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Riccati, Iacopo Francesco

1. Dates
Born: Venice, 28 May 1676
Died: Treviso, 15 Apr. 1754
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 78 2. Father, Ars Riccati came from a noble family who held land near Venice. His father was Conte Montino Riccati; his mother was a Colonna. His father died in 1686, when Riccati was only ten, but in view of Riccati's own life, they must have been wealthy.
2. Father
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Padua, Ll.D.
He received his early education at the Jesuit school for the nobility in Brescia, then entered the University of Padua in 1693 to study law, and earned the doctorate in 1696. Encouraged by Stefano degli Angeli to pursue mathematics, he studied recent methods of mathematical analysis.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (by assumption)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Mechanics, Hydraulics
Subordinate: Optics, Physics, Natural Philosophy
His extensive series of mathematical publications brought Riccati contemporary fame. His work dealt chiefly with analysis and, in particular, with differential equations. He achieved notable results in lowering the order of equations and in the separation of variables.
He published a number of studies on central forces and on motion through resisting media. He participated in the vis viva controversy, as a Leibnizian. He also did research on hydraulics.
Riccati pursued questions over the whole range of science in his day. He published quite a bit on optics, and on elasticity and the vibration of cords. He wrote extensively on the origin of fountains. Late in life he began what was to be a major treatise, Dei principi e dei metodi delle fisica, which he worked on through the 1710's but apparently never finished. He did complete another late treatise, Saggi intorno il systema dell'universo. It is difficult to decide exactly what disciplines to list. He could appear also under Instrumentation for a writing on the thermometric scale, and the origin of fountains sounds like geology. Natural philosopher seems to be his real designation. I gain the impression that he was far more able and important than his virtually complete neglect in the English speaking world suggests.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Personal Means
He declined various academical offers, and devoted himself to his studies in his own family circle.
8. Patronage
Type: None
Peter the Great invited him to come to Russia as president of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He was asked to Vienna as an imperial councillor and offered a professorship at the University of Padua. He declined all these offers.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Hydraulics, Instruments
He was often consulted by the Senate of Venice on the construction of dikes along rivers and of canals.
His work on the thermometric scale.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Institute Bologna
He carried on an extensive correspondence with mathematicians all over Europe. He was especially close to Bernardino Zendrini, a mathematician in Venice who was in charge of hydraulics for the republic.
He was named honorary Academician of the Institute of Bologna in 1723.
  1. A. Agostini, "Riccati," in Enciclopedia italiana, 29 (1936), 241, AE35.E5 RF L.Berzolari, G.Vivanti, and D.Gigli, eds., Enciclopedia delle mathematiche elementari, 1, pt. 2, (Milan, 1932), 527.
  2. (concerned solely with his solution to one class of differential equations). P. Riccardi, Biblioteca matematica italiana, 1, 359-63.
  3. C. Di Rovero, "Vita," in Riccati, Opere, 4 vols. (Lucca, 1761-5), 4, iii-lxviii. This does not tell too much about the issues that concern me most, but it is an extremely good detailed examination of Riccati's work as a scientist.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. A. Fabroni, Vitae italiorum doctrina excellentium, 16, (Pisa, 1795), 376f. Gregorio Piaia and Maria Laura Soppelsa, eds. I Riccati e la cultura della marca nel settecento europeo, Atti del convegno internazionale di studio, Castelfranco Veneto, 5-6 Aprile, 1990, (Biblioteca di Nuncius, Studi e testi, 5), (Firenze, 1992).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

1995 Al Van Helden
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