tli, 1865, page oo. 

942. The next section is entitled, Des clioix et des decisions 
des assemhUes; it occupies four pages: results are stated re- 
specting voting on subjects and for candidates which are obtained 
at the end of Chapter ii. of the Theorie...des Proh. 

The next section is entitled, De la probabilite des Jugemens 
des tiibunaux; it occupies five pages: results are stated which 
are obtained in the first supplement to the Theo7'ie...des Prob. 
This section is nearly all new in the third edition of the 
Theorie. . . des Prob. 

The next section is entitled, Des Tables de mortalite, et des 
durees moyennes de la vie, des mariages et des associations quel- 
conques; it occupies six pages : results are stated which are ob- 
tained in Chapter VIIL of the Theorie... des Prob. 

The next section is entitled, Des benefices des etablissemens qui 
dependent de la probabilite des evenemens; it occupies five pages. 
This section relates to insurances : results are given which are ob- 
tained in Chapter ix. of the Theorie... des Prob. 

943. The next section is entitled, Des illusions dans Vesti- 
mation des Probabilites ; this important section occupies pages 
cii — cxxviii: in the second edition of the Theorie... des Prob. the 
corresponding section occupied little more than seven pages. 

The illusions which Laplace notices are of various kinds. One 
of the principal amounts to imagining that past events influence 
future events when they are really unconnected. This is illus- 
trated from the example of lotteries, and by some remarks on 
page CIV. relating to the birth of a son, which are new in the 
third edition. Another illusion is the notion of a kind of fatality 
which gamblers often adopt. 

Laplace considers that one of the great advantages of the 


theory of probabilities is that it teaches us to mistrust our first 
impressions; this is ilkistratecl by the example which we have 
noticed in Art. 85G, and by the case of the Chevaher de Mere: 
see Art. 10. Laplace makes on his page cviii. some remarks re- 
specting the excess of the births of boys over the births of girls; 
these remarks are new in the third edition. 

Laplace places in the list of illusions an application of the 
Theory of Probability to the summation of series, which was 
made by Leibnitz and Daniel BernoulK. They estimated the 

infinite series 

1-1+1-1 + .. . 

as equal to ^ ; because if we take an even number of terms we 


obtain 0, and if we take an odd number of terms we obtain 1, 
and they assumed it to be equally probable that an infinite 
number of terms is odd or even. See Dugald Stewarfs Works 
edited hy Hamilton, Vol. IV. page 204. 

Laplace makes some remarks on the apparent verification 
which occasionally happens of predictions or of dreams; and justly 
remarks that persons who attach importance to such coincidences 
generally lose sight of the number of cases in which such antici- 
pations of the future are falsified by the event. He says, 

Ainsi, le pliilosophe de Tantiqiiite, auqiiel on montrait dans un 
temple, pour exalter la puissance du dieu qu'on y adorait, les ex voto 
de tons cenx qui apres I'avoir invoqiie, s'etaient sauves du naufi^age, fit 
une remarque conforme au calcul des prohabilites, en observant qu'il 
ne voyait point inscrits, les noms de ceux qui, malgre cette invocation, 
avaient peri. 

944. A long discussion on what Laplace calls Psycliologie 
occupies pages cxiii — cxxviii of the present section. There is 
much about the sensorium, and from the close of the discussion it 
would appear that Laplace fancied all mental phenomena ought 
to be explained by applying the laws of Dynamics to the vibra- 
tions of the sensorium. Indeed we are told on page cxxiv. that 
faith is a modification of the sensorium, and an extract from 
Pascal is used in a manner that its author would scarcely have 


94^5. The next section is entitled, Des divers moi/ens d'ap- 
l^rocher de la certitude; it occupies six pages. Laplace says, 

L'inductioii, Tanalogie, des hypotheses fondees siir les faits et recti- 
fiees sans cesse par de nouvelles observations, un tact heureux donne 
par la nature et fortifie par des comparaisons nonibreuses de ses indi- 
cations avec I'experience; tels sont les priucipaux moyens de parvenir 
a la verite. 

A paragraph beginning on page cxxix. with the words Kous 
jugeons is new in the third edition, and so are the last four lines 
of page cxxxii. Laplace cites Bacon as having made a strange 
abuse of induction to demonstrate the immobility of the earth. 
Laplace says of Bacon, 

II a donne pour la recherche de la verite, le precepte et non I'ex- 
emple. Mais en insistant avec toute la force de la raison et de I'elo- 
quence, sur la necessite d'abandonner les subtilites insignifiantes de 
I'ecole, pour se livrer aux observations et aux experiences, et en indi- 
quant la vraie niethode de s'elever aux causes general es des phenomenes; 
ce grand philosophe a contribue aux progres immenses que I'esprit 
humain a faits dans le beau siecle ou il a terniine sa carriere. 

Some of Laplace's remarks on Analogy are quoted with ap- 
probation by Dugald Stewart; see his Works edited hy Hamilton^ 
Vol. IV. page 290. 

946. The last section of the introduction is entitled. Notice 
historique sur le Calcid des Prohabilites ; this is brief but very 
good. The passage extending from the middle of page cxxxix. 
to the end of page CXLI. is new in the third edition; it relates 
principally to Laplace's development in his first supplement of 
his theory of errors. Laplace closes this passage with a reference 
to the humble origin of the subject he had so much advanced; he 
says it is remarkable that a science which began with the consi- 
deration of games should have raised itself to the most important 
objects of human knowledge. 

A brief sketch of the plan of the Theorie...des Proh., which 
appeared on the last page of the introduction in the second edi- 
tion, is not repeated in the third edition. 

947. The words in which at the end of the introduction La- 


place sums up the claims of the Theory of Probability well deserve 
to be reproduced here: 

On voit par cet Essai, que la tlieorie des i^robaLilites n'est an fond, 
que le bon sens reduit au calcul : elle fait apprecier avec exactitude, 
ce que les esprits justes sentent par une sorte d'instinct, sans qu'ils 
puissent souvent s'en rendre compte. Si Ton considere les methodes 
analytiques auxquelles cette theorie a donne naissance, la verite des 
principes qui lui servent de base, la logique fine et delicate qu'exige 
leur emploi dans la solution des problemes, les etablissemens d'utilite 
publique qui s'appuient sur elle, et I'extension qu'elle a reque et qu'elle 
pent recevoir encore, par son application aux questions les plus impor- 
tantes de la Philosophie naturelle et des sciences morales; si Ton ob- 
serve ensuite, que dans les clioses memes qui ne peuvent etre soumises 
au calcul, elle donne les aperqus les plus surs qui puissent nous guider 
dans nos jugemens, et qu'elle apprend a se garantir des illusions qui 
souvent nous egarent; on verra qu'il n'est point de science plus digne 
de nos meditations, et qu'il soit plus utile de faire entrer dans le systeme 
de r instruction publique. 

948. We now leave the introduction and pass to the Theorie... 
des Proh. itself Laplace divides this into two books. Livre I. is 
entitled Du Calcul des Fonctions Gene'ratrices: this occupies pages 
1 — 177 ; Livre ii. is entitled Theoi^e generate des Prohahiliies; 
this occupies pages 179 — 461. Then follow Additions on pages 

949. The title which Laplace gives to his Livre I. does not 
adequately indicate its contents. The subject of generating func- 
tions, strictly so called, forms only the first part of the book ; the 
second part is devoted to the consideration of the approximate 
calculation of various expressions which occur in the Theory of 

950. The first part of Livre i. is almost a reprint of the me- 
moir of 1779 in which it originally appeared ; see Art. 906. This 
part begins with a few introductory remarks on pages 3 — 8 ; these 
pages 3 — 8 of the third edition do not quite agree with the pages 
1 — 8 of the first edition, but there is nothing of consequence pecu- 
liar to the first edition. Laplace draws attention to the importance 
of notation in mathematics; and he illustrates the point by the 


advantage of the notation for denoting powers, which leads him 
to speak of Descartes and Wallis. 

