*
A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY
ON
PROBABILITIES.
BY
PIERRE SIMON, MARQUIS DE LAPLACE.
TRANSLATED FROM THE SIXTH FRENCH EDITION
FREDERICK WILSON TRUSCOTT, PH.D. (HARV.),
Professor of Germanic Languages in the U'est Virginia. University,
FREDERICK LINCOLN EMORY, M.E. (WoR. POLY. INST.),
Professor of Mechanics and Applied Mathematics in the West Virginia
University ; Mem. Amer. Soc. Mtch. Eng.
FIRST EDITION.
FIRST THOUSAND.
NEW YORK:
JOHN WILEY & SONS.
LONDON : CHAPMAN & HALL, LIMITED.
1902.
Copyright, 1902,
BY
F. W. TRUSCOTT
F. L. EMORY.
ROBERT DRUMMOND PRINTER, NEW YORK
Stack
Annex
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
PART I.
A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
CHAPTER I.
PAGE
Introduction i
CHAPTER II.
Concerning Probability 3
CHAPTER III.
General Principles of the Calculus of Probabilities 1 1
CHAPTER IV.
Concerning Hope 20
CHAPTER V.
Analytical Methods of the Calculus of Probabilities 26
PART II.
APPLICATION OF THE CALCULUS OF
PROBABILITIES.
CHAPTER VI.
Games of Chance 53
CHAPTER VII.
Concerning the Unknown Inequalities which may Exist among
Chances Supposed to be Equal 56
iii
iv TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAPTER VIII.
PACK
Concerning the Laws of Probability which result from the Indefinite
Multiplication of Events 6
CHAPTER IX.
Application of the Calculus of Probabilities to Natural Philosophy. . 73
CHAPTER X.
Application of the Calculus of Probabilities to the Moral Sciences. . 107
CHAPTER XL
Concerning the Probability of Testimonies 109
CHAPTER XII.
Concerning the Selections and Decisions of Assemblies 126
CHAPTER XIII.
Concerning the Probability of the Judgments of Tribunals 132
CHAPTER XIV.
Concerning Tables of Mortality, and the Mean Durations of Life,
Marriage, and Some Associations 140
CHAPTER XV.
Concerning the Benefits of Institutions which Depend upon the
Probability of Events 149
CHAPTER XVI.
Concerning Illusions in the Estimation of Probabilities 160
CHAPTER XVII.
Concerning the Various Means of Approaching Certainty 176
CHAPTER XVIII.
Historical Notice of the Calculus of Probabilities to 1816 185
ERRATA.
Page 89, line 22, for Pline read Pliny
" 102, lines 14, 16, " minutes " days
" 143, line 25, " sun soil
" 177, lines 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 24, for primary read prime
" 182, line 5, for conjunctions read being binary
A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON
PROBABILITIES.
CHAPTER I.
INTRODUCTION.
THIS philosophical essay is the development of a
lecture on probabilities which I delivered in 1795 to
the normal schools whither I had been called, by a
decree of the national convention, as professor of
mathematics with Lagrange. I have recently published
upon the same subject a work entitled The Analytical
Theory of Probabilities. I present here without the
aid of analysis the principles and general results of this
theory, applying them to the most important questions
of life, which are indeed for the most part only problems
of probability. Strictly speaking it may even be said
that nearly all our knowledge is problematical ; and in
the small number of things which we are able to know
with certainty, even in the mathematical sciences
themselves, the principal means for ascertaining truth
induction and analogy are based on probabilities;
2 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
so that the entire system of human knowledge is con-
nected with the theory set forth in this essay. Doubt-
less it will be seen here with interest that in considering,
even in the eternal principles of reason, justice, and
humanity, only the favorable chances which are con-
stantly attached to them, there is a great advantage in
following these principles and serious inconvenience in
departing from them: their chances, like those favor-
able to lotteries, always end by prevailing in the midst
of the vacillations of hazard. I hope that the reflec-
tions given in this essay may merit the attention of
philosophers and direct it to a subject so worthy of
engaging their minds.
CHAPTER II.
CONCERNING PROBABILITY.
ALL events, even those which on account of their
insignificance do not seem to follow the great laws of
nature, are a result of it just as necessarily as the revolu-
tions of the sun. In ignorance of the ties which unite
such events to the entire system of the universe, they
have been made to depend upon final causes or upon
hazard, according as they occur and are repeated with
regularity, or appear without regard to order ; but these
imaginary causes have gradually receded with the
widening bounds of knowledge and disappear entirely
before sound philosophy, which sees in them only the
expression of our ignorance of the true causes.
Present events are connected with preceding ones
by a tie based upon the evident principle that a thing
cannot occur without a cause which produces it. This
axiom, known by the name of the principle of sufficient
reason, extends even to actions which are considered
indifferent ; the freest will is unable without a determi-
native motive to give them birth ; if we assume two
positions with exactly similar circumstances and find
that the will is active in the one and inactive in the
3
4 A PHILOSOPHICAL BBS AY ON PROBABILITIES.
other, we say that its choice is an effect without a cause.
It is then, says Leibnitz, the blind chance of the
Epicureans. The contrary opinion is an illusion of the
mind, which, losing sight of the evasive reasons of the
choice of the will in indifferent things, believes that
choice is determined of itself and without motives.
We ought then to regard the present state of the
universe as the effect of its anterior state and as the
cause of the one which is to follow. Given for one
instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the
forces by which nature is animated and the respective
situation of the beings who compose it an intelligence
sufficiently vast to submit these data to analysis it
would embrace in the same formula the movements of
the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the
lightest atom ; for it, nothing would be uncertain and
the future, as the past, would be present to its eyes.
The human mind offers, in the perfection which it has
been able to give to astronomy, a feeble idea of this in-
telligence. Its discoveries in mechanics and geometry,
added to that of universal gravity, have enabled it to
comprehend in the same analytical expressions the
past and future states of the system of the world.
Applying the same method to some other objects of its
knowledge, it has succeeded in referring to general laws
observed phenomena and in foreseeing those which
given circumstances ought to produce. All these efforts
in the search for truth tend to lead it back continually
to the vast intelligence which we have just mentioned,
but from which it will always remain infinitely removed.
This tendency, peculiar to the human race, is that
which renders it superior to animals ; and their progress
CONCERNING PROBABILITY. 5
in this respect distinguishes nations and ages and con-
stitutes their true glory.
Let us recall that formerly, and at no remote epoch,
an unusual rain or an extreme drought, a comet having
in train a very long tail, the eclipses, the aurora
borealis, and in general all the unusual phenomena
were regarded as so many signs of celestial wrath.
Heaven was invoked in order to avert their baneful
influence. No one prayed to have the planets and the
sun arrested in their courses: observation had soon
made apparent the futility of such prayers. But as
these phenomena, occurring and disappearing at long
intervals, seemed to oppose the order of nature, it was
supposed that Heaven, irritated by the crimes of the
earth, had created them "to announce its vengeance.
Thus the long tail of the comet of 1456 spread terror
through Europe, already thrown into consternation by
the rapid successes of the Turks, who had just over-
thrown the Lower Empire. This star after four revolu-
tions has excited among us a very different interest.
The knowledge of the laws of the system of the world
acquired in the interval had dissipated the fears
begotten by the ignorance of the true relationship of
man to the universe; and Halley, having recognized
the identity of this comet with those of the years 1531,
1607, and 1682, announced its next return for the end
of the year 1758 or the beginning of the year 1759.
The learned world awaited with impatience this return
which was to confirm one of the greatest discoveries
that have been made in the sciences, and fulfil the
prediction of Seneca when he said, in speaking of the
revolutions of those stars which fall from an enormous
6 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
height: "The day will come when, by study pursued
through several ages, the things now concealed will
appear with evidence; and posterity will be astonished
that truths so clear had escaped us. ' ' Clairaut then
undertook to submit to analysis the perturbations which
the comet had experienced by the action of the two
great planets, Jupiter and Saturn; after immense cal-
culations he fixed its next passage at the perihelion
toward the beginning of April, 1759, which was actually
verified by observation. The regularity which astronomy
shows us in the movements of the comets doubtless
exists also in all phenomena. -
The curve described by a simple molecule of air or
vapor is regulated in a manner just as certain as the
planetary orbits ; the only difference between them is
that which comes from our ignorance.
Probability is relative, in part to this ignorance, in
part to our knowledge. We know that of three or a
greater number of events a single one ought to occur ;
but nothing induces us to believe that one of them will
occur rather than the others. In this state of indecision
it is impossible for us to announce their occurrence with
certainty. It is, however, probable that one of these
events, chosen at will, will not occur because we see
several cases equally possible which exclude its occur-
rence, while only a single one favors it.
The theory of chance consists in reducing all the
events of the same kind to a certain number of cases
equally possible, that is to say, to such as we may be
equally undecided about in regard to their existence,
and in determining the number of cases favorable to
the event whose probability is sought. The ratio of
CONCERNING PROBABILITY. 7
this number to that of all the cases possible is the
measure of this probability, which is thus simply a
fraction whose numerator is the number of favorable
cases and whose denominator is the number of all the
cases possible.
The preceding notion of probability supposes that,
in increasing in the same ratio the number of favorable
cases and that of all the cases possible, the probability
remains the same. In order to convince ourselves let
us take two urns, A and B, the first containing four
white and two black balls, and the second containing
only two white balls and one black one. We may
imagine the two black balls of the first urn attached by
a thread which breaks at the moment when one of
them is seized in order to be drawn out, and the four
white balls thus forming two similar systems. All the
chances which will favor the seizure of one of the balls
of the black system will lead to a black ball. If we
conceive now that the threads which unite the balls do
not break at all, it is clear that the number of possible
chances will not change any more than that of the
chances favorable to the extraction of the black balls;
but two balls will be drawn from the urn at the same
time ; the probability of drawing a black ball from the
urn A will then be the same as at first. But then we
have obviously the case of urn B with the single differ-
ence that the three balls of this last urn would be
replaced by three systems of two balls invariably con-
nected.
When all the cases are favorable to an event the
probability changes to certainty and its expression
becomes equal to unity. Upon this condition, certainty
8 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
and probability are comparable, although there may be
an essential difference between the two states of the
mind when a truth is rigorously demonstrated to it, cr
when it still perceives a small source of error.
In things which are only probable the difference of
the data, which each man has in regard to them, is one
of the principal causes of the diversity of opinions which
prevail in regard to the same objects. Let us suppose,
for example, that we have three urns, A, B, C, one of
which contains only black balls while the two others
contain only white balls ; a ball is to be drawn from
the urn C and the probability is demanded that this
ball will be black. If we do not know which of the
three urns contains black balls only, so that there is no
reason to believe that it is C rather than B or A, these
three hypotheses will appear equally possible, and since
a black ball can be drawn only in the first hypothesis,
the probability of drawing it is equal to one third. If
it is known that the urn A contains white balls only,
the indecision then extends only to the urns B and C,
and the probability that the ball drawn from the urn C
will be black is one half. Finally this probability
changes to certainty if we are assured that the urns A
and B contain white balls only.
It is thus that an incident related to a numerous
assembly finds various degrees of credence, according
to the extent of knowledge of the auditors. If the
man who reports it is fully convinced of it and if, by
his position and character, he inspires great confidence,
his statement, however extraordinary it may be, will
have for the auditors who lack information the same
degree of probability as an ordinary statement made
CONCERNING PROBABILITY. 9
by the same man, and they will have entire faith in it.
But if some one of them knows that the same incident
is rejected by other equally trustworthy men, he will
be in doubt and the incident will be discredited by the
enlightened auditors, who will reject it whether it be
in regard to facts well averred or the immutable laws
of nature.
It is to the influence of the opinion of those whom
the multitude judges best informed and to whom it has
been accustomed to give its confidence in regard to
the most important matters of life that the propagation
of those errors is due which in times of ignorance have
covered the face of the earth. Magic and astrology
offer us two great examples. These errors inculcated
in infancy, adopted without examination, and having
for a basis only universal credence, have maintained
themselves during a very long time ; but at last the
progress of science has destroyed them in the minds of
enlightened men, whose opinion consequently has
caused them to disappear even among the common
people, through the power of imitation and habit w r hich
had so generally spread them abroad. This power,
the richest resource of the moral world, establishes and
conserves in a whole nation ideas entirely contrary to
those which it upholds elsewhere with the same
authority. What indulgence ought we not then to
have for opinions different from ours, when this differ-
ence often depends only upon the various points of view
where circumstances have placed us! Let us enlighten
those whom we judge insufficiently instructed ; but first
let us examine critically our own opinions and weigh
with impartiality their respective probabilities.
TO A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
The difference of opinions depends, however, upon
the manner in which the influence of known data is
determined. The theory of probabilities holds to con-
siderations so delicate that it is not surprising that with
the same data two persons arrive at different results,
especially in very complicated questions. Let us
examine now the general principles of this theory.
CHAPTER III.
THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF THE CALCULUS
OF PROBABILITIES.
First Principle. The first of these principles is the
definition itself of probability, which, as has been seen,
is the ratio of the number of favorable cases to that of
all the cases possible.
Second Principle. But that supposes the various
cases equally possible. If they are not so, we will
determine first their respective possibilities, whose
exact appreciation is one of the most delicate points of
the theory of chance. Then the probability will be
the sum of the possibilities of each favorable case.
Let us illustrate this principle by an example.
Let us suppose that we throw into the air a large
and very thin coin whose two large opposite faces,
which we will call heads and tails, are perfectly similar.
Let us find the probability of throwing heads at least
one time in two throws. It is clear that four equally
possible cases may arise, namely, heads at the first
and at the second throw ; heads at the first throw and
tails at the second; tails at the first throw and heads
at the second; finally, tails at both throws. The first
12 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
three cases are favorable to the event whose probability
is sought; consequently this probability is equal to |;
so that it is a bet of three to one that heads will be
thrown at least once in two throws.
We can count at this game only three different cases,
namely, heads at the first throw, which dispenses with
throwing a second time; tails at the first throw and
heads at the second ; finally, tails at the first and at the
second throw. This would reduce the probability to
| if we should consider with d'Alembert these three
cases as equally possible. But it is apparent that the
probability of throwing heads at the first throw is f ,
while that of the two other cases is J, the first case
being a simple event which corresponds to two events
combined : heads at the first and at the second throw,
and heads at the first throw, tails at the second. If
we then, conforming to the second principle, add the
possibility f of heads at the first throw to the possi-
bility J of tails at the first throw and heads at the
second, we shall have f for the probability sought,
which agrees with what is found in the supposition
when we play the two throws. This 'supposition does
not change at all the chance of that one who bets on
this event; it simply serves to reduce the various cases
to the cases equally possible.
Third Principle. One of the most important points
of the theory of probabilities and that which lends the
most to illusions is the manner in which these prob-
abilities increase or diminish by their mutual combina-
tion. If the events are independent of one another, the
probability of their combined existence is the product
of their respective probabilities. Thus the probability
CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 13
of throwing one ace with a single die is ^; that of
throwing two aces in throwing two dice at the same
time is --$. Each face of the one being able to com-
bine with the six faces of the other, there are in fact
thirty-six equally possible cases, among which one
single case gives two aces. Generally the probability
that a simple event in the same circumstances will
occur consecutively a given number of times is equal to
the probability of this simple event raised to the power
indicated by this number. Having thus the successive
powers of a fraction less than unity diminishing without
ceasing, an event which depends upon a series of very
great probabilities may become extremely improbable.
Suppose then an incident be transmitted to us by
twenty witnesses in such manner that the first has
transmitted it to the second, the second to the third,
and so on. Suppose again that the probability of each
testimony be equal to the fraction T 9 ; that of the
incident resulting from the testimonies will be less
than . We cannot better compare this diminution of
the probability than with the extinction of the light of
objects by the interposition of several pieces of glass.
A relatively small number of pieces suffices to take
away the view of an object that a single piece allows
us to perceive in a distinct manner. The historians do
not appear to have paid sufficient attention to this
degradation of the probability of events when seen
across a great number of successive generations; many
historical events reputed as certain would be at least
doubtful if they were submitted to this test.
In the purely mathematical sciences the most distant
consequences participate in the certainty of the princi-
M A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
pie from which they are derived. In the applications
of analysis to physics the results have all the certainty
of facts or experiences. But in the moral sciences,
where each inference is deduced from that which pre-
cedes it only in a probable manner, however probable
these deductions may be, the chance of error increases
with their number and ultimately surpasses the chance
of truth in the consequences very remote from the
principle.
Fourth Principle. When two events depend upon
each other, the probability of the compound event is
the product of the probability of the first event and the
probability that, this event having occurred, the second
will occur. Thus in the preceding case of the three
urns A, B, C, of which two contain only white balls
and one contains only black balls, the probability of
drawing a white ball from the urn C is f , since of the
three urns only two contain balls of that color. But
when a white ball has been drawn from the urn C, the
indecision relative to that one of the urns which contain
only black balls extends only to the urns A and B;
the probability of drawing a white ball from the urn B
is ; the product of \ by , or , is then the probability
of drawing two white balls at one time from the urns
B and C.
We see by this example the influence of past events
upon the probability of future events. For the prob-
ability of drawing a white ball from the urn B, which
primarily is f, becomes \ when a white ball has been
drawn from the urn C ; it would change to certainty if
a black ball had been drawn from the same urn. We
will determine this influence by means of the follow-
CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 15
ing principle, which is a corollary of the preceding
one.
Fifth Principle. If we calculate a priori the prob-
ability of the occurred event and the probability of an
event composed of that one and a second one which is
expected, the second probability divided by the first
will be the probability of the event expected, drawn
from the observed event.
Here is presented the question raised by some
philosophers touching the influence of the past upon
the probability of the future. Let us suppose at the
play of heads and tails that heads has occurred oftener
than tails. By this alone we shall be led to believe
that in the constitution of the coin there is a secret
cause which favors it. Thus in the conduct of life
constant happiness is a proof of competency which
should induce us to employ preferably happy persons.
But if by the unreliability of circumstances we are con-
stantly brought back to a state of absolute indecision,
if, for example, we change the coin at each throw at the
play of heads and tails, the past can shed no light upon
the future and it would be absurd to take account of it.
Sixth Principle. Each of the causes to which an
observed event may be attributed is indicated with just
as much likelihood as there is probability that the event
will take place, supposing the event to be constant.
The probability of the existence of any one of these
causes is then a fraction whose numerator is the prob-
ability of the event resulting from this cause and whose
denominator is the sum of the similar probabilities
relative to all the causes; if these various causes, con-
sidered a priori, are unequally probable, it is necessary,
1 6 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
in place of the probability of the event resulting from
each cause, to employ the product of this probability
by the possibility of the cause itself. This is the funda-
mental principle of this branch of the analysis of chances
which consists in passing from events to causes.
This principle gives the reason why we attribute
regular events to a particular cause. Some philosophers
have thought that these events are less possible than
others and that at the play of heads and tails, for
example, the combination in which heads occurs twenty
successive times is less easy in its nature than those
where heads and tails are mixed in an irregular manner.
But this opinion supposes that past events have an
influence on the possibility of future events, which is
not at all admissible. The regular combinations occur
more rarely only because they are less numerous. If
we seek a cause wherever we perceive symmetry, it is
not that we regard a symmetrical event as less possible
than the others, but, since this event ought to be the
effect of a regular cause or that of chance, the first of
these suppositions is more probable than the second.
On a table we see letters arranged in this order,
Constantinople, and we judge that this arrange-
ment is not the result of chance, not because it is less
possible than the others, for if this word were not
employed in any language we should not suspect it
came from any particular cause, but this word being in
use among us, it is incomparably more probable that
some person has thus arranged the aforesaid letters
than that this arrangement is due to chance.
This is the place to define the word extraordinary.
We arrange in our thought all possible events in various
CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 1?
classes ; and we regard as extraordinary those classes
which include a very small number. Thus at the play
of heads and tails the occurrence of heads a hundred
successive times appears to us extraordinary because of
the almost infinite number of combinations which may
occur in a hundred throws; and if we divide the com-
binations into regular series containing an order easy
to comprehend, and into irregular series, the latter are
incomparably more numerous. The drawing of a
white ball from an urn which among a million balls
contains only one of this color, the others being black,
would appear to us likewise extraordinary, because we
form only two classes of events relative to the two
colors. But the drawing of the number 475813, for
example, from an urn that contains a million numbers
seems to us an ordinary event; because, comparing
individually the numbers with one another without
dividing them into classes, we have no reason to
believe that one of them will appear sooner than the
others.
From what precedes, we ought generally to conclude
that the more extraordinary the event, the greater the
need of its being supported by strong proofs. For
those who attest it, being able to deceive or to have
been deceived, these two causes are as much more
probable as the reality of the event is less. We shall
see this particularly when we come to speak of the
probability of testimony.
Seventh Principle. The probability of a future event
is the sum of the products of the probability of each
cause, drawn from the event observed, by the prob-
ability that, this cause existing, the future event will
1 8 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
occur. The following example will illustrate this
principle.
Let us imagine an urn which contains only two balls,
each of which may be either white or black. One of
these balls is drawn and is put back into the urn before
proceeding to a new draw. Suppose that in the first
two draws white balls have been drawn; the prob-
ability of again drawing a white ball at the third draw
is required.
Only two hypotheses can be made here : either one
of the balls is white and the other black, or both are
white. In the first hypothesis the probability of the
event observed is J; it is unity or certainty in the
second. Thus in regarding these hypotheses as so
many causes, we shall have for the sixth principle
% and | for their respective probabilities. But if the
first hypothesis occurs, the probability of drawing a
white ball at the third draw is ^ ; it is equal to certainty
in the second hypothesis ; multiplying then the last
probabilities by those of the corresponding hypotheses,
the sum of the products, or T 9 ^, will be the probability
of drawing a white ball at the third draw.
When the probability of a single event is unknown
we may suppose it equal to any value from zero to
unity. The probability of each of these hypotheses,
drawn from the event observed, is, by the sixth prin-
ciple, a fraction whose numerator is the probability of
the event in this hypothesis and whose denominator is
the sum of the similar probabilities relative to all the
hypotheses. Thus the probability that the possibility
of the event is comprised within given limits is the sum
of the fractions comprised within these limits. Now if
CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 19
we multiply each fraction by the probability of the
future event, determined in the corresponding hypothe-
sis, the sum of the products relative to all the hypotheses
will be, by the seventh principle, the probability of the
future event drawn from the event observed. Thus
we find that an event having occurred successively any
number of times, the probability that it will happen
again the next time is equal to this number increased
by unity divided by the same number, increased by
two units. Placing the most ancient epoch of history
at five thousand years ago, or at 182623 days, and the
sun having risen constantly in the interval at each
revolution of twenty-four hours, it is a bet of 1826214
to one that it will rise again to-morrow. But this
number is incomparably greater for him who, recogniz-
ing in the totality of phenomena the principal regulator
of days and seasons, sees that nothing at the present
moment can arrest the course of it.
Buffon in his Political Arithmetic calculates differently
the preceding probability. He supposes that it differs
from unity only by a fraction whose numerator is unity
and whose denominator is the number 2 raised to a
power equal to the number of days which have elapsed
since the epoch. But the true manner of relating
past events with the probability of causes and of future
events was unknown to this illustrious writer.
CHAPTER IV.
CONCERNING HOPE.
THE probability of events serves to determine the
hope or the fear of persons interested in their exist-
ence. The word hope has various acceptations; it
expresses generally the advantage of that one who
expects a certain benefit in suppositions which are only
probable. This advantage in the theory of chance is
a product of the sum hoped for by the probability of
obtaining it; it is the partial sum which ought to result
when we do not wish to run the risks of the event in
supposing that the division is made proportional to the
probabilities. This division is the only equitable one
when all strange circumstances are eliminated; because
an equal degree of probability gives an equal right to
the sum hoped for. We will call this advantage
mathematical hope.
Eighth Principle. When the advantage depends on
several events it is obtained by taking the sum of the
products of the probability of each event by the benefit
attached to its occurrence.
Let us apply this principle to some examples. Let
CONCERNING HOPE. 21
us suppose that at the play of heads and tails Paul
receives two francs if he throws heads at the first throw
and five francs if he throws it only at the second.
Multiplying two francs by the probability of the first
case, and five francs by the probability of the second
case, the sum of the products, or two and a quarter
francs, will be Paul's advantage. It is the sum which
he ought to give in advance to that one who has given
him this advantage; for, in order to maintain the
equality of the play, the throw ought to be equal to
the advantage which it procures.
If Paul receives two francs by throwing heads at the
first and five francs by throwing it at the second throw,
whether he has thrown it or not at the first, the prob-
ability of throwing heads at the second throw being ,
multiplying two francs and five francs by the sum of
these products will give three and one half francs for
Paul's advantage and consequently for his stake at the
game.
Ninth Principle. In a series of probable events of
which the ones produce a benefit and the others a loss,
we shall have the advantage which results from it by
making a sum of the products of the probability of each
favorable event by the benefit which it procures, and
subtracting from this sum that of the products of the
probability of each unfavorable event by the loss which
is attached to it. If the second sum is greater than the
first, the benefit becomes a loss and hope is changed to
fear.
Consequently we ought always in the conduct of life
to make the product of the benefit hoped for, by its
probability, at least equal to the similar product relative
22 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
to the loss. But it is necessary, in order to attain this,
to appreciate exactly the advantages, the losses, and
their respective probabilities. For this a great accuracy
of mind, a delicate judgment, and a great experience
in affairs is necessary ; it is necessary to know how to
guard one's self against prejudices, illusions of fear or
hope, and erroneous ideas, ideas of fortune and happi-
ness, with which the majority of people feed their self-
love.
The application of the preceding principles to the
following question has greatly exercised the geometri-
cians. Paul plays at heads and tails with the condition
of receiving two francs if he throws heads at the first
thro\v, four francs if he throws it only at the second
throw, eight francs if he throws it only at the third,
and so on. His stake at the play ought to be, accord-
ing to the eighth principle, equal to the number of
throws, so that if the game continues to infinity the
stake ought to be infinite. However, no reasonable
man would wish to risk at this game even a small sum,
for example five francs. Whence comes this differ-
ence between the result of calculation and the indication
of common sense ? We soon recognize that it amounts
to this : that the moral advantage which a benefit pro-
cures for us is not proportional to this benefit and that
it depends upon a thousand circumstances, often very
difficult to define, but of which the most general and
most important is that of fortune.
Indeed it is apparent that one franc has much greater
value for him who possesses only a hundred than for a
millionaire. We ought then to distinguish in the
hoped-for benefit its absolute from its relative value.
CONCERNING HOPE. 23
But the latter is regulated by the motives which make
it desirable, whereas the first is independent of them.
The general principle for appreciating this relative
value cannot be given, but here is one proposed by
Daniel Bernoulli which will serve in many cases.
Tenth Principle. The relative value of an infinitely
small sum is equal to its absolute value divided by the
total benefit of the person interested. This supposes
that every one has a certain benefit whose value can
never be estimated as zero. Indeed even that one who
possesses nothing always gives to the product of his
labor and to his hopes a value at least equal to that
which is absolutely necessary to sustain him.
If we apply analysis to the principle just propounded,
we obtain the following rule : Let us designate by unity
the part of the fortune of an individual, independent of
his expectations. If we determine the different values
that this fortune may have by virtue of these expecta-
tions and their probabilities, the product of these values
raised respectively to the powers indicated by their
probabilities will be the physical fortune which would
procure for the individual the same moral advantage
which he receives from the part of his fortune taken as
unity and from his expectations ; by subtracting unity
from the product, the difference will be the increase of
the physical fortune due to expectations : we will call
this increase moral hope. It is easy to see that it coin-
cides with mathematical hope when the fortune taken
as unity becomes infinite in reference to the variations
which it receives from the expectations. But when
these variations are an appreciable part of this unity
24 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
the two hopes may differ very materially among them-
selves.
This rule conduces to results conformable to the
indications of common sense which can by this means
be appreciated with some exactitude. Thus in the
preceding question it is found that if the fortune of
Paul is two hundred francs, he ought not reasonably to
stake more than nine francs. The same rule leads us
again to distribute the danger over several parts of a
benefit expected rather than to expose the entire benefit
to this danger. It results similarly that at the fairest
game the loss is always greater than the gain. Let
us suppose, for example, that a player having a fortune
of one hundred francs risks fifty at the play of heads and
tails; his fortune after his stake at the play will be
reduced to eighty-seven francs, that is to say, this last
sum would procure for the player the same moral
advantage as the state of his fortune after the stake.
The play is then disadvantageous even in the case
where the stake is equal to the product of the sum
hoped for, by its probability. We can judge by this
of the immorality of games in which the sum hoped for
is below this product. They subsist only by false
reasonings and by the cupidity which they excite and
which, leading the people to sacrifice their necessaries
to chimerical hopes whose improbability they are not
in condition to appreciate, are the source of an infinity
of evils.
The disadvantage of games of chance, the advantage
of not exposing to the same danger the whole benefit
that is expected, and all the similar results indicated by
common sense, subsist, whatever may be the function
CONCERNING HOPE. 25
of the physical fortune which for each individual
expresses his moral fortune. It is enough that the
proportion of the increase of this function to the
increase of the physical fortune diminishes in the
measure that the latter increases.
CHAPTER V.
CONCERNING THE ANALYTICAL METHODS OF
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES.
THE application of the principle which we have just
expounded to the various questions of probability
requires methods whose investigation has given birth
to several methods of analysis and especially to the
theory of combinations and to the calculus of finite
differences.
If we form the product of the binomials, unity plus
the first letter, unity plus the second letter, unity plus
the third letter, and so on up to n letters, and sub-
tract unity from this developed product, the result
will be the sum of the combination of all these letters
taken one by one, two by two, three by three, etc.,
each combination having unity for a coefficient. In
order to have the number of combinations of these n
letters taken s by s times, we shall observe that if we
suppose these letters equal among themselves, the pre-
ceding product will become the nth power of the
binomial one plus the first letter; thus the number of
combinations of n letters taken s by s times will be the
coefficient of the sth power of the first letter in the
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 27
development in this binomial ; and this number is
obtained by means of the known binomial formula.
Attention must be paid to the respective situations
of the letters in each combination, observing that if a
second letter is joined to the first it may be placed in
the first or second position which gives two combina-
tions. If we join to these combinations a third letter,
we can give it in each combination the first, the second,
and the third rank which forms three combinations
relative to each of the two others, in all six combina-
tions. From this it is easy to conclude that the
number of arrangements of which s letters are suscepti-
ble is the product of the numbers from unity to s. In
order to pay regard to the respective positions of the
letters it is necessary then to multiply by this product
the number of combinations of n letters s by s times,
which is tantamount to taking away the denominator
of the coefficient of the binomial which expresses this
number.
Let us imagine a lottery composed of n numbers, of
which r are drawn at each draw. The probability is
demanded of the drawing of s given numbers in one
draw. To arrive at this let us form a fraction whose
denominator will be the number of all the cases possi-
ble or of the combinations of n letters taken r by r
times, and whose numerator will be the number of all
the combinations which contain the given s numbers.
This last number is evidently that of the combinations
of the other numbers taken n less s by n less s times.
This fraction will be the required probability, and we
shall easily find that it can be reduced to a fraction
whose numerator is the number of combinations of r
28 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
numbers taken s by s times, and whose denominator is
the number of combinations of n numbers taken
similarly s by s times. Thus in the lottery of France,
formed as is known of 90 numbers of which five are
drawn at each draw, the probability of drawing a given
combination is -&> or T V ; the lottery ought then for the
equality of the play to give eighteen times the stake.
The total number of combinations two by two of the
90 numbers is 4005 , and that of the combinations two
by two of 5 numbers is 10. The probability of the
drawing of a given pair is then 3-^-5-, and the lottery
ought to give four hundred and a half times the stake ;
it ought to give 11748 times for a given tray, 511038
times for a quaternary, and 43949268 times for a quint.
The lottery is far from giving the player these advan-
tages.
Suppose in an urn a white balls, b black balls, and
after having drawn a ball it is put back into the urn ;
the probability is asked that in number of draws m
white balls and n m black balls will be drawn. It
is clear that the number of cases that may occur at
each drawing is a -j- b. Each case of the second
drawing being able to combine with all the cases of the
first, the number of possible cases in two drawings is
the square of the binomial a-\-b. In the development
of this square, the square of a expresses the number of
cases in which a white ball is twice drawn, the double
product of a by b expresses the number of cases in
which a white ball and a black ball are drawn. Finally,
the square of b expresses the number of cases in which
two black balls are drawn. Continuing thus, we see
generally that the th power of the binomial a + b
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 29
expresses the number of all the cases possible in n
draws; and that in the development of this power the
term multiplied by the mth power of a expresses the
number of cases in which m white balls and n in
black balls may be drawn. Dividing then this term
by the entire power of the binomial, we shall have the
probability of drawing m white balls and n m black
balls. The ratio of the numbers a and a -\- b being
the probability of drawing one white ball at one draw;
and the ratio of the numbers b and a -\- b being the
probability of drawing one black ball ; if we call these
probabilities/ and g, the probability of drawing m white
balls in n draws will be the term multiplied by the mth
power of/ in the development of the th power of the
binomial P -\- q\ we may see that the sum p -)- q is
unity. This remarkable property of the binomial is
very useful in the theory of probabilities. But the
most general and direct method of resolving questions
of probability consists in making them depend upon
equations of differences. Comparing the successive
conditions of the function which expresses the prob-
ability when we increase the variables by their respect-
ive differences, the proposed question often furnishes a
very simple proportion between the conditions. This
proportion is what is called equation of ordinary or
partial differentials; ordinary when there is only one
variable, partial when there are several. Let us con-
sider some examples of this.
Three players of supposed equal ability play together
on the following conditions : that one of the first two
players who beats his adversary plays the third, and if
he beats him the game is finished. If he is beaten, the
30 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
victor plays against the second until one of the players
has defeated consecutively the two others, which ends
the game. The probability is demanded that the game
will be finished in a certain number n of plays. Let
us find the probability that it will end precisely at the
nth play. For that the player who wins ought to enter
the game at the play n I and win it thus at the fol-
lowing play. But if in place of winning the play n i
he should be beaten by his adversary who had just
beaten the other player, the game would end at this
play. Thus the probability that one of the players will
enter the game at the play I and will win it is
equal to the probability that the game will end pre-
cisely with this play; and as this player ought to win
the following play in order that the game may be
finished at the nth play, the probability of this last case
will be only one half of the preceding one. This
probability is evidently a function of the number ; this
function is then equal to the half of the same function
when n is diminished by unity. This equality forms
one of those equations called ordinary finite differential
equations.
We may easily determine by its use the probability
that the game will end precisely at a certain play. It
is evident that the play cannot end sooner than at the
second play; and for this it is necessary that that one
of the first two players who has beaten his adversary
should beat at the second play the third player; the
probability that the game will end at this play is .
