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January 01, 2008


Pythagoras (c. 580-c. 500 B.C.) taught that “all is number.” Pythagoras realized that numbers were hidden in everything, from the harmonies of music to the orbits of the planets. In other words, number and the nature of number make a thing clear either in itself or in its relation to other things. Today's world, with its digital computers, digital pictures, digital animation, digital television, digital telephones, digital regulators, and digital processing, attests to the foresight of Pythagoras. Pythagoras was instrumental in the development of the language of mathematics, which enabled him and others to describe the nature of the universe.

In additional ways unforeseen by Pythagoras, everything is number. The great mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855) once said, “Mathematics is the queen of science and number theory the queen of mathematics.” While he was still a teenager, Gauss was intrigued with numbers. At the age of 18, he thought up and justified the numerical method of least squares.

Gauss's love for numerical calculations stirred his interest in astronomy. On New Year's Eve 1800–1801, Giuseppe Piazzi had discovered what he thought was a new planet (it was the asteroid Ceres). Because observers soon would lose sight of such a small object, it was important to calculate its elliptical orbit as soon as possible. Using only the few observations that had been made of the asteroid, Gauss calculated its orbit (reputedly by least squares) so accurately that astronomers could locate it again late in 1801 and early in 1802.

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Society of Exploration Geophysicists Geophysical References Series

Digital Imaging and Deconvolution: The ABCs of Seismic Exploration and Processing

Enders A. Robinson
Enders A. Robinson
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Sven Treitel
Sven Treitel
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Society of Exploration Geophysicists
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January 01, 2008




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