Laplace points out that Leibnitz made a remarkable use of the 
notation of powers as applied to differentials ; this use we might 
describe in modern terms as an example of the separation of the 
symbols of operation and quantity. Lagrange followed up this 
analogy of powers and differentials ; his memoir inserted in the 
volume for 1772 of the memoirs of the Academy of Berlin is cha- 
racterised by Laplace as one of the finest applications ever made of 
the method of inductions. 

951. The first Chapter of the first part oi Livre I. is entitled 
Des Fonctions generati^ices, ct une variable; it occupies pages 9 — 49. 

The method of generating functions has lost much of its value 
since the cultivation of the Calculus of Operations by Professor 
Boole and others ; partly on this account, and partly because the 
method is sufficiently illustrated in works on the Theory of Finite 
Differences, we shall not explain it here. 

Pasres 39 — 49 contain various formulae of what we now call the 
Calculus of Operations ; these formulse cannot be said to be cle- 
monstrated by Laplace ; he is content to rely mainly on analogy. 
LagTange had led the way here ; see the preceding Article. 

One of the formulae may be reproduced ; see Laplace's page 41. 
If we write Taylor's theorem symbolically we obtain 

Ay.= v/^^-Vj/., 

where A indicates the difference in y^ arising from a difference h in 
X. Then 

Laplace transforms this into the following result, 


/ hd_ 

The following is his method : 

/d_ Y nh£/ hd_ h dY 

W^"^ -l)y. = e ^.^'^•^ Ve2 ci^ _ ^'2 dx) y^^ 


Now let ^ ( -7- j denote any term arising from the development of 

I g2 dx Q~ 2dxj 

Then ,(^)....^^=,(^),,, 

and the term on the right hand may be supposed to have arisen 

/ hd_ _IlAY 
Ve2 dx_ 

from the development of \e^ ^^^ — e ^ ^^J y^^'^- Thus the formula 

is considered to be established. 

We ought to observe that Laplace does not express the formula 
quite in the way which we adopt. His mode of writing Taylor's 
Theorem is 

and then he would write 

Ay,=\e "- -1). 

He gives verbal directions as to the way in which the symbols 
are to be treated, which of course make his formulae really iden- 
tical with those which we express somewhat differently. We may 
notice that Laplace uses c for the base of the Napierian logarithms, 
which we denote by e. 

If in the formula we put h = l and change x into a? — - we 


/ 1 £, 1 d\' 


which Laplace obtains on his page 45 by another process. 

952. The second Chapter of the first part of Livre L is entitled 
Des fonctions generatrices a deux variables: it occupies pages 

Laplace applies the theory of generating functions to solve 
equations in Finite Differences with two independent variables. 
He gives on his pages 63 — (j^> a strange process for integrating the 
following equation in Finite Differences, 


We might suppose that z^,^ is the coefficient of fr' in the ex- 
pansion of a function of t and r ; then it would easily follow that 
this function must be of the form 

^[t)^'^ (t) 
nab \' 

Tti C 

\Tt T t J 

where </> (t) is an arbitrary function of t, and yjr (r) an arbitrary 
function of r. 

Laplace, however, proceeds thus. He puts 

1 a h ^ 
-c = 0, 

Tt T t 

and he calls this the equation generatrice of the given equation in 
Finite Differences. He takes u to denote the function of t and t 
which when expanded in powers of t and r has z^, y for the co- 


efficient of fi^. Then in the expansion of -^-^ the coefficient of 


Laplace then transforms —^ thus. By the equation generatrice 
we have 

1 T 

' i-6 



u \T h h) 

c + ah + a f h 

(I _ ,)^ 

Develope the second member according to powers of 5 ; 






, _ X (c + ah) a""'^ x(x — l), , ,,2 ^' 
X l^'+-^"J + 1.2 (^ + ^^) 7l ^ 

T Vt y 


Multiply the two series together. Let 

Fj = yld' + a; (c + al) a"'^, 

J- ■ ^ 1 . ^ 

Tr_ y(y-i)C y-2)„ . 



.T / VT 

T \T J \T J 

But the equation 


1 «j 5 

7 --c = 



1 , c + a6 ' 



Now we pass from the generating functions to the coefficients, 
and we pick out the coefficients of ^V° on both sides. This gives 
z^y on the left-hand side, and on the right-hand side a series 
which we shall now proceed to express. 

Let A apply to x, and indicate a Finite Difference produced 
by the change of x into ic + 1 ; and let 8 similarly apply to ?/, and 
indicate a Finite Difference produced by the change of 7/ into 


Now [ ^] ^^[1 ■"-) J hence in u( h) the coefficient 

of fr^ will be h't'' (-jiA > provided we suppose that ?/ is made zero 
after the operation denoted by 8'' has been performed on -^ . 

Similarly in w (^ - aj the coefficient of fr' wiU be oTA' (^/] , 
provided we suppose that x is made zero after the operation de- 
noted by A'" has been performed on -^ . 

In this way we obtain 

+ ^ V A (^] + — ^ F A'^ (^] 

IT K f ( X A 

+ • • • + 7 : 7T- r y^y. A I — ^ 

Thus we see that in order to obtain z^^y we must know 
^0, 1 > ^0, 2' • • • ^P ^^ ^0, V > ^nd we must know z^^^, ^2, c • • ^p to z^^ „ . 

Now we have to observe that this process as given by Laplace 
cannot be said to be demonstrative or even intelligible. His 
method of connecting the two independent variables by the equation 
generatrice without explanation is most strange. 

But the student who is acquainted with the modern methods 
of the Calculus of Operations will be able to translate Laplace's 
process into a more familiar language. 

Let E denote the change of x into x + 1, and F the change of 

7/ into ?/ + 1 : then the fundamental equation we have to integrate 

will be written 

{EF- aF- bE- c) z,^, = 0, 

or for abbreviation 

EF-aF-bE-c = 0, 

Then E'^F^ will be expanded in the way Laplace expands 
and his result obtained from E^'F^z^^^. Thus we rely on the 

foundations on which the Calculus of Operations is based. 


We may notice tliat we have changed Laplace's notation in 
order to avoid the dashes which are difficult in printing. La- 
place uses X where we use y, t! where we use r, and 'A where we 
use 8. 

953. Laplace takes another equation in Finite Differences. 
The equation we will denote thus 

A"^,„+^A»-a^,.,+ J A-^ax, + ... = 0. 

Here A belongs to x of which the difference is unity; and S 
belongs to y of which the difference is a. 

Laplace says that the equation generatrice is 


He supposes that this equation is solved, and thus decomposed 
into the following n equations : 

t a\ W 

t a V TV ' 

where q, q^, q^}"* ^^^ the n roots of the equation 
Then, using the first root 


u u f^ q 

^' x.r'u. 

<i\ 1 

Then passing from the generating functions to the coefficients, 
that is equating the coefficients of ^V°, we obtain 


The second member may be put in tlie form 

Denote the quantity [ — —Vz^^y by the arbitrary function 
</) (?/). Thus 

This value of Zx,y will then satisfy the equation in Finite Dif- 

Each of the n roots q, q^, q^, ... gives rise to a similar ex- 
pression ; and the sum of the 7i particular values thus obtained for 
Zx y will furnish the general value, involving n arbitrary functions. 