Hence by virtue of the preceding equation we conclude
that the successive probabilities of the end of the game
are for the third play, \ for the fourth play, and so
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 3 1
on ; and in general raised to the power n I for the
nth play. The sum of all these powers of is unity
less the last of these powers ; it is the probability that
the game will end at the latest in n plays.
Let us consider again the first problem more difficult
which may be solved by probabilities and which Pascal
proposed to Fermat to solve. Two players, A and B,
of equal skill play together on the conditions that the
one who first shall beat the other a given number of
times shall win the game and shall take the sum of the
stakes at the game; after some throws the players
agree to quit without having finished the game : we ask
in what manner the sum ought to be divided between
them. It is evident that the parts ought to be propor-
tional to the respective probabilities of winning the
game. The question is reduced then to the determina-
tion of these probabilities. They depend evidently
upon the number of points which each player lacks of
having attained the given number. Hence the prob-
ability of A is a function of the two numbers which we
will call indices. If the two players should agree to
play one throw more (an agreement which does not
change their condition, provided that after this new
throw the division is always made proportionally to the
new probabilities of winning the game), then either A
would win this throw and in that case the number of
points which he lacks would be diminished by unity,
or the player B would win it and in that case the
number of points lacking to this last player would be
less by unity. But the probability of each of these
cases is \ ; the function sought is then equal to one half
of this function in which we diminish by unity the first
32 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
index plus the half of the same function in which the
second variable is diminished by unity. This equality
is one of those equations called equations of partial
differentials.
We are able to determine by its use the probabilities
of A by dividing the smallest numbers, and by observ-
ing that the probability or the function which expresses
it is equal to unity when the player A does not lack a
single point, or when the first index is zero, and that
this function becomes zero with the second index. Sup-
posing thus that the player A lacks only one point, we
find that his probability is f, f, |, etc., according as B
lacks one point, two, three, etc. Generally it is then
unity less the power of , equal to the number of points
which B lacks. We will suppose then that the player
A lacks two points and his probability will be found
equal to J, , \\, etc., according as B lacks one point,
two points, three points, etc. We will suppose again
that the player A lacks three points, and so on.
This manner of obtaining the successive values of a
quantity by means of its equation of differences is long
and laborious . The geometricians have sought methods
to obtain the general function of indices that satisfies
this equation, so that for any particular case we need
only to substitute in this function the corresponding
values of the indices. Let us consider this subject in
a general way. For this purpose 'let us conceive a
series of terms arranged along a horizontal line so that
each of them is derived from the preceding one accord-
ing to a given law. Let us suppose this law expressed
by an equation among several consecutive terms and
their index, or the number which indicates the rank that
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 33
they occupy in the series. This equation I call the
equation of finite differences by a single index. The
order or the degree of this equation is the difference of
rank of its two extreme terms. We are able by its use
to determine successively the terms of the series and to
continue it indefinitely ; but for that it is necessary to
know a number of terms of the series equal to the
degree of the equation . These terms are the arbitrary
constants of the expression of the general term of the
series or of the integral of the equation of differences.
Let us imagine now below the terms of the preceding
series a second series of terms arranged horizontally;
let us imagine again below the terms of the second
series a third horizontal series, and so on to infinity;
and let us suppose the terms of all these series con-
nected by a general equation among several consecutive
terms, taken as much in the horizontal as in the ver-
tical sense, and the numbers which indicate their rank
in the two senses. This equation is called the equation
of partial finite differences by two indices.
Let us imagine in the same way below the plan of
the preceding series a second plan of similar series,
whose terms should be placed respectively below those
of the first plan ; let us imagine again below this second
plan a third plan of similar series, and so on to infinity;
let us suppose all the terms of these series connected
by an equation among several consecutive terms taken
in the sense of length, width, and depth, and the three
numbers which indicate their rank in these three senses.
This equation I call the equation of partial finite differ-
ences by three indices.
Finally, considering the matter in an abstract way
34 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
and independently of the dimensions of space, let us
imagine generally a system of magnitudes, which should
be functions of a certain number of indices, and let us
suppose among these magnitudes, their relative differ-
ences to these indices and the indices themselves, as
many equations as there are magnitudes ; these equa-
tions will be partial finite differences by a certain num-
ber of indices.
We are able by their use to determine successively
these magnitudes. But in the same manner as the
equation by a single index requires for it that we
known a certain number of terms of the series, so the
equation by two indices requires that we know one or
several lines of series whose general terms should be
expressed each by an arbitrary function of one of the
indices. Similarly the equation by three indices
requires that we know one or several plans of series,
the general terms of which should be expressed each
by an arbitrary function of two indices, and so on. In
all these cases we shall be able by successive elimina-
tions to determine a certain term of the series. But
all the equations among which we eliminate being
comprised in the same system of equations, all the
expressions of the successive terms which we obtain by
these eliminations ought to be comprised in one general
expression, a function of the indices which determine
the rank of the term. This expression is the integral
of the proposed equation of differences, and the search
for it is the object of integral calculus.
Taylor is the first who in his work entitled Mctodus
incrementorum has considered linear equations of finite
differences. He gives the manner of integrating those
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 35
of the first order with a coefficient and a last term,
functions of the index. In truth the relations of the
terms of the arithmetical and geometrical progressions
which have always been taken into consideration are
the simplest cases of linear equations of differences ; but
they had not been considered from this point of view.
It was one of those which, attaching themselves to
general theories, lead to these theories and are conse-
quently veritable discoveries.
About the same time Moivre was considering under
the name of recurring series the equations of finite
differences of a certain order having a constant coeffi-
cient. He succeeded in integrating them in a very
ingenious manner. As it is always interesting to follow
the progress of inventors, I shall expound the method
of Moivre by applying it to a recurring series whose
relation among three consecutive terms is given. First
he considers the relation among the consecutive terms
of a geometrical progression or the equation of two
terms which expresses it. Referring it to terms less
than unity, he multiplies it in this state by a constant
factor and subtracts the product from the first equation.
Thus he obtains an equation among three consecutive
terms of the geometrical progression. Moivre considers
next a second progression whose ratio of terms is the
same factor which he has just used. He diminishes
similarly by unity the index of the terms of the equa-
tion of this new progression. In this condition he
multiplies it by the ratio of the terms of the first pro-
gression, and he subtracts the product from the equation
of the second progression, which gives him among three
consecutive terms of this progression a relation entirely
36 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY CW PROBABILITIES.
similar to that which he has found for the first progres-
sion. Then he observes that if one adds term by term
the two progressions, the same ratio exists among any
three of these consecutive terms. He compares the
coefficients of this ratio to those of the relation of the
terms of the proposed recurrent series, and he finds for
determining the ratios of the two geometrical progres-
sions an equation of the second degree, whose roots are
these ratios. Thus Moivre decomposes the recurrent
series into two geometrical progressions, each multi-
plied by an arbitrary constant which he determines by
means of the first two terms of the recurrent series.
This ingenious process is in fact the one that d' Alembert
has since employed for the integration of linear equa-
tions of infinitely small differences with constant coeffi-
cients, and Lagrange has transformed into similar
equations of finite differences.
Finally, I have considered the linear equations of
partial finite differences, first under the name of recurro-
recurrent series and afterwards under their own name.
The most general and simplest manner of integrating
all these equations appears to me that which I have
based upon the consideration of discriminant functions,
the idea of which is here given.
If we conceive a function V of a variable / developed
according to the powers of this variable, the coefficient
of any one of these powers will be a function of the
exponent or index of this power, which index I shall
call x. V is what I call the discriminant function of.
this coefficient or of the function of the index.
Now if we multiply the series of the development of
V by a function of the same variable, such, for example,
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 3?
as unity plus two times this variable, the product will
be a new discriminant function in which the coefficient
of the power x of the variable t will be equal to the
coefficient of the same power in V plus twice the
coefficient of the power less unity. Thus the function
of the index x in the product will be equal to the func-
tion of the index x in V plus twice the same function
in which the index is diminished by unity. This func-
tion of the index x is thus a derivative of the function
of the same index in the development of V, a function
which I shall call the primitive function of the index.
Let us designate the derivative function by the letter d
placed before the primitive function. The derivation
indicated by this letter will depend upon the multiplier
of V, which we will call T and which we will suppose
developed like V by the ratio to the powers of the
variable /. If we multiply anew by T the product of
V by T, which is equivalent to multiplying V by T 2 ,
we shall form a third discriminant function, in which
the coefficient of the jrth power of t will be a derivative
similar to the corresponding coefficient of the preceding
product ; it may be expressed by the same character 8
placed before the preceding derivative, and then this
character will be written twice before the primitive
function of x. But in place of writing it thus twice we
give it 2 for an exponent.
Continuing thus, we see generally that if we multiply
V by the th power of T, we shall have the coefficient
of the ;rth power of t in the product of V by the nth
power of T by placing before the primitive function the
character 6 with n for an exponent.
Let us suppose, for example, that T be unity divided
38 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
by /; then in the product of Fby T the coefficient of
the .rth power of / will be the coefficient of the power
greater by unity in V\ this coefficient in the product
of V by the nth power of T will then be the primitive
function in which x is augmented by n units.
Let us consider now a new function Z of /, developed
like V and T according to the powers of /; let us
designate by the character A placed before the primi-
tive function the coefficient of the .rth power of / in the
product of V by Z; this coefficient in the product of V
by the nth power of Z will be expressed by the char-
acter A affected by the exponent n and placed before
the primitive function of x.
If, for example, Z is equal to unity divided by t less
one, the coefficient of the xth power of / in the product
of V by Z will be the coefficient of the x -\- I power
of t in V less the coefficient of the xth power. It will
be then the finite difference of the primitive function of
the index x. Then the character A indicates a finite
difference of the primitive function in the case where
the index varies by unity; and the nth power of this
character placed before the primitive function will indi-
cate the finite nth difference of this function. If we
suppose that T be unity divided by /, we shall have 7
equal to the binomial Z -j- I . The product of V by
the nth power of T will then be equal to the product
of V by the nth power of the binomial Z-\-\. Develop-
ing this power in the ratio of the powers of Z, the
product of V by the various terms of this development
will be the discriminant functions of these same terms
in which we substitute in place of the powers of Z the
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 39
corresponding finite differences of the primitive function
of the index.
Now the product of V by the nth power of T is the
primitive function in which the index x is augmented
by n units; repassing from the discriminant functions
to their coefficients, we shall have this primitive function
thus augmented equal to the development of the nth
power of the binomial Z-\- \, provided that in this
development we substitute in place of the powers of Z
the corresponding differences of the primitive function
and that we multiply the independent term of these
powers by the primitive function. We shall thus
obtain the primitive function whose index is augmented
by any number n by means of its differences.
Supposing that T and Z always have the preceding
values, we shall have Z equal to the binomial T i ;
the product of V by the #th power of Z will then be
equal to the product of V by the development of the
#th power of the binomial T I . Repassing from the
discriminant functions to their coefficients as has just
been done, we shall have the nth difference of the
primitive function expressed by the development of the
?zth power of the binomial T I , in which we substi-
tute for the powers of T this same function whose index
is augmented by the exponent of the power, and for
the independent term of t, which is unity, the primitive
function, which gives this difference by means of the
consecutive terms of this function.
Placing S before the primitive function expressing the
derivative of this function, which multiplies the x power
of / in the product of V by T, and A expressing the
same derivative in the product of V by Z, we are led
40 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
by that which precedes to this general result : whatever
may be the function of the variable / represented by T
and Z, we may, in the development of all the identical
equations susceptible of being formed among these
functions, substitute the characters d and // in place of
T and Z, provided that we write the primitive function
of the index in series with the powers and with the
products of the powers of the characters, and that we
multiply by this function the independent terms of these
characters.
We are able by means of this general result to trans-
form any certain power of a difference of the primitive
function of the index x, in which x varies by unity, into
a series of differences of the same function in which x
varies by a certain number of units and reciprocally.
Let us suppose that T be the i power of unity divided
by / i , and that Z be always unity divided by / I ;
then the coefficient of the x power of / in the pro-
duct of V by T will be the coefficient of the x -\- i
power of / in V less the coefficient of the x power of t\
it will then be the finite difference of the primitive
function of the index x in which we vary this index by
the number i. It is easy to see that T is equal to the
difference between the i power of the binomial Z-f- I
and unity. The wth power of T is equal to the th
power of this difference. If in this equality we substi-
tute in place of T and Z the characters 6 and J, and
after the development we place at the end of each term
the primitive function of the index x> we shall have the
wth difference of this function in which x varies by *
units expressed by a series of differences of the same
function in which x varies by unity. This series is
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 41
only a transformation of the difference which it
expresses and which is identical with it; but it is in
similar transformations that the power of analysis
resides.
The generality of analysis permits us to suppose in
this expression that n is negative. Then the negative
powers of tf and A indicate the integrals. Indeed the
nth difference of the primitive function having for a
discriminant function the product of V by the nth power
of the binomial one divided by t less unity, the primi-
tive function which is the nth integral of this difference
has for a discriminant function that of the same differ-
ence multiplied by the nth power taken less than the
binomial one divided by / minus one, a power to which
the same power of the character A corresponds ; this
power indicates then an integral of the same order, the
index x varying by unity; and the negative powers of
6 indicate equally the integrals x varying by i units.
We see, thus, in the clearest and simplest manner the
rationality of the analysis observed among the positive
powers and differences, and among the negative powers
and the integrals.
If the function indicated by $ placed before the
primitive function is zero, we shall have an equation of
finite differences, and Fwill be the discriminant function
of its integral. In order to obtain this discriminant
function we shall observe that in the product of V by
T all the powers of / ought to disappear except the
powers inferior to the order of the equation of differ-
ences; V is then equal to a fraction whose denominator
is T and whose numerator is a polynomial in which the
highest power of t is less by unity than the order of the
42 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
equation of differences. The arbitrary coefficients of
the various powers of / in this polynomial, including
the power zero, will be determined by as many values
of the primitive function of the index when we make
successively x equal to zero, to one, to two, etc.
When the equation of differences is given we determine
T by putting all its terms in the first member and zero
in the second; by substituting in the first member unity
in place of the function which has the largest index ;
the first power of / in place of the primitive function in
which this index is diminished by unity; the second
power of / for the primitive function where this index
is diminished by two units, and so on. The coefficient
of the x\\\ power of / in the development of the preced-
ing expression of V will be the primitive function of x
or the integral of the equation of finite differences.
Analysis furnishes for this development various means,
among which we may choose that one which is most
suitable for the question proposed ; this is an advantage
of this method of integration.
Let us conceive now that V be a function of the two
variables / and /' developed according to the powers
and products of these variables ; the coefficient of any
product of the powers x and x' of / and /' will be a
function of the exponents or indices x and x' of these
powers; this function I shall call the primitive function
of which V is the discriminant function.
Let us multiply V by a function T of the two
variables t and /' developed like V in ratio of the
powers and the products of these variables ; the product
will be the discriminant function of a derivative of the
primitive function; if T, for example, is equal to the
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 43
variable / plus the variable t' minus two, this derivative
will be the primitive function of which we diminish by
unity the index x plus this same primitive function of
which we diminish by unity the index x' less two
times the primitive function. Designating whatever T
may be by the character d placed before the primitive
function, this derivative, the product of V by the wth
power of T, will be the discriminant function of the
derivative of the primitive function before which one
places the ;/th power of the character 8. Hence result
the theorems analogous to those which are relative to
functions of a single variable.
Suppose the function indicated by the character $ be
zero; one will have an equation of partial differences.
If, for example, we make as before T equal to the
variable / phis the variable t' 2, we have zero equal
to the primitive function of which we diminish by unity
the index x plus the same function of which we diminish
by unity the index x' minus two times the primitive
function. The discriminant function V of the primitive
function or of the integral of this equation ought then
to be such that its product by T does not include at
all the products of / by t' ; but Fmay include separately
the powers of t and those of t' , that is to say, an arbi-
trary function of t and an arbitrary function of /'; V is
then a fraction whose numerator is the sum of these two
arbitrary functions and whose denominator is T. The
coefficient of the product of the ;rth power of t by the
x' power of /' in the development of this fraction will
then be the integral of the preceding equation of partial
differences. This method of integrating this kind of
equations seems to me the simplest and the easiest by
44 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
the employment of the various analytical processes for
the development of rational fractions.
More ample details in this matter would be scarcely
understood without the aid of calculus.
Considering equations of infinitely small partial
differences as equations of finite partial differences in
which nothing is neglected, we are able to throw light
upon the obscure points of their calculus, which have
been the subject of great discussions among geometri-
cians. It is thus that I have demonstrated the possi-
bility of introducing discontinued functions in their
integrals, provided that the discontinuity takes place
only for the differentials of the order of these equations
or of a superior order. The transcendent results of
calculus are, like all the abstractions of the understand-
ing, general signs whose true meaning may be ascer-
tained only by repassing by metaphysical analysis to
the elementary ideas which have led to them ; this
often presents great difficulties, for the human mind
tries still less to transport itself into the future than to
retire within itself. The comparison of infinitely small
differences with finite differences is able similarly to
shed great light upon the metaphysics of infinitesimal
calculus.
It is easily proven that the finite nth difference of a
function in which the increase of the variable is E
being divided by the nth power of E, the quotient
reduced in series by ratio to the powers of the increase
E is formed by a first term independent of E. In the
measure that E diminishes, the series approaches more
and more this first term from which it can differ only
by quantities less than any assignable magnitude.
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 45
This term is then the limit of the series and expresses
in differential calculus the infinitely small nth difference
of the function divided by the nth power of the infinitely
small increase.
Considering from this point of view the infinitely
small differences, we see that the various operations of
differential calculus amount to comparing separately in
the development of identical expressions the finite
terms or those independent of the increments of the
variables which are regarded as infinitely small ; this
is rigorously exact, these increments being indetermi-
nant. Thus differential calculus has all the exactitude
of other algebraic operations.
The same exactitude is found in the applications of
differential calculus to geometry and mechanics. If
we imagine a curve cut by a secant at two adjacent
points, naming E the interval of the ordinates of these
two points, E will be the increment of the abscissa from
the first to the second ordinate. It is easy to see that
the corresponding increment of the ordinate will be the
product of E by the first ordinate divided by its sub-
secant; augmenting then in this equation of the curve
the first ordinate by this increment, we shall have the
equation relative to the second ordinate. The differ-
ence of these two equations will be a third equation
which, developed by the ratio of the powers of E and
divided by E, will have its first term independent of E,
which will be the limit of this development. This
term, equal to zero, will give then the limit of the sub-
secants, a limit which is evidently the subtangent.
This singularly happy method of obtaining the sub-
tangent is due to Fermat, who has extended it to
46 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
transcendent curves. This great geometrician ex-
presses by the character E the increment of the
abscissa; and considering only the first power of this
increment, he determines exactly as we do by differen-
tial calculus the subtangents of the curves, their points
of inflection, the maxima and minima of their ordinates,
and in general those of rational functions. We see
likewise by his beautiful solution of the problem of the
refraction of light inserted in the Collection of the
Letters of Descartes that he knows how to extend his
methods to irrational functions in freeing them from
irrationalities by the elevation of the roots to powers.
Fermat should be regarded, then, as the true discoverer
of Differential Calculus. Newton has since rendered this
calculus more analytical in his Method of Fluxions, and
simplified and generalized the processes by his beautiful
theorem of the binomial. Finally, about the same time
Leibnitz has enriched differential calculus by a nota-
tion which, by indicating the passage from the finite to
the infinitely small, adds to the advantage of express-
ing the general results of calculus that of giving the
first approximate values of the differences and of the
sums of the quantities; this notation is adapted of itself
to the calculus of partial differentials.
We are often, led to expressions which contain so
many terms and factors that the numerical substitutions
are impracticable. This takes place in questions of
probability when we consider a great number of events.
Meanwhile it is necessary to have the numerical value
of the formulae in order to know with what probability
the results are indicated, which the events develop by
multiplication. It is necessary especially to have the
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 47
law according to which this probability continually
approaches certainty, which it will finally attain if the
number of events were infinite. In order to obtain this
law I considered that the definite integrals of differen-
tials multiplied by the factors raised to great powers
would give by integration the formulae composed of
a great number of terms and factors. This remark
brought me to the idea of transforming into similar
integrals the complicated expressions of analysis and
the integrals of the equation of differences. I fulfilled
this condition by a method which gives at the same
time the function comprised under the integral sign
and the limits of the integration. It offers this remark-
able thing, that the function is the same discriminant
function of the expressions and the proposed equations ;
this attaches this method to the theory of discriminant
functions of which it is thus the complement. Further,
it would only be a question of reducing the definite
integral to a converging series. This I have obtained
by a process which makes the series converge with as
much more rapidity as the formula which it represents
is "nore complicated, so that it is more exact as it
becomes more necessary. Frequently the series has
for a factor the square root of the ratio of the circum-
ference to the diameter; sometimes it depends upon
other transcendents whose number is infinite.
An important remark which pertains to great gen-
erality of analysis, and which permits us to extend this
method to formulae and to equations of difference which
the theory of probability presents most frequently, is
that the series to which one comes by supposing the
limits of the definite integrals to be real and positive
48 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
take place equally in the case where the equation which
determines these limits has only negative or imaginary
roots. These passages from the positive to the nega-
tive and from the real to the imaginary, of which I first
have made use, have led me further to the values of
many singular definite integrals, which I have accord-
ingly demonstrated directly. We may then consider
these passages as a means of discovery parallel to
induction and analogy long employed by geometricians,
at first with an extreme reserve, afterwards with entire
confidence, since a great number of examples has
justified its use. In the mean time it is always necessary
to confirm by direct demonstrations the results obtained
by these divers means.
I have named the ensemble of the preceding methods
the Calculus of Discriminant Functions; this calculus
serves as a basis for the work which I have published
under the title of the Analytical Theory of Probabilities.
It is connected with the simple idea of indicating the
repeated multiplications of a quantity by itself or its
entire and positive powers by writing toward the top of
the letter which expresses it the numbers which mark
the degrees of these powers.
This notation, employed by Descartes in his Geometry
and generally adopted since the publication of this
important work, is a little thing, especially when com-
pared with the theory of curves and variable functions
by which this great geometrician has established the
foundations of modern calculus. But the language of
analysis, most perfect of all, being in itself a powerful
instrument of discoveries, its notations, especially when
they are necessary and happily conceived, are so many
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 49
germs of new calculi. This is rendered appreciable by
this example.
Wallis, who in his work entitled Arithmetica Infini-
torum, one of those which have most contributed to the
progress of analysis, has interested himself especially
in following the thread of induction and analogy, con-
sidered that if one divides the exponent of a letter by
two, three, etc., the quotient will be accordingly the
Cartesian notation, and when division is possible the
exponent of the square, cube, etc., root of the quantity
which represents the letter raised to the dividend
exponent. Extending by analogy this result to the
case where division is impossible, he considered a
quantity raised to a fractional exponent as the root of
the degree indicated by the denominator of this frac-
tion namely, of the quantity raised to a power indi-
cated by the numerator. He observed then that,
according to the Cartesian notation, the multiplication
of two powers of the same letter amounts to adding
their exponents, and that their division amounts to
subtracting the exponents of the power of the divisor
from that of the power of the dividend, when the second
of these exponents is greater than the first. Wallis
extended this result to the case where the first
exponent is equal to or greater than the second, which
makes the difference zero or negative. He supposed
then that a negative exponent indicates unity divided
by the quantity raised to the same exponent taken
positively. These remarks led him to integrate
generally the monomial differentials, whence he inferred
the definite integrals of a particular kind of binomial
differentials whose exponent is a positive integral
50 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
number. The observation then of the law of the num-
bers which express these integrals, a series of inter-
polations and happy inductions where one perceives
the germ of the calculus of definite integrals which has
so much exercised geometricians and which is one of
the fundaments of my new Theory of Probabilities,
gave him the ratio of the area of the circle to the square
of its diameter expressed by an infinite product, which,
when one stops it, confines this ratio to limits more and
more converging; this is one of the most singular
results in analysis. But it is remarkable that Wallis,
who had so well considered the fractional exponents
of radical powers, should have continued to note these
powers as had been done before him. Newton in his
Letters to Oldembourg, if I am not mistaken, was the
first to employ the notation of these powers by frac-
tional exponents. Comparing by the way of induction,
of which Wallis had made such a beautiful use, the
exponents of the powers of the binomial with the
coefficients of the terms of its development in the case
where this exponent is integral and positive, he deter-
mined the law of these coefficients and extended k by
analogy to fractional and negative powers. These
various results, based upon the notation of Descartes,
show his influence on the progress of analysis. It has
still the advantage of giving the simplest and fairest
idea of logarithms, which are indeed only the exponents
of a magnitude whose successive powers, increasing by
infinitely small degrees, can represent all numbers.
But the most important extension that this notation
has received is that of variable exponents, which con-
stitutes exponential calculus, one of the most fruitful
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 5r
branches of modern analysis. Leibnitz was the first
to indicate the transcendents by variable exponents, and
thereby he has completed the system of elements of
which a finite function can be composed; for every
finite explicit function of a variable may be reduced in
the last analysis to simple magnitudes, combined by
the method of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and
division and raised to constant or variable powers.
The roots of the equations formed from these elements
are the implicit functions of tile variable. It is thus
that a variable has for a logarithm the exponent of the
power which is equal to it hi the series of the powers
of the number whose hyperbolic logarithm is unity, and
the logarithm of a variable of it is an implicit function.
Leibnitz thought to give to his differential character
the same exponents as to magnitudes ; but then in place
of indicating the repeated multiplications of the same
magnitude these exponents indicate the repeated differ-
entiations of the same function. This new extension
of the Cartesian notation led Leibnitz to the analogy of
positive powers with the differentials, and the negative
powers with the integrals. Lagrange has followed this
singular analogy in all its developments; and by series
of inductions which may be regarded as one of the
most beautiful applications which have ever been made
of the method of induction he has arrived at general
formula which are as curious as useful on the trans-
formations of differences and of integrals the ones into
the others when the variables have divers finite incre-
ments and when these increments are infinitely small.
But he has not given the demonstrations of it which
appear to him difficult. The theory of discriminant
52 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
functions extends the Cartesian notations to some of its
characters; it shows with proof the analogy of the
powers and operations indicated by these characters;
so that it may still be regarded as the exponential
calculus of characters. All that concerns the series and
the integration of equations of differences springs from
it with an extreme facility.
PART II.
APPLICATIONS OF THE CALCULUS OF
PROBABILITIES.
CHAPTER VI.
GAMES OF CHANCE.
THE combinations which games present were the
object of the first investigations of probabilities. In an
infinite variety of these combinations many of them
lend themselves readily to calculus ; others require more
difficult calculi; and the difficulties increasing in the
measure that the combinations become more compli-
cated, the desire to surmount them and curiosity have
excited geometricians to perfect more and more this
kind of analysis. It has been seen already that the
benefits of a lottery are easily determined by the theory
of combinations. But it is more difficult to know in
how many draws one can bet one against one, for
example that all the numbers will be drawn, n being
the number of numbers, r that of the numbers drawn
at each draw, and i the unknown number of draws.
The expression of the probability of drawing all the
53
54 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
numbers depends upon the th finite difference of the i
power of a product of r consecutive numbers. When
the number n is considerable the search for the value
of / which renders this probability equal to J becomes
impossible at least unless this difference is converted
into a very converging series. This is easily done by
the method here below indicated by the approxima-
tions of functions of very large numbers. It is found
thus since the lottery is composed of ten thousand
numbers, one of which is drawn at each draw, that
there is a disadvantage in betting one against one that
all the numbers will be drawn in 95767 draws and an
advantage in making the same bet for 95768 draws.
In the lottery of France this bet is disadvantageous for
85 draws and advantageous for 86 draws.
Let us consider again two players, A and B, playing
together at heads and tails in such a manner that at
each throw if heads turns up A gives one counter to B,
who gives him one if tails turns up; the number of
counters of B is limited, while that of A is unlimited,
and the game is to end only when B shall have no more
counters. We ask in how many throws one should bet
one to one that the game will end. The expression
of the probability that the game will end in an i number
of throws is given by a series which comprises a great
number of terms and factors if the number of counters
of B is considerable; the search for the value of the
unknown i which renders this series \ would then be
impossible if we did not reduce the same to a very
convergent series. In applying to it the method of
which we have just spoken, we find a very simple
expression for the unknown from which it results that if,
GAMES OF CHANCE. 55
for example, B has a hundred counters, it is a bet of a
little less than one against one that the game will end
in 23780 throws, and a bet of a little more than one
against one that it will end in 23781 throws.
These two examples added to those we have already
given are sufficient to shows how the problems of
games have contributed to the perfection of analysis.
CHAPTER VII.
CONCERNING THE UNKNOWN INEQUALITIES
WHICH MAY EXIST AMONG CHANCES WHICH
ARE SUPPOSED EQUAL
INEQUALITIES of this kind have upon the results of
the calculation of probabilities a sensible influence
which deserves particular attention. Let us take the
game of heads and tails, and let us suppose that it is
equally easy to throw the one or the other side of the
coin. Then the probability of throwing heads at the
first throw is and that of throwing it twice in succes-
sion is J. But if there exist in the coin an inequality
which causes one of the faces to appear rather than the
other without knowing which side is favored by this
inequality, the probability of throwing heads at the first
throw will always be ; because of our ignorance of
which face is favored by the inequality the probability
of the simple event is increased if this inequality is
favorable to it, just so much is it diminished if the
inequality is contrary to it. But in this same ignorance
the probability of throwing heads twice in succession is
increased. Indeed this probability is that of throwing
heads at the first throw multiplied by the probability
56
UNKNOWN INEQUALITIES AMONG CHANCES. 57
that having thrown it at the first throw it will be thrown
at the second ; but its happening at the first throw is a
reason for belief that the inequality of the coin favors it;
the unknown inequality increases, then, the probability
of throwing heads at the second throw ; it consequently
increases the product of these two probabilities. In
order to submit this matter to calculus let us suppose
that this inequality increases by a twentieth the prob-
ability of the simple event which it favors. If this
event is heads, its probability will be plus -fo, or \,
and the probability of throwing it twice in succession
will be the square of -j^-, or |f . If the favored event is
tails, the probability of heads, will be | minus ^ > or *V
and the probability of throwing it twice in succession
will be T Vo- Since we have at first no reason for
believing that the inequality favors one of these events
rather than the other, it is clear that in order to have
the probability of the compound event heads heads it
is necessary to add the two preceding probabilities and
take the half of their sum, which gives ^| for this
probability, which exceeds by ^J-g- or by the square of
the favor -fa that the inequality adds to the possibilities
of the event which it favors. The probability of throw-
ing tails tails is similarly f^, but the probability of
throwing heads tails or tails heads is each jV T ; for
the sum of these four probabilities ought to equal cer-
tainty or unity. We find thus generally that the
constant and unknown causes which favor simple events
which are judged equally possible always increase
the probability of the repetition of the same simple
event.
In an even number of throws heads and tails ought
58 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
both to happen either an even number of times or odd
number of times. The probability of each of these
cases is if the possibilities of the two faces are equal ;
but if there is between them an unknown inequality, this
inequality is always favorable to the first case.
Two players whose skill is supposed to be equal play
on the conditions that at each throw that one who loses
gives a counter to his adversary, and that the gam*
continues until one of the players has no more counters.
The calculation of the probabilities shows us that for
the equality of the play the throws of the players ought
to be an inverse ratio to their counters. But if there is
between the players a small unknown inequality, it
favors that one of the players who has the smallest
number of counters. His probability of winning the
game increases if the players agree to double or triple
their counters; and it will be or the same as the
probability of the other player in the case where the
number of their counters should become infinite, pre-
serving always the same ratio.
One may correct the influence of these unknown
inequalities by submitting them themselves to the
chances of hazard. Thus at the play of heads and
tails, if one has a second coin which is thrown each
time with the first and one agrees to name constantly
heads the face turned up by the second coin, the prob-
ability of throwing heads twice in succession with the
first coin will approach much nearer \ than in the case
of a single coin. In this last case the difference is the
square of the small increment of possibility that the
unknown inequality gives to the face of the first coin
which it favors ; in the other case this difference is the
UNKNOWN INEQUALITIES AMONG CHANCES. 59
quadruple product of this square by the corresponding
square relative to the second coin.
Let there be thrown into an urn a hundred numbers
from i to 100 in the order of numeration, and after
having shaken the urn in order to mix the numbers one
is drawn; it is clear that if the mixing has been well
done the probabilities of the drawing of the numbers
will be the same. But if we fear that there is among
them small differences dependent upon the order
according to which the numbers have been thrown into
the urn, we shall diminish considerably these differences
by throwing into a second urn the numbers according
to the order of their drawing from the first urn, and by
shaking then this second urn in order to mix the
numbers. A third urn, a fourth urn, etc., would
diminish more and more these differences already
inappreciable in the second urn.
CHAPTER VIII.
CONCERNING THE LAWS OF PROBABILITY
WHICH RESULT FROM THE INDEFINITE MUL-
TIPLICATION OF EVENTS.
AMID the variable and unknown causes which we
comprehend under the name of chance, and which
render uncertain and irregular the march of events, we
see appearing, in the measure that they multiply, a
striking regularity which seems to hold to a design and
which has been considered as a proof of Providence.
But in reflecting upon this we spon recognize that this
regularity is only the development of the respective
possibilities of simple events which ought to present
themselves more often when they are more probable.
Let us imagine, for example, an urn which contains
white balls and black balls; and let us suppose that
each time a ball is drawn it is put back into the urn
before proceeding to a new draw. The ratio of the
number of the white balls drawn to the number of black
balls drawn will be most often very irregular in the first
drawings; but the variable causes of this irregularity
produce effects alternately favorable and unfavorable to
the regular march of events which destroy each other
60
INDEFINITE MULTIPLICATION OF EVENTS. 61
mutually in the totality of a great number of draws,
allowing us to perceive more and more the ratio cf
white balls to the black balls contained in the urn, or
the respective possibilities of drawing a white ball or
black ball at each draw. From this results the follow-
ing theorem.
The probability that the ratio of the number of white
balls drawn to the total number of balls drawn does
not deviate beyond a given interval from the ratio of
the number of white balls to the total number of balls
contained in the urn, approaches indefinitely to certainty
by the indefinite multiplication of events, however small
this interval.
This theorem indicated by common sense was diffi-
cult to demonstrate by analysis. Accordingly the
illustrious geometrician Jacques Bernouilli, who first
has occupied himself with it, attaches great importance
to the demonstrations he has given. The calculus of
discriminant functions applied to this matter not only
demonstrates with facility this theorem, but still more it
gives the probability that the ratio of the events
observed deviates only in certain limits from the true
ratio of their respective possibilities.
