# Famous 18th Century French Mathematicians

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century French Mathematicians, including Pierre-Simon Laplace, Joseph Fourier, Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Marquis de Condorcet and Émilie du Châtelet.

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1

Pierre-Simon Laplace(French Mathematician and Astronomer Who was Best Known for His Investigations into the Stability of the Solar System)

**Birthdate: **March 23, 1749

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Beaumont-en-Auge, France

**Died: **March 5, 1827

Though French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace is primarily known for his work on the solar system, his research extended to areas such as mathematics and physics, apart from astronomy. Widely known as the *Newton of France*, he escaped being executed during the French Revolution, owing to his lack of political views.

**Birthdate: **March 21, 1768

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Auxerre, Burgundy, Kingdom of France (now in Yonne, France)

**Died: **May 16, 1830

Joseph Fourier was a French physicist and mathematician best remembered for commencing the investigation of the Fourier series, which is used widely to solve problems of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier's law of conduction and Fourier transform are named in his honor. Fourier is also said to have discovered the greenhouse effect.

**Birthdate: **September 18, 1752

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **January 10, 1833

Born into an affluent family, French mathematician Adrien-Marie Legendre probably never had to earn a living till the beginning of the French Revolution. Excelling in math and physics, he later contributed to areas such as *elliptic functions*, developed the *least squares method*, and lent his name to *Legendre polynomials*.

**Birthdate: **January 25, 1736

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **Turin, Italy

**Died: **April 10, 1813

Joseph Louis Lagrange was an Italian mathematician and astronomer who made significant contributions to the fields of number theory, analysis, and both classical and celestial mechanics. He served as the director of mathematics at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin for over 20 years. He later moved to France and became a member of the French Academy of Sciences.

**Birthdate: **August 21, 1789

**Sun Sign: **Leo

**Birthplace: **Paris

**Died: **May 23, 1857

French mathematician Augustin-Louis Cauchy was initially a military engineer. In his early days, he and his family escaped the Reign of Terror and settled in Arcueil. He was one of the pioneers of mathematical analysis and made significant contributions to subjects such as error theory, calculus, and complex functions.

**Birthdate: **January 20, 1775

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **Parish of St. Nizier, Lyon, France

**Died: **June 10, 1836

Andre Marie Ampere was a French physicist and mathematician. He is best known for being one of the founders of the science of classical electromagnetism. He was a professor at the École Polytechnique and the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. The base SI unit of electric current, the ampere, is named after him.

7

Sophie Germain(French Mathematician Known for Her 'Sophie Germain Prime Numbers')

**Birthdate: **April 1, 1776

**Sun Sign: **Aries

**Birthplace: **Rue Saint-Denis, Paris, France

**Died: **June 27, 1831

French mathematician Sophie Germain had used the pseudonym *M. Le Blanc* to get hold of notes from the **École Polytechnique**, as being a woman, she was not allowed to attend the institute. She later contributed to the number theory and also pioneered the elasticity theory. She died of breast cancer.

8

Émilie du Châtelet

(Philosopher)

**Birthdate: **December 17, 1706

**Sun Sign: **Sagittarius

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **September 10, 1749

**Birthdate: **August 26, 1728

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Mulhouse, France

**Died: **September 25, 1777

Johann Heinrich Lambert was a Swiss polymath whose contributions to the fields of physics, mathematics, map projections, astronomy, and philosophy are considered important by many scholars. He is credited with introducing hyperbolic functions into trigonometry. He is also credited with inventing a hygrometer, which is used to measure the quantity of water vapor in soil and air.

**Birthdate: **September 17, 1743

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Ribemont, France

**Died: **March 29, 1794

French mathematician and philosopher Marquis de Condorcet was a champion for liberal economy and women’s rights. He was a significant contributor of the *Encyclopédie* and was part of the **Academy of Sciences**. He is also remembered for his political activities in the wake of the French Revolution.