The student will as before be able to translate this process 
into the language of the Calculus of Operations. 

Laplace continues thus : Suppose a indefinitely small, and 
equal to dy. Then 

as we may see by taking logarithms. Thus we shall obtain 

This is the complete integral of the equation 

Laplace next gives some formulae of what we now call the Cal- 
culus of Operations, in the case of two independent variables ; see 
his pages 68 — 70. 

954. In his pages 70 — 80 Laplace offers some remarks on the 
transition from the finite to the indefinitely small ; his object is to 
shew that the process will furnish rigorous demonstrations. He 
illustrates by referring to the problem of vibrating strings, and 
this leads him to notice a famous question, namely that of the ad- 
missibility of discontinuous functions in the solution of partial dif- 


ferential equations; he concludes that such functions are ad- 
missible under certain conditions. Professor Boole reofards the 
argument as unsound ; see his Finite Differences, Chapter x. 

955. Laplace closes the Chapter with some general considera- 
tions respecting generating functions. The only point to which we 
need draw attention is that there is an important error in page 82 ; 
Laplace gives an incomplete form as the solution of an equation in 
Finite Differences ; the complete form will be found on page 5 of 
the fourth supplement. We shall see the influence of the error 
hereafter in Arts. 974, 980, 984. 

956. We now arrive at the second part of Livre i., this is 
nearly a reprint of the memoir for 1782; the method of approxi- 
mation had however been already given in the memoir for 1778. 
See Arts. 894, 899, 907, 921. 

The first chapter of the second part of Livre I. is entitled Be 
Tintegixttion jjar approximation, des differe^itielles qui renferment 
des facteurs Sieves a de grandes puissances; this Chapter occupies 
pages 88—109. 

957. The method of approximation which Laplace gives is of 
great value : we will explain it. Suppose we require the value of 

\ydx taken between two values of x which include a value for 

which y is a maximum. Assume y — Fe-^^, where F denotes this 
maximum value of y. Then 


Let y = (j) {x) ; suppose a the value of x which makes y have 
the value Y : assume x= a+ 6. 

Thus (^(a + (9)= Ye-''; 


therefore f = log -7-7 ^r . 

(p {a-^ o) 

From this equation we may expand ^ in a series of ascending 
powers of 6, and then by reversion of series we may obtain 6 in a 
series of ascending powers of t. Suppose that thus we have 


then J = J = ^, + 2i?,^ + 353^+...; 

[ydx = YJe-^' {B^ + 2B,t + SBf + ...) dt. 

Such is the method of Laplace. It will be practically advan- 
tageous in the cases where B^, B^, B^, ... form a rapidly converging 
series; and it is to such cases that we shall have to apply it, when 
we give some examples of it from Laplace's next Chapter. In 
these examples there will be no difficulty in calculating the terms 
B^, B^, B^, ..., so far as we shall require them. An investigation of 
the general values of these coefficients as far as B^ inclusive will be 
found in De Morgan's Differential and hitegral Calculus, page 602. 

If we suppose that the limits of x are such as to make the cor- 
responding values of y zero, the limits of t will be — co and + oo . 

Now if r be odd I e-^'fdt vanishes, and if r be even it is equal to 

^ —00 

(^_1)(^_3)... 3.1 
Thus we have 


3 5 3 

ydx= Ys/ir\B^-]r-^B^-^-i^ B^-^.,.\. 

Besides the transformation y = Ye~^^ Laplace also takes cases 
in which the exponent of e instead of being — f has other values. 
Thus on his page 88 the exponent is — t, and on his page 93 
it is — f'' ; in the first of these cases Y is not supposed to be a 
maximum value of y. 

958. Some definite integrals are given on pages 95 — 101, in 
connexion with which it may be useful to supply a few references. 

The formula marked {T) on page 95 occurs in Laplace's memoir 
of 1782, page 17. 

COS rx e** ^ dx = -^r- e ia" . 

Jo 2« 

this was given by Laplace in the Memoires...de llnstitut for 
1810, page 290 ; see also Tables dlntegrales Definies, 1858, by 

D. Bierens de Haan, page 376. 




dx-=^ ^ 

^ ^ 

see D. Bierens de Haan, page 268. 

where a is supposed positive ; these seem due to Laplace ; see 
D. Bierens de Haan, page 282, TMorie...desProh., pages 99—134. 
We may remark that these two results, together with 



sin ax dx it ,^ „•. 

1 -i- X X Z 

are referred by D. F. Gregory, in his Examples ofthe.,.Diffe7'ential 
and Integral Calcidus, to Laplace's memoir of 1782 ; but they are 
not explicitly given there : with respect to the last result see 
D. Bierens de Haan, page 293. 

959. Since the integral le~^' dt occurs in the expressions of 

Art. 957, Laplace is led to make some observations on modes of 
approximating to the value of this integral. He gives the follow- 
ing series which present no difficulty : 


t' 1 t' 1 t' 
e-'V< = T-3+^g-^^ + ...; 


In the memoir of 1782 the second of these three expressions 
does not occur. 

Laplace also gives a development of I e'^"^ dt into the form of 

J T 

a continued fraction, which he takes from his MScanique Celeste, 
Livy^e x. See also De Morgan's Differential and Integral Calculus, 
page 591, for this and some similar developments. 


9 GO. Laplace extends the method of approximation given in 
Art. 957 to the case of double integrals. The following is substan- 
tially his process. Suppose we require \\ydxdx' taken between 

such limits of x and x as make y vanish. Let Y denote the 
maximum value of y, and suppose that a and a are the correspond- 
ing values of x and x. Assume , 


X = a + 6, x = a -\- 6'. 


Substitute these values of x and x in the function log — and 

expand it in powers of 6 and 6' ; then since Y is by hypothesis the 
maximum value of y the coefficients of 6 and 6' will vanish in this 
expansion : hence we may write the result thus 

that is J/ (" (9 + ^ ^'V j^(p-^\ d" =e^ t'\ 

Since we have made only one assumption respecting the inde- 
pendent variables t and t' w^e are at liberty to make another ; we 
will assume 

and therefore 6' /(p-^\^t'. 

Now by the ordinary theory for the transformation of double 
integrals we have 

\ydxdx = jj ^ , 

, T-K , 1 r dt dt' dt dt' 

where x> stands lor -7-, ^7^, — -,^, -77: . 

du do do do 

Thus far the process is exact. For an approximation we may 
suppose M, N, P to be functions of a and a only ; then we have 

2r da" ' tY dada" 2Y da"' 




Then we sliall find that 

n //DiT A72N 1 /{d'^Yd'Y fd'Y\\ 

And the limits of t and t' will be — (X) and + co ; thus finally 
we have approximately 

I \y dx dx — 

/{d'Y d'Y 
y \dd' da!' 


( d'Y 

jda da I 
See Art. 907. 

961. The second Chapter of the second part of Livre l. is 
entitled De ^integration par approximation, des Equations lineaires 
aux differences finies et infiniment petites : this Chapter occupies 
pages 110 — 125. 

This Chapter exemplifies the process of solving linear differential 
equations by the aid of definite integrals. Laplace seems to be 
the first who drew attention to this subject : it is now fully dis- 
cussed in works on differential equations. See Boole's Differential 

962. The third Chapter of the second part of Livre L is 
entitled App)lication des m^thodes prdc^dentes, a V ap>proximation 
de diverses fonctions de tres-grands nonibi^es: this Chapter oc- 
cupies pages 126 — 177. 