One may draw from the preceding theorem this
consequence which ought to be regarded as a general
law, namely, that the ratios of the acts of nature are
very nearly constant when these acts are considered in
great number. Thus in spite of the variety of years
the sum of the productions during a considerable num-
ber of years is sensibly the same ; so that man by useful
foresight is able to provide against the irregularity of
the seasons by spreading out equally over all the
62 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
seasons the goods which nature distributes in an
unequal manner. I do not except from the above law
results due to moral causes. The ratio of annual
births to the population, and that of marriages to births,
show only small variations; at Paris the number of
annual births is almost the same, and I have heard it
said at the post-office in ordinary seasons the number
of letters thrown aside on account of defective addresses
changes little each year ; this has likewise been observed
at London.
It follows again from this theorem that in a series of
events indefinitely prolonged the action of regular and
constant causes ought to prevail in the long run over
that of irregular causes. It is this which renders the
gains of the lotteries just as certain as the products of
agriculture ; the chances which they reserve assure them
a benefit in the totality of a great number of throws.
Thus favorable and numerous chances being constantly
attached to the observation of the eternal principles of
reason, of justice, and of humanity which establish and
maintain societies, there is a great advantage in con-
forming to these principles and of grave inconvenience
in departing from them. If one consult histories and
his own experience, one will see all the facts come to
the aid of this result of calculus. Consider the happy
effects of institutions founded upon reason and the
natural rights of man among the peoples who have
known how to establish and preserve them. Consider
again the advantages which good faith has procured for
the governments who have made it the basis of their
conduct and how they have been indemnified for the
sacrifices which a scrupulous exactitude in keeping
INDEFINITE MULTIPLICATION OF EVENTS. 63
their engagements has cost them. What immense
credit at home ! What preponderance abroad ! On
the. contrary, look into what an abyss of misfortunes
nations have often been precipitated by the ambition
and the perfidy of their chiefs. Every time that a
great power intoxicated by the love of conquest aspires
to universal domination the sentiment of independence
produces among the menaced nations a coalition of
which it becomes almost always the victim. Similarly
in the midst of the variable causes which extend or
restrain the divers states, the natural limits acting as
constant causes ought to end by prevailing. It is
important then to the stability as well as to the happi-
ness of empires not to extend them beyond those limits
into which they are led again without cessation by the
action of the causes; just as the waters of the seas
raised by violent tempests fall again into their basins
by the force of gravity. It is again a result of the
calculus of probabilities confirmed by numerous and
melancholy experiences. History treated from the
point of view of the influence of constant causes would
unite to the interest of curiosity 1hat of offering to man
most useful lessons. Sometimes we attribute the
inevitable results of these causes to the accidental cir-
cumstances which have produced their action. It is,
for example, against the nature of things that one
people should ever be governed by another when a
vast sea or a great distance separates them. It may
be affirmed that in the long run this constant cause,
joining itself without ceasing to the variable causes
which act in the same way and which the course of
time develops, will end by finding them sufficiently
64 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
strong to give to a subjugated people its natural inde-
pendence or to unite it to a powerful state which may
be contiguous.
In a great number of cases, and these are the most
important of the analysis of hazards, the possibilities of
simple events are unknown and we are forced to search
in past events for the indices which can guide us in
our conjectures about the causes upon which they
depend. In applying the analysis of discriminant
functions to the principle elucidated above on the prob-
ability of the causes drawn from the events observed,
we are led to the following theorem.
When a simple event or one composed of several
simple events, as, for instance, in a game, has been
repeated a great number of times the possibilities of the
simple events which render most probable that which
has been observed are those that observation indicates
with the greatest probability; in the measure that the
observed event is repeated this probability increases
and would end by amounting to certainty if the num-
bers of repetitions should become infinite.
There are two kinds of approximations: the one is
relative to the limits taken on all sides of the possibili-
ties which give to the past the greatest probability; the
other approximation is related to the probability that
these possibilities fall within these limits. The repeti-
tion of the compound event increases more and more
this probability, the limits remaining the same; it
reduces more and more the interval of these limits, the
probability remaining the same ; in infinity this interval
becomes zero and the probability changes to certainty.
If we apply this theorem to the ratio of the births of
INDEFINITE MULTIPLICATION OF EVENTS. 65
boys to that of girls observed in the different countries
of Europe, we find that this ratio, which is everywhere
about equal to that of 22 to 21, indicates with an
extreme probability a greater facility in the birth of
boys. Considering further that it is the same at Naptes
and at St. Petersburg, we shall see that in this regard
the influence of climate is without effect. We might
then suspect, contrary to the common belief, that this
predominance of masculine births exists even in the
Orient. I have consequently invited the French
scholars sent to Egypt to occupy themselves with this
interesting question ; but the difficulty in obtaining
exact information about the births has not permitted
them to solve it. Happily, M. de Humboldt has not
neglected this matter among the innumerable new
things which he has observed and collected in America
with so much sagacity, constancy, and courage. He
has found in the tropics the same ratio of the births as
we observe in Paris ; this ought to make us regard the
greater number of masculine births as a general law of
the human race. The laws which the different kinds
of animals follow in this regard seem to me worthy of
the attention of naturalists.
The fact that the ratio of births of boys to that of
girls differs very little from unity even in the great
number of the births observed in a place would offer in
this regard a result contrary to the general law, without
which we should be right in concluding that this law
did not exist. In order to arrive at this result it is
necessary to employ great numbers and to be sure that
it is indicated by great probability. Buffon cites, for
example, in his Political AritJimctic several communi-
66 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
ties of Bourgogne where the births of girls have sur-
passed those of boys. Among these communities that
of Carcelle-le-Grignon presents in 20x39 births during
five years 1026 girls and 983 boys. Although these
numbers are considerable, they indicate, however, only
a greater possibility in the births of girls with a prob-
ability of -fa, and this probability, smaller than that cf
not throwing heads four times in succession in the game
of heads and tails, is not sufficient to investigate the
cause for this anomaly, which, according to all prob-
ability, would disappear if one should follow during a
century ihe births in this community.
The registers of births, which are kept with care in
order to assure the condition of the citizens, may serve
in determining the population of a great empire without
recurring to the enumeration of its inhabitants a
laborious operation and one difficult to make with
exactitude. But for this it is necessary to know the
ratio of the population to the annual births. The most
precise means of obtaining it consists, first, in choosing
in the empire districts distributed in an almost equal
manner over its whole surface, so as to render the
general result independent of local circumstances;
second, in enumerating with care for a given epoch the
inhabitants of several communities in each of these dis-
tricts; third, by determining from the statement of the
births during several years which precede and follow
this epoch the mean number corresponding to the
annual births. This number, divided by that of the
inhabitants, will give the ratio of the annual births to
the population in a manner more and more accurate
as the enumeration becomes more considerable. The
INDEFINITE MULTIPLICATION OF EVENTS. 67
government, convinced of the utility of a similar
enumeration, has decided at my request to order
its execution. In thirty districts spread out equally
over the whole of France, communities have been
chosen which would be able to furnish the most exact
information. Their enumerations have given 2037615
individuals as the total number of their inhabitants on
the 23d of September, 1802. The statement of the
births in these communities during the years 1800,
1 80 1, and 1802 have given:
Births. Marriages. Deaths.
1 103 1 2 boys 46037 103659 men
105287 girls 99443 women
The ratio of the population to annual births is
then 28 T 3 I7 5 oWb7r> ^ is greater than had been estimated
up to this time. Multiplying the number of annual
births in France by this ratio, we shall have the pop-
ulation of this kingdom. But what is the probability
that the population thus determined will not deviate
from the true population beyond a given limit ?
Resolving this problem and applying to its solution the
preceding data, I have found that, the number of annual
births in France being supposed to be 1000000, which
brings the population to 28352845 inhabitants, it is a
bet of almost 300000 against I that the error of this
result is not half a million.
The ratio of the births of boys to that of girls which
the preceding statement offers is that of 22 to 21 ; and
the marriages are to the births as 3 is to 4.
At Paris the baptisms of children of both sexes vary
a little from the ratio of 22 to 21. Since 1745, the
68 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
epoch in which one has commenced to distinguish the
sexes upon the birth-registers, up to the end of 1/84,
there have been baptized in this capital 393386 boys
and 377555 girls. The ratio of the two numbers is
almost that of 2 5 to 24 ; it appears then at Paris that a
particular cause approximates an equality of baptisms
of the two sexes. If we apply to this matter the
calculus of probabilities, we find that it is a bet of 238
to i in favor of the existence of this cause, which is
sufficient to authorize the investigation. Upon reflec-
tion it has appeared to me that the difference observed
holds to this, that the parents in the country and the
provinces, finding some advantage in keeping the boys
at home, have sent to the Hospital for Foundlings in
Paris fewer of them relative to the number of girls
according to the ratio of births of the two sexes. This
is proved by the statement of the registers of this
hospital. From the beginning of 1745 to the end of
1809 there were entered 163499 boys and 159405
girls. The first of these numbers exceeds only by -$$
the second, which it ought to have surpassed at least
by ?V- This confirms the existence of the assigned
cause, namely, that the ratio of births of boys to those
of girls is at Paris that of 22 to 21, no attention having
been paid to foundlings.
The preceding results suppose that we may compare
the births to the drawings of balls from an urn which
contains an infinite number of white balls and black
balls so mixed that at each draw the chances of drawing
ought to be the same for each ball; but it is possible
that the variations of the same seasons in different
years may have some influence upon the annual ratio
INDEFINITE MULTIPLICATION Of-' EVENTS. 69
of the births of boys to those of girls. The Bureau of
Longitudes of France publishes each year in its annual
the tables of the annual movement of the population of
the kingdom. The tables already published commence
in 1817; in that year and in the five following years
there were born 2962361 boys and 2781997 girls,
which gives about T for the ratio of the births of boys
to that of girls. The ratios of each year vary little
from this mean result; the smallest ratio is that of
1822, where it was only ff ; the greatest is of the year
1817, when it was ff. These ratios vary appreciably
from the ratio of |f found above. Applying to this
deviation the analysis of probabilities in the hypothesis
of the comparison of births to the drawings of balls
from an urn, we find that it would be scarcely probable.
It appears, then, to indicate that this hypothesis,
although closely approximated, is not rigorously exact.
In the number of births which we have just stated there
are of natural children 200494 boys and 190698 girls.
The ratio of masculine and feminine births was then in
this regard ff , smaller than the mean ratio of ff . This
result is in the same sense as that of the births of
foundlings; and it seems to prove that in the class of
natural children the births of the two sexes approach
more nearly equality than in the class of legitimate
children. The difference of the climates from the north
to the south of France does not appear to influence
appreciably the ratio of the births of boys and girls.
The thirty most southern districts have given T | for this
ratio, the same as that of entire France.
The constancy of the superiority of the births of boys
over girls at Paris and at London since they have been
?o A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
observed has appeared to some scholars to be a proof
of Providence, without which they have thought that
the irregular causes which disturb without ceasing the
course of events ought several times to have rendered
the annual births of girls superior to those of boys.
But this proof is a new example of the abuse which
has been so often made of final causes which always
disappear on a searching examination of the questions
when we have the necessary data to solve them. The
constancy in question is a result of regular causes which
give the superiority to the births of boys and which
extend it to the anomalies due to hazard when the
number of annual births is considerable. The investi-
gation of the probability that this constancy will main-
tain itself for a long time belongs to that branch of the
analysis of hazards which passes from past events to
the probability of future events ; and taking as a basis
the births observed from 1745 to 1784, it is a bet of
almost 4 against I that at Paris the annual births of
boys will constantly surpass for a century the births
of girls ; there is then no reason to be astonished that
this has taken place for a half-century.
Let us take another example of the development of
constant ratios which events present in the measure
that they are multiplied. Let us imagine a series of
urns arranged circularly, and each containing a very
great number of white balls and black balls ; the ratio
of white balls to the black in the urns being originally
very different and such, for example, that one of these
urns contains only white balls, while another contains
only black balls. If one draws a ball from the first urn
in order to put it into the second, and, after having
INDEFINITE MULTIPLICATION OF EVENTS. 7*
shaken the second urn in order to mix well the new
ball with the others, one draws a ball to put it into the
third urn, and so on to the last urn, from which is drawn
a ball to put into the first, and if this series is recom-
menced continually, the analysis of probability shows
us that the ratios of the white balls to the black in these
urns will end by being the same and equal to the ratio
of the sum of all the white balls to the sum of all the
black balls contained in the urns. Thus by this regular
mode of change the primitive irregularity of these ratios
disappears eventually in order to make room for the
most simple order. Now if among these urns one
intercalate new ones in which the ratio of the sum of
the white balls to the sum of the black balls which they
contain differs from the preceding, continuing indefi-
nitely in the totality of the urns the drawings which we
have just indicated, the simple order established in the
old urns will be at first disturbed, and the ratios of the
white balls to the black balls will become irregular;
but little by little this irregularity will disappear in
order to make room for a new order, which will finally
be that of the equality of the ratios of the white balls
to the black balls contained in the urns. We may
apply these results to all the combinations of nature in
which the constant forces by which their elements are
animated establish regular modes of action, suited to
bring about in the very heart of chaos systems governed
by admirable laws.
The phenomena which seem the most dependent
upon hazard present, then, when multiplied a tendency
to approach without ceasing fixed ratios, in such a
manner that if we conceive on all sides of each of these
72 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
ratios an interval as small as desired, the probability
that the mean result of the observations falls within this
interval will end by differing from certainty only by a
quantity greater than an assignable magnitude. Thus
by the calculations of probabilities applied to a great
number of observations we may recognize the existence
of these ratios. But before seeking the causes it is
necessary, in order not to be led into vain speculations,
to assure ourselves that they are indicated by a prob-
ability which does not permit us to regard them as
anomalies due to hazard. The theory of discriminant
functions gives a very simple expression for this prob-
ability, which is obtained by integrating the product of
the differential of the quantity of which the result
deduced from a great number of observations varies
from the truth by a constant less than unity, dependent
upon the nature of the problem, and raised to a power
whose exponent is the ratio of the square of this varia-
tion to the number of observations. The integral taken
between the limits given and divided by the same
integral, applied to a positive and negative infinity,
will express the probability that the variation from the
truth is comprised between these limits. Such is the
general law of the probability of results indicated by a
great number of observations.
CHAPTER IX.
THE APPLICATION OF THE CALCULUS OF PROB-
ABILITIES TO NATURAL PHILOSOPHY.
THE phenomena of nature are most often enveloped
by so many strange circumstances, and so great a
number of disturbing causes mix their influence, that
it is very difficult to recognize them. We may arrive
at them only by multiplying the observations or the
experiences, so that the strange effects finally destroy
reciprocally each other, the mean results putting in
evidence those phenomena and their divers elements.
The more numerous the number of observations and
the less they vary among themselves the more their
results approach the truth. We fulfil this last condition
by the choice of the methods of observations, by the
precision of the instruments, and by the care which we
take to observe closely; then we determine by the
theory of probabilities the most advantageous mean
results or those which give the least value of the error.
But that is not sufficient; it is further necessary to
appreciate the probability that the errors of these
results are comprised in the given limits; and without
this we have only an imperfect knowledge of the degree
74 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
of exactitude obtained. Formulas suitable to these
matters are then true improvements of the method of
sciences, and it is indeed important to add them to this
method. The analysis which they require is the most
delicate and the most difficult of the theory of prob-^
abilities; it is one of the principal objects of the work
which I have published upon this theory, and in which
I have arrived at formulas of this kind which have the
remarkable advantage of being independent of the law
of the probability of errors and of including only the
quantities given by the observations themselves and
their expressions.
Each observation has for an analytic expression a
function of the elements which we wish to determine;
and if these elements are nearly known, this function
becomes a linear function of their corrections. In
equating it to the observation itself there is formed an
equation of condition. If we have a great number of
similar equations, we combine them in such a manner
as to obtain as many final equations as there are ele-
ments whose corrections we determine then by resolv-
ing these equations. But what is the most advantageous
manner of combining equations of condition in order
to obtain final equations ? What is the law of the
probabilities of errors of which the elements are still
susceptible that we draw from them ? This is made
clear to us by the theory of probabilities. The forma-
tion of a final equation by means of the equation of
condition amounts to multiplying each one of these by
an indeterminate factor and by uniting the products; it
is necessary to choose the system of factors which gives
the smallest opportunity for error. But it is apparent
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 75
that if we multiply the possible errors of an element by
their respective probabilities, the most advantageous
system will be that in which the sum of these products
all, taken, positively is a minimum; for a positive or a
negative error ought to be considered as a loss. Form-
ing, then, this sum of products, the condition of the
minimum will determine the system of factors which it
is expedient to adopt, or the most advantageous system.
We find thus that this system is that of the coefficients
of the elements in each equation of condition ; so that
we form a first final equation by multiplying respect-
ively each equation of condition by its coefficient of
the first element and by uniting all these equations thus
multiplied. We form a second final equation by em-
ploying in the same manner the coefficients of tl.e
second element, and so on. In this manner the ele-
ments and the laws of the phenomena obtained in the
collection of a great number of observations are
developed with the most evidence.
The probability of the errors which each element
still leaves to be feared is proportional to the number
whose hyperbolic logarithm is unity raised to a power
equal to the square of the error taken as a minus
quantity and multiplied by a constant coefficient which
may be considered as the modulus of the probability of
the errors ; because, the error remaining the same, its
probability decreases with rapidity when the former
increases; so that the element obtained weighs, if I
may thus speak toward the truth, as much more as this
modulus is greater. I would call for this reason this
modulus the weigJit of the element or of the result.
This weight is the greatest possible in the system of
76 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
factors the most advantageous; it is this which gives
to this system superiority over others. By a remarkable
analogy of this weight with those of bodies compared
at their common centre of gravity it results that if the
same element is given by divers systems, composed
each of a great number of observations, the most
advantageous, the mean result of their totality is the
sum of the products of each partial result by its weight.
Moreover, the total weight of the results of the divers
systems is the sum of their partial weights ; so that the
probability of the errors of the mean result of their
totality is proportional to the number which has unity
for an hyperbolic logarithm raised to a power equal to
the square of the error taken as minus and multiplied
by the sum of the weights. Each weight depends in
truth upon the law of the probability of error of each
system, and almost always this law is unknown; but
happily I have been able to eliminate the factor which
contains it by means of the sum of the squares of the
variations of the observations in this system from their
mean result. It would then be desirable in order to
complete our knowledge of the results obtained by the
totality of a great number of observations that we write
by the side of each result the weight which corresponds
to it; analysis furnishes for this object both general and
simple methods. When we have thus obtained the
exponential which represents the law of the proba-
bility of errors, we shall have the probability that the
error of the result is included within given limits by
taking within the limits the integral of the product of
this" exponential by the differential of the error and
multiplying it by the square root of the weight of the
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 77
result divided by the circumference whose diameter is
unity. Hence it follows that for the same probability
the errors of the results are reciprocal to the square
roots of their weights, which serves to compare their
respective precision.
In order to apply this method with success it is
necessary to vary the circumstances of the observations
or the experiences in such a manner as to avoid the
constant causes of error. It is necessary that the
observations should be numerous, and that they should
be so much the more so as there are more elements to
determine ; for the weight of the mean result increases
as the number of observations divided by the number
of the elements. It is still necessary that the elements
follow in these observations a different course; for if the
course of the two elements were exactly the same,
which would render their coefficients proportional in
equation of conditions, these elements would form only
a single unknown quantity and it would be impossible
to distinguish them by these observations. Finally it
is necessary that the observations should be precise;
this condition, the first of all, increases greatly the
weight of the result the expression of which has for
a divisor the sum of the squares of the deviations of the
observations from this result. With these precautions
we shall be able to make use of the preceding method
and measure the degree of confidence which the results
deduced from a great number of observations merit.
The rule which we have just given to conclude equa-
tions of condition, final equations, amount to rendering
a minimum the sum of the squares of the errors of
observations; for each equation of condition becomes
78 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
exact by substituting in it the observation plus its
error; and if we draw from it the expression of this
error, it is easy to see that the condition of the minimum
of the sum of the squares of these expressions gives the
rule in question. This rule is the more precise as the
observations are more numerous ; but even in the case
where their number is small it appears natural to
employ the same rule which in all cases offers a simple
means of obtaining without groping the corrections
which we seek to determine. It serves further to com-
pare the precision of the divers astronomical tables of
the same star. These tables may always be supposed
as reduced to the same form, and then they differ only
by the epochs, the mean movements and the coefficients
of the arguments ; for if one of them contains a coeffi-
cient which is not found in the others, it is clear that
this amounts to supposing zero in them as the coefficient
of this argument. If now we rectify these tables by
the totality of the good observations, they would satisfy
the condition that the sum of the squares of the errors
should be a minimum; the tables which, compared to a
considerable number of observations, approach nearest
this condition merit then the preference.
It is principally in astronomy that the method
explained above may be employed with advantage.
The astronomical tables owe the truly astonishing
exactitude which they have attained to the precision of
observations and of theories, and to the use of equations
of conditions which cause to concur a great number of
excellent observations in the correction of the same
element. But it remains to determine the probability
of the errors that this correction leaves still to be
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 79
feared ; and the method which I have just explained
enables us to recognize the probability of these errors.
In order to give some interesting applications of it I
have profited by the immense work which M. Bouvard
has just finished on the movements of Jupiter and
Saturn, of which he has formed very precise tables.
He has discussed with the greatest care the oppositions
and quadratures of these two planets observed by
Bradley and by the astronomers who have followed
him down to the last years; he has concluded the cor-
rections of the elements of their movement and their
masses compared to that of the sun taken as unity.
His calculations give him the mass of Saturn equal to
the 3512th part of that of the sun. Applying to them
my formulas of probability, I find that it is a bet of
n,ooo against one that the error of this result is not
T ^ of its value, or that which amounts to almost the
same that after a century of new observations added to
the preceding ones, and examined in the same manner,
the new result will not differ by T L ff from that of
M. Bouvard. This wise astronomer finds again the
mass of Jupiter equal to the ro/ith part of the sun;
and my method of probability gives a bet of 1,000,000
to one that this result is not T ^o- in error.
This method may be employed again with success in
geodetic operations. We determine the length of the
great arc on the surface of the earth by triangulation,
which depends upon a base measured with exactitude.
But whatever precision may be brought to the measure
of the angles, the inevitable errors can, by accumulat-
ing, cause the value of the arc concluded from a great
number of triangles to deviate appreciably from the
8o A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
truth. We recognize this value, then, only imperfectly
unless the probability that its error is comprised within
given limits can be assigned. The error of a geodetic
result is a function of the errors of the angles of each
triangle. I have given in the work cited general
formulae in order to obtain the probability of the values
of one or of several linear functions of a great number
of partial errors of which we know the law of prob-
ability; we may then by means of these formulae deter-
mine the probability that the error of a geodetic result
is contained within the assigned limits, whatever may be
the law of the probability of partial errors. It is more-
over more necessary to render ourselves independent
of the law, since the most simple laws themselves are
always infinitely less probable, seeing the infinite
number of those which may exist in nature. But the
unknown law of partial errors introduces into the
formula:: an indeterminant which does not permit of
reducing them to numbers unless we are able to elimi-
nate it. We have seen that in astronomical questions,
where each observation furnishes an equation of condi-
tion for obtaining the elements, we eliminate this
determinant by means of the sum of the squares of the
remainders when the most probable values of the ele-
ments have been substituted in each equation. Geodetic
questions not offering similar equations, it is necessary
to seek another means of elimination. The quantity
by which the sum of the angles of each observed tri-
angle surpasses two right angles plus the spherical
excess furnishes this means. Thus we replace by the
sum of the squares of these quantities the sum of the
squares of the remainders of the equations of condition ;
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 81
and we may assign in numbers the probability that the
error of the final result of a series of geodetic operations
will not exceed a given quantity. But what is the
most advantageous manner of dividing among the three
angles of each triangle the observed sum of their
errors ? The analysis of probabilities renders it
apparent that each angle ought to be diminished by a
third of this sum, provided that the weight of a geodetic
result be the greatest possible, which renders the same
error less probable. There is then a great advantage
in observing the three angles of each triangle and of
correcting them as we have just said. Simple common
sense indicates this advantage; but the calculation of
probabilities alone is able to appreciate it and to render
apparent that by this correction it becomes the greatest
possible.
In order to assure oneself of the exactitude of the
value of a great arc which rests upon a base measured
at one of its extremities one measures a second base
toward the other extremity; and one concludes from
one of these bases the length of the other. If this
length varies very little from the observation, there is
all reason to believe that the chain of triangles which
unites these bases is very nearly exact and likewise the
value of the large arc which results from it. One cor-
rects, then, this value by modifying the angles of the
triangles in such a manner that the base is calculated
according to the bases measured. But this may be
done in an infinity of ways, among which is preferred
that of which the geodetic result has the greatest
weight, inasmuch as the same error becomes less prob-
able. The analysis of probabilities gives formulae for
82 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
obtaining directly the most advantageous correction
which results from the measurements of the several
bases and the laws of probability which the multiplicity
of the bases makes laws which become very rapidly
decreasing by this multiplicity.
Generally the errors of the results deduced from a
great number of observations are the linear functions
of the partial errors of each observation. The coeffi-
cients of these functions depend upon the nature of the
problem and upon the process followed in order to
obtain the results. The most advantageous process is
evidently that in which the same error in the results is
less probable than according to any other process.
The application of the calculus of probabilities to
natural philosophy consists, then, in determining analyti-
cally the probability of the values of these functions
and in choosing their indeterminant coefficients in such
a manner that the law of this probability should be
most rapidly descending. Eliminating, then, from the
formulae by the data of the question the factor which is
introduced by the almost always unknown law of the
probability of partial errors, we may be able to evaluate
numerically the probability that the errors of the results
do not exceed a given quantity. We shall thus have
all that may be desired touching the results deduced
from a great number of observations.
Very approximate results may be obtained by other
considerations. Suppose, for example, that one has a
thousand and one observations of the same quantity;
the arithmetical mean of all these observations is the
result given by the most advantageous method. But
one would be able to choose the result according to the
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 83
condition that the sum of the variations from each
partial value all taken positively should be a minimum.
It appears indeed natural to regard as very approximate
the result which satisfies this condition. It is easy to
see that if one disposes the values given by the obser-
vations according to the order of magnitude, the value
which will occupy the mean will fulfil the preceding
condition, and calculus renders it apparent that in the
case of an infinite number of observations it would
coincide with the truth; but the result given by the
most advantageous method is still preferable.
We see by that which precedes that the theory of
probabilities leaves nothing arbitrary in the manner of
distributing the errors of the observations; it gives for
this, distribution the most advantageous formulae which
diminishes as much as possible the errors to be feared
in the results.
The consideration of probabilities can serve to dis-
tinguish the small irregularities of the celestial move-
ments enveloped in the errors of observations, and to
repass to the cause of the anomalies observed in these
movements.
In comparing all the observations it was Ticho-Brahe
who recognized the necessity of applying to the moon
an equation of time different from that which had been
applied to the sun and to the planets. It was similarly
the totality of a great number, of observations which
made Mayer recognize that the coefficient of the
inequality of the precession ought to be diminished a
little for the moon. But since this diminution, although
confirmed and even augmented by Mason, did not
appear to result from universal gravitation, the majority
84 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
of astronomers neglect it in their calculations. Having
submitted to the calculation of probabilities a consider-
able number of lunar observations chosen for this
purpose and which M. Bouvard consented to examine
at my request, it appeared to me to be indicated with
so strong a probability that I believed the cause of it
ought to be investigated. I soon saw that it would be
only the ellipticity of the terrestrial spheroid, neglected
up to that time in the theory of the lunar movement as
being able to produce only imperceptible terms. I
concluded that these terms became perceptible by the
successive integrations of differential equations. I
determined then those terms by a particular analysis,
and I discovered first the inequality of the lunar move-
ment in latitude which is proportional to the sine of
the longitude of the moon, which no astronomer before
had suspected. I recognized then by means of this
inequality that another exists in the lunar movement in
longitude which produces the diminution observed by
Mayer in the equation of the precession applicable 1o
the moon. The quantity of this diminution and the
coefficient of the preceding inequality in latitude are
very appropriate to fix the oblateness of the earth.
Having communicated my researches to M. Burg, who
was occupied at that time in perfecting the tables of
the moon by the comparison of all the good observa-
tions, I requested him to determine with a particular
care these two quantities. By a very remarkable
agreement the values which he has found give to the
earth the same oblateness, 7 J T , which differs little from
the mean derived from the measurements of the degrees
of the meridian and the pendulum ; but those regarded
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 85
from the point of view of the influence of the errors of
the observations and of the perturbing causes in these
-measurements, did not appear to me exactly determined
by these lunar inequalities.
It was again by the consideration of probabilities that
I recognized the cause of the secular equation of the
moon. The modern observations of this star compared
to the ancient eclipses had indicated to astronomers an
acceleration in the lunar movement ; but the geometri-
cians, and particularly Lagrange, having vainly sought
in the perturbations which this movement experienced
the terms upon which this acceleration depends, reject
it. An attentive examination of the ancient and
modern observations and of the intermediary eclipses
observed by the Arabians convinced me that it was
indicated with a great probability. I took up again
then from this point of view the lunar theory, and I
recognized that the secular equation of the moon is due
to the action of the sun upon this satellite, combined
with the secular variation of the eccentricity of the ter-
restrial orb ; this brought me to the discovery of the
secular equations of the movements of the nodes and
of the perigees of the lunar orbit, which equations had
not been even suspected by astronomers. The very
remarkable agreement of this theory with all the
ancient and modern observations has brought it to a
very high degree of evidence.
The calculus of probabilities has led me similarly to
the cause of the great irregularities of Jupiter and
Saturn. Comparing modern observations with ancient,
Halley found an acceleration in the movement of
Jupiter and a retardation in that of Saturn. In order
86 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
to conciliate the observations he reduced the move-
ments to two secular equations of contrary signs and
increasing as the squares of the times passed since
1700. Euler and Lagrange submitted to analysis the
alterations which the mutual attraction of these two
planets ought to produce in these movements. They
found in doing this the secular equations; but their
results were so different that one of the two at least
ought to be erroneous. I determined then to take up
again this important problem of celestial mechanics, and
I recognized the invariability of the mean planetary
movements, which nullified the secular equations intro-
duced by Halley in the tables of Jupiter and Saturn.
Thus there remain, in order to explain the great
irregularity of these planets, only the attractions of the
comets to which many astronomers had effective
recourse, or the existence of an irregularity over a long
period produced in the movements of the two planets
by their reciprocal action and affected by contrary
signs for each of them. A theorem which I found in
regard to the inequalities of this kind rendered this
inequality very probable. According to this theorem,
if the movement of Jupiter is accelerated, that of Saturn
is retarded, which has already conformed to what
Halley had noticed; moreover, the acceleration of
Jupiter resulting from the same theorem is to the
retardation of Saturn very nearly in the ratio of the
secular equations proposed by Halley. Considering the
mean movements of Jupiter and Saturn I was enabled
easily to recognize that two times that of Jupiter
differed only by a very small quantity from five times
that of Saturn. The period of an irregularity which
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 87
would have for an argument this difference would be
about nine centuries. Indeed its coefficient would be
of the order of the cubes of the eccentricities of the
orbits; but I knew that by virtue of successive integra-
tions it acquired for divisor the square of the very small
multiplier of the time in the argument of this inequality
which is able to give it a great value ; the existence of
this inequality appeared to me then very probable.
The following observation increased then its probability.
Supposing its argument zero toward the epoch of the
observations of Ticho-Brahe, I saw that Halley ought
to have found by the comparison of modern with ancient
observations the alterations which he had indicated ;
while the comparison of the modern observations among
themselves ought to offer contrary alterations similar
to those which Lambert had concluded from this com-
parison. I did not then hesitate at all to undertake
this long and tedious calculation necessary to assure
myself of this inequality. It was entirely confirmed by
the result of this calculation, which moreover made me
recognize a great number of other inequalities of which
the totality has inclined the tables of Jupiter and Saturn
to the precision of the same observations.
It was again by means of the calculus of probabilities
that I recognized the remarkable law of the mean
movements of the three first satellites of Jupiter, accord-
ing to which the mean longitude of the first minus
three times that of the second plus two times that of
the third is rigorously equal to the half-circumference.
The approximation with which the mean movements of
these stars satisfy this law since their discovery indicates
its existence with an extreme probability. I sought
88 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
then the cause of it in their mutual action. The
searching examination of this action convinced me that
it was sufficient if in the beginning the ratios of their
mean movements had approached this law within
certain limits, because their mutual action had estab-
lished and maintained it rigorously. Thus these three
bodies will balance one another eternally in space
according to the preceding law unless strange causes,
such as comets, should change suddenly their move-
ments about Jupiter.
Accordingly it is seen how necessary it is to be at-
tentive to the indications of nature when they are the
result of a great number of observations, although in
other respects they may be inexplicable by known
means. The extreme difficulty of problems relative to
the system of the world has forced geometricians to recur
to the approximation which always leaves room for the
fear that the quantities neglected may have an appreci-
able influence. When they have been warned of this
influence by the observations, they have recurred to
their analysis ; in rectifying it they have always found
the cause of the anomalies observed ; they have deter-
mined the laws and often they have anticipated the
observations in discovering the inequalities which it had
not yet indicated. Thus one may say that nature
itself has concurred in the analytical perfection of the
theories based upon the principle of universal gravity;
and this is to my mind one of the strongest proofs of
the truth of this admirable principle.
In the cases which I have just considered the
analytical solution of the question has changed the
probability of the causes into certainty. But most often
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 89
this solution is impossible and it remains only to
augment more and more this probability. In the midst
of numerous and incalculable modifications which the
action of the causes receives then from strange circum-
stances these causes conserve always with the effects
observed the proper ratios to make them recognizable
and to verify their existence. Determining these ratios
and comparing them with a great number of observa-
tions if one finds that they constantly satisfy it, the
probability of the causes may increase to the point of
equalling that of facts in regard to which there is no
doubt. The investigation of these ratios of causes to
their effects is not less useful in natural philosophy
than the direct solution of problems whether it be to
verify the reality of these causes or to determine the
laws from their effects ; since it may be employed in a
great number of questions whose direct solution is not
possible, it replaces it in the most advantageous
manner. I shall discuss here the application which I
have made of it to one of the most interesting phenom-
ena of nature, the flow and the ebb of the sea.
Pline has given of this phenomenon a description
remarkable for its exactitude, and in it one sees that
the ancients had observed that the tides of each month
are greatest toward the syzygies and smallest toward
the quadratures ; that they are higher in the perigees
than in the apogees of the moon, and higher in the
equinoxes than in the solstices. They concluded from
this that this phenomenon is due to the action of the
sun and moon upon the sea. In the preface of his
work De Stella Martis Kepler admits a tendency of the
waters of the sea toward the moon ; but, ignorant of the
90 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
law of this tendency, he was able to give on this subject
only a probable idea. Newton converted into certainty
the probability of this idea by attaching it to his great
principle of universal gravity. He gave the exact
expression of the attractive forces which produced the
flood and the ebb of the sea; and in order to determine
the effects he supposed that the sea takes at each
instant the position of equilibrium which is agreeable
to these forces. He explained in this manner the
principal phenomena of the tides ; but it followed from
this theory that in our ports the two tides of the same
day would be very unequal if the sun and the moon
should have a great declination. At Brest, for exam-
ple, the evening tide would be in the syzygies of the
solstices about eight times greater than the morning
tide, which is certainly contrary to the observations
which prove that these two tides are very nearly equal.
