- Ladislaus Bortkiewicz
name = Ladislaus Bortkiewicz
birth_date = Birth date|1868|8|7
birth_place = Saint Petersburg,
death_date = death date and age|1931|7|15|1868|8|7
University of Berlin1901–31 Professor Alexandrowskii Lyceum 1899–00 Russian Railways1897–01 University of Strasbourg, 1895–1897 Privatdozent
University of Strasbourg, Habilitation1895 University of Göttingen, Ph.D. 1893University of Saint Petersburg 1890
Georg Friedrich Knapp(Habil.) Wilhelm Lexis(Ph.D.)
Poisson distribution Transformation problem
Ladislaus Josephovich Bortkiewicz (ru:"Владислав Иосифович Борткевич", pl:"Władysław Bortkiewicz",
August 7, 1868– July 15, 1931) was a Russian economistand statisticianof Polish descent, who lived most of his professional life in Germany. He was of minor nobility: for his earlier publication he used the German styled " von" as "Ladislaus von Bortkewitsch", for his later publications he changed it slightly to "Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz".
Bortkiewicz was born in Saint Petersburg,
Imperial Russia(today Russia) where he graduated in law in 1890.
In 1898 he published a book about the
Poisson distribution, titled "The Law of Small Numbers" [See also: "Das Gesetz der kleinen Zahlen" in "Monatshefte für Mathematik" vol. 9 p. A39 1898. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01707919 DOI link] ] . In this book he first noted that events with low frequency in a large population follow a Poisson distribution even when the probabilities of the events varied. It was that book that made the Prussian horse-kick data famous. The data give the number of soldiers killed by being kicked by a horse each year in each of 14 cavalry corps over a 20-year period. Bortkiewicz showed that those numbers follow a Poisson distribution. The book also examined data on child-suicides. Some historians of mathematics [p.e. I J Good, Some statistical applications of Poisson's work, Statist. Sci. 1 (2) (1986), 157–180. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0883-4237%28198605%291%3A2%3C157%3ASSAOPW%3E2.0.CO%3B2-I JSTOR link] ] have even argued that the Poisson distribution should have been named the "Bortkiewicz distribution."
Bortkiewicz attempted to predict how many pieces of artillery would overheat in an intensive battle. He failed in this because of his limited knowledge of
thermodynamicsand metallic composition of cannons.
In political economy, Bortkiewicz is important for his analysis of
Karl Marx's reproduction schema in the last two volumes of "Capital". Bortkiewicz identified a transformation problemin Marx's work which, if proven, would profoundly undermine Marx's claim to have provided a consistent account of capitalist economics. This work provided the basis of major elaborations by Joseph Schumpeterand Paul Sweezyamong others.
Bortkiewicz died in
*"Die mittlere Lebensdauer. Die Methoden ihrer Bestimmung und ihr Verhältnis zur Sterblichkeitsmessung". Gustav Fischer, Jena 1893 ( [http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?PPN527403490 Göttinger Digitalisierungszentrum] )
*"Review of Léon Walras, "Éléments d'économie politique pure", 2e édit.", 1890, "Revue d'économie politique"
*"Das Gesetz der kleinen Zahlen", 1898
*"Wertrechnung und Preisrechnung im Marxschen System", 1907, "Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik".
*"On the Correction of Marx's Fundamental Theoretical Construction in the Third Volume of Capital."
*"Die Iterationen", [http://ar.geocities.com/alfonsoflorido/bortkiewicz_sobrelatransformacion.pdf spanish version 1917]
* [http://jphdupre.chez-alice.fr/livre/pdf/bortkiewicz.pdf Value and Price in the Marxian System, 1952, "IEP"] .
*Joseph Schumpeter": Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz, Economic Journal, Vol. 42 (1932), pp. 338–340, reprinted in: Ten great economists from Marx to Keynes (New York, 1960), pp. 302–305"
*Emil Julius Gumbel": Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 2 (New York, 1968), pp. 128–131."
Paul A. Samuelson". Resolving a Historical Confusion in Population Analysis. Human Biology, 48, 1976: S. 559–580.
* [http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Bortkiewicz.html Biographical sketch] on the web site of the
University of St. Andrews(in Scotland)
* [http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/profiles/bortk.htm New School: Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz]
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