The first example is the following. Suppose we have to in- 
tegrate the equation in Finite Differences, 

Assume y^— ix'ipdx, where ^ is a function of x at present 

undetermined, and the limits of the integration are also unde- 

Let By stand for x" ; then -~^ = sx^~'^. Hence the proposed 

equation becomes 


that is, by integrating by parts, 

= [xhy<f>] +j |(1 -^) ^-^ (#)j Bi/dx. 

Wliere by [xBi/^] we mean that xhy^ is to be taken between 

Assume </> such that 

and take the limits of integration such that [^ % </>] = ; then 
our proposed equation is satisfied. 

From (1 — cc) (^ — y- (x(^) = 0, we obtain 

where ^ is a constant. Then xBi/ (f> will vanish when x= and 
also when cc = 00 . Thus, finally 



Now we proceed to put this integral in the form of a series. 
The maximum value of ic*e~* is easily found to be that which 
corresponds to a; = 5. Assume, according to Art. 957, 

23* e"* = s'e~^e~^\ 


and put x—s-\-Q\ thus 

Take the logarithms of both sides ; thus 

Hence by reversion of series we get 

3 9 V2s 


therefore dx^dQ^ di V25 1 1 + — r— + -^ 

\ 3V25 65 

The limits of t corresponding to the limits and go of a; will 
be — 00 and + 00 . Therefore 

/-«> /"» ( ^t ^ \ 

Jo J -00 I 8V2s 65 J 

By integration we obtain 


==As'^^e-'\^'27r \l+ Y^+ ...\ . 

Laplace says we may determine the value of the factor 

very simply thus. 

7? O 

Denote it by 1 ■] H -7 + ... so that 

•^ s s 

7/, = As'^'^e-W2^h + j + ~ + ...\ 
Substitute this value in the equation 


' ly^^ _, r B C ] , B , 



8 S 

B B-2G 

--^ + — ^j— + ... 


~ 126'^ "^12s^^ ••' 

f, B G \ ( 1 1 I ^ , B-20 

s ' ^^ ' J 12s' ' 12/ s' ' s 



Hence, equating coefficients, 

^ ~ 12 ' 288 ' 

The value of A in the expression for y^ must be determined 
by some particular value of ?/g. Suppose that when s = yx we 
have 2/^= Y. 

Then Y^A\ x^e'^dx^ 

J a 

thus A = 




Vs- p i^+ 12s'^288/"^*"'i* 

I x^ e ax 


The original equation can be very easily integrated; and we 


y,^ rOL6 + l)0+2) ...5. 

Hence, by equating the two values of y^, 
(/i + 1) (/I +2) ...s = 


a;'^ e"'" cfa? 

It will be observed that 5 — /z is assumed to be a positive 
integer, but there is nothing to require that 5 itself should be an 


963. One remark must be made on the process which we have 
just given. Let (s) denote 

*■ "T T(r>_'ooo^2'" 

will be denoted by <f>{—s). 

Now Laplace does not shew that 


although he assumes the truth of this on his page 134). It may 
be shewn by adopting the usual mode of proving Stirling's Theo- 
rem. For by using Euler's theorem for summation, given in 
Art. 334, it will appear that 

where t (^) = 9^ " ^l73 + ' 

26^ 3.4/ ' 5.Qs' ' 

the coefficients being the well-known numhers of Bernoidli. 

Thus 'i/r(5)+i/r(-5)=0; 

therefore e^^'^ x e^^"^ = e' ^1, 

that is </) (5) <^ (— 5) = 1. 

964. Laplace, after investigating a formula sometimes de- 
duces another from it by passing from real to imaginary quantities. 
This method cannot be considered demonstrative ; and indeed 
Laplace himself admits that it may be employed to discover new 
formulae, but that the results thus obtained should be confirmed 
by direct demonstration. See his pages 87 and 471; also Art. 920. 

Thus as a specimen of his results we may quote one which he 
gives on his page 134. 

Let Q = cos CT 

(^^ + ^r 



('00 • 


A memoir by Cauchy on Definite Integrals is published in the 
Journal de VEcole Folytechnique, 28^ Cahier ; this memoir was 
presented to the Academy of Sciences, Jan. 2nd, 1815, but not 
printed until 1841. The memoir discusses very fully the results 
given by Laplace in the Chapter we are now considering. Cauchy 
says, page 148, 

...je suis parvenu a qiielques resultats nouveaux, ainsi qii'a la 
demonstration directe de plusieurs formules, que M. Laplace a deduites 


du passage du r^el a rimaginaire, dans le 3"^® chapitre du Calcul d'^s 
P^'ohahilites, et qu'il vient de confirmer par des metliodes rigoureuses 
dans quelques additions faites a cet ouvrage. 

The additions to which Cauchy refers occupy pages 464 — 484 
of the Theorie...des Froh., and first appeared in the second edi- 
tion, which is dated 1814. 

965. An important application which Laplace makes of his 
method of approximation is to evaluate the coefficients of the 
terms in the expansion of a high power of a certain polynomial. 

Let the polynomial consist of 2n + l terms and be denoted 

111 1 

-^ + -iFT + -1F2 + — + - + 1 + «+••• + «""' + «*""' + «" ; 

a a a ^ a 

and suppose the polynomial raised to the power s. 

First, let it be required to find the coefficient of the term 
independent of a. 

Substitute e^^^^ for a ; then we require the term which is 
independent of 6 when 


l + 2cos^ + 2cos2^+ ... + 2cos?i^y 

is expanded and arranged according to cosines of multiples of 0. 
This term will be found by integrating the above expression with 
respect to 6 from to tt, and dividing by tt. Sum the series of 
cosines by the usual formula ; then the required term 

. 2w + l^ 
t n^ 1 sm — 71 — u 

ir\ J 

TT j„ J • 1 /I 

sm ^ o 



2 C^' /sin m(l) 
"ttJo Vsin^ 

where (f)=^-9, and 7n = 2n + 1. 

Now the expression ( . ^ j vanishes when 

TT 27r Stt 
= — or — or — 
^ m m m 


and between each of these values it will be found that the ex- 
pression is numerically a maximum, and it is also a maximum when 
(j) = 0. Thus we may calculate by Art. 957 the value of the integral 

'sm 7nd)\^ . . . . TT 

— : — ~ d6 when the limits are consecutive multiples of — . 
^ sni (p J ^ m 

sm Tyicri 
The equation which determines the maxima values of — ^ — ,- 



m, cos mcf) sin (/> — cos <j) sin mcf) 


sin^ (j) 


It will be found that this is satisfied when <^ = ; the situation 
of the other values of cf) will be more easily discovered by putting 
the equation in the form 

tan m(j) — m tan (^ = : 
now we see that the next solution will lie between m(b = -— and 

»">73" 7 77" 077" 

m^— — , and then the next between m(p = -r- and m<^ = -^, 
and so on. 