**Birthdate: **November 16, 1717

**Sun Sign: **Scorpio

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **October 29, 1783

Jean le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He is credited with coming up with *d'Alembert's formula*, a solution to the one-dimensional wave equation, which is named after him. His life and work inspired Andrew Crumey's 1996 novel, *D'Alembert's Principle.*

12

Abraham de Moivre

(Mathematician, Statistician)

**Birthdate: **May 26, 1667

**Sun Sign: **Gemini

**Birthplace: **Vitry-le-François

**Died: **November 27, 1754

**Birthdate: **June 8, 1625

**Sun Sign: **Gemini

**Birthplace: **Perinaldo, Italy

**Died: **September 14, 1712

Italian-French mathematician and astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini is best remembered for his discovery of four moons of Saturn, the computation of Jupiter’s rotational period, and the observation of the *Cassini Division*, or the gap between Saturn’s rings. King Louis XIV made him a member of the **Académie des Sciences**.

14

Siméon Denis Poisson

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **June 21, 1781

**Sun Sign: **Gemini

**Birthplace: **Pithiviers, France

**Died: **April 25, 1840

15

François Arago

(Astronomer, Mathematician, Physicist, Politician, Scientist, University teacher)

**Birthdate: **February 26, 1786

**Sun Sign: **Pisces

**Birthplace: **Estagel

**Died: **October 2, 1853

French physicist and mathematician François Arago discovered rotatory magnetism, named *Arago's rotations*. He is also remembered for his research on *the wave theory of light* and for the reforms he introduced as the French minister of war and the navy. **The Eiffel Tower** has his name inscribed on it.

**Birthdate: **September 7, 1707

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Montbard, France

**Died: **April 16, 1788

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French mathematician, encyclopédiste, cosmologist, and naturalist. He is best known for authoring and publishing *Histoire Naturelle*, an encyclopaedic collection of 36 volumes, which he worked on for 50 years. His work had a strong influence on two subsequent generations of naturalists, including popular French scientists like Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

17

Jacques Charles

(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **November 12, 1746

**Sun Sign: **Scorpio

**Birthplace: **Beaugency

**Died: **April 7, 1823

Best known for developing the *Charles’s law*, which explains the expansion of gases when heated, Jacques Charles was a prominent French physicist. He was the first to ascend in a hydrogen-filled gas balloon, thus pioneering hot-air balloon flight. The **Académie des Sciences** member later became a professor of physics.

18

Lazare Carnot

(Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist)

**Birthdate: **May 13, 1753

**Sun Sign: **Taurus

**Birthplace: **Nolay

**Died: **August 2, 1823

Lazare Carnot was a French physicist, mathematician, and politician. His role in the *Napoleonic Wars* and *French Revolutionary Wars* earned him the sobriquet *Organizer of Victory*. Carnot is credited with developing innovative defensive designs for forts, such as the *Carnot wall *which served as a defensive mechanism against infantry and artillery attack.

19

Gaspard Monge

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **May 9, 1746

**Sun Sign: **Taurus

**Birthplace: **Beaune, France

**Died: **July 28, 1818

20

Jean Sylvain Bailly

(French Astronomer, Mathematician and Former Mayor of Paris)

**Birthdate: **September 15, 1736

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **November 12, 1793

A major figure of the French Revolution, Jean Sylvain Bailly is remembered for leading the *Tennis Court Oath*. He also made a name for himself as an astronomer and studied the *Halley’s Comet *and the satellites of Jupiter extensively. As a mayor of Paris, he later defended Marie-Antoinette and was guillotined.

21

Pierre Louis Maupertuis

(Mathematician Known for Formulating the Principle of Least Action)

**Birthdate: **September 28, 1698

**Sun Sign: **Libra

**Birthplace: **Saint-Malo, France

**Died: **July 27, 1759

Pierre Louis Maupertuis was a French mathematician and man of letters. He is credited with having invented the principle of least action; his version is known as **Maupertuis's principle**. He was also a philosopher and his work in natural history touched upon a range of topics. He was the first President of the Prussian Academy of Science.

