Mikhail Vasil'evich Ostrogradsky
b. 24 September 1801 at Pashennaya (in present day Ukraine)
d. 1 January 1862 at Poltava (in present day Ukraine)
together with Buniakovsky were early probabilists of Russia.
Ostrogradsky studied first at Kharkov University during the years
1817 and 1820 where he became acquainted with the theory. He departed
for Paris in 1822 where he and Buniakovsky both became
acquainted with Laplace. Ostrogradsky returned to St. Petersburg in the
spring of 1828. Near the end of 1831 he became a member of the St.
Four papers of interest were written in French and published by the Academy at Saint Petersbourg. These are:
addition to these papers, he wrote several popular pieces. He also
delivered a course on probability in a sequence of 20 lectures in 1858.
The Complete Collected Works
of Ostrogradsky has been published by the Academy of Sciences of
Ukrainian SSR. Most papers are in Russian, Two references may be
mentioned, both of which I have found useful.
- "Extrait d'un mémoire sur la probabilité des erreurs des tribunaux," Sci. Math. Phys. l'Académie Impériale Sci. Saint-Pétersbourg, Bull. Sci. No. 3 (1834), pp. XIX-XXV. This was published in 1838.
concern here lies in determining the probability of passing a wrong
verdict for a tribunal consisting of a given number of judges. The
problem is formulated quite poorly. For an interpretation of
the mathematics see the paper of Seneta given below.
- "Mémoire sur le calcul des fonctions géneratrices," L'Académie Impériale Sci. Saint-Petersbourg, Bull. Sci. No. 10 (1836), pp. 73-75.
Ostrogradsky points out an error made by Laplace in his work on generating functions.
- "Sur une question des probabilités. Extrait," Bull. Classe Phys.-Math. l'Acad. Impériale Sci. Saint-Petersbourg, VI, No. 141.142, No. 21.22, (1846) pp. 321-346. Published in 1848.
considers sampling from an urn without replacement. The context is one
of assessing materials purchased by the military. It is often too time
consuming to examine each item individually. Rather, he proposes using
random sampling to identify some portion of the purchases for close
- "Sur la probabilité des hypothèses d'après les évènements," Bull. Classe Phys.-Math. l'Acad. Impériale Sci. Saint-Petersbourg, XVII, No. 141.142, No. 21.22, (1846) pp. 321-346. Published in 1848.
Here Ostrogradsky remarks on inverse probability. The original formulation is due to Bayes. However, it is Laplace who seems to have independently established it as an important method of inference. See his "Mémoire
la probabilité des causes par les
étranges 6, 1774, p. 621-656. Oeuvres 8,
It has been translated by Steven Stigler. See "Laplace's 1774 Memoir on
Inverse Probability," Statistical Science, Vol. 1,
Issue 3 (Aug. 1986) 359-363 and "Memoir on the Probability of the Cause
of Events," in the same issue, pp. 364-378.
paper "M. V. Ostrogradsky as probabilist" by Eugene Seneta appeared in
the Ukrainian Mathematical Journal, Vol. 53, No. 8, (2001), pp.
Gnedenko, writing in Russian, contributed "On Ostrogradsky's works on probability theory." This was published in 1951 in Istoriko.-Matematich. Issledovania., 4, 99-123. However, Oscar Sheynin translated a portion of this into English. It may be found in his Russian Papers.