We proceed then to find 

''sin mcf)\ 






The maximum value of the function which is to be integrated 
occurs when 4> = 0, and is therefore m* ; assume 

— 77i*e~^', 

/sin m(f)^ * 
V sin (/) , 

j = m*e~''; 

take logarithms, thus we obtain 


Therefore approximately 

d<t> V6 

dt ~^ls{m'-l)}' 

The limits of ^ will be and x . Hence approximately 
2 r^ /sin 7?2(f)\* ,^ 2 w'' ^/6 r -t^ j. 

m' V6 (2w + 1)' \/3 

Laplace next considers the value of the integral with respect 

to <h between the limits — and — , and then the value between 
^ m m 

the limits — • and ^ — , and so on ; he shews that when 5 is a very 
771 m 

large number these definite integrals diminish rapidly, and may 

be neglected in comparison with the value obtained for the limits 

and — . This result depends on the fact that the successive 


numerical maxima values of — -. — r^ diminish rapidly ; as we shall 

sm ^ 

now shew. At a numerical maximum we have 

sin vi(f) m cos m(f) m m 

sin ^ cos ^ cos V(l + ^^'^ tan^ </>) VCcos'^ ^ + m"^ sin^ 0) ' 

this is less than ^ — r , that is less than . . . — , and therefore 

sm (p sm (p 9 

a for^tiori less than — — , that is less than ^ — r . 
•^ 2 <j) 2 incp 

Hence at the second maximum —. — j- is less than - -— , 

sm 2 5 

that is less than ^ , and therefore the ratio of the second nume- 


524< LAPLACE. 

rical maximum value of ( —. — ~] to the first is less than f J) . 
Similarly the ratio of the third numerical maximum value to the 
first is less than f^j . And so on. 

Next suppose that we require the coefficient of a in the 
expansion of 

[4 + -4i + -^2 +... + - + 1 + « + •••+«""'+«""' + ^4'- 
[a a a a ) 

The coefficient of a'" in this expansion will be the same as the 
coefficient of a"*" ; denote the coefficient of a"" by A^.. Pat e^^ 
for a and suppose the expression to be arranged according to 
cosines of the multiples of 6 ; then 2A^ cos r6 will be the term 
corresponding to A^ (a*" + a"*"). If we multiply the expression by 
cos W, and integrate between the limits and tt, all the terms 
will vanish except that for which r is equal to I; so that the 

integral reduces to 2Ai j cos^ Wd6. Hence 

cos WdO. 


We put; as before, m — 2n + 1, and (f> = ^0; thus we have 

As before assume 

/sin m4i\^ 


sin md>Y „ _,, 



then </) = .. , \ — TyT , approximately. 

Hence the intoOTal becomes 


2 "^'^'5 f^-,^^^ 2?^y6 ^, 


Vis K- 1)1 J" ^"V(«K-i)} 


As before we take and oo for the limits of t, and thus 
neglect all that part of the integral with respect to which is not 


included between the limits and — . Hence by Art. 958 we 


have finally 

2 77ZV6 Vtt -,-J^ (2/z + l)V3 -^-^, 

;; sj[s {m' - 1)} 2 ^ ' ""^ ^/[n {n + 1) 2s7r} 

Suppose now that we require the sum of the coefficients, from 
that of a-^ to that of o} both inclusive ; we must find the sum of 

2^j+2^z.i+2^i_2+... + 2^^ + ^,: 

this is best effected by the aid of Euler's Theorem ; see Art. 384. 
We have approximately 

ri 11 

r? 1 1 

therefore ^^ u^ = I u^dx + « ^^a; + « ^o > 

therefore 2^^^^ Ug; — u^ = 2 I ujix + u^, 


Hence the required result is 

We may observe that Laplace demonstrates Euler's Tlieorem 
in the manner which is now usual in elementary works, that is by 
the aid of the Calculus of Operations. 

966. Laplace gives on his page 158 the formula 




x^ ^ e^ dx 

He demonstrates this in his own way ; it is sufficient to obseiTe 
that it may be obtained by putting x for sx in the integral in the 
numerator of the left-hand side. 


Hence he deduces 

/• 00 

I x^^ e-^ (e-^ - 1)" dx 

^n - ^ -_o 


:&-^ e~^ dx 

Laplace calculates tlie approximate value of this expression, 
supposing { very large. He assumes that the result which he 
obtains will hold when the sign of { is changed ; so that he obtains 
an approximate expression for AV; see page 159 of his work. 
He gives a demonstration in the additions; see page 474 of the 
Tkeorie...des Proh. The demonstration involves much use of the 
symbol \/(- !)• Cauchy gives a demonstration on page 247 of the 
memoir cited in Art. 964. Laplace gives another formula for 
AV on his page 163 ; he arrives at it by the aid of integrals with 
imaginary limits, and then confirms his result by a demon- 

967. Laplace says, on his page 165, that in the theory of 
chances we often require to consider in the expression for AV only 
those terms in which the quantity raised to the power t is positive; 
and accordingly he proceeds to give suitable approximate formulae 
for such cases. Then he passes on to consider specially the ap- 
proximate value of the" expression 

Tl [71 — 1 ) 

(n-\-r sJnY - n (ii + r V?i - 2)^ + (n + r ^Jn- iy - ... , 

where the series is to extend only so long as the quantities raised 
to the power yu, are positive, and />t is an integer a little greater or 
a little less than n. See Arts. 916, 917. 

The methods are of the kind already noticed ; that is they are 
not demonstrative, but rest on a free use of the symbol a/ (— 1). 

A point should be noticed with respect to Laplace's page 171. 
He has to establish a certain formula; but the whole difficulty of 
the process is passed over with the words determinant convenable- 
ment la constante arhitraire. Laplace's formula is established by 
Cauchy ; see page 240 of the memoir cited in Art. 964. 

968. In conclusion we may observe that this Chapter contains 
many important results, but it is to be regretted that the demon- 


strations are very imperfect. The memoir of Cauchy to which we 
have referred, is very laborious and difficult, so that this portion 
of the Theorie...des Proh. remains in an unsatisfactory state. 

969. We now arrive at Livre ii, which is entitled TMorie 
Generate des Prohahilites. 

It will be understood that when we speak of any Chapter in 
Laplace's work without further specification, we always mean a 
Chapter of Livre IL 

The first Chapter is entitled Principes generaux de cette TMorie. 
This occupies pages 179 — 188 ; it gives a brief statement, with 
exemplification, of the first principles of the subject. 

970. The second Chapter is entitled De la ProbcibiliU des 
^venemens composes d'Svenemens simples dont les possihiliUs respec- 
tives sont donnees. This occupies pages 189 — 27-i ; it contains the 
solution of several problems in direct probability ; we will notice 
them in order. 

971. The first problem is one connected with a lottery ; see 
Arts. 291, 44^8, 4<d5, 775, 864, 910. 

The present discussion adds to what Laplace had formerly 
given an approximate calculation. The French lottery was com- 
posed of 90 numbers, 5 of which were drawn at a time. Laplace 
shews that it is about an even chance that in 86 drawingfs all 
the numbers will appear. This approximate calculation is an 
example of the formula for AV given by Laplace on page 159 of 
his work ; see Art. 966. 

We may remark that Laplace also makes use of a rougher ap- 
proximation originally given by De Moivre ; see Art. 292. 

972. On his page 201 Laplace takes the problem of odd and 
even; see Arts. 350, 865, 882. 

Laplace adds the following problem. Suppose that an urn con- 
tains X white balls, and the same number of black balls ; an even 
number of balls is to be drawn out : required the probability that 
as many white balls as black balls will be drawn out. 

The whole number of cases is found to be 2"^"^ — 1, and the 


whole number of favourable cases to be -^= 1 ; the required 

X \x 
probability therefore is the latter number divided by the former. 

973, The next problem is the Problem of Points. Laplace 
treats this very fully under its various modifications ; the dis- 
cussion occupies his pages 203 — 217. See Arts. 872, 884. 

