When people mention Bayes’ Theorem, the cornerstone of much of modern probability thinking, most do not realize that much of the thinking to develop this theorem was done by Pierre-Simon Laplace, a French astronomer and mathematician. As if his work on that theorem was not enough to make him one of my heroes, I recently came across a wonderful conversation he held with Napoleon.
Napoleon had just been reading, he said, from another great scientist of the day, and he got into Laplace’s face about his reading: “Newton spoke of God in his book. I have perused yours but failed to find His name even once. Why?”
“Sire,” Laplace replied, “I have no need of that hypothesis.”