Famous French Mathematicians

Mathematicians, from around the globe, have played a significant role in the world development as we see it today. And French mathematicians form the nucleus of the group, for it is to them that we have the foundation of algebra, probability, statistics and calculus theory laid. Rene Descartes gave the world algebraic notations of x, y, z and a, b, c to unknown and known quantities and a theory in analytical geometry. Pierre de Fermat played an influential role in infinitesimal calculus, probability, optics and analytic geometry. It was Laplace’s work on probability and statistics theories that ignited further research. Had it not been for Blaise Pascal, we would not have the mechanical calculator that we use today in our day-to-day life! It was French mathematician, Joseph Fourier who gave the world the ‘Fourier Series’. Andre Weil was responsible for discovering the connection between number theory and algebraic geometry. Who can forget Adrien-Marie Legendre who not just invented the Legendre polynomials and Legendre transformation but worked on many important concepts in mathematics? And did you know that French mathematician Agustin Louis Cauchy first developed the rules and definition for mathematics? With this section, explore in details the life and works of French mathematicians.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
René Déscartes
(Former Philosopher known as father of modern philosophy)

René Déscartes
30
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Descartes, France
Died: February 11, 1650
René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, laid down the idea of rationalism, later followed by Spinoza and Leibniz. Descartes also contributed to the field of analytical geometry and led to the Cartesian coordinate system being named after him. His Meditations on First Philosophy is still taught at many universities.

 2 
Blaise Pascal
(One of the Greatest Mathematicians of All Time Who Invented the Mechanical Calculator)

Blaise Pascal
21
Birthdate: June 19, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Died: August 19, 1662

Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and inventor. A child prodigy, Pascal's work on projective geometry, at the age of 16 is commendable. He is one of the earliest inventors of the mechanical calculator, which he did when he was still a teenager. His work on probability theory influenced the development of social science and modern economics.

 3 
Pierre-Simon Laplace
(Mathematician)

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.

 4 
Benoit Mandelbrot
(Mathematician and polymath)

Benoit Mandelbrot
18
Birthdate: November 20, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: October 14, 2010

Noted mathematician and polymath, Benoit B. Mandelbrot is perhaps best known for his work on fractal. He not only coined the term, but also used computer-constructed images to illustrate the mathematical definition. Also credited with the discovery of Mandelbrot set and Mandelbrot law, he established that even those things which were apparently chaotic or rough had a "degree of order".

 5 
Évariste Galois
(Mathematician)

Évariste Galois
14
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.

 6 
Henri Poincare
(French Polymath and Mathematician Known as One of the Founders of the 'Field of Topology')

Henri Poincare
5
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.

 7 
Joseph Fourier
(Mathematician & Physicist)

Joseph Fourier
8
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.

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 8 
Alexander Grothendieck
(Mathematician)

Alexander Grothendieck
8
Birthdate: March 28, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: November 13, 2014

Alexander Grothendieck was a 20th-century mathematician who was a leading figure in the creation of modern algebraic geometry. With his so-called "relative" perspective, he revolutionized many areas of pure mathematics. During his later career, he became a professor at the University of Montpellier. He is counted among the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century.

 9 
Pierre de Fermat
(Mathematician)

Pierre de Fermat
6
Birthdate: 1607 AD
Birthplace: Beaumont-de-Lomagne, France
Died: January 12, 1665

Seventeenth-century French mathematician Pierre de Fermat was also a qualified lawyer. Remembered mostly for his contribution to number theory, probability, calculus, and analytic geometry, he was also known for his proficiency in six languages, including Greek and Latin. One of his major works, Introduction to Loci, was released posthumously.

 10 
Adrien-Marie Legendre
(Mathematician)

Adrien-Marie Legendre
6
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.

 11 
Joseph Louis Lagrange
(Mathematician)

Joseph Louis Lagrange
5
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. 

 12 
Sophie Germain
(French Mathematician Known for Her 'Sophie Germain Prime Numbers')

Sophie Germain
5
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.

 13 
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
(Mathematician)

Augustin-Louis Cauchy
4
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.

 14 

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. 

 15 
Cédric Villani
(Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher)

Cédric Villani
7
Birthdate: October 5, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brive-la-Gaillarde

Fields Medal-winning French politician and mathematician Cédric Villani works mainly on mathematical physics, partial differential equations and Riemannian geometry. He serves as Member of the National Assembly for Essonne's 5th constituency, after being elected during the 2017 legislative election. He was a member of La République En Marche! but defected later to form the political party Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity.  

 16 
Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
(Mathematician, Philosopher)

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
3
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.