We will exhibit in substance, Laplace's mode of investigation. 
Two players A and B want respectively x and y points of winning 
a set of games ; their chances of winning a single game are jp and 
q resj^ectively, w^here the sum of "p and q is unity ; the stake is to 
belong to the player who first makes up his set : determine the 
probabilities in favour of each player. 

Let </) {x^ y) denote ^'s probability. Then his chance of win- 
ning the next game is p, and if he wins it his probability becomes 
</) (a? — 1, y) ; and q is his chance of losing this game, and if he loses 
it his probability becomes ^{x, y — 1) : thus 

^ {x, y) =p ^ {x -1, y) -\- q (\> {x, y -1) (1). 

Suppose that </> [x, y) is the coefficient of fr^ in the develop- 
ment according to powers of t and r of a certain function u of 
these variables. From (1) we shall obtain 

u-t<i>(x, 0)f-t^{0,y) T^+^(0, 0) 

==u(pt + qT)-pttcl>(x,0)f-qTtcl^{0,7j)T' (2), 

where ^ cj) (x, 0) f denotes a summation with respect to x from 
X = inclusive to x= oo ; and X (/> (0, y) r'" denotes a summation 
with respect to y from ?/ = inclusive to y= cc . In order to shew 
that (2) is true we have to observe two facts. 

First, the coefficient of any such term as Tr", where neither m 
nor n is less than unity, is the same on both sides of (2) by virtue 
of (1). 

Secondly, on the left-hand side of (2) such terms as Tt", where 
m or 7i is less than unity, cancel each other ; and so also do such 
terms on the right-hand side of (2). 

Thus (2) is fully established. From (2) we obtain 

u — , 

1 —j)f — qr 


wc may write this result thus, 

Avhere i^(^) and /(r) are functions of t and r respectively, which 

are at present undetermined. By supposing that the term in /(t) 

vv'hich is independent of t is included in F{t), we may write the 

result thus, 

„ = %IO±ltM (4)_ 

1 — pt — qr 

Thus either (3) or (4) may be taken as the general solution of 
the equation (1) in Finite Differences; and this general solution 
involves two arbitrary functions which must be determined by 
sjDecial considerations. We proceed to determine these functions 
in the present case, taking the form (4) which will be the most 

Now A loses if B first makes up his set, so that <^ {x, 0) = 
for every value of x from unity upwards, and (/> (0, 0) does not 
occur, that is it may also be considered zero. But from (4) it 
follows that (j) (x, 0) is the coefficient of f in the development 

of ^^^ ; therefore v (t) = 0. 

Again, A wins if he first makes up his set, so that cj) (0, y) = 1 
for every value of i/ from unity upwards. But from (4) it follows 

that (j) (0, y) is the coefficient of t^ in the development of r-^ 

so that 

Tyjr (t) _ T 



Thus finally 


qr 1 


T^fr (t) 



- T 




Now <^{x,y) is the coefficient of fr' in the development of w. 
First expand according to powers of t ; thus we obtain for the 




p T 

coefficient of f the expression _ J^ .^ _ y . Then expand 

this expression according to powers of r, and we finally obtain for 
the coefficient of fj^ 

This is therefore the probability in favour of A ; and that in 

favour of JB may be obtained by interchanging p with q and x 

with ?/. 

The result is identical with the second of the two formuloe 

which we have given in Art. 172. 

97*i. The investigation just given is in substance Laplace's ; 

he takes the particular case in which p = -^ and q = ^', but this 

makes no difference in principle. But there is one important 
difference. At the stage where we have 

F{t) +/(t) 

u = 

1 —pt — qr 

Laplace puts 


u = 

1 —jyi — qr 

This is an error, it arises from a false formula given by Laplace 
on his page 82; see Art. 955. Laplace's error amounts to neg- 
lectinsc the considerations involved in the second of the facts on 
which equation (2) of the preceding Article depends : this kind 
of neglect has been not uncommon with those who have used or 
expounded the method of Generating Functions. 

975. We will continue the discussion of the Problem of Points, 
and suppose that there are more than two players. Let the first 
player want x^ i^oints, the second x^ points, the third x^ points, 
and so on. Let their respective chances of winning a single game 
^^ 1\' 2\> 1\^ • ' • Let cj) (x^, x^, x^, . . .) denote the probability in 
favour of the first player. Then, as in Art. 973, we obtain the 


Suppose that cj) {x^, x^, x^, ...) is the coefficient of ?f/i t^'^^ts^'s ... 
in the development of a function u of these variables. Laplace 
then proceeds thus. From (1) he passes to 

?^ = w(M+M + M+---) (2)' 

and then he deduces 

i=M+M+M + O^)- 



, ^1 (^1 + 1) 


(M + M+--0' 

cc, (a?, + 1) (x, + 2) , , . . 


Now the coefficient of t^t^^^t^^... in — ^ is ^ (a^^, ajg, cCg, ...)• 

Let 7i:w;:)^*i i^"* t^^ . . . denote any term of the right-hand member 
of the last equation. Then the coefficient of t^ t,^2 t^a ... in this 
term will be hp^i <f> (0, x^—m, x^—7i,...). But cj) (0, x^— m, x^—n,...) 
is equal to unity, for if the first player wants no points he is en- 
titled to the stake. Moreover we must reject all the values of 
<f> if), x^ — m, x^ — n, ...) in which m is equal to or greater than x^^ 
in which n is equal to or greater than x^, and so on; for these 
terms in fact do not exist, that is must be considered to be zero. 
Hence finally 

^ (a?j, OJg, a-g, . . .) =2\^' |l + a?, {p^ +793 + . . .) 

* !■ 



provided we reject all terms in wliich the power of p^ surpasses 
x^ — 1, in which the power oi p^ surpasses x^ — 1, and so on. 

Now on this process of Laplace's we remark : ' . 

First, the equation (2) is not true ; as in Art. 973 we ought to 
allow for terms in which one or more of the variables x^,x^,x^,... 
is zero ; and therefore additional terms ought to be placed in each 
member of equation (2) of the present Article, like those in equa- 
tion (2) of Article 973. 

Secondly, Laplace's treatment of his equation (3) is unintel- 
ligible, as we have already remarked in a similar case ; see 
Art. 952. By making use of the Calculus of Operations we might 
however translate Laplace's process into another free from ob- 

976. At this stage we shall find it convenient to introduce an 
account of the fourth Supplement to the Theorie.,.des Prohahilites. 
This supplement contains 28 pages. Laplace begins with a few 
remarks on Generating Functions; he gives the correct formula 
for the solution of an equation in Finite Differences for which he 
had formerly given an incorrect formula: see Art. 955. He does 
not refer to the Theorie...des Froh. nor take any notice of the 
discrepancy of the two formulae. He says, on page 4 of the Sup- 

Un des principaux avantages de cette maniere d'integrer les equa- 
tions aux differences partielles, consiste en ce que I'analyse algebrique 
fournissant divers moyens pour developper les fonctions, on peut choisir 
celui qui convient le mieux a la question proposee. La solution des 
]>roblemes suivans, par le Comte de Lai^lace, mon fils, et les considera- 
tions qu'il y a jointes, repandront un nouveau jour sur le calcul des 
fonctions generatrices. 

We have therefore to ascribe all the rest of the fourth Sup- 
plement to Laplace's son. 

977. The main part of the fourth Supplement consists of the 
solution of problems which may be considered as generalisations of 
the Problem of Points. There are three of these problems ; we 
will enunciate them. 


