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French Michel CHASLES

born Michel Floréal CHASLES

French mathematician

Source :  Eric MORNAS

Born: on November 15, 1793 in Epernon, France
Died: on December 18, 1880 in Paris, France


Chasles was born at Épernon in France and studied at the École Polytechnique in Paris under Siméon Denis Poisson. In the War of the Sixth Coalition he was drafted to fight in the defence of Paris in 1814. After the war, he gave up on a career as an engineer or stockbroker in order to pursue his mathematical studies.

In 1837 he published his Historical view of the origin and development of methods in geometry, a study of the method of reciprocal polars in projective geometry. The work gained him considerable fame and respect and he was appointed Professor at the École Polytechnique in 1841, then he was awarded a chair at the Sorbonne in 1846. A second edition of his book was published in 1875, and Leonhard Sohncke translated the work into German.

Jakob Steiner had proposed the problem of enumerating the number of conic sections tangent to each of five given conics, and had answered it incorrectly. Chasles developed a theory of characteristics that enabled the correct enumeration of the conics (there are 3264) (see enumerative geometry). He established several important theorems (all called Chasles' theorem). That on solid body kinematics was seminal for understanding their motions, and hence to the development of the theories of dynamics of rigid bodies.

In 1865 he was awarded the Copley Medal.

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See Also :

- Category Mathématician