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Fourier, (Jean Baptiste) Joseph, Baron

Background:

Fourier, (Jean Baptiste) Joseph, Baron (Pronounced: Fooryay) (1768-1830) was born in Auxerre, France. He's considered a French mathematician and physicist. He was the son of a tailor and born into a prominent family. Although initially trained for the priesthood, he turned to mathematics and became a teacher by the age of 16. Fourier was professor between 1795 and 1798) at the École polytechnique in Paris. He accompanied Napoleon I to Egypt and in 1808 he was made a baron. He died in Paris in 1830 - Fourier never married.

Contributions:

Fourier had a very distinguised career and is famous for showing how the conduction of heat in solid bodies could be analyzed in terms of infinite mathematical series which is called the 'Fourier Series'. Fourier was the first correct theory on heat diffusion. His scientific writings are contained in two volumes. Published in 1822, the Fourier Series shows how a mathematical series of sine and cosine terms can be used to analyze heat conduction in solid bodies.

Fourier came upon his idea in connection with the problem of the flow of heat in solid bodies, including the earth. The formula x/2 = sin x - (sin 2x)/2 + (sin 3x)/3 + · · · was published by Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) before Fourier’s work began, so you might like to ponder the question why Euler did not receive the credit for Fourier’s series. The Fourier Transform and Its Application, by Ronald N. Bracewell, McGraw-Hill, 1986,pp 462-464

Famous Works

Oeuvres de Fourier, 2 vol. (1888–90); Analyse des équations déterminées (1831); Théorie analytique de la chaleur (1822; The Analytical Theory of Heat, 1878, reprinted 1955); Description de l'Égypte, 21 vol. (1808–25)

Famous Quote "The profound study of nature is the most fertile source of mathematical discoveries."






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