This result from the Newtonian theory might hold to
the supposition that the sea is agreeable at each instant
to a position of equilibrium, a supposition which is not
at all admissible. But the investigation of the true
figure of the sea presents great difficulties. Aided by
the discoveries which the geometricians had just made
in the theory of the movement of fluids and in the
calculus of partial differences, I undertook this investi-
gation, and I gave the differential equations of the
movement of the sea by supposing that it covers the
entire earth. In drawing thus near to nature I had the
satisfaction of seeing that my results approached the
observations, especially in regard to the little difference
which exists in our ports between the two tides of the
solstitial syzygies of the same day. I found that they
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 91
would be equal if the sea had everywhere the same
depth ; I found further that in giving to this depth
convenient values one was able to augment the height
of the tides in a port conformably to the observations.
But these investigations, in spite of their generality, did
not satisfy at all the great differences which even
adjacent ports present in this regard and which prove
the influence of local circumstances. The impossibility
of knowing these circumstances and the irregularity of
the basin of the seas and that of integrating the equa-
tions of partial differences which are relative has com-
pelled me to make up the deficiency by the method I
have indicated above. I then endeavored to determine
the greatest ratios possible among the forces which
affect all the molecules of the sea, and their effects
observable in our ports. For this I made use of the
following principle, which may be applied to many
other phenomena.
' ' The state of the system of a body in which the
primitive conditions of the movement have disappeared
by the resistances which this movement meets is
periodic as the forces which animate it. ' '
Combining this principle with that of the coexistence
of very small oscillations, I have found an expression
of the height of the tides whose arbitraries contain the
effect of local cricumstances of each port and are
reduced to the smallest number possible ; it is only
necessary to compare it to a great number of observa-
tions.
Upon the invitation of the Academy of Sciences,
observations were made at the beginning of the last
century at Brest upon the tides, which were continued
92 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
during six consecutive years. The situation of this
port is very favorable to this sort of observations; it
communicates with the sea by a canal which empties
into a vast roadstead at the far end of which the port
has been constructed. The irregularities of the sea
extend thus only to a small degree into the port, just
as the oscillations which the irregular movement of a
vessel produces in a barometer are diminished by a
throttling made in the tube of this instrument. More-
over, the tides being considerable at Brest, the acciden-
tal variations caused by the winds are only feeble;
likewise we notice in the observations of these tides,
however little we multiply them, a great regularity
which induced me to propose to the government to
order in this port a new series of observations of the
tides, continued during a period of the movement of the
nodes of the lunar orbit. This has been done. The
observations began June 1 , 1 806 ; and since this time
they have been made every day without interruption.
I am indebted to the indefatigable zeal of M. Bouvard,
for all that interests astronomy, the immense calcula-
tions which the comparison of my analysis with the
observations has demanded. There have been used
about six thousand observations, made during the year
1 807 and the fifteen years following. It results from
this comparison that my formulae represent with a
remarkable precision all the varieties of the tides rela-
tive to the digression of the moon, from the sun, to the
declination of these stars, to their distances from the
earth, and to the laws of variation at the maximum and
minimum of each of these elements. There results
from this accord a probability that the flow and the ebb
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 93
of the sea is due to the attraction of the sun and moon,
so approaching certainty that it ought to leave room
for no reasonable doubt. It changes into certainty
when we consider that this attraction is derived from
the law of universal gravity demonstrated by all the
celestial phenomena.
The action of the moon upon the sea is more than
double that of the sun. Newton and his successors in
the development of this action have paid attention
only to the terms divided by the cube of the distance
from the moon to the earth, judging that the effects
due to the following terms ought to be inappreciable.
But the calculation of probabilities makes it clear to us
that the smallest effects of regular causes may manifest
themselves in the results of a great number of observa-
tions arranged in the order most suitable to indicate
them. This calculation again determines their prob-
ability and up to what point it is necessary to multiply
the observations to make it very great. Applying it
to the numerous observations discussed by M. Bouvard
I recognized that at Brest the action of the moon upon
the sea is greater in the full moons than in the new
moons, and greater when the moon is austral than
when it is boreal phenomena which can result only
from the terms of the lunar action divided by the
fourth power of the distance from the moon to the
earth.
To arrive at the ocean the action of the sun and the
moon traverses the atmosphere, which ought conse-
quently to feel its influence and to be subjected to
movements similar to those of the sea.
These movements produce in the barometer periodic
94 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
oscillations. Analysis has made it clear to me that
they are inappreciable in our climates. But as local
circumstances increase considerably the tides in our
ports, I have inquired again if similar circumstances
have made appreciable these oscillations of the
barometer. For this I have made use of the meteoro-
logical observations which have been made every day
for many years at the royal observatory. The heights
of the barometer and of the thermometer are observed
there at nine o'clock in the morning, at noon, at three
o'clock in the afternoon, and at eleven o'clock in the
evening. M. Bouvard has indeed wished to take up
the consideration of observations of the eight years
elapsed from October I, 1815, to October I, 1823, on
the registers. In disposing the observations in the
manner most suitable to indicate the lunar atmospheric
flood at Paris, I find only one eighteenth of a milli-
meter for the extent of the corresponding oscillation of
the barometer. It is this especially which has made
us feel the necessity of a method for determining the
probability of a result, and without this method one is
forced to present as the laws of nature the results of
irregular causes which has often happened in mete-
orology. This method applied to the preceding result
shows the uncertainty of it in spite of the great number
of observations employed, which it would be necessary
to increase tenfold in order to obtain a result suffi-
ciently probable.
The principle which serves as a basis for my theory
of the tides may be extended to all the effects of hazard
to which variable causes are joined according to regular
laws. The action of these causes produces in the mean
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 95
results of a great number of effects varieties which
follow the same laws and which one may recognize by
the analysis of probabilities. In the measure which
these effects are multiplied those varieties are mani-
fested with an ever-increasing probability, which would
approach certainty if the number of the effects of the
results should become infinite. This theorem is
analogous to that which I have already developed upon
the action of constant causes. Every time, then, that
a cause whose progress is regular can have influence
upon a kind of events, we may seek to discover its
influence by multiplying the observations and arrang-
ing them in the most suitable order to indicate it.
When this influence appears to manifest itself the
analysis of probabilities determines the probability of
its existence and that of its intensity ; thus the variation
of the temperature from day to night modifying the pres-
sure of the atmosphere and consequently the height of
the barometer, it is natural to think that the multiplied
observations of these heights ought to show the influ-
ence of the solar heat. Indeed there has long been
recognized at the equator, where this influence appears
to be greatest, a small diurnal variation in the height
of the barometer of which the maximum occurs about
nine o'clock in the morning and the minimum about
three o'clock in the afternoon. A second maxivntin
occurs about eleven o'clock in the evening and a
second minimum about four o'clock in the morning.
The oscillations of the night are less than those of the
day, the extent of which is about two millimeters.
The inconstancy of our climate has not taken this
variation from our observers, although it may be less
96 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
appreciable than in the tropics. M. Ramond has
recognized and determined it at Clermont, the chief
place of the district of Puy- de-Dome, by a series of
precise observations made during several years ; he has
even found that it is smaller in the months of winter
than in other months. The numerous observations
which I have discussed in order to estimate the influ-
ence of attractions of the sun and the moon upon the
barometric heights at Paris have served me in deter-
mining their diurnal variation. Comparing the heights
at nine o'clock in the morning with those of the same
days at three o'clock in the afternoon, this variation is
manifested with so much evidence that its mean value
each month has been constantly positive for each of
the seventy-two months from January I, 1817, to
January I, 1823; its mean value in these seventy-two
months has been almost .8 of a millimeter, a little less
than at Clermont and much less than at the equator.
I have recognized that the mean result of the diurnal
variations of the barometer from 9 o'clock A.M. to
3 P.M. has been only .5428 millimeter in the three
months of November, December, January, and that it
has risen to 1.0563 millimeters in the three following
months, which coincides with the observations of
M. Ramond. The other months offer nothing similar.
In order to apply to these phenomena the calculation
of these probabilities, I commenced by determining the
law of the probability of the anomalies of the diurnal
variation due to hazard. Applying it then to the obser-
vations of this phenomenon, I found that it was a bet 01
more than 300,00x3 against one that a regular cause
produced it. I do not seek to determine this cause; I
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 97
content myself with stating its existence. The period
of the diurnal variation regulated by the solar day indi-
cates evidently that this variation is due to the action
of the sun. The extreme smallness of the attractive
action of the sun upon the atmosphere is proved by the
smallness of the effects due to the united attractions of
the sun and the moon. It is then by the action of its
heat that the sun produces the diurnal variation of the
barometer ; but it is impossible to subject to calculus
the effects of its action on the height of the barometer
and upon the winds. The diurnal variation of the
magnetic needle is certainly a result of the action of
the sun. But does this star act here as in the diurnal
variation of the barometer by its heat or by its influence
upon electricity and upon magnetism, or finally by the
union of these influences ? A long series of observa-
tions made in different countries will enable us to
apprehend this.
One of the most remarkable phenomena of the
system of the world is that of all the movemens of
rotation and of revolution of the planets and the
satellites in the sense of the rotation of the sun and
about in the same plane of its equator. A phenomenon
so remarkable is not the effect of hazard : it indicates
a general cause which has determined all its move-
ments. In order to obtain the probability with which
this cause is indicated we shall observe that the
planetary system, such as we know it to-day, is com-
posed of eleven planets and of eighteen satellites at
least, if we attribute with Herschel six satellites to the
planet Uranus. The movements of the rotation of the
sun, of six planets, of the moon, of the satellites of
98 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
Jupiter, of the ring of Saturn, and of one of its satellites
have been recognized. These movements form with
those of revolution a totality of forty-three movements
directed in the same sense; but one finds by the analy-
sis of probabilities that it is a bet of more than
4000000000000 against one that this disposition is
not the result of hazard ; this forms a probability indeed
superior to that of historical events in regard to which
no doubt exists. We ought then to believe at least
with equal confidence that a primitive cause has
directed the planetary movements, especially if we
consider that the inclination of the greatest number of
these movements at the solar equator is very small.
Another equally remarkable phenomenon of the solar
system is the small degree of the eccentricity of the
orbs of the planets and the satellites, while those of the
comets are very elongated, the orbs of the system not
offering any intermediate shades between a great and
a small eccentricity. We are again forced to recog-
nize here the effect of a regular cause; chance has
certainly not given an almost circular form to the
orbits of all the planets and their satellites ; it is then
that the cause which has determined the movements of
these bodies has rendered them almost circular. It is
necessary, again, that the great eccentricities of the
orbits of the comets should result from the existence
of this cause without its having influenced the direction
of their movements ; for it is found that there are almost
as many retrograde comets as direct comets, and that
the mean inclination of all their orbits to the ecliptic
approaches very nearly half a right angle, as it ought
to be if the bodies had been thrown at hazard.
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 99
Whatever may be the nature of the cause in question,
since it has produced or directed the movement of the
planets, it is necessary that it should have embraced all
the bodies and considered all the distances which sepa-
rate them, it can have been only a fluid of an immense
extension. Therefore in order to have given them in
the same sense an almost circular movement about the
sun it is necessary that this fluid should have surrounded
this star as an atmosphere. The consideration of the
planetary movements leads us then to think that by
virtue of an excessive heat the atmosphere of the sun
was originally extended beyond the orbits of all the
planets, and that it has contracted gradually to its
present limits.
In the primitive state where we imagine the sun it
resembled the nebulae that the telescope shows us
composed of a nucleus more or less brilliant surrounded
by a nebula which, condensing at the surface, ought
to transform it some day into a star. If one conceives
by analogy all the stars formed in this manner, one
can imagine their anterior state of nebulosity itself pre-
ceded by other stars in which the nebulous matter was
more and more diffuse, the nucleus being less and less
luminous and dense. Going back, then, as far as
possible, one would arrive at a nebulosity so diffuse
that one would be able scarcely to suspect its exist-
ence.
Such is indeed the first state of the nebulae which
Herschel observed with particular care by means of his
powerful telescopes, and in which he has followed the
progress of condensation, not in a single one, these
stages not becoming appreciable t6 us except after
loo A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
centuries, but in their totality, just about as one can in
a vast forest follow the increase of the trees by the
individuals of the divers ages which the forest contains.
He has observed from the beginning nebulous matter
spread out in divers masses in the different parts of the
heavens, of which it occupies a great extent. He has
seen in some of these masses this matter slightly con-
densed about one or several faintly luminous nebulae.
In the other nebulae these nuclei shine, moreover, in
proportion to the nebulosity which surrounds them.
The atmospheres of each nucleus becoming separated
by an ulterior condensation, there result the multifold
nebulas formed of brilliant nuclei very adjacent and
surrounded each by an atmosphere; sometimes the
nebulous matter, by condensing in a uniform manner,
has produced the nebulae which are called planetary.
Finally a greater degree of condensation transforms all
these nebulae into stars. The nebulae classed accord-
ing to this philosophic view indicate with an extreme
probability their future transformation into stars and
the anterior state of nebulosity of existing stars. The
following considerations come to the aid of proofs
drawn from these analogies.
For a long time the particular disposition of certain
stars visible to the naked eye has struck the attention
of philosophical observers. Mitchel has already
remarked how improbable it is that the stars of the
Pleiades, for example, should have been confined in
the narrow space which contain them by the chances
of hazard alone, and he has concluded from this that
this group of stars and the similar groups that the
heaven presents tis are the results of a primitive cause
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 1OI
or of a general law of nature. These groups are a
necessary result of the condensation of the nebulae at
several nuclei ; it is apparent that the nebulous matter
being attracted continuously by the divers nuclei, they
ought to form in time a group of stars equal to that of
the Pleiades. The condensation of the nebulae at two
nuclei forms similarly very adjacent stars, revolving the
one about the other, equal to those whose respective
movements Herschel has already considered. Such
are, further, the 6ist of the Swan and its following one
in which Bessel has just recognized particular move-
ments so considerable and so little different that the
proximity of these stars to one another and their
movement about the common centre of gravity ought
to leave no doubt. Thus one descends by degrees
from the condensation of nebulous matter to the con-
sideration of the sun surrounded formerly by a vast
atmosphere, a consideration to which one repasses, as
has been seen, by the examination of the phenomena
of the solar system. A case so remarkable gives to
the existence of this anterior state of the sun a prob-
ability strongly approaching certainty.
But how has the solar atmosphere determined the
movements of rotation and revolution of the planets
and the satellites ? If these bodies had penetrated
deeply the atmosphere its resistance would have caused
them to fall upon the sun ; one is then led to believe
with much probability that the planets have been
formed at the successive limits of the solar atmosphere
which, contracting by the cold, ought to have abandoned
in the plane of its equator zones of vapors which the
mutual attraction of their molecules has changed into
102 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
clivers spheroids. The satellites have been similarly
formed by the atmospheres of their respective planets.
I have developed at length in my Exposition of the
System of the World this hypothesis, which appears to
me to satisfy all the phenomena which this system
presents us. I shall content myself here with con-
sidering that the angular velocity of rotation of the
sun and the planets being accelerated by the successive
condensation of their atmospheres at their surfaces, it
ought to surpass the angular velocity of revolution of
the nearest bodies which revolve about them. Obser-
vation has indeed confirmed this with regard to the
planets and satellites, and even in ratio to the ring of
Saturn, the duration of whose revolution is .438
minutes, while the duration of the rotation of Saturn is
.427 minutes.
In this hypothesis the comets are strangers to the
planetary system. In attaching their formation to that
of the nebulae they may be regarded as small nebulae
at the nuclei, wandering from systems to solar systems,
and formed by the condensation of the nebulous matter
spread out in such great profusion in the universe.
The comets would be thus, in relation to our system, as
the aerolites are relatively to the Earth, to which they
would appear strangers. When these stars become
visible to us they offer so perfect resemblance to the
nebulae that they are often confounded with them ; and
it is only by their movement, or by the knowledge of
all the nebulae confined to that part of the heavens
where they appear, that we succeed in distinguishing
them. This supposition explains in a happy manner
the <jreat extension which the heads and tails of comets
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 103
take in the measure that they approach the sun, and the
extreme rarity of these tails which, in spite of their
immense depth, do not weaken at all appreciably the
light of the stars which we look across.
When the little nebulse come into that part of space
where the attraction of the sun is predominant, and
which we shall call the sphere of activity of this star,
it forces them to describe elliptic or hyperbolic orbits.
But their speed being equally possible in all directions
they ought to move indifferently in all the senses and
under all inclinations of the elliptic, which is conform-
able to that which has been observed.
The great eccentricity of the cometary orbits results
again from the preceding hypothesis. Indeed if these
orbits are elliptical they are very elongated, since their
great axes are at least equal to the radius of the sphere
of activity of the sun. But these orbits may be hyper-
bolic ; and if the axes of these hyperbolae are not very
large in proportion to the mean distance from the sun
to the earth, the movement of the comets which describe
them will appear sensibly hyperbolic. However, of
the hundred comets of which we already have the ele-
ments, not one has appeared certainly to move in an
hyperbola; it is necessary, then, that the chances which
give an appreciable hyperbola should be extremely
rare in proportion to the contrary chances.
The. comets are so small that, in order to become
visible, their perihelion distance ought to be inconsider-
able. Up to the present this distance has surpassed
only twice the diameter of the terrestrial orbit, and
most often it has been below the radius of this orbit.
It is conceived that, in order to approach so near the
104 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
sun, their speed at the moment of their entrance into
its sphere of activity ought to have a magnitude and a
direction confined within narrow limits. In determin-
ing by the analysis of probabilities the ratio of the
chances which, in these limits, give an appreciable
hyperbola, to the chances which give an orbit which
may be confounded with a parabola, I have found that
it is a bet of at least 6000 against one that a nebula
which penetrates into the activity of the sun in such a
manner as to be observed will describe either a very
elongated ellipse or an hyperbola. By the magnitude
of its axis, the latter will be appreciably confounded
with a parabola in the part which is observed; it is
then not surprising that, up to this time, hyperbolic
movements have not been recognized.
The attraction of the planets, and, perhaps further, the
resistance of the ethereal centres, ought to have changed
many cometary orbits in the ellipses whose great axis
is less than the radius of the sphere of activity of the
sun, which augments the chances of the elliptical orbits.
We may believe that this change has taken place with
the comet of 1759, and with the comet whose duration
is only twelve hundred days, and which will reappear
without ceasing in this short interval, unless the
evaporation which it meets at each of its returns to the
perihelion ends by rendering it invisible.
We are able further, by the analysis of probabilities,
to verify the existence or the influence of certain causes
whose action is believed to exist upon organized beings.
Of all the instruments that we are able to employ in
order to recognize the imperceptible agents of nature
the most sensitive are the nerves, especially when par-
PROBABILITIES AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. 105
ticular causes increase their sensibility. It is by their
aid that the feeble electricity which the contact of two
heterogeneous metals develops has been discovered ;
this has opened a vast field to the researches of physi-
cists and chemists. The singular phenomena which
results from extreme sensibility of the nerves in some
individuals have given birth to divers opinions about the
existence of a new agent which has been named animal
magnetism, about the action on ordinary magnetism,
and about the influence of the sun and moon in some
nervous affections, and finally, about the impressions
which the proximity of metals or of running water
makes felt. It is natural to think that the action of
these causes is very feeble, and that it may be easily
disturbed by accidental circumstances; thus because in
some cases it is not manifested at all its existence
ought not to be denied. We are so far from recogniz-
ing all the agents of nature and their divers modes of
action that it would be unphilosophical to deny the
phenomena solely because they are inexplicable in the
present state of our knowledge. But we ought to
examine them with an attention as much the more
scrupulous as it appears the more difficult to admit
them ; and it is here that the calculation of probabilities
becomes indispensable in determining to just what
point it is necessary to multiply the observations or the
experiences in order to obtain in favor of the agents
which they indicate, a probability superior to the
reasons which can be obtained elsewhere for not
admitting them.
- The calculation of probabilities can make appreciable
the advantages and the inconveniences of the methods
io6 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
employed in the speculative sciences. Thus in order
to recognize the best of the treatments in use in the
healing of a malady, it is sufficient to test each of them
on an equal number of patients, making all the condi-
tions exactly similar; the superiority of the most
advantageous treatment will manifest itself more and
more in the measure that the number is increased; and
the calculation will make apparent the corresponding
probability of its advantage and the ratio according to
which it is superior to the others.
CHAPTER X.
APPLICATION OF THE CALCULUS OF PROB-
ABILITIES TO THE MORAL SCIENCES.
WE have just seen the advantages of the analysis of
probabilities in the investigation of the laws of natural
phenomena whose causes are unknown or so compli-
cated that their results cannot be submitted to calculus.
This is the case of nearly all subjects of the moral
sciences. So many unforeseen causes, either hidden
or inappreciable, influence human institutions that it is
impossible to judge a priori the results. The series of
events which time brings about develops these results
and indicates the means of remedying those that are
harmful. Wise laws have often been made in this
regard ; but because we had neglected to conserve the
motives many have been abrogated as useless, and the
fact that vexatious experiences have made the need felt
anew ought to have reestablished them.
It is very important to keep in each branch of the
public administration an exact register of the results
which the various means used have produced, and which
are so many experiences made on a large scale by
governments. Let us apply to the political and moral
107
io8 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
sciences the method founded upon observation and
upon calculus, the method which has served us so well
in the natural sciences. Let us not offer in the least
a useless and often dangerous resistance to the
inevitable effects of the progress of knowledge; but let
us change only with an extreme circumspection our
institutions and the usages to which we have already
so long conformed. We should know well by the
experience of the past the difficulties which they
present ; but we are ignorant of the extent of the evils
which their change can produce. In this ignorance
the theory of probability directs us to avoid all change;
especially is it necessary to avoid the sudden changes
which in the moral world as well as in the physical
world never operate without a great loss of vital force.
Already the calculus of probabilities has been applied
with success to several subjects of the moral sciences.
I shall present here the principal results.
CHAPTER XL
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTI-
MONIES.
THE majority of our opinions being founded on the
probability of proofs it is indeed important to submit it
to calculus. Things it is true often become impossible
by the difficulty of appreciating the veracity of wit-
nesses and by the great number of circumstances which
accompany the deeds they attest ; but one is able in
several cases to resolve the problems which have much
analogy with the questions which are proposed and
whose solutions may be regarded as suitable approxi-
mations to guide and to defend us againt the errors and
the dangers of false reasoning to which we are exposed.
An approximation of this kind, when it is well made,
is always preferable to the most specious reasonings.
Let us try then to give some general rules for obtain-
ing it.
A single number has been drawn from an urn which
contains a thousand of them. A witness to this draw-
ing announces that number 79 is drawn ; one asks the
probability of drawing this number. Let us suppose
that experience has made known that this witness
log
no A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
deceives one time in ten, so that the probability of his
testimony is T V Here the event observed is the wit-
ness attesting that number 79 is drawn. This event
may result from the two following hypotheses, namely:
that the witness utters the truth or that he deceives.
Following the principle that has been expounded on
the probability of causes drawn from events observed
it is necessary first to determine a priori the probabil-
ity of the event in each hypothesis. In the first, the
probability that the witness will announce number 79
is the probability itself of the drawing of this number,
that is to say, TTTOTT- It is necessary to multiply it by
the probability j 6 ff of the veracity of the witness ; one
will have then T |hn5 f r the probability of the event
observed in this hypothesis. If the witness deceives,
number 79 is not drawn, and the probability of this
case is $$$$. But to announce the drawing of this
number the witness has to choose it among the 999
numbers not drawn ; and as he is supposed to have no
motive of preference for the ones rather than the
others, the probability that he will choose number 79
is -577; multiplying, then, this probability by the pre-
ceding one, we shall have y^Vo f r the probability that
the witness will announce number 79 in the second
hypothesis. It is necessary again to multiply this
probability by T V of the hypothesis itself, which gives
uriinr f r t^ e probability of the event relative to this
hypothesis. Now if we form a fraction whose numera-
tor is the probability relative to the first hypothesis, and
whose denominator is the sum of the probabilities rela-
tive to the two hypotheses, we shall have, by the sixth
principle, the probability of the first hypothesis, and
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTIMONIES, m
this probability will be T 9 ff ; that is to say, the veracity
itself of the witness. This is likewise the probability
of the drawing of number 79. The probability of the
falsehood of the witness and of the failure of drawing
this number is fa.
If the witness, wishing to deceive, has some interest
in choosing number 79 among the numbers not drawn,
if he judges, for example, that having placed upon
this number a considerable stake, the announcement
of its drawing will increase his credit, the probability
that he will choose this number will no longer be as
at first, -jfg, it will then be , , etc., according to the
interest that he will have in announcing its drawing.
Supposing it to be |, it will be necessary to multiply
by this fraction the probability T VVo m order to get in
the hypothesis of the falsehood the probability of the
event observed, which it is necessary still to multiply
by y^, which gives TihhjT f r the probability of the
event in the second hypothesis. Then the probability
of the first hypothesis, or of the drawing of number 79,
is reduced by the preceding rule to yfg-. It is then
very much decreased by the consideration of the in-
terest which the witness may have in announcing the
drawing of number 79. In truth this same interest
increases the probability -^ that the witness will speak
the truth if number 79 is drawn. But this probability
cannot exceed unity or | ; thus the probability of the
drawing of number 79 will not surpass T y>T- Common
sense tells us that this interest ought to inspire distrust,
but calculus appreciates the influence of it.
The probability a priori of the number announced
by the witness is unity divided by the number of the
H2 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
numbers in the urn; it is changed by virtue of the
proof into the veracity itself of the witness; it may then
be decreased by the proof. If, for example, the urn
contains only two numbers, which gives for the
probability a priori of the drawing of number I , and if
the veracity of a witness who announces it is T %, this
drawing becomes less probable. Indeed it is apparent,
since the witness has then more inclination towards a
falsehood than towards the truth, that his testimony
ought to decrease the probability of the fact attested
every time that this probability equals or surpasses .
But if there are three numbers in the urn the probability
a priori of the drawing of number I is increased by
the affirmation of a witness whose veracity surpasses .
Suppose now that the urn contains 999 black balls
and one white ball, and that one ball having been
drawn a witness of the drawing announces that this
ball is white. The probability of the event observed,
determined a priori in the first hypothesis, will be here,
as in the preceding question, equal to -foooir- But m
the hypothesis where the witness deceives, the white
ball is not drawn and the probability of this case
is T V(TV It ls necessary to multiply it by the prob-
ability T V of the falsehood, which gives T |||^ for the
probability of the event observed relative to the second
hypothesis. This probability was only T ol7nr m tne
preceding question; this great difference results from
this that a black ball having been drawn the witness
who wishes to deceive has no choice at all to make
among the 999 balls not drawn in order to announce
the drawing of a white ball. Now if one forms two
fractions whose numerators are the probabilities relative
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTIMONIES. 113
to each hypothesis, and whose common denominator is
the sum of these probabilities, one will have i^^ for
the probability of the first hypothesis and of the drawing
of a white ball, and T Vir 9 ff f r the probability of the
second hypothesis and of the drawing of a black ball.
This last probability strongly approaches certainty ; it
would approach it much nearer and would become
TVoVoVs if the urn contained a million balls of which
one was white, the drawing of a white ball becoming
then much more extraordinary. We see thus how the
probability of the falsehood increases in the measure
that the deed becomes more extraordinary.
We have supposed up to this time that the witness
was not mistaken at all ; but if one admits, however,
the chance of his error the extraordinary incident
becomes more improbable. Then in place of the two
hypotheses one will have the four following ones,
namely: that of the witness not deceiving and not being
mistaken at all ; that of the witness not deceiving at
all and being mistaken ; the hypothesis of the witness
deceiving and not being mistaken at all; finally, that
of the witness deceiving and being mistaken. Deter-
mining a priori in each of these hypotheses the prob-
ability of the event observed, we find by the sixth
principle the probability that the fact attested is false
equal to a fraction whose numerator is the number of
black balls in the urn multiplied by the sum of the
probabilities that the witness does not deceive at all
and is mistaken, or that he deceives and is not mis-
taken, and whose denominator is this numerator
augmented by the sum of the probabilities that the
witness does not deceive at all and is not mistaken at
H4 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
all, or that he deceives and is mistaken at the same
time. We see by this that if the number of black
balls in the urn is very great, which renders the draw-
ing of the white ball extraordinary, the probability that
the fact attested is not true approaches most nearly to
certainty.
Applying this conclusion to all extraordinary deeds
it results from it that the probability of the error or of
the falsehood of the witness becomes as much greater
as the fact attested is more extraordinary. Some
authors have advanced the contrary on this basis that
the view of an extraordinary fact being perfectly similar
to that of an ordinary fact the same motives ought to
lead us to give the witness the same credence when he
affirms the one or the other of these facts. Simple
common sense rejects such a strange assertion ; but the
calculus of probabilities, while confirming the findings
of common sense, appreciates the greatest improbability
of testimonies in regard to extraordinary facts.
These authors insist and suppose two witnesses
equally worthy of belief, of whom the first attests that
he saw an individual dead fifteen days ago whom the
second witness affirms to have seen yesterday full
of life. The one or the other of these facts offers no
improbability. The reservation of the individual is a
result of their combination ; but the testimonies do not
bring us at all directly to this result, although the
credence which is due these testimonies ought not to
be decreased by the fact that the result of their com-
bination is extraordinary.
But if the conclusion which results from the com-
bination of the testimonies was impossible one of them
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTIMONIES. 115
would be necessarily false; but an impossible conclu-
sion is the limit of extraordinary conclusions, as error
is the limit of improbable conclusions; the value of the
testimonies which becomes zero in the case of an
impossible conclusion ought then to be very much
decreased in that of an extraordinary conclusion.
This is indeed confirmed by the calculus of prob-
abilities.
In order to make it plain let us consider two urns, A
and B, of which the first contains a million white balls
and the second a million black balls. One draws from
one of these urns a ball, which he puts back into the
other urn, from which one then draws a ball. Two
witnesses, the one of the first drawing, the other of the
second, attest that the ball which they have seen drawn
is white without indicating the urn from which it has
been drawn. Each testimony taken alone is not
improbable; and it is easy to see that the probability
of the fact attested is the veracity itself of the witness.
But it follows from the combination of the testimonies
that a white ball has been extracted from the urn A at
the first draw, and that then placed in the urn B it
has reappeared at the second draw, which is very
extraordinary; for this second urn, containing then one
white ball among a million black balls, the probability
of drawing the white ball is yc-UFor- ^ n order to
determine the diminution which results in the prob-
ability of the thing announced by the two witnesses
we shall notice that the event observed is here the
affirmation by each of them that the ball which he has
seen extracted is white. Let us represent by T 9 T the
probability that he announces the truth, which can
Ii6 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
occur in the present case when the witness does not
deceive and' is not mistaken at all, and when he
deceives and is mistaken at the same time. One may
form the four following hypotheses :
1st. The first and second witness speak the truth.
Then a white ball has at first been drawn from the urn
A, and Ihe probability of this event is |, since the ball
drawn al the first draw may have been drawn either
from the one or the other urn. Consequently the ball
drawn, placed in the urn B, has reappeared at the
second draw; the probability of this event is
the probability of the fact announced is then
Multiplying it by the product of the probabilities -fa
and y 9 ^ that the witnesses speak the truth one will
have ^nnrVoinr f r the probability of the event ob-
served in this first hypothesis.
2d. The first witness speaks the truth and the second
does not, whether he deceives and is not mistaken or
he does not deceive and is mistaken. Then a white
ball has been drawn from the urn A at the first draw,
and the probability of this event is . Then this ball
having been placed in the urn B a black ball has been
drawn from it: the probability of such drawing is
|_o_o 0.0.0 . one has then #{$!$ for the probability of
the compound event. Multiplying it by the product
of the two probabilities T 9 and T V that the first witness
speaks the truth and that the second does not, one
will have y^^fjfo. for the probability for the event
observed in the second hypothesis.
3d. The first witness does not speak the truth and
the second announces it. Then a black ball has been
drawn from the urn B at the first drawing, and after
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTIMONIES, n?
having been placed in the urn A a white ball has been
drawn from this urn. The probability of the first of
these events is and that of the second is T #$S$T ; the
probability of the compound event is then i^^-^f.
Multiplying it by the product of the probabilities 1 3 j r
and yV that the first witness does not speak the truth
and that the second announces it, one will have
siiHfTmHta for tne probability of the event observed
relative to this hypothesis.
4th. Finally, neither of the witnesses speaks the truth.
Then a black ball has been drawn from the urn B at
the first draw; then having been placed in the urn A
it has reappeared at the second drawing: the prob-
ability of this compound event is aooooo?- Multiply-
ing it by the product of the probabilities -fa and y 1 ^- that
each witness does not speak the truth one will have
200000200 f r tne probability of the event observed in
this hypothesis.
Now in order to obtain the probability of the thing
announced by the two witnesses, namely, that a white
ball has been drawn at each draw, it is necessary to
divide the probability corresponding to the first hy-
pothesis by the sum of the probabilities relative to
the four hypotheses ; and then one has for this prob-
ability y-g-ooooas' an extremely small fraction.
If the two witnesses affirm the first, that a white
ball has been drawn from one of the two urns A and
B; the second that a white ball has been likewise
drawn from one of the two urns A' and B', quite
similar to the first ones, the probability of the thing
announced by the two witnesses will be the product of
the probabilities of their testimonies, or y\V; it will then
n8 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
be at least a hundred and eighty thousand times
greater than the preceding one. One sees by this how
much, in the first case, the reappearance at the second
draw of the white ball drawn at the first draw, the
extraordinary conclusion of the two testimonies de-
creases the value of it.
We would give no credence to the testimony of a
man who should attest to us that in throwing a hundred
dice into the air they had all fallen on the same face.
If we had ourselves been spectators of this event we
should believe our own eyes only after having carefully
examined all the circumstances, and after having
brought in the testimonies of other eyes in order to be
quite sure that there had been neither hallucination nor
deception. But after this examination we should not
hesitate to admit it in spite of its extreme improbability;
and no one would be tempted, in order to explain it, to
recur to a denial of the laws of vision. We ought to
conclude from it that the probability of the constancy
of the laws of nature is for us greater than this, that
the event in question has not taken place at all a
probability greater than that of the majority of his-
torical facts which we regard as incontestable. One
may judge by this the immense weight of testimonies
necessary to admit a suspension of natural laws, and
how improper it would be to apply to this case the
ordinary rules of criticism. All those who without
offering this immensity of testimonies support this
when making recitals of events contrary to those laws,
decrease rather than augment the belief which they
wish to inspire ; for then those recitals render very
probable the error or the falsehood of their authors.
