Paolo Ruffini, mathematician

This is the birthplace of the greatest mathematician

Birthpace of Paolo Ruffini, in Via Carlo Alberto
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Paolo Ruffini was born in Valentano on settembre 22nd, 1765. Later, Ruffini practiced as a professor of mathematics (University of Modena) in 1787 when only 22. He obtained the office of rector of the university in 1814.

Ruffini died in 1822 in Modena. He is remembered for being the first to carry out studies and demonstrations on group theory and the impossibility of solving the quintic equation by radicals.

Il bel portale d'ingresso

In 1996 the Municipality and Gruppo Archeologico Verentum have placed a commemorative plaque on the facade of the mathematician’s birthplace. Archival research of prof. Bonafede Mancini and Romualdo Luzi, have allowed us to locate the home of Ruffini.

La targa a ricordo posta dal G.A.V.

Birth Certificate from the registry office

L'atto di nascita di Paolo Ruffini

Italian language transcription of the birth certificate:
Paolo Giovanni Pacifico Giacinto Bonaventura Ruf[f]ini\r[atto numero] 45
Nell’anno del Signore 1765, il giorno 23 di settembre io Francesco Licca, Arciprete e Parroco di questa Chiesa Collegiata di San Giovanni Apostolo ed Evangelista di Valentano, ho battezzato un neonato di sesso maschile, nato la notte precedente alle ore cinque, dall’eccellentissimo Signor Basilio Rufini, Dottore Fisico di Regio di Modena [Reggio Emilia] e da Donna Maria Ippoliti di Poggio Mirteto, legittimi coniugi, abitanti in Valentano, al quale fu imposto il nome: Paolo Giovanni Pacifico Giacinto Bonaventura. Il padrino fu il reverendo Signore Giovanni Paolo Bonucci. Madrina Donna Olimpia Barlocci Rocchi. Ostetrica Caterina Specchioli. Così è.
Francesco Licca Arciprete e Parroco.

Particolare del ritratto ad olio di Paolo Ruffini, del pittore Biagio Magnanini di Modena

The “Ruffini–Horner’s method” explained by an expert, with practical examples


Paolo Ruffini date of birth and death

The birth of Ruffini took place on September 22nd, 1765 but the first biography of the mathematician places it instead to the following day, 23, the day of baptism. One can understand the error because of the division of the day, at that time using the Catholic Church conventions, and then according to the calculations of the parish priests, was made according to the canonical hours for 12 hours having the night beginning with the 7 pm, that was the first hour of the night , and so on, until the twelfth hour 6 o’clock the following morning. The pastor, in the act of baptism is extremely accurate and writes that the child was born during the previous night at hour “fifth“, so around 11 pm of day 22nd.

In many other books and encyclopedia articles is controversial even on the day of death, which some mistakenly set to May 9th (as happened in the indication of the commemorative plaque in Valentano), rather than the correct date of the following day 10 (as also appears in the epigraph placed in the hall of Modena where the Ruffini died). There are several factors to understand how the error may have occurred. Gustavo Barbensi, in the Ruffini biography of the 1956 wrote these words: “… On May 8 [1822] was a remarkable recovery, true prelude to death, because on day 9, which developed most ardent fever, since the last goodbye the desolate relatives and friends, went into agony, to expire at the dawn of the next day at the age of only 56 years.” Also in this case a hasty reading of the passage has led many to conclude that the date of death was on the 9th, while he passed away at the dawn of the following day.