Famous 19th Century French Mathematicians

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Find out more about the greatest 19th Century French Mathematicians, including Henri Poincare, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Joseph Fourier, Évariste Galois and Joseph-Louis Lagrange.
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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)
Pierre-Simon Laplace
14
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.

 2 
Henri Poincare
(French Polymath and Mathematician Known as One of the Founders of the 'Field of Topology')
Henri Poincare
7
Birthdate: April 29, 1854
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nancy, France
Died: July 17, 1912
Known as The Last Universalist for his expertise in a variety of domains, French mathematician Henri Poincare conducted research that formed the basis of the modern chaos theory. Apart from his work on relativity and the three-body problem, he also laid the foundation of algebraic topology.
 3 
Évariste Galois
(Mathematician)
Évariste Galois
15
Birthdate: October 25, 1811
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bourg-la-Reine, French Empire
Died: May 31, 1832

Évariste Galois was a French mathematician best remembered for solving a 350-year-old problem when he was still in his teens. His work formed the basis for group theory and Galois theory, two important branches of abstract algebra. Also a political activist, Évariste Galois died at the age of 20 after suffering wounds in a duel.

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 4 
Joseph Fourier
(Mathematician & Physicist)
Joseph Fourier
9
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.

 5 
Adrien-Marie Legendre
(Mathematician)
Adrien-Marie Legendre
7
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.

 6 
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
(Mathematician)
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
5
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.

 7 
Andre Marie Ampere
5
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. 

 8 
Sophie Germain
(French Mathematician Known for Her 'Sophie Germain Prime Numbers')
Sophie Germain
6
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.

 9 
Charles Hermite
(Mathematician)
Charles Hermite
3
Birthdate: December 24, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dieuze
Died: January 14, 1901

Charles Hermite was a French mathematician best remembered for his research on number theory, invariant theory, algebra, elliptic functions, orthogonal polynomials, and quadratic forms. Also an inspiring and influential teacher, Hermite taught Jules Henri Poincaré, who went on to become fa amous mathematician in his own right.

 10 
Siméon Denis Poisson
(Mathematician)
Siméon Denis Poisson
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pithiviers, France
Died: April 25, 1840
 11 
Jacques Hadamard
(Mathematician)
Jacques Hadamard
2
Birthdate: December 8, 1865
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Versailles, France
Died: October 17, 1963
 12 
François Arago
(Astronomer, Mathematician, Physicist, Politician, Scientist, University teacher)
François Arago
4
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.

 13 
Léon Walras
(Economist, University teacher, Mathematician)
Léon Walras
3
Birthdate: December 16, 1834
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Évreux
Died: January 5, 1910

Léon Walras was a French mathematical economist and Georgist. He is known for formulating the marginal theory of value independently of William Stanley Jevons. Considered a pioneer in the development of general equilibrium theory, he authored the book Éléments d'économie politique pure. He is also considered one of the three leaders of the marginalist revolution. 

 14 
Lazare Carnot
(Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist)
Lazare Carnot
3
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.

 15 
Urbain Le Verrier
(French Astronomer and Mathematician Best Known for Predicting the Existence and Position of 'Neptune' Using Only Mathematics)
Urbain Le Verrier
3
Birthdate: March 11, 1811
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint-Lô, France
Died: September 23, 1877

French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier revolutionized celestial mechanics by ascertaining the existence of Neptune by mathematical means. Apart from winning the Royal Society of London’s Copley Medal, he had also led the Observatory of Paris as its director. His name remains one of the 72 engraved on the Eiffel Tower.

 16 
Henri Lebesgue
(Mathematician)
Henri Lebesgue
3
Birthdate: June 28, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beauvais, France
Died: July 26, 1941
 17 
Louis Bachelier
(Mathematician, Economist, Non-fiction writer)
Louis Bachelier
2
Birthdate: March 11, 1870
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Havre
Died: April 26, 1946

French mathematician Louis Bachelier was said to be the first to chart a mathematical model for what is now called the Brownian motion. After losing his wine merchant father early in life, he took over the reins of his family business, but he gradually became a pioneer in mathematical finance.

 18 
Gaspard Monge
(Mathematician)
Gaspard Monge
2
Birthdate: May 9, 1746
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaune, France
Died: July 28, 1818
 19 
Camille Jordan
(Mathematician, Engineer, Professor)
Camille Jordan
2
Birthdate: January 5, 1838
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lyon
Died: January 22, 1922

Camille Jordan was a French mathematician best remembered for his influential Cours d'analyse and his foundational work in group theory. He also served as an educator, teaching at prestigious institutions like the Collège de France and École Polytechnique. The asteroid 25593 Camillejordan is named in his honor.

 20 
Émile Borel
(Former mathematician, he was known for his founding work in the areas of measure theory and probability)
Émile Borel
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1871
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint-Affrique, France
Died: February 3, 1956
 21 
Élie Cartan
(Mathematician)
Élie Cartan
2
Birthdate: April 9, 1869
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dolomieu, France
Died: May 6, 1951
 22 
Pierre Duhem
(French Physicist, Mathematician, and Philosopher Best Known for His Work on 'Chemical Thermodynamics')
Pierre Duhem
2
Birthdate: June 9, 1861
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 14, 1916

Noted for his view that every physical theory should be derivable from thermodynamic first principles, French theoretical physicist Pierre Duhem was also an eminent historian and philosopher of science, producing groundbreaking work in medieval science. Equally known for his work on relation between theory and experiments, he also established that it is impossible to test a scientific hypothesis in isolation.