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTIMONIES. 119
But that which diminishes the belief of educated men
increases often that of the uneducated, always greedy
for the wonderful.
There are things so extraordinary that nothing can
balance their improbability. But this, by the effect of
a dominant opinion, can be weakened to the point of
appearing inferior to the probability of the testimonies ;
and when this opinion changes an absurd statement
admitted unanimously in the century which has given
it birth offers to the following centuries only a new
proof of the extreme influence of the general opinion
upon the more enlightened minds. Two great men of
the century of Louis XIV. Racine and Pascal are
striking examples of this. It is painful to see with
what complaisance Racine, this admirable painter of
the human heart and the most perfect poet that has
ever lived, reports as miraculous the recovery of Mile.
Perrier, a niece of Pascal and a day pupil at the
monastery of Port-Royal; it is painful to read the
reasons by which Pascal seeks to prove that this miracle
should be necessary to religion in order to justify the
doctrine of the monks of this abbey, at that time perse-
cuted by the Jesuits. The young Perrier had been
afflicted for three years and a half by a lachrymal fistula;
she touched her afflicted eye with a relic which was
pretended to be one of the thorns of the crown of the
Saviour and she had faith in instant recovery. Some
days afterward the physicians and the surgeons attest
the recovery, and they declare that nature and the
remedies have had no part in it. This event, which
took place in 1656, made a great sensation, and "all
Paris rushed," says Racine, "to Port-Royal. The
120 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
crowd increased from day to day, and God himself
seemed to take pleasure in authorizing the devotion of
the people by the number of miracles which were per-
formed in this church." At this time miracles and
sorcery did not yet appear improbable, and one did not
hesitate at all to attribute to them the singularities of
nature which could not be explained otherwise.
This manner of viewing extraordinary results is
found in the most remarkable works of the century of
Louis XIV. ; even in the Essay on the Human Under-
standing by the philosopher Locke, who says, in
speaking of the degree of assent: " Though the com-
mon experience and the ordinary course of things have
justly a mighty influence on the minds of men, to make
them give or refuse credit to anything proposed to their
belief; yet there is one case, wherein the strangeness
of the lact lessens not the assent to a fair testimony of it.
For where such supernatural events are suitable to ends
aimed at by him who has the power to change the
course of nature, there, under such circumstances, they
maybe the fitter to procure belief, by how much the more
they are beyond or contrary to ordinary observation. "
The true principles of the probability of testimonies
having been thus misunderstood by philosophers to
whom reason is principally indebted for its progress, I
have thought it necessary to present at length the
results of calculus upon this important subject.
There comes up naturally at this point the discussion
of a famous argument of Pascal, that Craig, an English
mathematician, has produced under a geometric form.
Witnesses declare that they have it from Divinity that
in conforming to a certain thing one will enjoy not one
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTIMONIES. 121
or two but an infinity of happy lives. However feeble
the probability of the proofs may be, provided that it
be not infinitely small, it is clear that the advantage of
those who conform to the prescribed thing is infinite
since it is the product of this probability and an infinite
good ; one ought not to hesitate then to procure for
oneself this advantage.
This argument is based upon the infinite number of
happy lives promised in the name of the Divinity by
the witnesses; it is necessary then to prescribe them,
precisely because they exaggerate their promises
beyond all limits, a consequence which is repugnant to
good sense. Also calculus teaches us that this
exaggeration itself enfeebles the probability of their
testimony to the point of rendering it infinitely small
or zero. Indeed this case is similar to that of a witness
who should announce the drawing of the highest
number from an urn filled with a great number ot
numbers, one of which has been drawn and who would
have a great interest in announcing the drawing of this
number. One has already seen how much this interest
enfeebles his testimony. In evaluating only at the
probability that if the witness deceives he will choose
the largest number, calculus gives the probability of
his announcement as smaller than a fraction whose
numerator is unity and whose denominator is unity
plus the half of the product of the number of the num-
bers by the probability of falsehood considered a priori
or independently of the announcement. In order to
compare this case to that of the argument of Pascal it
is sufficient to represent by the numbers in the urn all
the possible numbers of happy lives which the number
122 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
of these numbers renders infinite ; and to observe that
if the witnesses deceive they have the greatest interest,
in order to accredit their falsehood, in promising an
eternity of happiness. The expression of the prob-
ability of their testimony becomes then infinitely small.
Multiplying it by the infinite number of happy lives
promised, infinity would disappear from the product
which expresses the advantage resultant from this
promise which destroys the argument of Pascal.
Let us consider now the probability of the totality
of several testimonies upon an established fact. In
order to fix our ideas let us suppose that the fact be
the drawing of a number from an urn which contains a
hundred of them, and of which one single number has
been drawn. Two witnesses of this drawing announce
that number 2 has been drawn, and one asks for the
resultant probability of the totality of these testimonies.
One may form these two hypotheses: the witnesses
speak the truth; the witnesses deceive. In the first
hypothesis the number 2 is drawn and the probability
of this event is -j-J-j-. It is necessary to multiply it by
the product of the veracities of the witnesses, veracities
which we will suppose to be T 9 7 and T \: one will have
then T^VTFIT for the probability of the event observed in
this hypothesis. In the second, the number 2 is not
drawn and the probability of this event is y 9 ^. But
the agreement of the witnesses requires then that in
seeking to deceive they both choose the number 2 from
the 99 numbers not drawn: the probability of this
choice if the witnesses do not have a secret agreement
is the product of the fraction 5 \ by itself; it becomes
necessary then to multiply these two probabilities
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTIMONIES. 123
together, and by the product of the probabilities y 1 ^ and
Y 3 ^ that the witnesses deceive; one will have thus
sygVuir f r the probability of the event observed in the
second hypothesis. Now one will have the probability
of the fact attested or of the drawing of number 2 in
dividing the probability relative to the first hypothesis
by the sum of the probabilities relative to the two
hypotheses ; this probability will be then f$|-|, and the
probability of the failure to draw this number and of
the falsehood of the witnesses will be ^ViF'
If the urn should contain only the numbers I and 2
one would find in the same manner f for the prob-
ability of the drawing of number 2, and consequently
^ for the probability of the falsehood of the witnesses,
a probability at least ninety-four times larger than the
preceding one. One sees by this how much the prob-
ability of the falsehood of the witnesses diminishes
when the fact which they attest is less probable in
itself. Indeed one conceives that then the accord of
the witnesses, when they deceive, becomes more diffi-
cult, at least when they do not have a secret agree-
ment, which we do not suppose here at all.
In the preceding case where the urn contained only
two numbers the a priori probability of the fact attested
is ^, the resultant probability of the testimonies is the
product of the veracities of the witnesses divided by
this product added to that of the respective probabilities
of their falsehood.
It now remains for us to consider the influence of
time upon the probability of facts transmitted by a
traditional chain of witnesses. It is clear that this
probability ought to diminish in proportion as the chain
124 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
is prolonged. If the fact has no probability itself, such
as the drawing of a number from an urn which contains
an infinity of them, that which it acquires by the testi-
monies decreases according to the continued product
of the veracity of the witnesses. If the fact has a
probability in itself; if, for example, this fact is the
drawing of the number 2 from an urn which contains
an infinity of them, and of which it is certain that one
has drawn a single number; that which the traditional
chain adds to this probability decreases, following a
continued product of which the first factor is the ratio
of the number of numbers in the urn less one to the
same number, and of which each other factor is the
veracity of each witness diminished by the ratio or" the
probability of his falsehood to the number of the num-
bers in the urn less one; so that the limit of the prob-
ability of the fact is that of this fact considered a priori,
or independently of the testimonies, a probability equal
to unity divided by the number of the numbers in the
urn.
The action of time enfeebles then, without ceasing,
the probability of historical facts just as it changes the
most durable monuments. One can indeed diminish
it by multiplying and conserving the testimonies and
the monuments which support them. Printing offers
for this purpose a great means, unfortunately unknown
to the ancients. In spite of the infinite advantages
which it procures the physical and moral revolutions
by which the surface of this globe will always be
agitated will end, in conjunction with the inevitable
effect of time, by rendering doubtful after thousands of
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITIES OF TESTIMONIES. 125
years the historical facts regarded to-day as the most
certain.
Craig has tried to submit to calculus the gradual
enfeebling of the proofs of the Christian religion ; sup-
posing that the world ought to end at the epoch when
it will cease to be probable, he finds that this ought to
take place 1454 years after the time when he writes.
But his analysis is as faulty as his hypothesis upon the
duration of the moon is bizarre.
CHAPTER XII.
CONCERNING THE SELECTIONS AND THE
DECISIONS OF ASSEMBLIES.
THE probability of the decisions of an assembly
depends upon the plurality of votes, the intelligence
and the impartiality of the members who compose it.
So many passions and particular interests so often add
their influence that it is impossible to submit this prob-
ability to calculus. There are, however, some general
results dictated by simple common sense and confirmed
by calculus. If, for example, the assembly is poorly
informed about the subject submitted to its decision, if
this subject requires delicate considerations, or if the
truth on this point is contrary to established prejudices,
so that it would be a bet of more than one against one
that each voter will err; then the decision of the
majority will be probably wrong, and the fear of it will
be the better based as the assembly is more numerous.
It is important then, in public affairs, that assemblies
should have to pass upon subjects within reach of the
greatest number ; it is important for them that informa-
tion be generally diffused and that good works founded
upon reason and experience should enlighten those
126
SELECTIONS AND DECISIONS OF ASSEMBLIES. 127
who are called to decide the lot of their fellows or to
govern them, and should forewarn them against false
ideas and the prejudices of ignorance. Scholars have
had frequent occasion to remark that first conceptions
often deceive and that the truth is not always probable.
It is difficult to understand and to define the desire
of an assembly in the midst of a variety of opinions of
its members. Let us attempt to give some rules in
regard to this matter by considering the two most
ordinary cases : the election among several candidates,
and that among several propositions relative to the
same subject.
When an assembly has to choose among several
candidates who present themselves for one or for several
places of the same kind, that which appears simplest
is to have each voter write upon a ticket the names of
all the candidates according to the order of merit that
he attributes to them. Supposing that he classifies
them in good faith, the inspection of these tickets will
give the results of the elections in such a manner that
the candidates may be compared among themselves;
so that new elections can give nothing more in this
regard. It is a question now to conclude the order of
preference which the tickets establish among the candi-
dates. Let us imagine that one gives to each voter an
urn which contains an infinity of balls by means of
which he is able to shade all the degrees of merit of
the candidates ; let us conceive again that he draws
from his urn a number of balls proportional to the
merit of each candidate, and let us suppose this number
written upon a ticket at the side of the name of the
candidate. It is clear that by making a sum of all the
128 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
numbers relative to each candidate upon each ticket,
that one of all the candidates who shall have the
largest sum will be the candidate whom the assembly
prefers; and that in general the order of preference of
the candidates will be that of the sums relative to each
of them. But the tickets do not mark at all the num-
ber of balls which each voter gives to the candidates ;
they indicate solely that the first has more of them than
the second, the second more than the third, and so on.
In supposing then at first upon a given ticket a certain
number of balls all the combinations of the inferior
numbers which fulfil the preceding conditions are
equally admissible; and one will have the number of
balls relative to each candidate by making a sum of all
the numbers which each combination gives him and
dividing it by the entire number of combinations. A
very simple analysis shows that the numbers which
must be written upon each ticket at the side of the last
name, of the one before the last, etc., are proportional
to the terms of the arithmetical progression I, 2, 3,
etc. Writing then thus upon each ticket the terms of
this progression, and adding the terms relative to each
candidate upon these tickets, the divers sums will indi-
cate by their magnitude the order of their preference
which ought to be established among the candidates.
Such is the mode of election which The Theory of
Probabilities indicates. Without doubt it would be
better if each voter should write upon his ticket the
names of the candidates in the order of merit which he
attributes to them. But particular interests and many
strange considerations of merit would affect this order
and place sometimes in the last rank the candidate
SELECTIONS AND DECISIONS OF ASSEMBLIES. 129
most formidable to that one whom one prefers, which
gives too great an advantage to the candidates of
mediocre merit. Likewise experience has caused the
abandonment of this mode of election in the societies
which had adopted it.
The election by the absolute majority of the suffrages
unites to the certainty of not admitting any one of the
candidates whom this majority rejects, the advantage
of expressing most often the desire of the assembly.
It always coincides with the preceding mode when
there are only two candidates. Indeed it exposes an
assembly to the inconvenience of rendering elections
interminable. But experience has shown that this
inconvenience is nil, and that the general desire to put
an end to elections soon unites the majority of the
suffrages upon one of the candidates.
The choice among several propositions relative to
the same object ought to be subjected, seemingly, to
the same rules as the election among several candi-
dates. But there exists between the two cases this
difference, namely, that the merit of a candidate does
not exclude that of his competitors; but if it is neces-
sary to choose among propositions which- are contrary,
the truth of the one excludes the truth of the others.
Let us see how one ought then to view this question.
Let us give to each voter an urn which contains an
infinite number of balls, and let us suppose that he dis-
tributes them upon the divers propositions according
to the respective probabilities which he attributes to
them. It is clear that the total number of balls
expressing certainty, and the voter being by the
hypothesis assured that one of the propositions ought
130 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
to be true, he will distribute this number at length upon
the propositions. The problem is reduced then to this,
namely, to determine the combinations in which the
balls will be distributed in such a manner that there
may be more of them upon the first proposition of the
ticket than upon the second, more upon the second
than upon the third, etc. ; to make the sums of all the
numbers of balls relative to each proposition in the
divers combinations, and to divide this sum by the
number of combinations; the quotients will be the
numbers of balls that one ought to attribute to the
propositions upon a certain ticket. One finds by
analysis that in going from the last proposition these
quotients are among themselves as the following quanti-
ties : first, unity divided by the number of propositions ;
second, the preceding quantity, augmented by unity,
divided by the number of propositions less one ; third,
this second quantity, augmented by unity, divided by
the number of propositions less two, and so on for the
others. One will write then upon each ticket these
quantities at the side of the corresponding propositions,
and adding the relative quantities to each proposition
upon the divers tickets the sums will indicate by their
magnitude the order of preference which the assembly
gives to these propositions.
Let us speak a word about the manner of renewing
assemblies which should change in totality in a definite
number of years. Ought the renewal to be made at
one time, or is it advantageous to divide it among these
years ? According to the last method the assembly
would be formed under the influence of the divers
opinions dominant during the time of its renewal; the
SELECTIONS AND DECISIONS OF ASSEMBLIES. I3 1
opinion which obtained then would be probably the
mean of all these opinions. The assembly would
receive thus at the time the same advantage that is
given to it by the extension of the elections of its
members to all parts of the territory which it represents.
Now if one considers what experience has only too
clearly taught, namely, that elections are always
directed in the greatest degree by dominant opinions,
one will feel how useful it is to temper these opinions,
the ones by the others, by means of a partial renewal.
CHAPTER XIII.
CONCERNING THE PROBABILITY OF THE JUDG-
MENTS OF TRIBUNALS.
ANALYSIS confirms what simple common sense
teaches us, namely, the correctness of judgments is as
much more probable as the judges are more numerous
and more enlightened. It is important then that
tribunals of appeal should fulfil these two conditions.
The tribunals of the first instance standing in closer
relation to those amenable offer to the higher tribunal
the advantage of a first judgment already probable, and
with which the latter often agree, be it in compromising
or in desisting from their claims. But if the uncertainty
of the matter in litigation and its importance determine
a litigant to have recourse to the tribunal of appeals, he
ought to find in a greater probability of obtaining an
equitable judgment greater security for his fortune and
the compensation for the trouble and expense which a
new procedure entails. It is this which had no place
in the institution of the reciprocal appeal of the
tribunals of the district, an institution thereby very
prejudicial to the interest of the citizens. It would be
perhaps proper and conformable to the calculus of
132
PROBABILITY OF THE JUDGMENTS OF TRIBUNALS. 133
probabi litres to demand a majority of at least two votes
in a tribunal of appeal in order to invalidate the sen-
tence of the lower tribunal. One would obtain this
result if the tribunal of appeal being composed of an
even number of judges the sentence should stand in
the case of the equality of votes.
I shall consider particularly the judgments in crimi-
nal matters.
In order to condemn an accused it is necessary
without doubt that the judges should have the strongest
proofs of his offence. But a moral proof is never more
than a probability; and experience has only too clearly
shown the errors of which criminal judgments, even
those which appear to be the most just, are still sus-
ceptible. The impossibility of amending these errors
is the strongest argument of the philosophers who have
wished to proscribe the penalty of death. We should
then be obliged to abstain from judging if it were
necessary for us to await mathematical evidence. But
the judgment is required by the danger which would
result from the impunity of the crime. This judgment
reduces itself, if I am not mistaken, to the solution of
the following question : Has the proof of the offence
of the accused the high degree of probability necessary
so that the citizens would have less reason to doubt
the errors of the tribunals, if he is innocent and con-
demned, than they would have to fear his new crimes
and those of the unfortunate ones who would be
emboldened by the example of his impunity if he were
guilty and acquitted ? The solution of this question
depends upon several elements very difficult to ascer-
tain. Such is the eminence of danger which would
134 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
threaten society if the criminal accused should remain
unpunished. Sometimes this danger is so great that
the magistrate sees himself constrained to waive forms
wisely established for the protection of innocence. But
that which renders almost always this question insolu-
ble is the impossibility of appreciating exactly the
probability of the offence and of fixing that which is
necessary for the condemnation of the accused. Each
judge in this respect is forced to rely upon his own
judgment. He forms his opinion by comparing the
divers testimonies and the circumstances by which the
offence is accompanied, to the results of his reflections
and his experiences, and in this respect a long habitude
of interrogating and judging accused persons gives
great advantage in ascertaining the truth in the midst
of indices often contradictory.
The preceding question depends again upon the care
taken in the investigation of the offence; for one
demands naturally much stronger proofs for imposing
the death penalty than for inflicting a detention of some
months. It is a reason for proportioning the care to
the offence, great care taken with an unimportant case
inevitably clearing many guilty ones. A law which
gives to the judges power of moderating the care in the
case of attenuating circumstances is then conformable
at the same time to principles of humanity towards the
culprit, and to the interest of society. The product of
the probability of the offence by its gravity being the
measure of the danger to which the acquittal of the
accused can expose society, one would think that the
care taken ought to depend upon this probability.
This is done indirectly in the tribunals where one
PROBABILITY OF THE JUDGMENTS OF TRIBUNALS. 135
retains for some time the accused against whom there
are very strong proofs, but insufficient to condemn
him ; in the hope of acquiring new light one does not
place him immediately in the midst of his fellow citizens,
who would not see him again without great alarm.
But the arbitrariness of this measure and the abuse
which one can make of it have caused its rejection in
the countries where one attaches the greatest price to
individual liberty.
Now what is the probability that the decision of a
tribunal which can condemn only by a given majority
will be just, that is to say, conform to the true solution
of the question proposed above ? This important
problem well solved will give the means of compar-
ing among themselves the different tribunals. The
majority of a single vote in a numerous tribunal indi-
cates that the affair in question is very doubtful ; the
condemnation of the accused would be then contrary
to the principles of humanity, protectors of innocence.
The unanimity of the judges would give very strong
probability of a just decision ; but in abstaining from it
too many guilty ones would be acquitted. It is neces-
sary, then, either to limit the number of judges, if one
wishes that they should be unanimous, or increase the
majority necessary for a condemnation, when the tri-
bunal becomes more numerous. I shall attempt to
apply calculus to this subject, being persuaded that it
is always the best guide when one bases it upon the
data which common sense suggests to us.
The probability that the opinion of each judge is just
enters as the principal element into this calculation.
If in a tribunal of a thousand and one judges, five
136 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY OV PROBABILITIES.
hundred and one are of one opinion, and five hundred
are of the contrary opinion, it is apparent that the
probability of the opinion of each judge surpasses very
little ; for supposing it obviously very large a single
vote of difference would be an improbable event. But
if the judges are unanimous, this indicates in the proofs
that degree of strength which entails conviction; the
probability of the opinion of each judge is then very
near unity or certainty, provided that the passions or
the ordinary prejudices do not affect at the same time
all the judges. Outside of these cases the ratio of the
votes for or against the accused ought alone to deter-
mine this probability. I suppose thus that it can vary
from to unity, but that it cannot be below . If that
were not the case the decision of the tribunal would be
as insignificant as chance ; it has value only in so far
as the opinion of the judge has a greater tendency to
truth than to error. It is thus by the ratio of the
numbers of votes favorable, and contrary to the accused,
that I determine the probability of this opinion.
These data suffice to ascertain the general expression
of the probability that the decision of a tribunal judging
by a known majority is just. In the tribunals where
of eight judges five votes would be necessary for the
condemnation of an accused, the probability of the
error to be feared in the justice of the decision would
surpass ^. If the tribunal should be reduced to six
members who are able to condemn only by a plurality
of four votes, the probability of the error to be feared
would be below ^. There would be then for the
accused an advantage in this reduction of the tribunal.
In both cases the majority required is the same and is
PROBABILITY OF THE JUDGMENTS OF TRIBUNALS. 13?
equal to two. Thus the majority remaining constant,
the probability of error increases with the number of
judges ; this is general whatever may be the majority
required, provided that it remains the same. Taking,
then, for the rule the arithmetical, ratio, the accused
finds himself in a position less and less advantageous
in the measure that the tribunal becomes more numer-
ous. One might believe that in a tribunal where one
might demand a majority of twelve votes, whatever
the number of the judges was, the votes of the minority,
neutralizing an equal number of votes of the majority,
the twelve remaining votes would represent the
unanimity of a jury of twelve members, required in
England for the condemnation of an accused ; but one
would be greatly mistaken. Common sense shows
that there is a difference between the decision of a
tribunal of two hundred and twelve judges, of which
one hundred and twelve condemn the accused, while
one hundred acquit him, and that of a tribunal of
twelve judges unanimous for condemnation. In the
first case the hundred votes favorable to the accused
warrant in thinking that the proofs are far from attain-
ing the degree of strength which entails conviction ; in
the second case, the unanimity of the judges leads to
the belief that they have attained this degree. But
simple common sense does not suffice at all to appre-
ciate the extreme difference of the probability of error
in the two cases. It is necessary then to recur to
calculus, and one finds nearly one fifth for the prob-
ability of error in the first case, and only -^-^ for this
probability in the second case, a probability which is
not one thousandth of the first. It is a confirmation
I3 8 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
of the principle that the arithmetical ratio is unfavorable
to the accused when the number of judges increases.
On the contrary, if one takes for a rule the geometrical
ratio, the probability of the error of the decision
diminishes when the number of judges increases. For
example, in the tribunals which can condemn only by
a plurality of two thirds of the votes, the probability of
the error to be feared is nearly one fourth if the
number of the judges is six; it is below % if this number
is increased to twelve. Thus one ought to be governed
neither by the arithmetical ratio nor by the geometrical
ratio if one wishes that the probability of error should
never be above nor below a given fraction.
But what fraction ought to be determined upon ? It
is here that the arbitrariness begins and the tribunals
offer in this regard the greatest variety. In the special
tribunals where five of the eight votes suffice for the
condemnation of the accused, the probability of the
error to be feared in regard to justice of the judgment
is ^ 6 / ff , or more than ^. The magnitude of this fraction
is dreadful ; but that which ought to reassure us a little
is the consideration that most frequently the judge who
acquits an accused does not regard him as innocent;
he pronounces solely that it is not attained by proofs
sufficient for condemnation. One is especially reassured
by the pity which nature has placed in the heart of man
and which disposes the mind to see only with reluc-
tance a culprit in the accused submitted to his judg-
ment. This sentiment, more active in those who have
not the habitude of criminal judgments, compensates
for the inconveniences attached to the inexperience of
the jurors. In a jury of twelve members, if the plurality
PROBABILITY OF THE JUDGMENTS OF TRIBUNALS. 139
demanded for the condemnation is eight of twelve
votes, the probability of the error to be feared |fff , or
a little more than one eighth, it is almost -fa if this
plurality consists of nine votes. In the case of una-
nimity the probability of the error to be feared is -g- T 1 7 j,
that is to say, more than a thousand times less than
in our juries. This supposes that the unanimity results
only from proofs favorable or contrary to the accused ;
but motives that are entirely strange, ought oftentimes
to concur in producing it, when it is imposed upon the
jury as a necessary condition of its judgment. Then
its decisions depending upon the temperament, the
character, the habits of the jurors, and the circum-
stances in which they are placed, they are sometimes
contrary to the decisions which the majority of the jury
would have made if they had listened only to the
proofs ; this seems to me to be a great fault of this
manner of judging.
The probability of the decision is too feeble in our
juries, and I think that in order to give a sufficient
guarantee to innocence, one ought to demand at least
a plurality of nine votes in twelve.
CHAPTER XIV.
CONCERNING TABLES OF MORTALITY, AND OF
MEAN DURATIONS OF LIFE, OF MARRIAGES,
AND OF ASSOCIATIONS.
THE manner of preparing tables of mortality is very
simple. One takes in the civil registers a great num-
ber of individuals whose birth and death are indicated.
One determines how many of these individuals have
died in the first year of their age, how many in the
second year, and so on. It is concluded from these
the number of individuals living at the commencement
of each year, and this number is written in the table at
the side of that which indicates the year. Thus one
writes at the side of zero the number of births ; at the
side of the year I the number of infants who have
attained one year; at the side of the year 2 the number
of infants who have attained two years, and so on for
the rest. But since in the first two years of life the
mortality is very great, it is necessary for the sake of
greater exactitude to indicate in this first age the
number of survivors at the end of each half year.
If we divide the sum of the years of the life of all
the individuals inscribed in a table of mortality by the
140
CONCERNING TABLES OF MORTALITY, ETC. U*
number of these individuals we shall have the mean
duration of life which corresponds to this table. For
this, we will multiply by a half year the number of
deaths in the first year, a number equal to the differ-
ence of the numbers of individuals inscribed at the side
of the years o and I. Their mortality being distributed
over the entire year the mean duration of their life is
only a half year. We will multiply by a year and a
half the number of deaths in the second year; by two
years and a half the number of deaths in the third year ;
and so on. The sum of these products divided by the
number of births will be the mean duration of life. It
is easy to conclude from this that we will obtain this
duration, by making the sum of the numbers inscribed
in the table at the side of each year, dividing it by the
number of births and subtracting one half from the
quotient, the year being taken as unity. The mean
duration of life that remains, starting from any age, is
determined in the same manner, working upon the
number of individuals who have arrived at this age, as
has just been done with the number of births. But it
is not at the moment of birth that the mean duration
of life is the greatest; it is when one has escaped the
dangers of infancy and it is then about forty-three
years. The probability of arriving at a certain age,
starting from a given age is equal to the ratio of the
two numbers of individuals indicated in the table at
these two ages.
The precision of these results demands that for the
formation of tables we should employ a very great
number of births. Analysis gives then very simple
formulae for appreciating the probability that the num-
142 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
bers indicated in these tables will vary from the truth
only within narrow limits. We see by these formulae
that the interval of the limits diminishes and that the
probability increases in proportion as we take into con-
sideration more births; so that the tables would repre-
sent exactly the true law of mortality if the number of
births employed were infinite.
A table of mortality is then a table of the probability
of human life. The ratio of the individuals inscribed
at the side of each year to the number of births is the
probability that a new birth will attain this year. As
we estimate the value of hope by making a sum of the
products of each benefit hoped for, by the probability
of obtaining it, so we can equally evaluate the mean
duration of life by adding the products of each year
by half the sum of the probabilities of attaining the
commencement and the end of it, which leads to the
result found above. But this manner of viewing the
mean duration of life has the advantage of showing
that in a stationary population, that is to say, such that
the number of births equals that of deaths, the mean
duration of life is the ratio itself of the population to
the annual births; for the population being supposed
stationary, the number of individuals of an age com-
prised between two consecutive years of the table is
equal to the number of annual births, multiplied by
half the sum of the probabilities of attaining these
years ; the sum of all these products will be then the
entire population. Now it is easy to see that this sum,
divided by the number of annual births, coincides with
the mean duration of life as we have just defined it.
It is easy by means of a table of mortality to form
CONCERNING TABLES OF MORTALITY, ETC. 143
the corresponding table of the population supposed to
be stationary. For this we take the arithmetical means
of the numbers of the table of mortality corresponding
to the ages zero and one year, one and two years, two
and three years, etc. The sum of all these means is
the entire population; it is written at the side of the
age zero. There is subtracted from this sum the first
mean and the remainder is the number of individuals
of one year and upwards; it is written at the side of
the year I . There is subtracted from this first re-
mainder the second mean ; this second remainder is
the number of individuals of two years and upwards ;
it is written at the side of the year 2, and so on.
So many variable causes influence mortality that the
tables which represent it ought to be changed accord-
ing to place and time. The divers states of life offer
in this regard appreciable differences relative to the
fatigues and the dangers inseparable from each state
and of which it is indispensable to keep account in the
calculations founded upon the duration of life. But
these differences have not been sufficiently observed.
Some day they will be and then will be known what
sacrifice of life each profession demands and one will
profit by this knowledge to diminish the dangers.
The greater or less salubrity of the sun, its elevation,
its temperature, the customs of the inhabitants, and the
operations of governments have a considerable influence
upon mortality. But it is always necessary to precede
the investigation of the cause of the differences observed
by that of the probability with which this cause is indi-
cated. Thus the ratio of the population to annual
births, which one has seen raised in France to twenty-
144 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
eight and one third, is not equal to twenty-five in the
ancient duchy of Milan. These ratios, both established
upon a great number of births, do not permit of calling
into question the existence among the Milanese of a
special cause of mortality, which it is of moment for
the government of our country to investigate and
remove.
The ratio of the population to the births would
increase again if we could diminish and remove certain
dangerous and widely spread maladies. This has
happily been done for the smallpox, at first by the
inoculation of this disease, then in a manner much
more advantageous, by the inoculation of vaccine, the
inestimable discovery of Jenner, who has thereby
become one of the greatest benefactors of humanity.
The smallpox has this in particular, namely, that
the same individual is not twice affected by it, or at
least such cases are so rare that they may be abstracted
from the calculation. This malady, from which few
escaped before the discovery of vaccine, is often fatal
and causes the death of one seventh of those whom it
attacks. Sometimes it is mild, and experience has
taught that it can be given this latter character by
inoculating it upon healthy persons, prepared for it
by a proper diet and in a favorable season. Then the
ratio of the individuals who die to the inoculated
ones is not one three hundredth. This great advan-
tage of inoculation, joined to those of not altering the
appearance and of preserving from the grievous conse-
quences which the natural smallpox often brings,
caused it to be adopted by a great number of persons.
The practice was strongly recommended, but it was
CONCERNING TABLES OF MORTALITY, ETC. 145
strongly combated, as is nearly always the case in
things subject to inconvenience. In the midst of this
dispute Daniel Bernoulli proposed to submit to the
calculus of probabilities the influence of inoculation
upon the mean duration of life. Since precise data of
the mortality produced by the smallpox at the various
ages of life were lacking, he supposed that the danger
of having this malady and that of dying of it are the
same at every age. By means of these suppositions he
succeeded by a delicate analysis in converting an
ordinary table of mortality into that which would be
used if smallpox did not exist, or if it caused the
death of only a very small number of those affected, and
he concludes from it that inoculation would augment
by three years at least the mean duration of life, which
appeared to him beyond doubt the advantage of this
operation. D'Alembert attacked the analysis of Ber-
noulli: at first in regard to the uncertainty of his
two hypotheses, then in regard to its insufficiency in
this, that no comparison was made of the immediate
danger, although very small, of dying of inoculation, to
the very great but very remote danger of succumbing
to natural smallpox. This consideration, which dis-
appears when one considers a great number of indi-
viduals, is for this reason immaterial for governments
and the advantages of inoculation for them still remain ;
but it is of great weight for the father of a family who
must fear, in having his children inoculated, to see that
one perish whom he holds most dear and to be the
cause of it. Many parents were restrained by this fear,
which the discovery of vaccine has happily dissipated.
By one of those mysteries which nature offers to us so
146 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
frequently, vaccine is a preventive of smallpox just as
certain as variolar virus, and there is no danger at all ;
it does not expose to any malady and demands only
very little care. Therefore the practice of it has spread
quickly; and to render it universal it remains only to
overcome the natural inertia of the people, against
which it is necessary to strive continually, even when
it is a question of their dearest interests.
The simplest means of calculating the advantage
which the extinction of a malady would produce con-
sists in determining by observation the number of indi-
viduals of a given age who die of it each year and
subtracting this number from the number of deaths at
the same age. The ratio of the difference to the total
number of individuals of the given age would be the
probability of dying in the year at this age if the
malady did not exist. Making, then, a sum of these
probabilities from birth up to any given age, and sub-
tracting this sum from unity, the remainder will be the
probability of living to that age corresponding to the
extinction of the malady. The series of these prob-
abilities will be the table of mortality relative to this
hypothesis, and we may conclude from it, by what
precedes, the mean duration of life. It is thus that
Duvilard has found that the increase of the mean dura-
tion of life, due to inoculation with vaccine, is three
years at the least. An increase so considerable would
produce a very great increase in the population if the
latter, for other reasons, were not restrained by the
relative diminution of subsistences.
It is principally by the lack of subsistences that the
progressive march of the population is arrested. In
CONCERNING TABLES OF MORTALITY, ETC. 14?
all kinds of animals and vegetables, nature* tends with-
out ceasing to augment the number of individuals until
they are on a level of the means of subsistence. In
the human race moral causes have a great influence
upon the population. If easy clearings of the forest
can furnish an abundant nourishment for new genera-
tions, the certainty of being able to support a numerous
family encourages marriages and renders them more
productive. Upon the same soil the population and
the births ought to increase at the same time simul-
taneously in geometric progression. But when clear-
ings become more difficult and more rare then the
increase of population diminishes; it approaches con-
tinually the variable state of subsistences, making
oscillations about it just as a pendulum whose periodicity
is retarded by changing the point of suspension, oscil-
lates about this point by virtue of its own weight. It
is difficult to evaluate the maximum increase of the
population ; it appears after observations that in favor-
able circumstances the population of the human race
would be doubled every fifteen years. We estimate
that in North America the period of this doubling is
twenty-two years. In this state of things, the popula-
tion, births, marriages, mortality, all increase accord-
ing to the same geometric progression of which we have
the constant ratio of consecutive terms by the observa-
tion of annual births at two epochs.
By means of a table of mortality representing the
probabilities of human life, we may determine the
duration of marriages. Supposing in order to simplify
the matter that the mortality is the same for the two
sexes, we shall obtain the probability that the marriage
U$ A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
will subsist one year, or two, or three, etc., by forming
a series of fractions whose common denominator is the
product of the two numbers of the table corresponding
to the ages of the consorts, and whose numerators are
the successive products of the numbers corresponding
to these ages augmented by one, by two, by three,
etc., years. The sum of these fractions augmented by
one half will be the mean duration of marriage, the
year being taken as unity. It is easy to extend the
same rule to the mean duration of an association formed
of three or of a greater number of individuals.
