Johan de Witt - The first calculation on the valuation of life annuitiesMacTutor Index

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Conclusion

Even if the treatise cannot be regarded as having paramount impact on the field of mathematics, it is still a very interesting document to study. Insurance statistics only made major advancements in the 18th century, and de Witt's work must be seen as underappreciated and ahead of its time. With a lack of notation and precedent work on the topic, and statistics merely being in its inception, de Witt performed an ingenious and compelling argument. With the responsibility for a whole nation - pressing state finances, military challenges, internal conflicts, and political struggles - it is impressive that he found time to pursue mathematics and produce a treatise like the "Waerdye". The tedious summations, and the reporting to a non-technical audience made the "Waerdye" sizeable work, and one needs to credit de Witt with dedication in this matter.

Despite his efforts, a critical read of the treatise is advisable. His clear intention was to substantiate a political argument, and it is obvious that the partisan politician and not the neutral mathematician is writing the paper. This becomes most apparent when the calculation error is observed, which hints at the fact that de Witt might have manipulated his work. Since his prime aim was to have a convincing argument to support life annuities, this is to an extent understandable, but only after regarding the political and situational context, this perspective becomes clear. Keeping this in mind during the study of papers created for similar purposes is essential.


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(An important contribution to insurance mathematics)
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Livia Daxenberger May 2017