22

Jean-Baptiste Biot

(Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor)

**Birthdate: **April 21, 1774

**Sun Sign: **Taurus

**Birthplace: **Paris

**Died: **February 3, 1862

Jean-Baptiste Biot was a French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer. He was a co-discoverer of what became known as the **Biot-Savart law of magnetostatics**. He is also credited with establishing the reality of meteorites. He made major contributions to the fields of optics and magnetism as well. Cape Biot in eastern Greenland is named in his honor.

23

Alexis Clairaut

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **May 13, 1713

**Sun Sign: **Taurus

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **May 17, 1765

Born to a math teacher, French mathematician and physicist Alexis Clairaut had mastered calculus at 10. He is best remembered for devising the *Clairaut’s equation* and for validating the scientific claims of Sir Isaac Newton. He was part of an expedition to Lapland to ascertain a degree of the meridian arc.

24

Charles Marie de La Condamine

(French Explorer, Geographer, and Mathematician Who Created the First Map of the Amazon Region)

**Birthdate: **January 28, 1701

**Sun Sign: **Aquarius

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **February 4, 1774

French naturalist, geographer, and mathematician Charles Marie de La Condamine is remembered for completing the first known scientific exploration of the Amazon region and also created the first map of the region. He was also part of an expedition that measured a latitude at the equator.

28

Alexandre-Théophile Vandermonde

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **February 28, 1735

**Sun Sign: **Pisces

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **January 1, 1796

Alexandre-Théophile Vandermonde initially made a name for himself as a violinist. He drifted to mathematics much later, at age 35, and became famous for his *determinant theory *in mathematics and for solving a complex math problem called *The Knight's Tour*. His memoirs are invaluable to understanding math.

30

Étienne-Louis Malus

(Physicist)

**Birthdate: **July 23, 1775

**Sun Sign: **Leo

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **February 24, 1812

31

Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre

(French Mathematician and Astronomer Who Prepared Tables That Plot the Location of 'Uranus')

**Birthdate: **September 19, 1749

**Sun Sign: **Virgo

**Birthplace: **Amiens, France

**Died: **August 19, 1822

It is believed Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre had acquired his habit of reading from his fear of losing his eyesight. He later became a professor of astronomy and served **Paris Observatory **as its director. He also penned significant works such as *Histoire de l'astronomie*. His name remains engraved on the **Eiffel Tower**.

34

Sylvestre Francois Lacroix

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **April 28, 1765

**Sun Sign: **Taurus

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **May 24, 1843

35

Bernard Forest de Belidor

(French Engineer)

**Birthdate: **1698 AD

**Birthplace: **Catalonia, Spain

**Died: **September 8, 1761

36

Jean-Baptiste-Gaspard Bochart de Saron

(Astronomer)

**Birthdate: **January 16, 1730

**Sun Sign: **Capricorn

**Birthplace: **Paris, France

**Died: **April 20, 1794

Jean-Baptiste-Gaspard Bochart de Saron was a French natural scientist and lawyer. He is best remembered for his contributions to astronomy. He studied the orbits of comets and worked alongside fellow astronomers like J.D. Cassini and Charles Messier. He also helped Charles Messier observe the orbit of the then-unidentified planet Uranus.

37

Émiland Gauthey

(Mathematician)

**Birthdate: **December 3, 1732

**Sun Sign: **Sagittarius

**Birthplace: **Chalon-sur-Saône, France

**Died: **July 14, 1806

French architect Émiland Gauthey was the man behind the creation of many civic buildings, bridges, and theaters. He began his career as a deputy engineer at Chalon-sur-Saône and later took over as the *Chief Engineer* of the États de Bourgogne. He received the** Légion d'honneur** for his achievements.