CHAPTER XV.
CONCERNING THE BENEFITS OF INSTITUTIONS
WHICH DEPEND UPON THE PROBABILITY OF
EVENTS.
LET us recall here what has been said in speaking
of hope. It has been seen that in order to obtain the
advantage which results from several simple events, of
which the ones produce a benefit and the others a loss,
it is necessary to add the products of the probability of
each favorable event by the benefit which it procures,
and subtract from their sum that of the products of the
probability of each unfavorable event by the loss which
is attached to it. But whatever may be the advantage
expressed by the difference of these sums, a single
event composed of these simple events does not
guarantee against the fear of experiencing a loss.
One imagines that this fear ought to decrease when
one multiplies the compound event. The analysis of
probabilities leads to this general theorem.
By the repetition of an advantageous event, simple
or compound, the real benefit becomes more and more
probable and increases without ceasing; it becomes
certain in the hypothesis of an infinite number of repe-
149
150 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
titions; and dividing it by this number the quotient or
the mean benefit of each event is the mathematical
hope itself or the advantage relative to the event. It
is the same with a loss which becomes certain in the
long run, however small the disadvantage of the event
may be.
This theorem upon benefits and losses is analogous
to those which we have already given upon the ratios
which are indicated by the indefinite repetition of
events simple or compound; and, like them, it proves
that regularity ends by establishing itself even in the
things which are most subordinated to that which we
name hazard.
When the events are in great number, analysis gives
another very simple expression of the probability that
the benefit will be comprised within determined limits.
This is the expression which enters again into the
general law of probability given above in speaking
of the probabilities which result from the indefinite
multiplication of events.
The stability of institutions which are based upon
probabilities depends upon the truth of the preceding
theorem. But in order that it may be applied to them
it is necessary that those institutions should multiply
these advantageous events for the sake of numerous
things.
There have been based upon the probabilities of
human life divers institutions, such as life annuities and
tontines. The most general and the most simple
method of calculating the benefits and the expenses of
these institutions- consists in reducing these to actual
amounts. The annual interest of unity is that which
INSTITUTIONS BASED UPON PROBABILITIES. 151
is called the rate of interest. At the end of each year
an amount acquires for a factor unity plus the rate of
interest; it increases then according to a geometrical
progression of which this factor is the ratio. Thus in
the course of time it becomes immense. If, for exam-
ple, the rate of interest is --$ or five per cent, the capital
doubles very nearly in fourteen years, quadruples in
twenty-nine years, and in less than three centuries it
becomes two million times larger.
An increase so prodigious has given birth to the idea
of making use of it in order to pay off the public debt.
One forms for this purpose a sinking fund to which is
devoted an annual fund employed for the redemption
of public bills and without ceasing increased by the
interest of the bills redeemed. It is clear that in the
long run this fund will absorb a great part of the
national debt. If, when the needs of the State make
a loan necessary, a part of this loan is devoted to the
increasing of the annual sinking fund, the variation of
public bills will be less; the confidence of the lenders
and the probability of retiring without loss of capital
loaned when one desires will be augmented and will
render the conditions of the loan less onerous. Favor-
able experiences have fully confirmed these advantages.
But the fidelity in engagements and the stability, so
necessary to the success of such institutions, can be
guaranteed only by a government in which the legisla-
tive power is divided among several independent
powers. The confidence which the necessary coopera-
tion of these powers inspires, doubles the strength of
the State, and the sovereign himself gains then in legal
power more than he loses in arbitrary power.
152 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
It results from that which precedes that the actual
capital equivalent to a sum which is to be paid only
after a certain number of years is equal to this sum
multiplied by the probability that it will be paid at that
time and divided by unity augmented by the rate of
interest and raised to a power expressed by the number
of these years.
It is easy to apply this principle to life annuities upon
one or several persons, and to savings banks, and to
assurance societies of any nature. Suppose that one
proposes to form a table of life annuities according to
a given table of mortality. A life annuity payable at
the end of five years, for example, and reduced to an
actual amount is, by this principle, equal to the product
of the two following quantities, namely, the annuity
divided by the fifth power of unity augmented by the
rate of interest and the probability of paying it. This
probability is the inverse ratio of the number of indi-
viduals inscribed in the table opposite to the age of that
one who settles the annuity to the number inscribed
opposite to this age augmented by five years. Form-
ing, then, a series of fractions whose denominators are
the products of the number of persons indicated in the
table of mortality as living at the age of that one who
settles the annuity, by the successive powers of unity
augmented by the rate of interest, and whose numera-
tors are the products of the annuity by the number of
persons living at the same age augmented successively
by one year, by two years, etc., the sum of these
fractions will be the amount required for the life annuity
at that age.
Let us suppose that a person wishes by means of a
INSTITUTIONS BASED UPON PROBABILITIES. 153
life annuity to assure to his heirs an amount payable
at the end of the year of his death. In order to deter-
mine the value of this annuity, one may imagine that
the person borrows in life at a bank this capital and
that he places it at perpetual interest in the same bank.
It is clear that this same capital will be due by the
bank to his heirs at the end of the year of his death ;
but he will have paid each year only the excess of the
life interest over the perpetual interest. The table of
life annuities will then show that which the person
ought to pay annually to the bank in order to assure
this capital after his death.
Maritime assurance, that against fire and storms, and
generally all the institutions of this kind, are computed
on the same principles. A merchant having vessels
at sea wishes to assure their value and that of their
cargoes against the dangers that they may run ; in order
to do this, he gives a sum to a company which becomes
responsible to him for the estimated value of his
cargoes and his vessels. The ratio of this value to the
sum which ought to be given for the price of the assur-
ance depends upon the dangers to which the vessels
are exposed and can be appreciated only by numerous
observations upon the fate of vessels which have sailed
from port for the same destination.
If the persons assured should give to the assurance
company only the sum indicated by the calculus of
probabilities, this company would not be able to pro-
vide for the expenses of its institution ; it is necessary
then that they should pay a sum much greater than the
cost of such insurance. What then is their advantage ?
It is here that the consideration of the moral disadvan-
154 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
tage attached to an uncertainty becomes necessary.
One conceives that the fairest game becomes, as has
already been seen, disadvantageous, because the player
exchanges a certain stake for an uncertain benefit;
assurance by which one exchanges the uncertain for
the certain ought to be advantageous. It is indeed
this which results from the rule which we have given
above for determining moral hope and by which one
sees moreover how far the sacrifice may extend which
ought to be made to the assurance company by
reserving always a moral advantage. This company
can then in procuring this advantage itself make a
great benefit, if the number of the assured persons is
very large, a condition . necessary to its continued
existence. Then its benefits become certain and the
mathematical and moral hopes coincide; for analysis
leads to this general theorem, namely, that if the
expectations are very numerous the two hopes approach
each other without ceasing and end by coinciding in
the case of an infinite number.
We have said in speaking of mathematical and moral
hopes that there is a moral advantage in distributing
the risks of a benefit which one expects over several of
its parts. Thus in order to send a sum of money to a
distant part it is much better to send it on several
vessels than to expose it on one. This one does by
means of mutual assurances. If two persons, each
having the same sum upon two different vessels which
have sailed from the same port to the same destination,
agree to divide equally all the money which may
arrive, it is clear that by this agreement each of them
divides equally between the two vessels the sum which
INSTITUTIONS BASED UPON PROBABILITIES. 155
he expects. Indeed this kind of assurance always
leaves uncertainty as to the loss which one may fear.
But this uncertainty diminishes in proportion as the
number of policy-holders increases ; the moral advan-
tage increases more and more and ends by coinciding
with the mathematical advantage, its natural limit.
This renders the association of mutual assurances when
it is very numerous more advantageous to the assured
ones than the companies of assurance which, in pro-
portion to the benefit that they give, give a moral
advantage always inferior to the mathematical advan-
tage. But the surveillance of their administration can
balance the advantage of the mutual assurances. All
these results are, as has already been seen, independent
of the law which expresses the moral advantage.
One may look upon a free people as a great asso-
ciation whose members secure mutually their proper-
ties by supporting proportionally the charges of this
guaranty. The confederation of several peoples would
give to them advantages analogous to those which each
individual enjoys in the society. A congress of their
representatives would discuss objects of a utility com-
mon to all and without doubt~the system of weights,
measures, and moneys proposed by the French sci-
entists would be adopted in this congress as one of
the things most useful to commerical relations.
Among the institutions founded upon the probabilities
of human life the better ones are those in which, by
means of a light sacrifice of his revenue, one assures
his existence and that of his family for a time when
one ought to fear to be unable to satisfy their needs.
As far as games are immoral, so far these institutions
156 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
are advantageous to customs by favoring the strongest
bents of our nature. The government ought then to
encourage them and respect them in the vicissitudes of
public fortune ; since the hopes which they present look
toward a distant future, they are able to prosper only
when sheltered from all inquietude during their exist-
ence. It is an advantage that the institution of a
representative government assures them.
Let us say a word about loans. It is clear that in
order to borrow perpetually it is necessary to pay each
year the product of the capital by the rate of interest.
But one may wish to discharge this principal in equal
payments made during a definite number of years,
payments which are called annuities and whose value
is obtained in this manner. Each annuity in order to
be reduced at the actual moment ought to be divided
by a power of unity augmented by the rate of interest
equal to the number of years after which this annuity
ought to be paid. Forming then a geometric progres-
sion whose first term is the annuity divided by unity
augmented by the rate of interest, and whose last term
is this annuity divided by the same quantity raised to
a power equal to the number of years during which the
payment should have been made, the sum of this pro-
gression will be equivalent to the capital borrowed,
which will determine the value of the annuity. A
sinking fund is at bottom only a means of converting
into annuities a perpetual rent with the sole difference
that in the case of a loan by annuities the interest is
supposed constant, while the interest of funds acquired
by the sinking fund is variable. If it were the same in
both cases, the annuity corresponding to the funds
INSTITUTIONS BASED UPON PROBABILITIES. 157
acquired would be formed by these funds and from
this annuity the State contributes annually to the sink-
ing fund.
If one wishes to make a life loan it will be observed
that the tables of life annuities give the capital required
to constitute a life annuity at any age, a simple pro-
portion will give the rent which one ought to pay to
the individual from whom the capital is borrowed.
From these principles all the possible kinds of loans
may be calculated.
The principles which we have just expounded con-
cerning the benefits and the losses of institutions may
serve to determine the mean result of any number of
observations already made, when one wishes to regard
the deviations of the results corresponding to divers
observations. Let us designate by x the correction of
the least result and by x augmented successively by
g, q ', q" , etc., the corrections of the following results.
Let us name e, e' , e" , etc., the errors of the observa-
tions whose law of probability we will suppose known.
Each observation being a function of the result, it is
easy to see that by supposing the correction x of this
result to be very small, the error e of the first observa-
tion w r ill be equal to the product of x by a determined
coefficient. Likewise the error e' of the second obser-
vation will be the product of the sum q plus x, by a
determined coefficient, and so on. The probability of
the error e being given by a known function, it will be
expressed by the same function of the first of the pre-
ceding products. The probability of e' will be expressed
by the same function of the second of these products,
and so on of the others. The probability of the simul-
158 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
taneous existence of the errors e, f', c" , etc., will be
then proportional to the product of these divers func-
tions, a product which will be a function of x. This
being granted, if one conceives a curve whose abscissa
is x, and whose corresponding ordinate is this product,
this curve will represent the probability of the divers
values of x, whose limits will be determined by the
limits of the errors e, e' ', e" , etc. Now let us designate
by X the abscissa which it is necessary to choose ; X
diminished by x will be the error which would be com-
mitted if the abscissa x were the true correction. This
error, multiplied by the probability of x or by the
corresponding ordinate of the curve, will be the product
of the loss by its probability, regarding, as one should,
this error as a loss attached to the choice X. Multi-
plying this product by the differential of x the integral
taken from the first extremity of the curve to X will
be the disadvantage of X resulting from the values of
x inferior to X, For the values of x superior to X, x
less X would be the error of X if x were the true cor-
rection ; the integral of the product of x by the corre-
sponding ordinate of the curve and by the differential
of x will be then the disadvantage of X resulting from
the values x superior to x, this integral being taken
from x equal to X up to the last extremity of the
curve. Adding this disadvantage to the preceding
one, the sum will be the disadvantage attached to the
choice of X. This choice ought to be determined by
the condition that this disadvantage be a minimum;
and a very simple calculation shows that for this, X
ought to be the abscissa whose ordinate divides the
curve into two equal parts, so that it is thus probable
INSTITUTIONS BASED UPON PROBABILITIES. 159
that the true value of x falls on neither the one side
nor the other of X.
Celebrated geometricians have chosen for X the
most probable value of x and consequently that which
corresponds to the largest ordinate of the curve; but
the preceding value appears to me evidently that which
the theory of probability indicates.
CHAPTER XVI.
CONCERNING ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION
OF PROBABILITIES.
THE mind has its illusions as the sense of .sight; and
in the same manner that the sense of feeling corrects
the latter, reflection and calculation correct the former.
Probability based upon a daily experience, or exag-
gerated by fear and by hope, strikes us more than a
superior probability but it is only a simple result of
calculus. Thus we do not fear in return for small
advantages to expose our life to dangers much less
improbable than the drawing of a quint in the lottery
of France; and yet no one would wish to procure for
himself the same advantages with the certainty of losing
his life if this quint should be drawn.
Our passions, our prejudices, and dominating
opinions, by exaggerating the probabilities which are
favorable to them and by attenuating the contrary
probabilities, are the abundant sources of dangerous
illusions.
Present evils and the cause which produced them
effect us much more than the remembrance of evils
produced by the contrary cause ; they prevent us from
160
ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES. 161
appreciating with justice the inconveniences of the ones
and the others, and the probability of the proper means
to guard ourselves against them. It is this which leads
alternately to despotism and to anarchy the people
who are driven from the state of repose to which they
never return except after long and cruel agitations.
This vivid impression which we receive from the
presence of events, and which allows us scarcely to
remark the contrary events observed by others, is a
principal cause of error against which one cannot suffi-
ciently guard himself.
It is principally at games of chance that a multitude
of illusions support hope and sustain it against unfavor-
able chances. The majority of those who play at
lotteries do not know how many chances are to their
advantage, how many are contrary to them. They
see only the possibility by a small stake of gaining a
considerable sum, and the projects which their imagi-
nation brings forth, exaggerate to their eyes the
probability of obtaining it; the poor man especially,
excited by the desire of a better fate, risks at play his
necessities by clinging to the most unfavorable com-
binations which promise him a great benefit. All
would be without doubt surprised by the immense
number of stakes lost if they could know of them ; but
one takes care on the contrary to give to the winnings
a great publicity, which becomes a new cause of excite-
ment for this funereal play.
When a number in the lottery of France has not been
drawn for a long time the crowd is eager to cover it
with stakes. They judge since the number has not
been drawn for a long time that it ought at the next
162 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
drawing to be drawn in preference to others. So
common an error appears to me to rest upon an illusion
by which one is carried back involuntarily to the origin
of events. It is, for example, very improbable that
at the play of heads and tails one will throw heads ten
times in succession. This improbability which strikes
us indeed when it has happened nine times, leads us
to believe that at the tenth throw tails will be thrown.
But the past indicating in the coin a greater propensity
for heads than for tails renders the first of the events
more probable than the second ; it increases as one has
seen the probability of throwing heads at the following
throw. A similar illusion persuades many people that
one can certainly win in a lottery by placing each time
upon the same number, until it is drawn, a stake whose
product surpasses the sum of all the stakes. But even
when similar speculations would not often be stopped
by the impossibility of sustaining them they would not
diminish the mathematical disadvantage of speculators
and they would increase their moral disadvantage,
since at each drawing they would risk a very large part
of their fortune.
I have seen men, ardently desirous of having a son,
who could learn only with anxiety of the births of boys
in the month when they expected to become fathers.
Imagining that the ratio of these births to those of girls
ought to be the same at the end of each month, they
judged that the boys already born would render more
probable the births next of girls. Thus the extraction
of a white ball from an urn which contains a limited
number of white balls and of black balls increases the
probability of extracting a black ball at the following
ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES. 163
drawing. But this ceases to take place 'when the
number of balls in the urn is unlimited, as one must
suppose in order to compare this case with that of
births. If, in the course of a month, there were born
many more boys than girls, one might suspect that
toward the time of their conception a general cause
had favored masculine conception, which would render
more probable the birth next of a boy. The irregular
events of nature are not exactly comparable to the
drawing of the numbers of a lottery in which all the
numbers are mixed at each drawing in such a manner
as to render the chances of their drawing perfectly
equal. The frequency of one of these events seems to
indicate a cause slightly favoring it, which increases
the probability of its next return, and its repetition
prolonged for a long time, such as a long series of rainy
days, may develop unknown causes for its change; so
that at each expected event we are not, as at each
drawing of a lottery, led back to the same state of
indecision in regard to what ought to happen. But in
proportion as the observation of these events is mul-
tiplied, the comparison of their results with those of
lotteries becomes more exact.
By an illusion contrary to the preceding ones one
seeks in the past drawings of the lottery of France the
numbers most often drawn, in order to form combina-
tions upon which one thinks to place the stake to
advantage. But when the manner in which the mixing
of the numbers in this lottery is considered, the past
ought to have no influence upon the future. The very
frequent drawings of a number are only the anomalies
of chance; I have submitted several of them to calcula-
164 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
tion and have constantly found that they are included
within the limits which the supposition of an equal
possibility of the drawing of all the numbers allows us
to admit without improbability.
In a long series of events of the same kind the single
chances of hazard ought sometimes to offer the singular
veins of good luck or bad luck which the majority of
players do not fail to attribute to a kind of fatality. It
happens often in games which depend at the same time
upon hazard and upon the competency of the players,
that that one who loses, troubled by his loss, seeks to
repair it by hazardous throws which he would shun in
another situation ; thus he aggravates his own ill luck
and prolongs its duration. It is then that prudence
becomes necessary and that it is of importance to con-
vince oneself that the moral disadvantage attached to
unfavorable chances is increased by the ill luck itself.
The opinion that man has long been placed in the
centre of the universe, considering himself the special
object of the cares of nature, leads each individual to
make himself the centre of a more or less extended
sphere and to believe that hazard has preference for
him. Sustained by this belief, players often risk con-
siderable sums at games when they know that the
chances are unfavorable. In the conduct of life a
similar opinion may sometimes have advantages ; but
most often it leads to disastrous enterprises. Here as
everywhere illusions are dangerous and truth alone is
generally useful.
One of the great advantages of the calculus of prob-
abilities is to teach us to distrust first opinions. As we
recognize that they often deceive when they may be
ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES. 165
submitted to calculus, we ought to conclude that in
other matters confidence should be given only after
extreme circumspection. Let us prove this by example.
An urn contains four balls, black and white, but which
are not all of the same color. One of these balls has
been drawn whose color is white and which has been
put back in the urn in order to proceed again to similar
drawings. One demands the probability of extracting
only black balls in the four following drawings.
If the white and black were in equal number this
probability would be the fourth power of the probability
of extracting a black ball at each drawing ; it would
be then T ^. But the extraction of a white ball at the
first drawing indicates a superiority in the number of
white balls in the urn ; for if one supposes in the urn
three white balls and one black the probability of
extracting a white ball is |; it is if one supposes two
white balls and two black; finally it is reduced to J if
one supposes three black balls and one white. Follow-
ing the principle of the probability of causes drawn
from events the probabilities of these three suppositions
are among themselves as the quantities , f, ; they
are consequently equal to |, f, . It is thus a bet of
5 against i that the number of black balls is inferior,
or at the most equal, to that of the white. It seems
then that after the extraction of a white ball at the first
drawing, the probability of extracting successively four
black balls ought to be less than in the case of the
equality of the colors or smaller than one sixteenth.
However, it is not, and it is found by a very simple
calculation that this probability is greater than one
fourteenth. Indeed it would be the fourth power
1 66 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
of , of |, and of | in the first, the second, and the
third of the preceding suppositions concerning the
colors of the balls in the urn. Multiplying respectively
each power by the probability of the corresponding
supposition, or by f , f , and , the sum of the products
will be the probability of extracting successively four
black balls. One has thus for this probability ^ 2 9 , a
fraction greater than -fa. This paradox is explained
by considering that the indication of the superiority of
white balls over the black ones at the first drawing
does not exclude at all the superiority of the black balls
over the white ones, a superiority which excludes the
supposition of the equality of the colors. But this
superiority, though but slightly probable, ought to
render the probability of drawing successively a given
number of black balls greater than in this supposition
if the number is considerable ; and one has just seen
that this commences when the given number is equal
to four. Let us consider again an urn which contains
several white and black balls. Let us suppose at first
that there is only one white ball and one black. It is
then an even bet that a white ball will be extracted in
one drawing. But it seems for the equality of the bet
that one who bets on extracting the white ball ought
to have two drawings if the urn contains two black
and one white, three drawings if it contains three black
and one white, and so on ; it is supposed that after each
drawing the extracted ball is placed again in the urn.
We are convinced easily that this first idea is
erroneous. Indeed in the case of two black and one
white ball, the probability of extracting two black in
two drawings is the second power of f or ^ ; but this
ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES. 167
probability added to that of drawing a white ball in two
drawings is certainty or unity, since it is certain that
two black balls or at least one white ball ought to be
drawn ; the probability in this last case is then -|, a
fraction greater than f . There would still be a greater
advantage in the bet of drawing one white ball in five
draws when the urn contains five black and one white
ball ; this bet is even advantageous in four drawings ;
it returns then to that of throwing six in four throws
with a single die.
The Chevalier de Mere, who caused the invention
of the calculus of probabilities by encouraging his friend
Pascal, the great geometrician, to occupy himself with
it, said to him ' ' that he had found error in the num-
bers by this ratio. If we undertake to make six with
one die there is an advantage in undertaking it in four
throws, as 671 to 625. If we undertake to make two
sixes with two dice, there is a disadvantage in under-
taking in 24 throws. At least 24 is to 36, the number
of the faces of the two dice, as 4 is to 6, the number
of faces of one die." "This was," wrote Pascal to
Fermat, ' ' his great scandal which caused him to say
boldly that the propositions were not constant and that
arithmetic was demented. . . . He has a very good
mind, but he is not a geometrician, which is, as you
know, a great fault. ' ' The Chevalier de Mere, deceived
by a false analogy, thought that in the case of the
equality of bets the number of throws ought to increase
in proportion to the number of all the chances possible,
which is not exact, but which approaches exactness as
this number becomes larger.
One has endeavored to explain the superiority of the
1 68 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
births of boys over those of girls by the general desire
of fathers to have a son who would perpetuate the
name. Thus by imagining an urn filled with an infinity
of white and black balls in equal number, and suppos-
ing a great number of persons each of whom draws a
ball from this urn and continues with the intention of
stopping when he shall have extracted a white ball,
one has believed that this intention ought to render the
number of white balls extracted superior to that of the
black ones. Indeed this intention gives necessarily
after all the drawings a number of white balls equal
to that of persons, and it is possible that these draw-
ings would never lead a black ball. But it is easy to
see that this first notion is only an illusion; for if one
conceives that in the first drawing all the persons draw
at once a ball from the urn, it is evident that their
intention can have no influence upon the color of the
balls which ought to appear at this drawing. Its
unique effect will be to exclude from the second draw-
ing the persons who shall have drawn a white one at
the first. It is likewise apparent that the intention of
the persons who shall take part in the new drawing
will have no influence upon the color of the balls which
shall be drawn, and that it will be the same at the fol-
lowing drawings. This intention will have no influence
then upon the color of the balls extracted in the totality
of drawings ; it will, however, cause more or fewer to
participate at each drawing. The ratio of the white
balls extracted to the black ones will differ thus very
little from unity. It follows that the number of persons
being supposed very large, if observation gives between
the colors extracted a ratio which differs sensibly from
ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES. 169
unity, it is very probable that the same difference is
found between unity and the ratio of the white balls to
the black contained in the urn.
I count again among illusions the application which
Liebnitz and Daniel Bernoulli have made of the cal-
culus of probabilities to the summation of series. If
one reduces the fraction whose numerator is unity and
whose denominator is unity plus a variable, in a series
prescribed by the ratio to the powers of this variable, it
is easy to see that in supposing the variable equal to
unity the fraction becomes , and the series becomes
plus one, minus one, plus one, minus one, etc. In
adding the first two terms, the second two, and so on,
the series is transformed into another of which each
term is zero. Grandi, an Italian Jesuit, concluded
from this the possibility of the creation ; because the
series being always , he saw this fraction spring from
an infinity of zeros or from nothing. It was thus that
Liebnitz believed he saw the image of creation in his
binary arithmetic where he employed only the two
characters, unity and zero. He imagined, since God
can be represented by unity and nothing by zero, that
the Supreme Being had drawn from nothing all beings,
as unity with zero expresses all the numbers in this
system of arithmetic. This idea was so pleasing to
Liebnitz that he communicated it to the Jesuit
Grimaldi, president of the tribunal of methematics in
China, in the hope that this emblem of creation would
convert to Christianity the emperor there who particu-
larly loved the sciences. I report this incident only
to show to what extent the prejudices of infancy can
mislead the greatest men.
17 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
Liebnitz, always led by a singular and very loose
metaphysics, considered that the series plus one, minus
one, plus one, etc., becomes unity or zero according as
one stops at a number of terms odd or even ; and as in
infinity there is no reason to prefer the even number
to the odd, one ought following the rules of probability,
to take the half of the results relative to these two kinds
of numbers, and which are zero and unity, which gives
for the value of the series. Daniel Bernoulli has
since extended this reasoning to the summation of
series formed from periodic terms. But all these series
have no values properly speaking ; they get them only
in the case where their terms are multiplied by the
successive powers of a variable less than unity. Then
these series are always convergent, however small one
supposes the difference of the variable from unity; and
it is easy to demonstrate that the values assigned by
Bernoulli, by virtue of the rule of probabilities, are the
same values of the generative fraction of the series,
when one supposes in these fractions the variable equal
to unity. These values are again the limits which the
series approach more and more, in proportion as the
variable approaches unity. But when the variable is
exactly equal to unity the series cease to be convergent ;
they have values only as far as one arrests them. The
remarkable ratio of this application of the calculus of
probabilities with the limits of the values of periodic
series supposes that the terms of these series are multi-
plied by all the consecutive powers of the variable.
But this series may result from the development of an
infinity of different fractions in which this did not occur.
Thus the series plus one, minus -one, plus one, etc.,
ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES. i?i
may spring from the development of a fraction whose
numerator is unity plus the variable, and whose
denominator is this numerator augmented by the square
of the variable. Supposing the variable equal to unity,
this development changes, in the series proposed, and
the generative fraction becomes equal to f ; the rules
of probabilities would give then a false result, which
proves how dangerous it would be to employ similar
reasoning, especially in the mathematical sciences,
which ought to be especially distinguished by the rigor
of their operations.
We are led naturally to believe that the order
according to which we see things renewed upon the
earth has existed from all times and will continue
always. Indeed if the present state of the universe
were exactly similar to the anterior state which has
produced it, it would give birth in its turn to a similar
state; the succession of these states would then be
eternal. I have found by the application of analysis to
the law of universal gravity that the movement of rota-
tion and of revolution of the planets and satellites, and
the position of the orbits and of their equators are sub-
jected only to periodic inequalities. In comparing With
ancient eclipses the theory of the secular equation of
the moon I have found that since Hipparchus the
duration of the day has not varied by the hundredth of
a second, and that the mean temperature of the earth
has not diminished the one-hundredth of a degree.
Thus the stability of actual order appears established
at the same time by theory and by observations. But
this order is effected by divers causes which an atten-
172 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES,
tive examination reveals, and which it is impossible to
submit to calculus.
The actions of the ocean, of the atmosphere, and of
meteors, of earthquakes, and the eruptions of volcanoes,
agitate continually the surface of the earth and ought
to effect in the long run great changes. The tempera-
ture of climates, the volume of the atmosphere, and the
proportion of the gases which constitute it, may vary in
an inappreciable manner. The instruments and the
means suitable to determine these variations being
new, observation has been unable up to this time to
teach us anything in this regard. But it is hardly
probable that the causes which absorb and renew the
gases constituting the air maintain exactly their respec-
tive proportions. A long series of centuries will show
the alterations which are experienced by all these
elements so essential to the conservation of organized
beings. Although historical monuments do not go
back to a very great antiquity they offer us nevertheless
sufficiently great changes which have come about by
the slow and continued action of natural agents.
Searching in the bowels of the earth one discovers
numerous debris of former nature, entirely different
from the present. Moreover, if the entire earth was in
the beginning fluid, as everything appears to indicate,
one imagines that in passing from that state to the one
which it has now, its surface ought to have experienced
prodigious changes. The heavens itself in spite of the
order of its movements, is not unchangeable. The
resistance of light and of other ethereal fluids, and the
attraction of the stars ought, after a great number of
centuries, to alter considerably the planetary move-
ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES. 173
ments. The variations already observed in the stars
and in the form of the nebulae give us a presentiment
of those which time will develop in the system of these
great bodies. One may represent the successive states
of the universe by a curve, of which time would be the
abscissa and of which the ordinates are the divers
states. Scarcely knowing an element of this curve we
are far from being able to go back to its origin ; and
if in order to satisfy the imagination, always restless
from our ignorance of the cause of the phenomena
which interest it, one ventures some conjectures it is
wise to present them only with extreme reserve.
There exists in the estimation of probabilities a kind
of illusions, which depending especially upon the laws
of the intellectual organization demands, in order to
secure oneself against them, a profound examination
of these laws. The desire to penetrate into the future
and the ratios of some remarkable events, to the predic-
tions of astrologers, of diviners and soothsayers, to
presentiments and dreams, to the numbers and the
days reputed lucky or unlucky, have given birth to a
multitude of prejudices still very widespread. One
does not reflect upon the great number of non-coinci-
dences which have made no impression or which are
unknown. However, it is necessary to be acquainted
with them in order to appreciate the probability of the
causes to which the coincidences are attributed. This
knowledge would confirm without doubt that which
reason tells us in regard to these prejudices. Thus the
philosopher of antiquity to whom is shown in a temple,
in order to exalt the power of the god who is adored
there, the ex veto of all those who after having invoked
174 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
it were saved from shipwreck, presents an incident
consonant with the calculus of probabilities, observing
that he does not see inscribed the names of those who,
in spite of this invocation, have perished. Cicero has
refuted all these prejudices with much reason and
eloquence in his Treatise on Divination, which he ends
by a passage which I shall cite ; for on.e loves to find
again among the ancients the thunderbolts of reason,
which, after having dissipated all the prejudices by its
light, shall become the sole foundation of human insti-
tutions.
"It is necessary," says the Roman orator, "to
reject divination by dreams and all similar prejudices.
Widespread superstition has subjugated the majority
of minds and has taken possession of the feebleness of
men. It is this we have expounded in our books upon
the nature of the gods and especially in this work,
persuaded that we shall render a service to others and
to ourselves if we succeed in destroying superstition.
However (and I desire especially in this regard my
thought be well comprehended), in destroying super-
stition I am far from wishing to disturb religion.
Wisdom enjoins us to maintain the institutions and the
ceremonies of our ancestors, touching the cult of the
gods. Moreover, the beauty of the universe and the
order of celestial things force us to recognize some
superior nature which ought to be remarked and
admired by the human race. But as far as it is proper
to propagate religion, which is joined to the knowledge
of nature, so far it is necessary to work toward the
extirpation of superstition, for it torments one, impor-
tunes one, and pursues one continually and in all places.
ILLUSIONS IN THE ESTIMATION OF PROBABILITIES. i?S
If one consult a diviner or a soothsayer, if one immo-
lates a victim, if one regards the flight of a bird, if one
encounters a Chaldean or an aruspex, if it lightens, if
it thunders, if the thunderbolt strikes, finally, if there
is born or is manifested a kind of prodigy, things one
of which ought often to happen, then superstition
dominates and leaves no repose. Sleep itself, this
refuge of mortals in their troubles and their labors,
becomes by it a new source of inquietude and fear. ' '
All these prejudices and the terrors which they
inspire are connected with physiological causes which
continue sometimes to operate strongly after reason
has disabused us of them. But the repetition of acts
contrary to these prejudices can always destroy them.
CHAPTER XVII.
CONCERNING THE VARIOUS MEANS OF
APPROACHING CERTAINTY.
INDUCTION, analogy, hypotheses founded upon facts
and rectified continually by new observations, a happy
tact given by nature and strengthened by numerous
comparisons of its indications with experience, such
are the principal means for arriving at truth.
If one considers a series of objects of the same
nature one perceives among them and in their changes
ratios which manifest themselves more and more in
proportion as the series is prolonged, and which,
extending and generalizing continually, lead finally to
the principle from which they were derived. But these
ratios are enveloped by so many strange circumstances
that it requires great sagacity to disentangle them and
to recur to this principle: it is in this that the true
genius of sciences consists. Analysis and natural
philosophy owe their most important discoveries to this
fruitful means, which is called inditction. Newton was
indebted to it for his theorem of the binomial and the
principle of universal gravity. It is difficult to appre-
ciate the probability of the results of induction, which is
176
VARIOUS MEANS OF APPROACHING CERTAINTY. i?7
based upon this that the simplest ratios are the most
common ; this is verified in the formulae of analysis and
is found again in natural phenomena, in crystallization,
and in chemical combinations. This simplicity of
ratios will not appear astonishing if we consider that
all the effects of nature are only mathematical results
of a small number of immutable laws.
Yet induction, in leading to the discovery of the
general principles of the sciences, does not suffice to
establish them absolutely. It is always necessary to
confirm them by demonstrations or by decisive experi-
ences; for the history of the sciences shows us that
induction has sometimes led to inexact results. I shall
cite, for example, a theorem of Fermat in regard to
primary numbers. This great geometrician, who had
meditated, profoundly upon this theorem, sought a
formula which, containing only primary numbers, gave
directly a primary number greater than any other
number assignable. Induction led him to think that
two, raised to a power which was itself a power of two,
formed with unity a primary number. Thus, two
raised to the square plus one, forms the primary num-
ber five; two raised to the second power of two, or
sixteen, forms with one the primary number seventeen.
He found that this was still true for the eighth and the
sixteenth power of two augmented by unity; and this
induction, based upon several arithmetical considera-
tions, caused him to regard this result as general.
However, he avowed that he had not demonstrated it.
Indeed, Euler recognized that this does not hold for
the thirty-second power of two, which, augmented by
unity, gives 4,294,967.297, a number divisible by 641.
