Abraham De Moivre, a French mathematician, successfully predicted the date of his own death in 1754. He found that he was sleeping 15 minutes longer each night and from this arithmetic progression, calculated that he would die on the day that he slept for 24 hours. He was right! A simple mathematical calculation quickly yielded the date, 27 November 1754. De Moivre developed the means to calculate life expectancy from any age besides birth. He was able to determine how many more years a 40, 50 or 60-year-old man would live. De Moivre pioneered the modern approach to the theory of probability, when he published The Doctrine of Chance: A method of calculating the probabilities of events in play in 1718. In the 1756 edition of The Doctrine of Chance contained what is probably De Moivre’s most significant contribution to probability, namely
the approximation of the binomial distribution by the normal distribution in the case of a large number of trials - which is honored by most probability textbooks as ”The First Central Limit Theorem”. He perceives the notion of standard deviation and is the first scientist to write the normal integral.
He is perhaps better known for discovering the famous Bell Curve. The Bell Curve is a statistical measure of dispersion around a mean.
Discovered by Abraham de Moivre (1667-1754) when he noticed that many phenomena cluster around an average value and in so doing, form a bell-shaped curve.
Abraham De Moivre was born (26May1667) at Vitry, France, where his father was a surgeon. De Moivre studied mathematics and physics in Paris, but in 1685, after the Edict of Nantes was revoked, he was imprisoned for being a Protestant. When released three years later, he emigrated to England to escape religious persecution. He never returned to France and never published anything in French.
Nickname: Suicidal Prophet
Peter L. Bernstein, Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996).