[seqfan] Re: Who named Catalan numbers?

Peter Luschny peter.luschny at gmail.com
Tue Feb 11 16:34:16 CET 2014


NJAS> But it avoids a lot of debate!
What would be academia without debate? ;-)

As far as it is about names: 'Catalan numbers' is a wonderful name,
a brand burned by Riordan (as implicitly at least was confirmed above
by Gould). Especially for me since Catalán is also a dialect of the
Latin language (not of Spanish!) which I like very much and which I
always associate with the 'Catalan numbers' which were named after a
French speaking Belgian mathematician.

As far as it is about history: A week ago I would have answered as
Gould said he sometimes did: 'Euler-Fuss-Segner-Catalan'. But now I
feel that I have overlooked the importance of the Lamé contribution.
Looking into Gould's definitive bibliography of Catalan numbers [1]
we see eight papers of Catalan but only one from Lamé. But in this
paper Euler's conjecture is proved (in 1838). After that the fruits
were hanging low and Catalan immediately (in the same year) began to
pick them. Catalan begins his first paper: "M. Lamé a démontré que l'equation
... je vais chercher à en déduire quelques conséquences."

Peter

[1] http://www.math.wvu.edu/~gould/BibGood%20final.pdf
For readers fluent in German this is a nice introduction
to the Catalan numbers:
[2] http://www.bnv-bamberg.de/home/ba2636/catalanz.pdf


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