I? 8 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
We judge by induction that if various events, move-
ments, for example, appear constantly and have been
long connected by a simple ratio, they will continue
to be subjected to it; and we conclude from this, by
the theory of probabilities, that this ratio is due, not to
hazard, but to a regular cause. Thus the equality of
the movements of the rotation and the revolution of
the moon ; that of the movements of the nodes of the
orbit and of the lunar equator, and the coincidence of
these nodes ; the singular ratio of the movements of
the first three satellites of Jupiter, according to which
the mean longitude of the first satellite, less three times
that of the second, plus two times that of the third, is
equal to two right angles ; the equality of the interval
of the tides to that of the passage of the moon to the
meridian ; the return of the greatest tides . with the
syzygies, and of the smallest with the quadratures ; all
these things, which have been maintained since they
were first observed, indicate with an extreme prob-
ability, the existence of constant causes which geome-
tricians have happily succeeded in attaching to the law
of universal gravity, and the knowledge of which
renders certain the perpetuity of these ratios.
The chancellor Bacon, the eloquent promoter of the
true philosophical method, has made a very strange
misuse of induction in order to prove the immobility of
the earth. He reasons thus in the Novum Organum,
his finest work : ' ' The movement of the stars from
the orient to the Occident increases in swiftness, in
proportion to their distance from the earth. This
movement is swiftest with the stars ; it slackens a little
with Saturn, a little more with Jupiter, and so on to
VARIOUS MEANS OF APPROACHING CERTAINT Y. 'i?9
the moon and the highest comets. It is still percepti-
ble in the atmosphere, especially between the tropics,
on account of the great circles which the molecules of
the air describe there ; finally, it is almost inappreciable
with the ocean; it is then nil for the earth." But this
induction proves only that Saturn, and the stars which
are inferior to it, have their own movements, contrary
to the real or apparent movement which sweeps the
whole celestial sphere from the orient to the Occident,
and that these movements appear slower with the more
remote stars, which is conformable to the laws of
optics. Bacon ought to have been struck by the
inconceivable swiftness which the stars require in order
to accomplish their diurnal revolution, if the earth is
immovable, and by the extreme simplicity with which
its rotation explains how bodies so distant, the ones
from the others, as the stars, the sun, the planets, and
the moon, all seem subjected to this revolution. As
to the ocean and to the atmosphere, he ought not to
compare their movement with that of the stars which
are detached from the earth ; but since the air and the
sea make part of the terrestrial globe, they ought to
participate in its movement or in its repose. It is
singular that Bacon, carried to great prospects by his
genius, was not won over by the majestic idea which
the Copernican system of the universe offers. He was
able, however, to find in favor of that system, strong
analogies in the discoveries of Galileo, which were
continued by him. He has given for the search after
truth the precept, but not the example. But by
insisting, with all the force of reason and of eloquence,
upon the necessity of abandoning the insignificant
i8o A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
subtilities of the school, in order to apply oneself to
observations and to experiences, and by indicating the
true method of ascending to the general causes of
phenomena, this great philosopher contributed to the
immense strides which the human mind made in the
grand century in which he terminated his career.
Analogy is based upon the probability, that similar
things have causes of the same kind and produce the
same effects. This probability increase as the simili-
tude becomes more perfect. Thus we judge without
doubt that beings provided with the same organs,
doing the same things, experience the same sensations,
and are moved by the same desires. The probability
that the animals which resemble us have sensations
analogous to ours, although a little inferior to that
which is relative to individuals of our species, is still
exceedingly great; and it has required all the influence
of religious prejudices to make us think with some
philosophers that animals are mere automatons. The
probability of the existence of feeling decreases in the
same proportion as the similitude of the organs with
ours diminishes, but it is always very great, even with
insects. In seeing those of the same species execute
very complicated things exactly in the same manner
from generation to generation, and without having
learned them, one is led to believe that they act by a
kind of affinity analogous to that which brings together
the molecules of crystals, but which, together with the
sensation attached to all animal organization, produces,
with the regularity of chemical combinations, combina-
tions that are much more singular; one might, perhaps,
name this mingling of elective affinities and sensations
VARIOUS MEANS OF APPROACHING CERTAINTY. 181
animal affinity. Although there exists a great analogy
between the organization of plants and that of animals,
it does not seem to me sufficient to extend to vegetables
the sense of feeling ; but nothing authorizes us in deny-
ing it to them.
Since the sun brings forth, bythe beneficent action
of its light and of its heat, the animals and plants
Avhich cover the earth, we judge by analogy that it
produces similar effects upon the other planets ; for it
is not natural to think that the cause whose activity we
see developed in so many ways should be sterile upon
so great a planet as Jupiter, which, like the terrestrial
globe, has its days, its nights, and its years, and upon
which observations indicate changes which suppose
very active forces. Yet this would be giving too great
an extension to analogy to conclude from it the simili-
tude of the inhabitants of the planets and of the earth.
Man, made for the temperature which he enjoys, and
for the element which he breathes, would not be able,
according to all appearance, to live upon the other
planets. But ought there not to be an infinity of
organization relative to the various constitutions of the
globes of this universe ? If the single difference of the
elements and of the climates make so much variety in
terrestrial productions, how much greater the difference
ought to be among those of the various planets and of
their satellites ! The most active imagination can form
no idea of it ; but their existence is very probable.
We are led by a strong analogy to regard the stars
as so many suns endowed, like ours, with an attractive
power proportional to the mass and reciprocal to the
square of the distances ; for this power being demon-
1 82 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
strated for all the bodies of the solar system, and for
their smallest molecules, it appears to appertain to all
matter. Already the movements of the small stars,
which have been called double, on account of their
conjunction, appear to indicate it; a century at most of
precise observations, by verifying their movements of
revolution, the ones about the others, will place beyond
doubt their reciprocal attractions.
The analogy which leads us to make each star the
centre of a planetary system is far less strong than
the preceding one ; but it acquires probability by the
hypothesis which has been proposed in regard to
the formation of the stars and of the sun; for in this
hypothesis each star, having been like the sun, primi-
tively environed by a vast atmosphere, it is natural to
attribute to this atmosphere the same effects as to the
solar atmosphere, and to suppose that it has produced,
in condensing, planets and satellites.
A great number of discoveries in the sciences is due
to analogy. I shall cite as one of the most remarkable,
the discovery of atmospheric electricity, to which one
has been led by the analogy of electric phenomena
with the effects of thunder.
The surest method which can guide us in the search
for truth, consists in rising by induction from phenomena
to laws and from laws to forces. Laws are the ratios
which connect particular phenomena together: when
they have shown the general principle of the forces
from which they are derived, one verifies it either by
direct experiences, when this is possible, or by exami-
nation if it agrees with known phenomena; and if by
a rigorous analysis we see them proceed from this
YAR1OUS MEJNS OF APPROACHING CERTAINTY. 183
principle, even in their small details, and if, moreover,
they are quite varied and very numerous, then science
acquires the highest degree of certainty and of perfec-
tion that it is able to attain. Such, astronomy has
become by the discovery of universal gravity. The
history of the sciences shows that the slow and laborious
path of induction has not always been that of inventors.
The imagination, impatient to arrive at the causes,
takes pleasure in creating hypotheses, and often it
changes the facts in order to adapt them to its work ;
then the hypotheses are dangerous. But when one
regards them only as the means of connecting the
phenomena in order to discover the laws; when, by
refusing to attribute them to a reality, one rectifies
them continually by new observations, they are able
to lead to the veritable causes, or at least put us in a
position to conclude from the phenomena observed
those which given circumstances ought to produce.
If we should try all the hypotheses which can be
formed in regard to the cause of phenomena we should
arrive, by a process of exclusion, at the true one.
This means has been employed with success ; some-
times we have arrived at several hypotheses which
explain equally well all the facts known, and among
which scholars are divided, until decisive observations
have made known the true one. Then it is interesting,
for the history of the human mind, to return to these
hypotheses, to see how they succeed in explaining a
great number of facts, and to investigate the changes
which they ought to undergo in order to agree with the
history of nature. It is thus that the system 01
Ptolemy, which is only the realization of celestial
1 84 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
appearances, is transformed into the hypothesis of the
movement of the planets about the sun, by rendering
equal and parallel to the solar orbit the circles and the
epicycles which he causes to be described annually,
and the magnitude of which he leaves undetermined.
It suffices, then, in order to change this hypothesis into
the true system of the world, to transport the apparent
movement of the sun in a sense contrary to the earth.
It is almost always impossible to submit to calculus
the probability of the results obtained by these various
means ; this is true likewise for historical facts. But
the totality of the phenomena explained, or of the
testimonies, is sometimes such that without being able
to appreciate the probability we cannot reasonably
permit ourselves any doubt in regard to them. In the
other cases it is prudent to admit them only with great
reserve.
CHAPTER XVIII.
HISTORICAL NOTICE CONCERNING THE CAL-
CULUS OF PROBABILITIES.
LONG ago were determined, in the simplest games,
the ratios of the chances which are favorable or
unfavorable to the players; the stakes and the bets
were regulated according to these ratios. But no one
before Pascal and Fermat had given the principles and
the methods for submitting this subject to calculus, and
no one had solved the rather complicated questions of
this kind. It is, then, to these two great geometricians
that we must refer the first elements of the science of
probabilities, the discovery of which can be ranked
among the remarkable things which have rendered
illustrious the seventeenth century the century which
has done the greatest honor to the human mind. The
principal problem which they solved by different
methods, consists, as we have seen, in distributing
equitably the stake among the players, who are sup-
posed to be equally skilful and who agree to stop the
game before it is finished, the condition of play being
that, in order to win the game, one must gain a given
number of points different for each of the players. It
185
1 86 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
is clear that the distribution should be made propor-
tionally to the respective probabilities of the players of
winning this game, the probabilities depending upon
the numbers of points which are still lacking. The
method of Pascal is very ingenious, and is at bottom
only the equation of partial differences of this problem
applied in determining the successive probabilities of
the players, by going from the smallest numbers to the
following ones. This method is limited to the case of
two players; that of Fermat, based upon combinations,
applies to any number of players. Pascal believed at
first that it was, like his own, restricted to two players;
this brought about between them a discussion, at the
conclusion of which Pascal recognized the generality
of the method of Fermat.
Huygens united the divers problems which had
already been solved and added new ones in a little
treatise, the first that has appeared on this subject
and which has the title De Ratiociniis in ludo alece.
Several geometricians have occupied themselves with
the subject since: Hudde, the great pensionary, Witt
in Holland, and Halley in England, applied calculus
to the probabilities of human life, and Halley published
in this field the first table of mortality. About the
same time Jacques Bernoulli proposed to geometricians
various problems of probability, of which he afterwards
gave solutions. Finally he composed his beautiful
work entitled Ars conjcctandi, which appeared seven
years after his death, which occurred in 1706. The
science of probabilities is more profoundly investigated
in this work than in that of Huygens. The author
gives a general theory of combinations and series, and
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 187
applies it to several difficult questions concerning
hazards. This work is still remarkable on account of
the justice and the cleverness of view, the employment
of the formula of the binomial in this kind of questions,
and by the demonstration of this theorem, namely,
that in multiplying indefinitely the observations and
the experiences, the ratio of the events of different
natures approaches that of their respective probabilities
in the limits whose interval becomes more and more
narrow in proportion as they are multiplied, and
become less than any assignable quantity. This
theorem is very useful for obtaining by observations
the laws and the causes of phenomena. Bernoulli
attaches, with reason, a great importance to his demon-
stration, upon which he has said to have meditated for
twenty years.
In the interval, from the death of Jacques Bernoulli
to the publication of his work, Montmort and Moivre
produced two treatises upon the calculus of probabili-
ties. That of Montmort has the title Ess at sur les
Jeux de hasard; it contains numerous applications of
this calculus to various games. The author has added
in the second edition some letters in which Nicolas
Bernoulli gives the ingenious solutions of several diffi-
cult problems. The treatise of Moivre, later than that
of Montmort, appeared at first in the Transactions
pliilosopliiqucs of the year 1711. Then the author
published it separately, and he has improved it succes-
sively in three editions. This work is principally based
upon the formula of the binomial and the problems
which it contains have, like their solutions, a grand
generality. But its distinguishing feature is the theory
1 88 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
of recurrent series and their use in this subject. This
theory is the integration of linear equations of finite
differences with constant coefficients, which Moivre
made in a very happy manner.
In his work, Moivre has taken up again the theory
of Jacques Bernoulli in regard to the probability of
results determined by a great number of observations.
He does not content himself with showing, as Bernoulli
does, that the ratio of the events which ought to occur
approaches without ceasing that of their respective
probabilities; but he gives besides an elegant and
simple expression of the probability that the difference
of these two ratios is contained within the given limits.
For this purpose he determines the ratio of the greatest
term of the development of a very high power of the
binomial to the sum of all its terms, and the hyperbolic
logarithm of the excess of this term above the terms
adjacent to it.
The greatest term being then the product of a con-
siderable number of factors, his numerical calculus
becomes impracticable. In order to obtain it by a
convergent approximation, Moivre makes use of a
theorem of Stirling in regard to the mean term of the
binomial raised to a high power, a remarkable
theorem, especially in this, that it introduces the square
root of the ratio of the circumference to the radius in
an expression which seemingly ought to be irrelevant
to this transcendent. Moreover, Moivre was greatly
struck by this result, which Stirling had deduced from
the expression of the circumference in infinite products ;
Wallis had arrived at this expression by a singlar
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 189
analysis which contains the germ of the very curious
and useful theory of definite intergrals.
Many scholars, among whom one ought to name
Deparcieux, Kersseboom, Wargentin, Dupre de Saint-
Maure, Simpson, Sussmilch, Messene, Moheau, Price,
Bailey, and Duvillard, have collected a great amount
of precise data in regard to population, births, mar-
riages, and mortality. They have given formulae and
tables relative to life annuities, tontines, assurances,
etc. But in this short notice I can only indicate these
useful works in order to adhere to original ideas. Of
this number special mention is due to the mathematical
and moral hopes and to the ingenious principle which
Daniel Bernoulli has given for submitting the latter to
analysis. Such is again the happy application which
he has made of the calculus of probabilities to inocula-
tion. One ought especially to include, in the number
of these original ideas, direct consideration of the
possibility of events drawn from events observed.
Jacques Bernoulli and Moivre supposed these possibili-
ties known, and they sought the probability that the
result of future experiences will more and more nearly
represent them. Bayes, in the Transactions pliiloso-
phiqncs of the year 1763, sought directly the probability
that the possibilities indicated by past experiences are
comprised within given limits; and he has arrived at
this in a refined and very ingenious manner, although
a little perplexing. This subject is connected with the
theory of the probability of causes and future events,
concluded from events observed. Some years later I
expounded the principles of this theory with a remark
as to the influence of the inequalities which may exist
T9 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
among the chances which are supposed to be equal.
Although it is not known which of the simple events
these inequalities favor, nevertheless this ignorance
itself often increases the probability of compound
events.
In generalizing analysis and the problems concern-
ing probabilities, I was led to the calculus of partial
finite differences, which Lagrange has since treated by
a very simple method, elegant applications of which
he has used in this kind of problems. The theory of
generative functions which I published about the same
time includes these subjects among those it embraces,
and is adapted of itself and with the greatest generality
to the most difficult questions of probability. It deter-
mines again, by very convergent approximations, the
values of the functions composed of a great number of
terms and factors ; and in showing that the square root
of the ratio of the circumference to the radius enters
most frequently into these values, it shows that an
infinity of other transcendents may be introduced.
Testimonies, votes, and the decisions of electoral
and deliberative assemblies, and the judgments of
tribunals, have been submitted likewise to the calculus
of probabilities. So many passions, divers interests,
and circumstances complicate the questions relative to
the subjects, that they are almost always insoluble.
But the solution of very simple problems which have a
great analogy with them, may often shed upon difficult
and important questions great light, which the surety
of calculus renders always preferable to the most
specious reasonings.
One of the most interesting applications of the cal-
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 191
culus of probabilities concerns the mean values which
must be chosen among the results of observations.
Many geometricians have studied the subject, and
Lagrange has published in the Memoircs de Turin a
beautiful method for determining these mean values
when the law of the errors of the observations is
known. I have given for the same purpose a method
based upon a singular contrivance which may be
employed with advantage in other questions of analysis;
and this, by permitting indefinite extension in the
whole course of a long calculation of the functions
which ought to be limited by the nature of the
problem, indicates the modifications which each term
of the final result ought to receive by virtue of these
limitations. It has already been seen that each
observation furnishes an equation of condition of the
first degree, which may always be disposed of in such
a manner that all its terms be in the first member, the
second being zero. The use of these equations is one
of the principal causes of the great precision of our
astronomical tables, because an immense number of
excellent observations has thus been made to concur
in determining their elements. When there is only
one element to be determined Cotes prescribed that
the equations of condition should be prepared in such
a manner that the coefficient of the unknown element
be positive in each of them ; and that all these equa-
tions should be added in order to form a final equation,
whence is derived the value of this element. The rule
of Cotes was followed by all calculators, but since he
failed to determine several elements, there \vas no fixed
rule for combining the equations of condition in such a
I9 2 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
manner as to obtain the necessary final equations; but
one chose for each element the observations most suit-
able to determine it. It was in order to obviate these
gropings that Legendre and Gauss concluded to add
the squares of the first members of the equations of
condition, and to render the sum a minimum, by vary-
ing each unknown element; by this means is obtained
directly as many final equations as there are elements.
But do the values determined by these equations merit
the preference over all those which may be obtained
by other means ? This question, the calculus of prob-
abilities alone was able to answer. I applied it, then,
to this subject, and obtained by a delicate analysis a
rule which includes the preceding method, and which
adds to the advantage of giving, by a regular process,
the desired elements that of obtaining them with the
greatest show of evidence from the totality of observa-
tions, and of determining the values which leave only
the smallest possible errors to be feared.
However, we have only an imperfect knowledge of
the results obtained, as long as the law of the errors
of which they are susceptible is unknown; we must be
able to assign the probability that these errors are
contained within given limits, which amounts to deter-
mining that which I have called the weight of a result.
Analysis leads to general and simple formulae for this
purpose. I have applied this analysis to the results of
geodetic observations. The general problem consists
in determining the probabilities that the values of one
or of several linear functions, of the errors of a very
great number of observations are contained within any
limits,
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 193
The law of the possibility of the errors of observa-
tions introduces into the expressions of these prob-
abilities a constant, whose value seems to require the
knowledge of this law, which is almost always
unknown. Happily this constant can be determined
from the observations.
In the investigation of astronomical elements it is
given by the sum of the squares of the differences
between each observation and the calculated one.
The errors equally probable being proportional to the
square root of this sum, one can, by the comparison of
these squares, appreciate the relative exactitude of the
different tables of the same star. In geodetic opera-
tions these squares are replaced by the squares of the
errors of the sums observed of the three angles of each
triangle. The comparison of the squares of these
errors will enable us to judge of the relative precision
of the instruments with which the angles have been
measured. By this comparison is seen the advantage
of the repeating circle over the instruments which it
has replaced in geodesy.
There often exists in the observations many sources
of errors : thus the positions of the stars being deter-
mined by means of the meridian telescope and of the
circle, both susceptible of errors whose law of prob-
ability ought not to be supposed the same, the elements
that are deduced from these positions are affected by
these errors. The equations of condition, which are
made to obtain these elements, contain the errors of
each instrument and they have various coefficients.
The most advantageous system of factors by which
these equations ought to be multiplied respectively, in
194 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
order to obtain, by the union of the products, as many
final equations as there are elements to be determined,
is no longer that of the coefficients of the elements in
each equation of condition. The analysis which I have
used leads easily, whatever the number of the sources
of error may be, to the system of factors which gives
the most advantageous results, or those in which the
same error is less probable than in any other system.
The same analysis determines the laws of probability
of the errors of these results. These formulae contain
as many unknown constants as there are sources of
error, and they depend upon the laws of probability of
these errors. It has been seen that, in the case of a
single source, this constant can be determined by
forming the sum of the squares of the residuals of each
equation of condition, when the values found for these
elements have been substituted. A similar process
generally gives values of these constants, whatever
their number may be, which completes the application
of the calculus of probabilities to the results of observa-
tions.
I ought to make here an important remark. The
small uncertainty that the observations, when they are
not numerous, leave in regard to the values of the
constants of which I have just spoken, renders a little
uncertain the probabilities determined by analysis.
But it almost always suffices to know if the probability,
that the errors of the results obtained are comprised
within narrow limits, approaches closely to unity; and
when it is not, it suffices to know up to what point the
observations should be multiplied, in order to obtain a
probability such that no reasonable doubt remains in
THE CALCULUS OF PROBABILITIES. 195
regard to the correctness of the results. The analytic
formulae of probabilities satisfy perfectly this require-
ment; and in this connection they may be viewed as
the necessary complement of the sciences, based upon
a totality of observations susceptible of error. They
are likewise indispensable in solving a great number of
problems in the natural and moral sciences. The
regular causes of phenomena are most frequently either
unknown, or too complicated to be submitted to cal-
culus; again, their action is often disturbed by accidental
and irregular causes; but its impression always remains
in the events produced by all these causes, and it leads
to modifications which only a long series of observa-
tions can determine. The analysis of probabilities
develops these modifications ; it assigns the probability
of their causes and it indicates the means of continually
increasing this probability. Thus in the midst of the
irregular causes which disturb the atmosphere, the
periodic changes of solar heat, from day to night, and
from winter to summer, produce in the pressure of this
great fluid mass and in the corresponding height of the
barometer, the diurnal and annual oscillations; and
numerous barometric observations have revealed the
former with a probability at least equal to that of the
facts which we regard as certain. Thus it is again
that the series of historical events shows us the con-
stant action of the great principles of ethics in the
midst of the passions and the various interests which
disturb societies in every way. It is remarkable that
a science, which commenced with the consideration of
games of chance, should be elevated to the rank of the
most important subjects of human knowlegdge.
I9 6 A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY ON PROBABILITIES.
I have collected all these methods in my TJieorie
analytique des Probabilite's, in which I have proposed
to expound in the most general manner the principles
and the analysis of the calculus of probabilities, like-
wise the solutions of the most interesting and most
difficult problems which calculus presents.
It is seen in this essay that the theory of probabilities
is at bottom only common sense reduced to calculus;
it makes us appreciate with exactitude that which exact
minds feel by a sort of instinct without being able
ofttimes to give a reason for it. It leaves no arbitrari-
ness in the choice of opinions and sides to be taken ;
and by its use can always be determined the most
advantageous choice. Thereby it supplements most
happily the ignorance and the weakness of the human
mind. If we consider the analytical methods to which
this theory has given birth ; the truth of the principles
which serve as a basis ; the fine and delicate logic
which their employment in the solution of problems
requires ; the establishments of public utility which rest
upon it ; the extension which it has received and which
it can still receive by its application to the most impor-
tant questions of natural philosophy and the moral
science ; if we consider again that, even in the things
which cannot be submitted to calculus, it gives the
surest hints which can guide us in our judgments, and
that it teaches us to avoid the illusions which ofttimes
confuse us, then we shall see that there is no science
more worthy of our meditations, and that no more
useful one could be incorporated in the system of public
instruction.
SHORT-TITLE CATALOGUE
OF THE
PUBLICATIONS
OF
JOHN WILEY & SONS,
NEW YORK.
LOJSDOX: CITAPMAX & HALL. LIMITED.
ARRANGED UNDER SUBJECTS.
Descriptive circulars sent on application.
Books marked with an asterisk are sold at net prices only.
All books are bound in cloth unless otherwise stated.
AGRICULTURE.
Armsby's Manual of Cattle- feeding 12mo, $1 75
Downing's Fruits and Fruit-trees of America 8vo, 5 00
Grotenfelt's Principles of Modern Dairy Practice. (Woll.) . .12mo, 2 00
Kemp's Landscape Gardening 12mo, 2 50
Maynard's Landscape Gardening as Applied to Home Decora-
tion 12mo, 1 50
Stockbridge's Rocks and Soils 8vo, 2 50
Woll's Handbook for Farmers and Dairymen 16mo, 1 50
ARCHITECTURE.
Baldwin's Steam Heating for Buildings 12mo, 2 50
Berg's Buildings and Structures of American Railroads .... 4to, 5 00
Birkmire's Planning and Construction of American Theatres.Svo, 3 00
" Architectural Iron and Steel 8vo, 3 50
" Compound Riveted Girders as Applied in Build-
ings 8vo, 200
" Planning and Construction of High Office Build-
ings 8vo, 3 50
" Skeleton Construction in Buildings 8vo, 3 00
Briggs's Modern American School Buildings 8vo, 4 00'
Carpenter's Heating and Ventilating of Buildings 8vo, 3 00*
Freitag's Architectural Engineering .8vo, 3 50'
" Fireproofing of Steel Buildings 8vo, 2 50
Gerhard's Guide to Sanitary House-inspection 16mo, 1 00
Theatre Fires and Panics 12mo, 1 50
Hatfield's American House Carpenter 8vo, 5 00
Holly's Carpenters' and Joiners' Handbook 18mo, 75
Kidder's Architect's and Builder's Pocket-book.. 16mo, morocco, 4 00
Merrill's Stones for Building and Decoration 8vo, 5 00-
1
Monckton's Stair-building 4to, 4 00
Patton'a Practical Treatise on Foundations 8vo[ 5 00
Siebert and Biggin's Modern Stone-cutting and Masonry .. 8vo, 1 50
Wait's Engineering and Architectural Jurisprudence 8vo, 6 00
Sheep, 6 60
Law of Operations Preliminary to Construction in En-
gineering and Architecture 8vo, 6 00
Sheep, 5 60
*' Law of Contracts 8vo, 3 00
Woodbury's Fire Protection of Mills 8vo, 2 50
Worcester and Atkinson's Small Hospitals, Establishment and
Maintenance, and Suggestions for Hospital Architecture,
with Plans for a Small Hospital 12mo, 1 25
The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 Large 4to, 1 00
ARMY AND NAVY.
Bernadou's Smokeless Powder, Nitro-cellulose, and the Theory
of the Cellulose Molecule 12mo, 2 50
* Bruff's Text-book of Ordnance and Gunnery 8vo, 6 00
'Chase's Screw Propellers and Marine Propulsion 8vo, 3 00
Craig's Azimuth 4to, 3 50
Crehore and Squire's Polarizing Photo-chronograph 8vo, 3 00
Cronkhite's Gunnery for Non-commissioned Officers..24mo, mor., 2 00
* Davis's Elements of Law 8vo, 2 50
* " Treatise on the Military Law of United States. . .8vo, 7 00
Sheep, 7 50
De Brack's Cavalry Outpost Duties. (Carr.) 24mo, morocco, 2 00
Dietz's Soldier's First Aid Handbook 16mo, morocco, 1 25
* Dredge's Modern French Artillery 4to, half morocco, 15 00
Durand's Resistance and Propulsion of Ships 8vo, 5 00
* Dyer's Handbook of Light Artillery 12mo, 3 00
TSissler's Modern High Explosives 8vo, 4 00
* Fiebeger's Text-book on Field Fortification Small 8vo, 2 00
* Hoff's Elementary Naval Tactics 8vo, 1 50
Ingalls's Handbook of Problems in Direct Fire 8vo, 4 00
* " Ballistic Tables 8vo, 1 50
Lyons's Treatise on Electromagnetic Phenomena 8vo, 6 00
*Mahan's Permanent Fortifications. (Mercur"s.).8vo, half mor. 7 50
Manual for Courts-martial 16mo, morocco, 1 50
* Mercur's Attack of Fortified Places 12mo, 2 00
* " Elements of the Art of War 8vo, 4 00
Metcalfe's Cost of Manufactures And the Administration of
Workshops, Public and Private 8vo, 5 00
" Ordnance and Gunnery 12mo, 5 00
Murray's Infantry Drill Regulations 18mo, paper, 10
* Phelps's Practical Marine Surveying 8vo, 2 50
Powell's Army Officer's Examiner 12mo, 4 00
2
Sharpe's Art of Subsisting Armies in War 18mo, morocco, 1 50
Walke's Lectures on Explosives 8vo, 4 00
* Wheeler's Siege Operations and Military Mining 8vo, 2 00
Winthrop's Abridgment of Military Law 12mo, 2 50
Woodhull's Notes on Military Hygiene 16mo, 1 50
Young's Simple Elements of Navigation 16mo, morocco, 1 00
Second Edition, Enlarged and Revised 16mo, mor., 2 00
ASSAYING.
Fletcher's Practical Instructions in Quantitative Assaying with
the Blowpipe 12mo, morocco, 1 50
Furman's Manual of Practical Assaying 8vo, 3 00
Miller's Manual of Assaying 12mo, 1 00
O'Driscoll's Notes on the Treatment of Gold Ores 8vo, 2 00
Ricketts and Miller's Notes on Assaying 8vo, 3 00
Wilson's Cyanide Processes 12mo, 1 50
" Chlorination Process 12mo, 1 50
ASTRONOMY.
Craig's Azimuth 4to, 3 50
Doolittle's Treatise on Practical Astronomy 8vo, 4 00
Gore's Elements of Geodesy 8vo, 2 50
Hayford's Text-book of Geodetic Astronomy 8vo, 3 00
Merriman'a Elements of Precise Surveying and Geodesy .... 8vo, 2 50
* Michie and Harlow's Practical Astronomy 8vo, 3 00
* White's Elements of Theoretical and Descriptive Astronomy.
12mo, 2 00
BOTANY.
Baldwin's Orchids of New England Small 8vo, 1 50
Davenport's Statistical Methods, with Special Reference to Bio-
logical Variation 16mo, morocco, 1 25
ThornS and Bennett's Structural and Physiological Botany.
16mo, 2 25
Westermaier's Compendium of General Botany. (Schneider.) 8 vo, 2 00
CHEMISTRY.
Adriance's Laboratory Calculations and Specific Gravity Tables,
12mo, 1 25
Allen's Tables for Iron Analysis 8vo, 3 00
Arnold's Compendium of Chemistry. (Mandel.) (In preparation.)
Austen's Notes for Chemical Students 12mo, 1 50
Bernadou's Smokeless Powder. Nitro-cellulose, and Theory of
the Cellulose Molecule 12mo, 2 50
Bolton's Quantitative Analysis 8vo, 1 50
Brush and Penfield's Manual of Determinative Mineralogy..8vo, 4 00
Classen's Quantitative Chemical Analysis by Electrolysis. (Her-
rick Boltwood.) 8vo, 800
Cohn's Indicators and Test-papers 12ino, 2 00
Craft's Short Course in Qualitative Chemical Analysis. (Schaef-
fer.) 12mo, 2 00
Drechsel's Chemical Reactions. (Merrill.) 12mo, 125
Eissler's Modern High Explosives 8vo, 4 00
Effront's Enzymes and their Applications. (Prescott.) (In preparation.)
Erdmann's Introduction to Chemical Preparations. (Dunlap.)
12mo, 1 25
Fletcher's Practical Instructions in Quantitative Assaying with
the Blowpipe 12mo, morocco, 1 50
Fresenius's Manual of Qualitative Chemical Analysis. (Wells.)
8vo, 5 00
System of Instruction in Quantitative Chemical
Analysis. (Allen.) 8vo, 6 00
Fuertes's Water and Public Health 12mo, 1 50
Furman's Manual of Practical Assaying 8vo, 3 00
Gill's Gas and Fuel Analysis for Engineers 12mo, 1 25
Grotenfelt's Principles of Modern Dairy Practice. (Woll.) . . 12mo, 2 00
Hammarsten's Text-book of Physiological Chemistry. (Mandel.)
8vo, 4 00
Helm's Principles of Mathematical Chemistry. (Morgan.) . 12mo, 1 50
Holleman's Text-book of Inorganic Chemistry. (Cooper.)
(In preparation.)
Hopkins's Oil-chemists' Handbook 8vo, 3 00
Keep's Cast Iron. (In preparation.)
Ladd's Manual of Quantitative Chemical Analysis 12mo, 1 00
Landauer's Spectrum Analysis. (Tingle.) 8vo, 3 06
Lassar-Cohn's Practical Urinary Analysis. (Lorenz.) (In preparation.)
L6"b's Electrolysis and Electrosynthesis of Organic Compounds.
(Lorenz.) 12mo, 1 00
Mandel's Handbook for Bio-chemical Laboratory 12mo, 1 50
Mason's Water-supply. (Considered Principally from a Sani-
tary Standpoint.) 8vo, 5 00
" Examination of Water. (Chemical and Bacterio-
logical.) 12mo, 1 25
Meyer's Determination of Radicles in Carbon Compounds.
(Tingle.) 12mo, 1 00
Miller's Manual of Assaying 12mo, 1 00
Mixter's Elementary Text-book of Chemistry 12mo, 1 50
Morgan's Outline of Theory of Solution and its Results. . .12mo, 1 00
" Elements of Physical Chemistry 12mo, 2 00
Nichols's Water-supply. (Considered mainly from a Chemical
and Sanitary Standpoint, 1883.) 8vo, 2 50
O'Brine's Laboratory Guide in Chemical Analysis 8vo, 2 00
O'Driscoll's Notes on the Treatment of Gold Ores 8vo, 2 00
Ost and Kolbeck's Text-book of Chemical Technology. (Lor-
enz Bozart.) (In preparation.)
4
* Penfield's Notes on Determinative Mineralogy and Record of
Mineral Tests 8vo, paper, 50
Pinner's Introduction to Organic Chemistry. (Austen.) . . .12mo, 1 50
Poole's Calorific Power of Fuels 8vo, 3 00
* Reisig's Guide to Piece-dyeing 8vo, 25 00
Richards and Woodman's Air, Water, and Food from a Sanitary
Standpoint 8vo, 2 00
Richards's Cost of Living as Modified by Sanitary Science. 12mo, 1 00
Cost of Food, a Study in Dietaries 12mo, 1 00
Ricketts and Russell's Skeleton Notes upon Inorganic Chem-
istry. (Parti. Non-metallic Elements.). .8vo, morocco, 75
Ricketts and Miller's Notes on Assaying 8vo, 3 00
Rideal's Sewage and the Bacterial Purification of Sewage. .8vo, 3 50
Ruddiman's Incompatibilities in Prescriptions 8vo, 2 00
Schimpf's Text-book of Volumetric Analysis 12mo, 2 50
Spencer's Handbook for Chemists of Beet-sugar Houses.
16mo, morocco, 3 00
Handbook for Sugar Manufacturers and their Chem-
ists 16mo, morocco, 2 00
Stockbridge's Rocks and Soils 8vo, 2 50
* Tillman's Elementary Lessons in Heat 8vo, 1 50
" Descriptive General Chemistry 8vo, 3 00
Turneaure and Russell's Public Water-supplies 8vo, 5 00
Van Deventer's Physical Chemistry for Beginners. (Boltwood.)
12mo, 1 50
Walke's Lectures on Explosives 8vo, 4 00
Wells's Laboratory Guide in Qualitative Chemical Analysis.
