**Birthdate:**March 31, 1596

**Sun Sign:**Aries

**Birthplace:**Descartes, France

**Died:**February 11, 1650

**Cartesian coordinate system**being named after him. His

**Meditations on First Philosophy**is still taught at many universities.

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.

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1

René Déscartes

(French Philosopher, Mathematician and Inventor of ‘Analytic Geometry’)

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 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

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

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

Évariste Galois

(Mathematician)

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.

5

Henri Poincare

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

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.

6

Alexander Grothendieck

(French Mathematician and a Pioneer in the Field of 'Modern Algebraic Geometry')

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.

7

Joseph Fourier

(Mathematician & Physicist)

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.

8

Pierre de Fermat

(French Mathematician and Founder of the Modern Theory of Numbers)

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.

9

Adrien-Marie Legendre

(Mathematician)

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*.

10

Joseph Louis Lagrange

(Mathematician)

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.

11

Sophie Germain

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

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.

12

Augustin-Louis Cauchy

(Mathematician)

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.

13

Andre Marie Ampere

(Physicist)

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.

14

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

(Mathematician, Philosopher)

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.*

15

Émilie du Châtelet

(Philosopher)

18

6

16

Cédric Villani

(Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher)

28

9

*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**.

17

Abraham de Moivre

(Mathematician, Statistician)

21

3

18

Marquis de Condorcet

(French Philosopher and Mathematician)

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.

19

Andre Weil

(Mathematician)

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.

20

Siméon Denis Poisson

(Mathematician)

20

4

21

Giovanni Domenico Cassini

(Astronomer and Mathematician)

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**.

22

Johann Heinrich Lambert

(Mathematician who Proved that π is Irrational)

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.

23

François Arago

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

20

4

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.

24

Jean-Pierre Serre

(Mathematician, Topologist, Professor)

17

4

25

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

(French Mathematician, Cosmologist Encyclopédiste and One of the First Naturalists to Recognize Ecological Succession)

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.

26

Charles Hermite

(Mathematician)

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.

27

Ngo Bao Chau

(Mathematician)

16

3

28

Jacques Charles

(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)

16

3

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.

29

Lazare Carnot

(Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist)

15

3

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.

30

François Viète

(Mathematician whose work on new algebra)

15

3

31

Henri Lebesgue

(Mathematician)

17

4

32

Léon Walras

(Economist, University teacher, Mathematician)

16

3

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.

33

Marin Mersenne

(French Polymath Active in the 1600s)

14

6

34

Jacques Hadamard

(Mathematician)

13

2

35

Urbain Le Verrier

(French Astronomer and Mathematician Best Known for Predicting the Existence and Position of 'Neptune' Using Only Mathematics)

13

3

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**.

36

Jacques Tits

(Belgian-Born French Mathematician Who Worked on 'Group Theory' and 'Incidence Geometry')

13

3

Belgian-born French mathematician Jacques Tits was the son of a mathematician and professor and grew up to develop the geometric coding of the algebraic structure of linear groups through* Tits buildings*. He has won scores of awards, including the prestigious **Wolf Prize** and the **Abel Prize**.

37

Camille Jordan

(Mathematician, Engineer, Professor)

12

2

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.

38

Laurent Schwartz

(Mathematician, University teacher, Entomologist)

12

2

39

Pierre Gassendi

(Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer)

14

4

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.

40

Élie Cartan

(Mathematician)

13

2

41

Gaspard Monge

(Mathematician)

12

2

42

Émile Borel

(Former mathematician, he was known for his founding work in the areas of measure theory and probability)

12

3

43

Louis Bachelier

(Mathematician, Economist, Non-fiction writer)

12

2

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

Maxim Kontsevich

(Mathematician, Topologist)

17

5

45

Mikhail Leonidovich Gromov

(Mathematician, University teacher)

16

3

46

Denis Papin

(French physicist, mathematician)

12

2

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.

47

Alain Connes

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

11

2

48

René Thom

(Mathematician)

11

2

49

Jean Sylvain Bailly

(French Astronomer, Mathematician and Former Mayor of Paris)

12

2

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.

50

Joseph Liouville

11

2