Mikhail Vasil'evich Ostrogradsky

b. 24 September 1801 at Pashennaya (in present day Ukraine)

d. 1 January 1862 at Poltava (in present day Ukraine)

Ostrogradsky 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. Petersburg Academy.

Four papers of interest were written in French and published by the Academy at Saint Petersbourg. These are:

- "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.

The 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.

Ostrogradsky 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 study.

- "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 sur la probabilité des causes par les événemens,"***Savants étranges***6**, 1774, p. 621-656.*Oeuvres***8**, p. 27-65. 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.

The paper "M. V. Ostrogradsky as probabilist" by Eugene Seneta appeared in the Ukrainian Mathematical Journal, Vol. 53, No. 8, (2001), pp. 1237-1247.

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.