Joseph Liouville
2
Birthplace: Saint-Omer
 24 
Antoine-Augustin Cournot
(Philosopher and Mathematician Known for His Contribution to the Development of Economics)
Antoine-Augustin Cournot
2
Birthdate: August 28, 1801
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gray, France
Died: March 31, 1877

Regarded as the first economist who had applied math to solve economic problems, Antoine-Augustin Cournot had penned the iconic work Researches into the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth. He was also the first to chart a supply and demand curve on a graph and introduced Cournot competition.

 25 
Paul Lévy
(Mathematician)
Paul Lévy
3
Birthdate: September 15, 1886
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: France
Died: December 15, 1971
 26 
Paul Painlevé
(Former Prime Minister of France (September 1917 – November 1917, April 1925 – November 1925) and Mathematician)
Paul Painlevé
2
Birthdate: December 5, 1863
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 29, 1933

Paul Painlevé was a French mathematician and statesman who served as the prime minister of the Third Republic twice. Even though his first tenure as the prime minister lasted only a few weeks, he had to deal with serious issues within this short time. He also represented France in the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations.

 27 
Jean-Baptiste Biot
(Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor)
Jean-Baptiste Biot
2
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. 

Édouard Lucas
2
 29 
Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
(French Mathematician, Mechanical Engineer and Scientist Who First Described the 'Coriolis Force')
Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
1
Birthdate: May 21, 1792
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 19, 1843

French mathematician and physicist Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis proposed what is now known as Coriolis force. While teaching at the École Polytechnique, Paris, he extended the scope of kinetic energy. His On the Calculation of Mechanical Action remains his most significant book. His name remains inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

Michel Chasles
2
Olinde Rodrigues
1
Jean-Victor Poncelet
1
Birthplace: Metz
Jacques Philippe Marie Binet
1
 34 
Émile Picard
(Mathematician)
Émile Picard
1
Birthdate: July 24, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 11, 1941
Jean-Robert Argand
1
 36 
Jean-Gaston Darboux
(Mathematician)
Jean-Gaston Darboux
1
Birthdate: August 14, 1842
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nîmes, France
Died: February 23, 1917
 37 
Thomas Jan Stieltjes
(Mathematician)
Thomas Jan Stieltjes
1
Birthdate: December 29, 1856
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zwolle, Netherlands
Died: December 31, 1894

Thomas Jan Stieltjes was a Dutch mathematician who contributed immensely to the study of continued fractions, for which he was honored by the French Academy of Sciences with the prestigious Ormoy Prize. A pioneer in the study of moment problems, Thomas Jan Stieltjes also worked diligently on number theory and analysis.    

Gabriel Lamé
1
 39 
Joseph Nicollet
(French Geographer, Astronomer and Mathematician Known for Mapping the 'Upper Mississippi River' Basin During the 1830s)
Joseph Nicollet
1
Birthdate: July 24, 1786
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cluse, France
Died: September 11, 1843

French explorer and mathematician Joseph Nicollet had begun his career as a math teacher at age 19. Faced with financial issues, he later moved to the U.S., where he was financially helped by a wealthy family. His exploration of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers helped him chart maps of the region.

 40 
Maurice René Fréchet
(Mathematician)
Maurice René Fréchet
1
Birthdate: September 2, 1878
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Maligny, France
Died: June 4, 1973
 41 
Jacques Charles François Sturm
1
Birthdate: September 29, 1803
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: December 15, 1855
Copley Medal-winning French mathematician Jacques Charles François Sturm contributed immensely to the theory of equations with his Sturm’s theorem. His research covered compressible fluids and the speed of sound in water. His is one of the 72 names engrave on the Eiffel Tower. An asteroid was named after him too.
 42 
Étienne-Louis Malus
1
Birthdate: July 23, 1775
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 24, 1812
 43 
Joseph Bertrand
(French Mathematician Known for His Elegant Applications of 'Differential Equations' to 'Analytical Mechanics')
Joseph Bertrand
1
Birthdate: March 11, 1822
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 5, 1900

Joseph Bertrand was a 19th-century French mathematician. He is remembered for his work in the fields of number theory, economics, differential geometry, probability theory,  and thermodynamics. A brilliant individual, he completed his Ph.D. with a thesis on the mathematical theory of electricity as a teenager. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.  

 44 
Leon Charles Thevenin
0
Birthdate: March 30, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Meaux, France
Died: September 21, 1926
 45 
Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre
(French Mathematician and Astronomer Who Prepared Tables That Plot the Location of 'Uranus')
Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre
1
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.

 46 
Édouard Goursat
(Mathematician)
Édouard Goursat
1
Birthdate: May 21, 1858
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lanzac, France
Died: November 25, 1936
 47 
Théodore Reinach
(Archaeologist, Politician)
Théodore Reinach
0
Birthdate: July 3, 1860
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: October 28, 1928
 48 
René-Louis Baire
(Mathematician)
René-Louis Baire
1
Birthdate: January 21, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 5, 1932
 49 
Louis Couturat
(Logician)
Louis Couturat
0
Birthdate: January 17, 1868
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ris-Orangis, France
Died: August 3, 1914
Gaspard de Prony
0