 17 

Émilie du Châtelet
5
Birthdate: December 17, 1706
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 10, 1749

 18 
Abraham de Moivre
(Mathematician, Statistician)

Abraham de Moivre
3
Birthdate: May 26, 1667
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vitry-le-François
Died: November 27, 1754

 19 
Marquis de Condorcet
(Mathematician, Philosopher)

Marquis de Condorcet
3
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.

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
3
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.

 21 
Andre Weil
(Mathematician)

Andre Weil
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 6, 1998

French mathematician Andre Weil, who was also the brother of philosopher Simone Weil, is best known for his contribution to algebraic geometry. He also co-founded the Bourbaki group, consisting of mathematicians who collectively wrote using the pseudonym Nicolas Bourbaki. Weil took a keen interest in Hinduism and also learned Sanskrit.

 22 
Siméon Denis Poisson
(Mathematician)

Siméon Denis Poisson
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pithiviers, France
Died: April 25, 1840

 23 
Giovanni Domenico Cassini
(Astronomer and Mathematician)

Giovanni Domenico Cassini
3
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

 24 
Johann Heinrich Lambert
(Mathematician who Proved that π is Irrational)

Johann Heinrich Lambert
3
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.

 25 
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.

 26 
Jacques Charles
(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)

Jacques Charles
3
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.

 27 
Ngo Bao Chau
(Mathematician)

Ngo Bao Chau
3
Birthdate: June 28, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hanoi

 28 
François Arago
(Astronomer, Mathematician, Physicist, Politician, Scientist, University teacher)

François Arago
3
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.

 29 
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. 

 30 
Jean-Pierre Serre
(Mathematician, Topologist, Professor)

Jean-Pierre Serre
4
Birthdate: September 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pyrénées-Orientales

 31 
Marin Mersenne
(Mathematician)

Marin Mersenne
4
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oizé, France
Died: September 1, 1648

 32 
Henri Lebesgue
(Mathematician)

Henri Lebesgue
3
Birthdate: June 28, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beauvais, France
Died: July 26, 1941

 33 
François Viète
(Mathematician whose work on new algebra)

François Viète
3
Birthdate: 1540 AD
Birthplace: Fontenay-le-Comte, France
Died: February 23, 1603

 34 
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.

 35 
Jacques Hadamard
(Mathematician)

Jacques Hadamard
2
Birthdate: December 8, 1865
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Versailles, France
Died: October 17, 1963

 36 
Urbain Le Verrier
(Astronomer)

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.

 37 
Jacques Tits
(Mathematician, University teacher, Professor)

Jacques Tits
3
Birthdate: August 12, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Uccle

 38 
Gaspard Monge
(Mathematician)

Gaspard Monge
2
Birthdate: May 9, 1746
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaune, France
Died: July 28, 1818

 39 
Laurent Schwartz
(Mathematician, University teacher, Entomologist)

Laurent Schwartz
2
Birthdate: March 5, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris
Died: July 4, 2002

 40 
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.

 41 
Pierre Gassendi
(Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer)

Pierre Gassendi
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1592
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champtercier
Died: October 24, 1655

French Catholic priest and astronomer Pierre Gassendi is remembered for his efforts to reconcile atomism with Christian ideals and for his anti-Aristotelianism. His studies included research on Epicurean philosophy. Apart from observing the transit of Mercury, he also studied the speed of sound and horizontal momentum.

 42 
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

 43 
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.

 44 
Élie Cartan
(Mathematician)

Élie Cartan
2
Birthdate: April 9, 1869
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dolomieu, France
Died: May 6, 1951

 45 
Denis Papin
(French physicist, mathematician)

Denis Papin
2
Birthdate: August 22, 1647
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Blois, France
Died: August 26, 1713

Best remembered for his ground-breaking invention of the pressure cooker, Denis Papin was also the man behind the first piston steam engine, which played a major part in ushering in the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, he died a destitute and remains buried in an unmarked grave in London.

 46 
Maxim Kontsevich
(Mathematician, Topologist)

Maxim Kontsevich
4
Birthdate: August 25, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Khimki

 47 
Alain Connes
(Mathematician known for his contributions to the study of operator algebras and noncommutative geometry)

Alain Connes
2
Birthdate: April 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Draguignan, France

 48 
René Thom
(Mathematician)

René Thom
2
Birthdate: September 2, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montbéliard, France
Died: October 25, 2002

 49 
Mikhail Leonidovich Gromov
(Mathematician, University teacher)

Mikhail Leonidovich Gromov
3
Birthdate: December 23, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boksitogorsk

 50 

Jean Sylvain Bailly
2
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.