..8vo, 1 50
" Short Course in Inorganic Qualitative Chemical Analy-
sis for Engineering Students 12mo, 1 50
Whipple's Microscopy of Drinking-water 8vo, 3 50
Wiechmann's Sugar Analysis Small 8vo, 2 50
Lecture-notes on Theoretical Chemistry. .. .12mo, 3 00
Wilson's Cyanide Processes 12mo, 1 50
" Chlorination Process 12mo, 1 50
Wulling's Elementary Course in Inorganic Pharmaceutical and
Medical Chemistry 12mo, 2 00
CIVIL ENGINEERING.
BRIDGES AND ROOFS. HYDRAULICS. MATERIALS OF
ENGINEERING. RAILWAY ENGINEERING.
Baker's Engineers' Surveying Instruments 12mo, 3 00
Bixby's Graphical Computing Table Paper, 19x24 inches. 25
Davis's Elevation and Stadia Tables 8vo, 1 00
FolwelPs Sewerage. (Designing and Maintenance.) 8vo, 3 00
Freitag's Architectural Engineering 8vo, 3 50
5
Goodhue's Municipal Improvements 12mo, 1 75
Goodrich 'a Economic Disposal of Towns' Refuse 8vo, 3 50
Gore's Elements of Geodesy 8vo, 2 50
Hayford's Text-book of Geodetic Astronomy 8vo, 3 00
Howe's Retaining-walls for Earth 12mo, 1 25
Johnson's Theory and Practice of Surveying Small 8vo, 4 00
" Stadia and Earth-work Tables 8vo, 1 25
Kiersted's Sewage Disposal 12mo, 1 25
Mahan's Treatise on Civil Engineering. (1873.) (Wood.) . .8vo, 5 00
* Mahan's Descriptive Geometry 8vo, 1 50
Merriman's Elements of Precise Surveying and Geodesy 8vo, 2 50
Merriman and Brooks's Handbook for Surveyors 16mo, mor., 2 00-
Merriman's Elements of Sanitary Engineering 8vo, 2 00
Nugent's Plane Surveying. (In preparation.)
Ogden's Sewer Design 12mo, 2 00
Patton's Treatise on Civil Engineering 8vo, half leather, 7 50
Reed's Topographical Drawing and Sketching 4to, 5 00-
Rideal's Sewage and the Bacterial Purification of Sewage. .8vo, 3 50
Siebert and Biggin's Modern Stone-cutting and Masonry .. 8vo, 1 50
Smith's Manual of Topographical Drawing. (McMillan.) . .8vo, 2 50
Trau twine's Civil Engineer's Pocket-book 16mo, morocco, 5 00
Wait's Engineering and Architectural Jurisprudence 8vo, 6 00
Sheep, 6 50
" Law of Operations Preliminary to Construction in En-
gineering and Architecture 8vo, 5 00
Sheep, 5 50
" Law of Contracts 8vo, 3 00
Warren's Stereotomy Problems in Stone-cutting 8vo, 250
Webb's Problems in the Use and Adjustment of Engineering
Instruments 16mo, morocco, 1 25
* Wheeler's Elementary Course of Civil Engineering 8vo, 4 00
Wilson's Topographic Surveying 8vo, 3 50
BRIDGES AND EOOFS.
Boiler's Practical Treatise on the Construction of Iron Highway
Bridges 8vo, 2 00
* Boiler's Thames River Bridge 4to, paper, 5 (XX
Burr's Course on the Stresses in Bridges and Roof Trusses,
Arched Ribs, and Suspension Bridges 8vo, 3 50
Du Bois's Stresses in Framed Structures Small 4to, 10 00
Foster's Treatise on Wooden Trestle Bridges 4to,
Fowler's Coffer-dam Process for Piers 8vo,
Greene's Roof Trusses 8vo,
" Bridge Trusses 8vo,
" Arches in Wood, Iron, and Stone 8vo,
Howe's Treatise on Arches 8vo,
6
Johnson, Bryan and Tumeaure's Theory and Practice in the
Designing of Modern Framed Structures Small 4to, 10 00
Merriman and Jacoby's Text-book on Roofs and Bridges:
Part I. Stresses in Simple Trusses 8vo, 2 50
Part II.-Graphic Statics 8vo, 2 00
Part III. Bridge Design. Fourth Ed. (In preparation.) . .8vo, 2 60
Part IV. Higher Structures 8vo, 2 50
Moriscm's Memphis Bridge 4to, 10 00*
Waddell's De Pontibus, a Pocket Book for Bridge Engineers.
16mo, mor., 3 00
Specifications for Steel Bridges 12mo, 1 25
Wood's Treatise on the Theory of the Construction of Bridges
and Roofs 8vo, 2 00
Wright's Designing of Draw-spans:
Part I. Plate-girder Draws 8vo, 2 50
Part II. Riveted-truss and Pin-connected Long-span Draws.
8vo, 2 50
Two parts in one volume .' 8vo, 3 50
HYDRAULICS.
Bazin's Experiments upon the Contraction of the Liquid Vein
Issuing from an Orifice. (Trau twine.) 8vo,
Bovey's Treatise on Hydraulics 8vo,
Church's Mechanics of Engineering 8vo,
Coffin's Graphical Solution of Hydraulic Problems . . 16mo, mor.,
Flather's Dynamometers, and the Measurement of Power. 12mo,
Fol well's Water-supply Engineering 8vo,
Frizell's Water-power 8vo,
Fuertes's Water and Public Health 12mo,
" Water-filtration Works 12mo,
Ganguillet and Kutter's General Formula for the Uniform
Flow of Water in Rivers and Other Channels. (Her-
ing and Trautwine.) 8vo, 4 00
Hazen's Filtration of Public Water-supply 8vo, 3 00
Hazleurst's Towers and Tanks for Water-works 8vo, 2 50
Herschel's 115 Experiments on the Carrying Capacity of Large,
Riveted, Metal Conduits 8vo, 2 00
Mason's Water-supply. (Considered Principally from a Sani-
tary Standpoint.) 8vo, 5 00'
Merriman's Treatise on Hydraulics 8vo, 4 OO
* Michie's Elements of Analytical Mechanics 8vo, 4 00
Schuyler's Reservoirs for Irrigation, Water-power, and Domestic
Water-supply Large 8vo, 5 00
Turneaure and Russell. Public Water-supplies 8vo, 5 00
Wegmann's Design and Construction of Dams 4to, 5 00
" Water-supply of the City of New York from 1658 to
1895 4to, 10 00
Weisbach's Hydraulics and Hydraulic Motors. (Du Bois.) . .8vo, 5 00
Wilson's Manual of Irrigation Engineering Small 8vo, 4 00
Wolff's Windmill as a Prime Mover 8vo, 3 00
Wood's Turbines 8vo, 2 50
" Elements of Analytical Mechanics 8vo, 3 00
MATERIALS OF ENGINEERING.
Baker's Treatise on Masonry Construction 8vo, 500
Black's United States Public Works Oblong 4to, 5 OO
Bovey's Strength of Materials and Theory of Structures 8vo, 7 50>
Burr's Elasticity and Resistance of the Materials of Engineer-
ing ,..8vo, 500
Byrne's Highway Construction 8vo, 5 00
" Inspection of the Materials and Workmanship Em-
ployed in Construction 16mo, 3 00
Church's Mechanics of Engineering 8vo, 6 00
Du Bois's Mechanics of Engineering. Vol. I Small 4to, 10 00
Johnson's Materials of Construction Large 8vo, 6 00
Keep's Cast Iron. (In preparation.)
Lanza's Applied Mechanics 8vo, 7 50
Martens's Handbook on Testing Materials. (Henning.)
2 vols , 8vo, 7 50
Merrill's Stones for Building and Decoration '. .8vo, 5 00
Merriman's Text-book on the Mechanics of Materials 8vo, 4 00
Merriman's Strength of Materials 12ino, 1 00
Metealf s Steel. A Manual for Steel-users 12mo, 2 00
Patton's Practical Treatise on Foundations 8vo, 5 00
Rockwell's Roads and Pavements in France 12mo, 1 25
Smith's Wire: Its Use and Manufacture Small 4to, 3 00
Spalding's Hydraulic Cement 12mo, 2 00
" Text-book on Roads and Pavements 12mo, 2 00
Thurston's Materials of Engineering 3 Parts, 8vo, 8 00
Part I. Non-metallic Materials of Engineering and Metal-
lurgy 8vo, 200
Part II. Iron and Steel 8vo, 3 50
Part III. A Treatise on Brasses, Bronzes and Other Alloys
and Their Constituents 8vo, 2 50
Thurston's Text-book of the Materials of Construction 8vo, 5 00
Tillson's Street Pavements and Paving Materials 8vo, 4 00
Waddell's De Pontibus. (A Pocket-book for Bridge Engineers.)
16mo, morocco, 3 00
Specifications for Steel Bridges 12mo, 1 25
Wood's Treatise on the Resistance of Materials, and an Ap-
pendix on the Preservation of Timber 8vo, 2 00
" Elements of Analytical Mechanics 8vo, 3 00
RAILWAY ENGINEERING.
Berg's Buildings and Structures of American Railroads. .4to, 5 00
Brooks's Handbook of Street Railroad Location. . 16mo, morocco, 1 50
Butts's Civil Engineer's Field-book 16mo, morocco, 2 50
CrandalPs Transition Curve 16mo, morocco, 1 50
Railway and Other Earthwork Tables 8vo, 1 50
Dawson's Electric Railways and Tramways. Small 4to, half mor., 12 50
" Engineering " and Electric Traction Pocket-book.
16mo, morocco, 4 00
Dredge's History of the Pennsylvania Railroad: (1879.) .Paper, 5 00
* Drinker's Tunneling, Explosive Compounds, and Rock Drills.
4to, half morocco, 25 00
Fisher's Table of Cubic Yards Cardboard, 25
Godwin's Railroad Engineers' Field-book and Explorers' Guide.
16mo, morocco, 2 50
Howard's Transition Curve Field-book 16mo, morocco, 1 50
Hudson's Tables for Calculating the Cubic Contents of Exca-
vations and Embankments 8vo, 1 00
Nagle's Field Manual for Railroad Engineers 16mo, morocco, 3 00
Philbrick's Field Manual for Engineers 16mo, morocco, 3 00
Pratt and Alden's Street-railway Road-bed 8vo, 2 00
Searles's Field Engineering 16mo, morocco, 3 00
Railroad Spiral 16mo, morocco, 1 50
Taylor's Prismoidal Formulae and Earthwork 8vo, 1 50
* Trautwine's Method of Calculating the Cubic Contents of Ex-
cavations and Embankments by the Aid of Dia-
grams 8vo, 2 00
* " The Field Practice of Laying Out Circular Curves
for Railroads 12mo, morocco, 2 50
Cross-section Sheet Paper, 25
Webb's Railroad Construction 8vo, 4 00
Wellington's Economic Theory of the Location of Railways. .
Small 8vo, 5 00
DRAWING.
Barr's Kinematics of Machinery 8vo, 2 50
* Bartlett's Mechanical Drawing 8vo, 3 00
Durley's Elementary Text-book of the Kinematics of Machines.
. (In preparation.)
Hill's Text-book on Shades and Shadows, and Perspective. . 8vo, 2 00
Jones's Machine Design:
Part I. Kinematics of Machinery 8vo, 1 50
Part II. Form, Strength and Proportions of Parts 8vo, 3 00
MacCord's Elements of Descriptive Geometry 8vo, 3 00
" Kinematics; or, Practical Mechanism 8vo, 5 00
" Mechanical Drawing 4to, 4 00
Velocity Diagrams 8vo, 1 50
* Mahan's Descriptive Geometry and Stone-cutting 8vo, 1 50
Mahan's Industrial Drawing. (Thompson.) 8vo, 3 50
Reed's Topographical Drawing and Sketching 4to, 5 00
Reid's Course in Mechanical Drawing 8vo, 2 00
" Text-book of Mechanical Drawing and Elementary Ma-
chine Design 8vo, 3 00
Robinson's Principles of Mechanism 8vo, 3 00
Smith's Manual of Topographical Drawing. (McMillan.) .8vo, 2 50
Warren's Elements of Plane and Solid Free-hand Geometrical
Drawing 12mo, 1 00
Drafting Instruments and Operations 12mo, 1 25
Manual of Elementary Projection Drawing. .. .12mo, 1.50
" Manual of Elementary Problems in the Linear Per-
spective of Form and Shadow 12mo, 1 00
" Plane Problems in Elementary Geometry 12mo, 1 25
" Primary Geometry 12mo, 75
" Elements of Descriptive Geometry, Shadows, and Per-
spective 8vo, 3 50
" General Problems of Shades and Shadows 8vo, 3 00
" Elements of Machine Construction and Drawing. .8vo, 7 50
" Problems, Theorems, and Examples in Descriptive
Geometry 8vo, 2 50
Weisbach's Kinematics and the Power of Transmission. (Herr-
mann and Klein.) 8vo, 5 00
Whelpley's Practical Instruction in the Art of Letter En-
graving 12mo, 2 00
"Wilson's Topographic Surveying 8vo, 3 50
Wilson's Free-hand Perspective 8vo, 2 50
Woolf's Elementary Course in Descriptive Geometry. .Large 8vo, 3 00
9
ELECTRICITY AND PHYSICS.
Anthony and Brackett'a Text-book of Physics. (Magie.)
Small 8vo, 3 00
Anthony's Lecture-notes on the Theory of Electrical Measur-
ments 12mo, 1 00
Benjamin's History of Electricity 8vo, 300
Benjamin's Voltaic Cell 8vo, 3 00
Classen's Qantitative Chemical Analysis by Electrolysis. Her-
rick and Boltwood.) 8vo, 3 00
Crehore and Squier's Polarizing Photo-chronograph 8vo, 3 00
Dawson'g Electric Railways and Tramways.. Small 4to, half mor., 12 50
Dawson's " Engineering " and Electric Traction Pocket-book.
16mo, morocco, 4 00
Slather's Dynamometers, and the Measurement of Power. . 12mo, 3 00
Gilbert's De Magnete. (Mottelay.) 8vo, 2 50
Holman's Precision of Measurements 8vo, 2 00
" Telescopic Mirror-scale Method, Adjustments, and
Tests Large 8vo, 75
Landauer's Spectrum Analysis. (Tingle.) 8vo, 3 00
Le Chatelier's High- temperature Measurements. (Boudouard
Burgess.) 12mo, 3 00
LOb's Electrolysis and Electrosynthesis of Organic Compounds.
(Lorenz.) 12mo, 1 00
Lyons's Treatise on Electromagnetic Phenomena 8vo, 6 00
*Michie. Elements of Wave Motion Relating to Sound and
Light 8vo, 4 00
Niaudet's Elementary Treatise on Electric Batteries (Fish-
back.) 12mo, 250
* Parshall and Hobart's Electric Generators-Small 4to, half mor., 10 00
Thurston's Stationary Steam-engines 8vo, 2 50
* Tillman. Elementary Lessons in Heat 8vo, 1 50
Tory and Pitcher. Manual of Laboratory Physics. .Small 8vo, 2 00
LAW.
* Davis. Elements of Law 8vo, 2 50
* " Treatise on the Military Law of United States. .8vo, 7 00
* Sheep, 7 50
Manual for Courts-martial 16mo, morocco, 1 50
Wait's Engineering and Architectural Jurisprudence 8vo, 6 00
Sheep, 6 50
" Law of Operations Preliminary to Construction in En-
gineering and Architecture 8vo, 5 00
Sheep, 5 50
" Law of Contracts 8vo, 3 00
Winthrop's Abridgment of Military Law 12mo, 25ft
MANUFACTURES.
Beaumont's Woollen and Worsted Cloth Manufacture 12mo, 1 50
Bernadou's Smokeless Powder Nitro-cellulose and Theory of
the Cellulose Molecule I2mo, 2 50
Bolland's Iron Founder 12mo, cloth, 2 50
" The Iron Founder " Supplement 12mo, 2 50
" Encyclopedia of Founding and Dictionary of Foundry
Terms Used in the Practice of Moulding 12mo, 3 00
Blaster's Modern High Explosives 8vo, 4 00
Effront's Enzymes and their Applications. (Prescott.) (In preparation.)
Fitzgerald's Boston Machinist 18mo, 1 00>
10
Ford's Boiler Making for Boiler Makers 18mo, 1 00
Hopkins's Oil-chemists' Handbook 8vo, 3 00
Keep's Cast Iron. (In preparation.)
Metcalf's Steel. A Manual for Steel-users 12mo, 2 00
Metcalfs Cost of Manufactures And the Administration of
Workshops, Public and Private 8vo, 5 00
Meyer's Modern Locomotive Construction 4to, 10 00
* Reisig's Guide to Piece-dyeing 8vo, 25 00
Smith's Press-working of Metals 8vo, 3 00
" Wire: Its Use and Manufacture Small 4to, 3 00
Spalding's Hydraulic Cement 12mo, 2 00
Spencer's Handbook for Chemists of Beet-sugar Houses.
16mo, morocco, 3 00
" Handbook for Sugar Manufacturers and their Chem-
ists 16mo, morocco, 2 00
Thurston's Manual of Steam-boilers, their Designs, Construc-
tion and Operation 8vo, 5 00
Walke's Lectures on Explosives 8vo, 4 00
West's American Foundry Practice 12mo, 2 50
" Moulder's Text-book 12mo, 2 50
Wiechmann's Sugar Analysis Small 8vo, 2 50
Wolff's Windmill as a Prime Mover 8vo, 3 00
Woodbury's Fire Protection of Mills 8vo, 2 5O
MATHEMATICS.
Baker's Elliptic Functions 8vo, 1 50
* Bass's Elements of Differential Calculus 12mo, 4 00
Briggs's Elements of Plane Analytic Geometry 12mo, 00
Chapman's Elementary Course in Theory of Equations . . . 12mo, 5O
Compton's Manual of Logarithmic Computations 12mo, 1 50
Da vis's Introduction to the Logic of Algebra 8vo, 5O
Halsted's Elements of Geometry 8vo, 75-
" Elementary Synthetic Geometry 8vo, 50
Johnson's Three-place Logarithmic Tables : Vest-pocket size, pap., 15-
100 copies for 5 00
Mounted on heavy cardboard, 8 X 10 inches, 25-
10 copies for 2 OO
" Elementary Treatise on the Integral Calculus.
Small 8vo, 1 50
" Curve Tracing in Cartesian Co-ordinates 12mo, 1 OO
" Treatise on Ordinary and Partial Differential
Equations Small 8vo, 3 5O
" Theory of Errors and the Method of Least
Squares 12mo, 1 50
* " Theoretical Mechanics 12mo, 3 OO
* Ludlow and Bass. Elements of Trigonometry and Logarith-
mic and Other Tables 8vo, 3 00
" Trigonometry. Tables published separately. .Each, 2 OO
Merriman and Woodward. Higher Mathematics 8vo, 5 00
Merriman's Method of Least Squares 8vo, 2 Ofc
Rice and Johnson's Elementary Treatise on the Differential
Calculus Small 8vo, 3 OOi
Differential and Integral Calculus. 2 vols.
in one Small 8vo, 2 50>
Wood's Elements of Co-ordinate Geometry 8vo, 2 OO
" Trigometry: Analytical, Plane, and Spherical 12mo, 1 OO;
11
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING.
MATERIALS OF ENGINEERING, STEAM ENGINES
AND BOILERS.
Baldwin's Steam Heating for Buildings 12mo, 2 50
Barr's Kinematics of Machinery 8vo, 2 50
* Bartlett's Mechanical Drawing 8vo, 3 00
Benjamin's Wrinkles and Recipes 12mo, 2 00
Carpenter's Experimental Engineering 8vo, 6 00
Heating and Ventilating Buildings 8vo, 3 00
Clerk's Gas and Oil Engine Small 8vo, 4 00
Cromwell's Treatise on Toothed Gearing 12mo, 1 50
Treatise on Belts and Pulleys 12mo, 1 50
Durley's Elementary Text-book of the Kinematics of Machines.
(In preparation.)
Flatness Dynamometers, and the Measurement of Power . . 12mo, 3 00
Rope Driving 12mo, 2 00
<3ilPs Gas an Fuel Analysis for Engineers 12mo, 1 25
Hall's Car Lubrication 12mo, 1 00
Jones's Machine Design:
Part I. Kinematics of Machinery 8vo, 1 50
Part II. Form, Strength and Proportions of Parts 8vo, 3 08
Kent's Mechanical Engineers' Pocket-book. .. .16mo, morocco, 500
Xerr's Power and Power Transmission. (In preparation.)
MacCord's Kinematics; or, Practical Mechanism 8vo, 5 00
Mechanical Drawing 4to, 4 00
" Velocity Diagrams 8vo, 1 50
Mahan's Industrial Drawing. (Thompson.) 8vo, 3 50
Poole's Calorific Power of Fuels 8vo, 3 00
Reid's Course in Mechanical Drawing. 8vo, 2 00
" Text-book of Mechanical Drawing and Elementary
Machine Design 8vo, 3 00
Richards's Compressed Air 12mo, 1 50
Robinson's Principles of Mechanism 8vo, 3 00
Smith's Press-working of Metals 8vo, 3 00
ThTirston's Treatise on Friction and Lost Work in Machin-
ery and Mill Work 8vo, 3 00
" Animal as a Machine and Prime Motor and the
Laws of Energetics 12mo, 1 00
"Warren's Elements of Machine Construction and Drawing. .8vo, 7 50
"Weisbach's Kinematics and the Power of Transmission. (Herr-
mannKlein.) 8vo, 5 00
" Machinery of Transmission and Governors. (Herr-
mannKlein.) 8vo, 5 00
" Hydraulics and Hydraulic Motors. (Du Bois.) .8vo, 5 00
"Wolff's Windmill as a Prime Mover 8vo, 3 00
Wood's Turbines 8vo, 2 50
MATERIALS OF ENGINEERING.
Bovey's Strength of Materials and Theory of Structures. .8 vo, 7 50
Burr's Elasticity and Resistance of the Materials of Engineer-
ing 8vo, 5 00
Church's Mechanics of Engineering 8vo, 6 00
Johnson's Materials of Construction Large 8vo, 6 00
Keep's Cast Iron. (In preparation.)
Lanza's Applied Mechanics 8vo, 7 50
Martens's Handbook on Testing Materials. (Henning.) 8vo, 7 50
Merriman's Text-book on the Mechanics of Materials 8vo, 4 00
Strength of Materials 12mo, 1 00
1-3
Metcalf's Steel. A Manual for Steel-users 12nio, 2 OO
Smith's Wire: Its Use and Manufacture Small 4to, 3 OO
Thurston's Materials of Engineering 3 vols., 8vo, 8 00
Part II. Iron and Steel 8vo, 3 5O
Part III. A Treatise on Brasses, Bronzes and Other Alloys
and their Constituents 8vo, 2 50
Thurston's Text-book of the Materials of Construction. . . .8vo, 5 00
Wood's Treatise on the Resistance of Materials and an Ap-
pendix on the Preservation of Timber 8vo, 2 00
" Elements of Analytical Mechanics 8vo, 3 00-
STEAM ENGINES AND BOILERS.
Carnot's Reflections on the Motive Power of Heat. (Thurston.)
12mo, 1 5O
Dawson's " Engineering " and Electric Traction Pocket-book.
16mo, morocco, 4 00
Ford's Boiler Making for Boiler Makers 18mo, 1 00
Hemenway's Indicator Practice and Steam-engine Economy.
12mo, 2 00
Hutton's Mechanical Engineering of Power Plants 8vo, 5 00
" Heat and Heat-engines 8vo, 5 00
Kent's Steam-boiler Economy 8vo, 4 00
Kneass's Practice and Theory of the Injector 8vo, 1 60
MacCord's Slide-valves 8vo, 2 00
Meyer's Modern Locomotive Construction 4to, 10 00
Peabody's Manual of the Steam-engine Indicator 12mo, 1 50
" Tables of the Properties of Saturated Steam and
Other Vapors 8vo, 1 00
" Thermodynamics of the Steam-engine and Other
Heat-engines 8vo, 5 00
" Valve-gears for Steam-engines 8vo, 2 50
Peabody and Miller. Steam-boilers 8vo, 4 00
Pray's Twenty Years with the Indicator Large 8vo, 2 50
Pupin's Thermodynamics of Reversible Cycles in Gases and
Saturated Vapors. (Osterberg.) 12mo, 1 25
Reagan's Locomotive Mechanism and Engineering 12mo, 2 00
Rontgen's Principles of Thermodynamics. (Du Bois.) . . . .8vo, 5 00
Sinclair's Locomotive Engine Running and Management. .12mo, 2 00
Smart's Handbook of Engineering Laboratory Practice. .12mo, 2 50
Snow'a Steam-boiler Practice 8vo, 3 00
Spangler's Valve-gears 8vo, 2 50
" Notes on Thermodynamics 12mo, 1 00
Thurston's Handy Tables 8vo, 1 50
" Manual of the Steam-engine 2 vols., 8vo, 10 00
Part I. History, Structure, and Theory 8vo, 6 00
Part II. Design, Construction, and Operation 8vo, 6 00
Thurston's Handbook of Engine and Boiler Trials, and the Use
of the Indicator and the Prony Brake 8vo, 5 00
" Stationary Steam-engines 8vo, 2 50
" Steam-boiler Explosions in Theory and in Prac-
tice 12mo, 1 50
" Manual of Steam-boilers, Their Designs, Construc-
tion, and Operation 8vo, 5 00
Weisbach's Heat, Steam, and Steam-engines. (Du Bois.)..8vo, 5 00
Whitham's Steam-engine Design 8vo, 5 00
Wilson's Treatise on Steam-boilers. (Flather.) 16mo, 2 50
Wood's Thermodynamics, Heat Motors, and Refrigerating
Machines 8vo, 4 00
13
MECHANICS AND MACHINEEY.
Barr's Kinematics of Machinery 8vo, 2 50
Bovey's Strength of Materials and Theory of Structures. .8 vo, 7 50
Chordal. Extracts from Letters 12mo, 2 00
Church's Mechanics of Engineering 8vo, 6 00
Notes and Examples in Mechanics 8vo, 2 00
Compton's First Lessons in Metal-working 12mo, 1 50
Compton and De Groodt. The Speed Lathe 12mo, 1 50
Cromwell's Treatise on Toothed Gearing 12mo, 1 50
Treatise on Belts and Pulleys 12mo, 1 50
Dana's Text-book of Elementary Mechanics for the Use of
Colleges and Schools 12mo, 1 50
Dingey's Machinery Pattern Making 12mo, 2 00
Dredge's Record of the Transportation Exhibits Building of the
World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 4to, half mor., 5 00
Du Bois's Elementary Principles of Mechanics:
Vol. I. Kinematics 8vo, 3 50
Vol. II. Statics 8vo, 4 00
Vol. III. Kinetics 8vo, 3 50
Du Bois's Mechanics of Engineering. Vol. I Small 4to, 10 00
Durley's Elementary Text-book of the Kinematics of Machines.
(In preparation.)
Fitzgerald's Boston Machinist 16mo, 1 00
Flather's Dynamometers, and the Measurement of Power. 12mo, 3 00
" Rope Driving 12mo, 2 00
Hall's Car Lubrication 12mo, 1 00
Holly's Art of Saw Filing 18mo, 76
* Johnson's Theoretical Mechanics 12mo, 3 00
Jones's Machine Design:
Part I. Kinematics of Machinery 8vo, 1 50
Part II. Form, Strength and Proportions of Parts 8vo, 3 00
Kerr's Power and Power Transmission. (In preparation.)
Lanza's Applied Mechanics 8vo, 7 50
MacCord's Kinematics ; or, Practical Mechanism 8vo, 5 00
" Velocity Diagrams 8vo, 1 50
Merriman's Text-book on the Mechanics of Materials 8vo, 4 00
* Michie's Elements of Analytical Mechanics 8vo, 4 00
Reagan's Locomotive Mechanism and Engineering 12mo, 2 00
Reid's Course in Mechanical Drawing 8vo, 2 00
" Text-book of Mechanical Drawing and Elementary
Machine Design 8vo, 3 00
Richards's Compressed Air 12mo, 1 50
Robinson's Principles of Mechanism 8vo, 3 00
Sinclair's Locomotive-engine Running and Management. .12mo, 2 00
Smith's Press-working of Metals 8vo, 3 00
Thurston's Treatise on Friction and Lost Work in Machin-
ery and Mill Work 8vo, 3 00
" Animal as a Machine and Prime Motor, and the
Laws of Energetics 12mo, 1 00
Warren's Elements of Machine Construction and Drawing. .8vo, 7 60
Weisbach's Kinematics and the Power of Transmission.
(Herrman Klein.) 8vo, 6 00
" Machinery of Transmission and Governors. (Henr-
(man Klein.) 8vo, 6 00
Wood's Elements of Analytical Mechanics 8vo, 3 00
" Principles of Elementary Mechanics 12mo, 1 25
* Turbines 8vo, 2 50
The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 4to, 1 00
14
METALLURGY.
Egleston's Metallurgy of Silver, Gold, and Mercury:
Vol. I.-Silver 8vo, 7 50
Vol. II. Gold and Mercury 8vo, 7 50
Keep's Cast Iron. (In preparation.)
Earnhardt's Practice of Ore Dressing in Lurope 8vo, 1 50
Le Chatelier's High-temperature Measurements. (Boudouard
Burgess.) 12mo, 3 00
Metcalf's Steel. A Manual for Steel-users 12mo, 2 00
Thurston's Materials of Engineering. In Three Parts 8vo, 8 00
Part II. Iron and Steel 8vo, 3 6U
Part III. A Treatise on Brasses, Bronzes and Other Alloys
and Their Constituents 8vo, 2 50
MINERALOGY.
Barringer's Description of Minerals of Commercial Value.
Oblong, morocco, 2 50
Boyd's Resources of Southwest Virginia 8vo, 300
" Map of Southwest Virginia Pocket-book form, 2 00
Brush's Manual of Determinative Mineralogy. (Penfield.) .8vo, 400
Chester's Catalogue of Minerals 8vo, paper, 1 00
Cloth, 1 25
" Dictionary of the Names of Minerals 8vo, 3 50
Dana's System of Mjieralogy Large 8vo, half leather, 12 50
" First Appendix to Dana's New " System of Mineralogy."
Large 8vo, 1 00
" Text-book of Mineralogy 8vo, 4 00
" Minerals and How to Study Them 12mo, 1 50
" Catalogue of American Localities of Minerals . Large 8vo, 1 00
" Manual of Mineralogy and Petrography 12mo, 2 00
Egleston's Catalogue of Minerals and Synonyms 8vo, 2 50
Hussak's The Determination of Rock-forming Minerals.
(Smith.) Small 8vo, 2 00
* Penfield's Notes on Determinative Mineralogy and Record of
Mineral Tests 8vo, paper, 50
Rosenbusch's Microscopical Physiography of the Rock-making
Minerals. (Idding's.) 8vo, 500
* Tillman's Text-book of Important Minerals and Rocks.. 8vo, 2 00
Williams's Manual of Lithology 8vo, 3 00
MINING.
Beard's Ventilation of Mines 12mo, 2 60
Boyd's Resources of Southwest Virginia 8vo, 3 00
" Map of Southwest Virginia Pocket-book form, 2 00
* Drinker's Tunneling, Explosive Compounds, and Rock
Drills 4to, half morocco, 25 00
Blaster's Modern High Explosives 8vo, 4 00
Ooodyear's Coal-mines of the Western Coast of the United
States 12mo, 250
Ihlseng's Manual of Mining 8vo, 4 00
Kunhardt's Practice of Ore Dressing in Europe 8vo, 1 60
O'Driscoll's Notes on the Treatment of Gold Ores 8vo, 2 00
Sawyer's Accidents in Mines 8vo, 7 00
Walke's Lectures on Explosives 8vo, 4 00
Wilson's Cyanide Processes 12mo, 1 50
Wilson's Chlorination Process 12mo, 1 60
15
Wilson's Hydraulic and Placer Mining 12mo, 2 00
Wilson's Treatise on Practical and Theoretical Mine Ventila-
tion 12mo, 1 25
SANITAEY SCIENCE.
Folwell's Sewerage. (Designing, Construction and Maintenance.)
8vo, 3 00
" Water-supply Engineering 8vo, 4 00
Fuertes's Water and Public Health 12mo, 1 50
" Water-filtration Works 12mo, 2 50
Gerhard's Guide to Sanitary House-inspection 16mo, 1 00
Goodrich's Economical Disposal of Towns' Refuse. . .Demy 8vo, 3 50
Hazen's Filtration of Public Water-supplies Svo, 3 00
Kiersted's Sewage Disposal 12mo, 1 25
Mason's Water-supply. (Considered Principally from a San-
itary Standpoint 8vo, 5 00
" Examination of Water. (Chemical and Bacterio-
logical.) 12mo, 1 25
Merriman's Elements of Sanitary Engineering Svo, 2 00
Nichols's Water-supply. (Considered Mainly from a Chemical
and Sanitary Standpoint.) (1883.) 8vo, 2 50
Ogden'a Sewer Design 12mo, 2 00
Richards's Cost of Food. A Study in Dietaries 12mo, 1 00-
Richards and Woodman's Air, Water, and Food from a Sani-
tary Standpoint 8vo,
Richards's Cost of Living as Modified by Sanitary Science. 12mo,
RideaPs Sewage and Bacterial Purification of Sewage 8vo,
Turneaure and Russell's Public Water-supplies Svo,
Whipple's Microscopy of Drinking-water Svo,
Woodhull's Notes on Military Hygiene 16mo,
MISCELLANEOUS.
Barker's Deep-sea Soundings Svo,
Emnions's Geological Guide-book of the Rocky Mountain Ex-
cursion of the International Congress of Geologists.
Large Svo,
Ferrel's Popular Treatise on the Winds Svo,
Haines's American Railway Management 12mo,
Mott's Composition, Digestibility, and Nutritive Value of Food.
Mounted chart,
" Fallacy of the Present Theory of Sound 16mo,
Ricketts's History of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824-
1894 Small Svo,
Rotherham's Emphasised New Testament Large Svo,
Critical Emphasised New Testament 12mo,
Steel's Treatise on the Diseases of the Dog Svo,
Totten's Important Question in Metrology Svo,
The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 4to,
Worcester and Atkinson. Small Hospitals, Establishment and
Maintenance, and Suggestions for Hospital Architecture,
with Plans for a Small Hospital 12mo, 1 25
HEBREW AND CHALDEE TEXT-BOOKS.
Green's Grammar of the Hebrew Language Svo, 3 00
" Elementary Hebrew Grammar 12mo, 1 25
" Hebrew Chrestomathy Svo, 2 00
Gesenius's Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament
Scriptures. (Tregelles.) Small 4to, half morocco, 5 00
Letteris's Hebrew Bible Svo, 2 25-
10
University of California
SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY
305 De Neve Drive - Parking Lot 17 Box 951388
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90095-1388
Return this material to the library from which it was borrowed.