I. A player A draws a ball from an urn containing white 
balls and black balls ; his chance of drawing a white ball is p, 
and his chance of drawing a black ball is q : after the ball has 
been drawn it is replaced. Then a second player B draws a ball 
from a second urn contairing white balls and black balls; his 
chance of drawing a white ball is p, and his chance of drawing 
a black ball is q : after the ball has been drawn it is replaced. 
The two players continue thus to draw alternately a ball, each 
from his own urn, and to replace the ball after it has been 
drawn. If a player draws a white ball he counts a point ; if he 
draws a black ball he counts nothing. Suppose that A wants x 
points, and B wants x points to complete an assigned set, required 
the probabilities in favour of each player. 

II. Suppose A draws from an urn in which there are balls 
of three kinds ; for a ball of the first kind he counts two points, for 
a ball of the second kind he counts one point, and for a ball of the 
third kind he counts no point: let his chances he p>,p)^, and q for 
the three cases. 

Similarly let B draw from a second urn containing similar 
balls ; let^', j9j', and q be his chances for the three cases. Then, 
as before, we require the probabilities for each player of his 
making up an assigned set of points before his adversary makes 
up an assigned set. 

III. An urn contains a known number of black balls, and a 
known number of white balls ; a ball is drawn and not replaced ; 
then another ball, and so on : required the probability that a 
given number of white balls will be drawn before another given 
number of black balls. 

These three problems are solved by the method of Generating 
Functions used carefully and accurately ; that is, the terms which 
are required to make the equations true are given, and not 
omitted. See Art. 97^. After the problems are solved generally 
particular cases are deduced. 

The student of the fourth Supplement will have to bear in 
mind that in the first problem p + q = l and p?' + 2=1* ^^^ ^^ 
the second problem p +p)^ + ^ = 1, p' +p^ -\- q =1, 


978. After the solutions of these problems we have a few 
pages headed Remarque sw les fonctions generatrices ; and this is 
the part of the fourth Supplement with which we are chiefly 
interested. It is here observed that in a case like that of our 
Art. 975; the equation (2) is not an accurate deduction from equa- 
tion (1) ; for additional terms ought to be added to each side, in 
the manner of our Art. 973. 

There is however a mistake at the top of page 24 of the fourth 
Supplement : instead of adding a function of t, two functions must 
be added, one of t and the other of t'. 

The fourth Supplement then proceeds thus, on its page 24 : 

Faute d' avoir egard a ces fonctions, on j^eut tomber dans des 
erreurs graves, en se servant de ce moyen pour integrer les equations 
aux differences partielles. Par cette meme raison, la marche suivie dans 
la solution des problemes des n"^^ 8 et 10 du second livre de la Theorie 
analytique des Probabilites n'est nullement rigoureuse, et semble impliquer 
contradiction, en ce qu'elle etablit une liaison entre les variables qui 
sont et doivent etre toujours independantes. Sans entrer dans les 
considerations particulieres qui ont pu la faire reussir ici, et qu'il est 
aise de saisir, nous allons faire voir que la metliode d'integration ex- 
posee au commencement de ce Supplement s'applique egalement a ces 
questions, et les resout avec non moins de simplicite. 

The problem referred to as contained in No. 8 of the 
TMorie...des Proh. is that which we have given in Art. 975; 
the problem referred to as contained in No. 10 of the Theorie... des 
Proh. is that which we shall notice in Art. 980. The fourth 
Supplement gives solutions of these problems by the accurate use 
of Generating Functions, in the manner of our Art. 973. 

Thus as Laplace himself attached the fourth Supplement to 
his work, we may conclude that he admitted the solutions in 
question to be unsound. We consider that they are unsound, and 
in fact unintelligible, as they are presented by Laplace ; but on 
the other hand, we believe that they may be readily translated 
into the language of the Calculus of Operations, and thus become 
clear and satisfactory. See Art. 952. 

979. We return from the fourth Supplement to the 
Theorie... des Proh. itself. Laplace's next problem is that which 


is connected with the game which is called Treize or Rencontre ; 
see Arts. 162, 280, 286, 430, Q±Q. 

Laplace devotes his pages 217 — 225 to this problem ; he gives 
the solution, and then applies his method of approximation in 
order to obtain numerical results when very high numbers are 

980. Laplace takes next on his pages 225 — 238 the problem 
of the Duration of Play. The results were enunciated by De 
Moivre and demonstrated by Lagrange ; Laplace has made great 
use of Lagrange's memoir on the subject ; see Arts. 311, 583, 
588, 863, 885, 921. We may observe that before Laplace gives 
his analytical solution he says, Ce probleme pent etre resolu 
avec facilite par le precede suivant qui est en quelque sorte, 
mecanique ; the process which he gives is due to De Moivre ; 
it occurs on page 203 of the Doctrine of Chances. See also 
Art. 303. In the course of the investigation, Laplace gives a 
process of the kind we have already noticed, which is criticised in 
the fourth Supplement ; see Art. 978. 

981. Laplace takes next on his pages 238 — 2-17 the problem 
which we have called Waldegrave's problem ; see Arts. 210, 249, 
295, 348. 

There are n-\-l players C^, G^, ... (7„^j. First C^ and Cg play 
together ; the loser deposits a shilling in a common stock, and the 
winner plays with C^ ; the loser again deposits a shilling, and the 
winner plays with C^\ the process is continued until some one 
player has beaten in succession all the rest, the turn of C^ coming 
on again after that of (7„^j. The winner is to take all the money 
in the common stock. 

Laplace determines the probability that the play will terminate 
precisely at the x^^'^ game, and also the probability that it will 
terminate at or before the ic^'* game. He also determines the 
probability that the r^^ player will win the money j)recisely at the 
x^^ game ; that is to say, he exhibits a complex algebraical func- 
tion of a variable t which must be expanded in powers of x 
and the coefficient of t'' taken. He then deduces a general ex- 
pression for the advantage of the r*^ player. 

The part of the solution which is new in Laplace's discussion 


is that which determines the probability that the r^^ player will- 
win the money precisely at the x^^ game ; Nicolas Bernoulli had 
confined himself to the probability which each player has of 
winning the money on the whole. 

982. We will give, after Laplace, the investigation of the 
probability that the play will terminate precisely at the x^^ 

Let z^ denote this probability. In order that the play may 
terminate at the x^^ game, the player who enters into play at the 
{x — n-\-Vf^ game must win this game and the n — 1 following 

Suppose that the winner of the money starts with a player 
who has won only one game ; let P denote the probability of this 

P . 

event ; then — will be the corresponding probability that the 

play will terminate at the x^^ game. But the probability that the 
play will terminate at the {x — iy^ game, that is z^_^, is equal 

P . . 

to ^Tpi . For it is necessary to this end that a player who has 

already won one game just before the {x — n + Vf^ game should 
win this game and the n — ^ following games j and the probabilities 

of these component events being respectively P and ^^^^i , the 

. P 

probability of the compound event is ^^^ . Thus 

P 1 

— V • 

and therefore ^ z^_^ is the probability that the play will terminate 


at the fl?*^ game, relative to this case. 

Next suppose that the winner of the money starts with a player 
who has won two games ; let P' denote the probability of this 


event ; then -^ will be the corresponding probability that the play 


will terminate at the x^"^ game. And -^^ = z^_^ : for in order that 

the play should terminate at the (ic— 2)"* game it is necessary that 
a player who has already won two games just before the (a; — 72+ 1)"' 


game should win this, game and the n — 2 following games. Thus 

F' 1 

and therefore ^ z^_^ is the probability that the play will terminate 

at the ic*^ sfame relative to this case. 

