Caspar Wessel

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Wessel, Caspar


Born June 8, 1745, in Jonsrud, Norway; died Mar. 25, 1818, in Copenhagen. Danish mathematician. Surveyor by profession.

Wessel is the author of the work Essay on the Analytic Representation of Direction (1799), devoted to the theory of vectors in a plane and three-dimensional space. This work provided for the first time a geometrical representation of complex numbers. Wessel’s work remained unknown for a century; during that time his results were being rediscovered independently.


Wieleitner, H. Istoriia matematiki ot Dekarta do serediny 19 stoletiia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from German.)