Mathematician Abraham de Moivre (1667–1754) was a pioneer in the field of probability. According to legend, the aging de Moivre observed that he needed an extra quarter hour of sleep each day. When he needed 24 hours of sleep, he died. The word probability appears to receive its first mention in a 1477 commentary on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Antoine-Nicolas Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet (1743–1794), used probability to argue that capital punishment should be abolished. He reasoned that, however great the probability that each guilty verdict was correct, there remained a small chance of error. As the number of guilty verdicts increased, so would the probability that an innocent person would be executed. Condorcet himself was condemned to death during the French revolution.
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