Vidinli Hüseyin Tevfik Paşa

Mareşal, Bilim İnsanı, Devlet Adamı

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Hüseyin Tevfik Paşa

Scientist, statesman, marshal (B. 1832, Vidin – D. 1901, in Istanbul). He was born in Vidin, one of the Ottoman cities along the Danube riverside located in the northwest corner of Bulgaria today. His full name is Hüseyin Tevfik Pasha and he is known by the nickname “Vidinli”. He was a military engineer who lived during the periods of four sultans, who carried out important duties such as Captainship, and who was known by his mathematician identity. He was son of Vidinli Hasan Efendi. He received education from military schools in Istanbul, where he went at a young age, and graduated from Harbiye in 1859 as Staff Captain. During his two-year duty in Paris, he also assumed the second directorship position at “Mekteb-i Osmanî” in Paris, where he was appointed as Military Attaché where as he was Senior Captain (Kolağası). He gave mathematics courses at Harbiye İdadisi (T.N.Harbiye High School) when he returned.

Hüseyin Tevfik Pasha was one of the members of the historical society named Rhode Island Historical Society. He submitted to one of the scientific meetings of this society a manifesto that was given as "Some Facts on Mohammedanism" in English. It is understood by this manifesto that Pasha also gave answers to the writings against Turks and Islam, in which Turks were accused of marrying more than one woman and of safeguarding the slavery, and which were on the local newspaper Providence Daily Journal copy dated February 7, 1878.

Tevfik Pasha was also one of the members of Mathematical Society of France. It was stated in the 16th volume of the bulletins that were published by this society that “General, Aide-de-camp of Sultan, Artillery Lieutenant General” Vidinli Hüseyin Tevfik Pasha was one of the two Turks among the members, and the other one was a person named İbrahim Efendi who became a member in the same year.

The first duty of Hüseyin Tevfik Pasha, who was on duty abroad several times, in America lasted seven years from 1872-73 to 1878-79 with interruptions. He took on a highly important task in this period that will be the basis of his appointment to America as Ambassador. Padishah Sultan Abdülaziz gave him the task of technical inspection of new model rifles that will be bought from the company Peabody-Martini; however, he could not live long enough to see the result. This event was one of the biggest arms sales of that period. Famous Plevne defense was one of the places where this rifle, which was mentioned in our folk songs as "Martin" rifle afterwards, used. Tevfik Pasha was promoted to the rank of Ferik (Lieutenant General) in those years.

After he came back to his homeland, he was appointed as the Head of Assembly of Tophane, as Minister of Finance in 1880, after several months he was appointed as the Member of Commission of Public Works, and as Minister Plenipotentiary to America in 1882. He became Minister of Commerce and Public Works when he came back from Embassy of America and was promoted to Captainship in 1892. After his position in Ministry of Public Works for five years, he became the Head of Court of Accounts, later he became Minister of Finance for the second time, after that he became the Member of Military Inspection Commission. He passed away in his manor in Kızıltoprak in 1901. His grave is in Eyüp Cemetery, situated on the right side of the street from Ferhat Pasha Mausoleum to Feridun Bey Mausoleum and very close to the road.

Linear Algebra that was written in English is the most famous work of Vidinli Hüseyin Tevfik Pasha, who was known as an outspoken, direct, and honest person and who was amongst the most famous mathematicians of his period. This work, one copy of which was found by Professor of geological engineer A. M. Celal Şengör in 1985 in Germany, was the work that was written by Vidinli Hüseyin Tevfik Pasha and mentioned by Bursalı Mehmed Tahir Bey as "Cebr-i Hattî". Researches about the book and its writer were done by Prof. Dr. Kâzım Çeçen (D. 1997). According to these researches, the copy that was found by Şengör in Germany was dated 1885 and 2nd edition. There is also a copy of the 1st edition dated 1882 in the Library of Kandilli Observatory. Two editions of "Linear Algebra" were published together again by the efforts of Rector İlhan Kayan. By making use of the most basic official resources and more importantly by completely writing the memories of Salih Zeki about Vidinli, which were published in Muallim Mecmuası (T.N Journal of the Teachers), Professor Çeçen wrote a beneficial prologue that this prologue is considered as the most fundamental review about Vidinli Hüseyin Tevfik Pasha by the science communities.

In his work "Linear Algebra", Vidinli Hüseyin Tevfik Pasha tried to build a “hyper complex” number system on real number object, which shares the similar characteristics with complex number object and also constitutes of three dimensional algebra. His desire to repeat the splendid application in the three dimensional Euclidean geometry of “pure quaternion”s which are a three dimensional vector subspace of “quaternion”s that belong to a four dimensional algebra is behind this attempt.

Also, our yet another worldwide known mathematician Cahit Arf wrote a review about “Linear Algebra”.


Zeyli Usulü Cebir, Cebr-i Âlâ, Makine, Cebr-i Hattî (1882, extended 2nd edition in 1892; Linear Algebra), Memâlik-i Osmaniye ve İslâmiye (Translation of his speech that he gave in French language in a historical society while he was in Europe), Hesab-ı Müsenna (Translation of his work that was published in English).

REFERENCE: Mithat Cemal Kuntay / Namık Kemal (1940), İbrahim Alâeddin Gövsa / Türk Meşhurları (1946), İbnülemin Mahmut Kemal İnal / Osmanlı Devrinde Son Sadrazamlar (1940-53) (1951), Prof. Dr. Kâzım Çeçen / Hüseyin Tevfik Paşa ve "Linear Algebra" (yay. haz. 1988), Cem Saraç, “Salih Zeki Bey’e göre Vidinli Hüseyin Tevfik Paşa” (Bilim Tarihi, 1992, sayı: 9, 3-10), TBE Edebiyatçılar Ansiklopedisi (1994), Cem Tezer / “Vidinli Hüseyin Tevfik Paşa” (TDV İslam Ansiklopedisi, c.40, 2011), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Devlet Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, c. 1, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013) - Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (C. 12, 2017).


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