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

René Déscartes
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher and Writer
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: La Haye en Touraine, Touraine, 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

Blaise Pascal
Famous As: Mathematician
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

Pierre-Simon Laplace
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: March 23, 1749
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaumont-en-Auge
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 Évariste Galois

Évariste Galois
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 5 Henri Poincare

Henri Poincare
Famous As: Mathematician and Philosopher
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.

 6 Joseph Fourier

Joseph Fourier
Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
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.

 7 Pierre de Fermat

Pierre de Fermat
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: August 17, 1601
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Beaumont-de-Lomagne
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.

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 8 Alexander Grothendieck

Alexander Grothendieck
Famous As: Mathematician
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 Joseph Louis Lagrange

Joseph Louis Lagrange
Famous As: Mathematician
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. 

 10 Sophie Germain

Sophie Germain
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 11 Adrien-Marie Legendre

Adrien-Marie Legendre
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 12 Augustin-Louis Cauchy

Augustin-Louis Cauchy
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 13 Andre Marie Ampere

Andre Marie Ampere
Famous As: Physicist
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. 

 14 Cédric Villani

Cédric Villani
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher
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.  

 15 Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
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.

 16 Émilie du Châtelet

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

 17 Marquis de Condorcet

Marquis de Condorcet
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: September 17, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ribemont, France
Died: March 28, 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.

 18 Abraham de Moivre

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

 19 Siméon Denis Poisson

Siméon Denis Poisson
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Loiret, France
Died: April 25, 1840

 20 Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
Famous As: Naturalist
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

Andre Weil
Famous As: Mathematician
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 Giovanni Domenico Cassini

Giovanni Domenico Cassini
Famous As: Astronomer and Mathematician
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

 23 Pope Silvester II

Pope Silvester II
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 0946 AD
Birthplace: Auvergne
Died: May 12, 1003
A French-born scholar and teacher, Pope Sylvester II served as the bishop of Rome and ruled the Papal States from 999 to his death. He is known for endorsing and promoting study of Arab and Greco-Roman arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy. Pope is said to be the first to introduce in Europe the decimal numeral system using the Arabic numeral system.

 24 Johann Heinrich Lambert

Johann Heinrich Lambert
Famous As: Mathematician, Polymath
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 Jacques Charles

Jacques Charles
Famous As: 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.

 26 Charles Hermite

Charles Hermite
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 27 Ngo Bao Chau

Ngo Bao Chau
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 28, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hanoi

 28 François Arago

François Arago
Famous As: 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.

 29 Léon Walras

Léon Walras
Famous As: Economist, University teacher, Mathematician
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 Marin Mersenne

Marin Mersenne
Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian, Mathematician, Musicologist, Music theorist, Physicist
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oizé
Died: September 1, 1648

 31 Jean-Pierre Serre

Jean-Pierre Serre
Famous As: Mathematician, Topologist, Professor
Birthdate: September 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pyrénées-Orientales

 32 Lazare Carnot

Lazare Carnot
Famous As: 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.

 33 François Viète

François Viète
Famous As: French mathematician
Birthdate: 1540 AD
Birthplace: Fontenay-le-Comte
Died: February 13, 1603

 34 Henri Lebesgue

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

 35 Jacques Tits

Jacques Tits
Famous As: Mathematician, University teacher, Professor
Birthdate: August 12, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Uccle

 36 Urbain Le Verrier

Urbain Le Verrier
Famous As: Astronomer
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 Hadamard

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

 38 Gaspard Monge

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

 39 Camille Jordan

Camille Jordan
Famous As: Mathematician, Engineer, Professor
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.

 40 Élie Cartan

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

 41 Raymond Queneau

Raymond Queneau
Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter, Mathematician
Birthdate: February 21, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Havre
Died: October 25, 1976

 42 Pierre Gassendi

Pierre Gassendi
Famous As: Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer
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.

 43 Laurent Schwartz

Laurent Schwartz
Famous As: Mathematician, University teacher, Entomologist
Birthdate: March 5, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris
Died: July 4, 2002

 44 Émile Borel

Émile Borel
Famous As: Mathematician, Politician, University teacher
Birthdate: January 7, 1871
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint-Affrique
Died: February 3, 1956

 45 Louis Bachelier

Louis Bachelier
Famous As: Mathematician, Economist, Non-fiction writer
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.

 46 Maxim Kontsevich

Maxim Kontsevich
Famous As: Mathematician, Topologist
Birthdate: August 25, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Khimki

 47 Denis Papin

Denis Papin
Famous As: French physicist, mathematician
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.

 48 Alain Connes

Alain Connes
Famous As: Mathematician, Professor
Birthdate: April 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Draguignan

 49 Serge Lang

Serge Lang
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 19, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Died: September 12, 2005

 50 René Thom

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