# Benjamin Franklin

### Quick Info

Boston, Massachusetts, British colony

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

**Benjamin Franklin**was an American scientist and diplomat. His mathematical interests included magic squares.

### Biography

**Benjamin Franklin**was born in Boston, but spent most of his life in Philadelphia (punctuated by residences in London and Passy, France). His formal education lasted less than two years, and so he was mainly self-educated, aided by the convenient access to books provided by an apprenticeship in the printing business.

Franklin is best known in the popular imagination for his nonscientific pursuits: printer, American revolutionary, ambassador, to mention only a few roles he played. His scientific reputation rests mainly on his accomplishments as an inventor and as a pioneering theorist in the physics of electricity, but his interests were also mathematical. His version of magic square - a variant now termed the Franklin magic square - was inspired by the work of Stifel and Frénicle, both of whose magic squares were of a more traditional variety. He also drew magic circles.

His first published magic square and his only published magic circle appeared in a 1767 book which also included unrelated excerpts from work by Thomas Simpson. Two years later, Franklin published this square:

52 | 61 | 4 | 13 | 20 | 29 | 36 | 45 |

14 | 3 | 62 | 51 | 46 | 35 | 30 | 19 |

53 | 60 | 5 | 12 | 21 | 28 | 37 | 44 |

11 | 6 | 59 | 54 | 43 | 38 | 27 | 22 |

55 | 58 | 7 | 10 | 23 | 26 | 39 | 42 |

9 | 8 | 57 | 56 | 41 | 40 | 25 | 24 |

50 | 63 | 2 | 15 | 18 | 31 | 34 | 47 |

16 | 1 | 64 | 49 | 48 | 33 | 32 | 17 |

Franklin enjoyed close personal and professional relationships with quite a few of the important thinkers of his day, such as Hume, Priestley, Lavoisier and Condorcet. He was a member of the learned societies of many nations. Among these were the Royal Society, which awarded him its prestigious Copley medal for his work in electricity, and the American Philosophical Society, of which he was a founder. He received several honorary degrees, including a doctorate from St. Andrews.

### References (show)

- I B Cohen, Biography in
*Encyclopaedia Britannica.*http://www.britannica.com/biography/Benjamin-Franklin - Obituary in
*The Times* - P C Pasles, The Lost Squares of Dr. Franklin,
*American Mathematical Monthly***108**(2001), 489-511.

### Additional Resources (show)

Other pages about Benjamin Franklin:

Other websites about Benjamin Franklin:

### Honours (show)

Honours awarded to Benjamin Franklin

### Cross-references (show)

- Other: 1950 ICM - Cambridge USA
- Other: Earliest Known Uses of Some of the Words of Mathematics (M)
- Other: Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
- Other: Jeff Miller's Mathematicians on Postage Stamps
- Other: London Learned Societies
- Other: London individuals D-G
- Other: Oxford Institutions and Colleges

Written by Paul C Pasles, Villanova University,USA.

Last Update June 2001

Last Update June 2001