Daily Archives: 7 February 2014

February 7, 1877 (a Wednesday)

On this date, the English mathematician Godfrey Harold Hardy was born. Although Hardy considered himself a pure mathematician, early in his career, he nevertheless worked in applied mathematics when he formulated a law that describes how proportions of dominant and recessive genetic traits will propagate in a large population (1908). Hardy considered it unimportant but it has proved of major importance in population genetics and evolutionary biology. Ironically, in his book entitled A Mathematician’s Apology (1940), he wrote:

I have never done anything ‘useful’. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world.

As it was also independently discovered by Wilhelm Weinberg, it is known as the Hardy-Weinberg principle.

Hardy–Weinberg principle for two alleles: the horizontal axis shows the two allele frequencies p and q, the vertical axis shows the genotype frequencies and the three possible genotypes are represented by the different glyphs.