Epitaph for Nikolaus I Bernoulli in the Peterskirche (Basel) [de]

Nicolaus Bernoulli (also spelled Nicolas or Nikolas; 20 October [O.S. 10 October] 1687 in Basel – 29 November 1759 in Basel) was a Swiss mathematician and was one of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family.


Nicolaus Bernoulli was born on 20 October [O.S. 10 October] 1687 in Basel.[1] He was the son of Nicolaus Bernoulli, painter and Alderman of Basel. In 1704 he graduated from the University of Basel under Jakob Bernoulli and obtained his PhD five years later (in 1709) with a work on probability theory in law. His thesis was titled Dissertatio Inauguralis Mathematico-Juridica de Usu Artis Conjectandi in Jure.[2]

In 1716 he obtained the Galileo-chair at the University of Padua, where he worked on differential equations and geometry. In 1722 he returned to Switzerland and obtained a chair in Logics at the University of Basel.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1714.[3]

His most important contributions can be found in his letters, in particular to Pierre Rémond de Montmort. In these letters, he introduced in particular the St. Petersburg Paradox. He also communicated with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Leonhard Euler.

He died on 29 November 1759.[4][5]


  1. ^ Merian 1860, p. 35.
  2. ^ The work is available online at Gallica.
  3. ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Nicolaus I Bernoulli", MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive, University of St Andrews
  4. ^ Merian 1860, p. 38.
  5. ^ Csörgő 2001, p. 55.


Further reading