By proceeding thus, and collecting all the partial probabilities 
we obtain 

1 1 )_ 1 n\ 

Suppose that z^ is the coefficient of f in the expansion accord- 
ing to powers of ^ of a certain function u of this variable. Then 
from (1) we have, as in Art. 937, 


u = 

111 1 

-*• 2 " 92 '' 2^ * " 2'*"'^ 

where -F (^) is a function of t which is at present undetermined. 

Now if (1) were true for x = n SiS well as for higher values of 
n, the function F(t) would be of the degree n — 1. But (1) does 
not hold when x — n, for in forming (1) the player who wins the 
money was supposed to start against an opponent who had won 
one game at least ; so that in (1) we cannot suppose x to be less 
than n-\-l. Hence the function F [t) will be of the degree n, 
and we may put 

a^ + ait + ctf + . • . + a.f' 

u = 

111 1 

Now the play cannot terminate before the ?i*'' game, and the pro- 
bability of its terminating at the n^^ game is ^^^ ; therefore a^ 

vanishes for values of x less than n, and a,, = — — • . Thus 

538 LxlPLACE. 

The coefficient of f in the expansion of u in powers of t gives 
the probabiHty that the play will terminate at the x^^ game. 

The probability that the play will terminate at or before the 
x^^ game will be the sum of the coefficients of f and of the inferior 
jDOwers of t in the expansion of u, which will be equal to the co- 


efficient of f in the expansion of- ; that is, it will be the co- 
efficient of f in the ex^Dansion of 

1 f (2 - t) 

This expression is equal to 

1 r(2-o f f f r \ 

¥ {l-tf \ T (1 - "^ 2'^' (1 - tf 2^''(l-/)-^'^ ""J ' 
The T^^ term of this development is 

(- 1)*--^ (2 - 1) r 


r+l > 

that is 

( 1) l^™-! (^1 

ty^^ ^rn ^^ _ ^y^lj • 

The expansion in powers of t of this r* term may now be 
readily effected ; the coefficient of f will be 

f 1 \ic-\-r — rii \ \x -\-r — rii — 1 
(- ) I 2^^ \x-rn \r ~ W' \x-rn-\ [T j ' 

/ 2y-i \x -\-r — rn — 1 

that is ^-TTri— , {x — rn + 2r). 

^"^"^ x — rn\r ^ ^ 

The final result is that the probability that the play will termi- 
nate at or before the x^^ game, is represented by as many terms 
of the following series as there are units in the integer next 

below - : 

1 2 3~2^ ^ - o;i + uj — . . . 


The sum of the coefficients of every power of t up to infinity 
in the expansion of u will represent the probability that the play 
will terminate if there be no limit assigned to the number of games. 
But the sum of these coefficients will be equal to the value of i6 
when t is made equal to unity ; and this value of u is unity. Hence 
we infer that the probability of the termination of the play may 
be made as near to unity as we please by allowing a sufficient 
number of games. 

983. In Laplace's own solution no notice is taken of the fact 
that equation (1) does not hold for x = n. Professor De Morgan 
remarks in a note to Art. 52 of the Theory of Probabilities in the 
EnciJclopcBdia Metropolitana, 

Laplace (p. 240) has omitted all allusion to this circumstance ; and 
the omission is highly characteristic of his method of writing. ISTo one 
was more sure of giving the result of an analytical process correctly, and 
no one ever took so little care to point out the various small considera- 
tions on which correctness depends. His Theorie cles Probabilites is by 
very much the most difficult mathematical work we have ever met 
with, and prmcipally from this circumstance : the Mecanique Celeste has 
its full share of the same sort of difficulty; but the analysis is less intri- 

984. We may observe that as Laplace continues his discussion 
of Waldegrave's problem he arrives at the following equation in 
Finite Differences, 


i/r, X yr-\ , x-1 "f" ~e)n U i\ x-n ^ j 

in integrating this, although his final result is correct, his process is 
unsatisfactory, because it depends upon an error we have already 
indicated. See Art. 955. 


985. Laplace's next problem is that relating to a run of 
events which was discussed by De Moivre and Condorcet ; see 
Arts. 325, G77 : this problem occupies Laplace's pages 247 — 253. 

Let 2^ denote the chance of the happening of the event in a 
single trial ; let </> {x) denote the probability that in x trials the 


event will happen i times in succession. Then from equation (1) 
of Art. 678 by changing the notation we have 

^ (x) ^p'+p'-' (1 -p) cj, (x-i) -\-p'-' (1 -p) ct>{x-i-^ 1) + ... 

,..+p{l-p)c^{x-2) + (l^p)<t>(x-l) (1). 

Laplace takes z^ to denote the probability that the run will 
finish at the x^^ trial, and not before ; then he obtains 

^x = (1 p) 1^.-1 + P^^, +P\-, + . . . + p"' ^x- j (2). 

"VVe may deduce (2) thus ; it is obvious that 

z^ = (f>{x)-(f){x-l); 

hence in (1) change x into x — 1 and subtract, and we ob- 
tain (2). 

Laplace proceeds nearly thus. If the run is first completed 
at the x^^ trial the (x—iy^ trial must have been unfavourable, and 
the following i trials favourable. Laplace then makes ^ distinct 

I. The (x — i— \y^ trial unfavourable. 

IL The {x-i-iy^ favourable; and the (a;-f-2y^ un- 

Ill The [x-i- \y^ and the {x - i- 2)"^ favourable, and the 
{x — {— 3) ''^ unfavou rable. 

IV. The {^x-i-Vf\ the {x-i-2f\ and the {x-i-Zf 
favourable; and the (a;— ^ — 4)^^ unfavourable. 

And so on. 

Let us take one of these cases, say IV. Let P^ denote the 
probability of this case existing ; then will 

For in this case a run of 3 has been obtained, and if this be 
followed by a run of /— 3, of which the chance is p^'"^, we obtain 
a run of i ending at the [x — 4)*^ trial. 

Now the part of z^ which arises from this case IV. is FJ(\. —p) j/\ 
for we require an unfavourable result at the {x — if^ trial, of 


which the chance is 1—p, and then a run of t. Thus the part 
of z^ is 



^(1-i^)/^ or^/(l-^;)^,_,. 

We have said that Laplace adopts nearly the method we have 
given ; but he is rather obscure. In the method we have given 
P^ denotes the probability of the following compound event : no 
run of i before the (ic — /— 4)^^ trial, the (a?— ^— 4)^^ trial un- 
favourable, and then the next three trials favourable. Similarly 
our Pg would denote the probability of the following compound 
event; no run of i before the (a? — ^ — 2)^^ trial, the {x—i—Tf^ 
trial unfavourable, and the next trial favourable. Laplace says, 
Nommons P' la probability qu'il n'arrivera pas au coup x — i—% 
Now Laplace does not formally say that there is to be no run of 
i before the {x — i— 2)^^ trial ; but this must be understood. Then 
his P agrees with our Pj if we omit the last of the three clauses 
which form our account of the probability represented by Pg ; so 
that in fact pP' with Laplace denotes the same as F^ with us. 

Laplace gives the integral of the equation (2), and finally ob- 
tains the same result as we have exhibited in Art. 325. 

986. Laplace then proceeds to find the probability that one 
of two players should have a run of i successes before the other ; 
this investigation adds nothing to what Condorcet had given, but 
is more commodious in form. Laplace's result on his page 250 
will be found on examination to d^^t^o, with what we have griven 
in Art. 680, after Condorc3t. 

Laplace then supplies some new matter, in which he considers 
the expectation of each player supposing that after failiug he 
deposits a franc, and that the sum of the deposits is