Jean-Charles de BORDA

Family tree of Jean-Charles de BORDA

Physicist, Mathématician, Inventor

FrenchBorn Jean-Charles de BORDA

French mathematician, physicist, political scientist, and sailor

Born on May 4, 1733 in Dax, France , France

Died on February 19, 1799 in Paris, France

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Born in the city of Dax, in 1756 Borda wrote Mémoire sur le mouvement des projectiles, a product of his work as a military engineer. For that, he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences in 1764.

Borda was a mariner and a scientist, spending time in the Caribbean testing out advances in chronometers. Between 1777 and 1778, he participated in the American Revolutionary War. In 1781, he was put in charge of several vessels in the French Navy. In 1782, he was captured by the English , and was returned to France shortly after. He returned as an engineer in the French Navy, making improvements to waterwheels and pumps. He was appointed as France's Inspector of Naval Shipbuilding in 1784, and with the assistance of the naval architect Jacques-Noël Sané in 1786 introduced a massive construction programme to revitalise the French navy based on the standard designs of Sané.


In 1770, Borda formulated a ranked preferential voting system that is referred to as the Borda count. The French Academy of Sciences used Borda's method to elect its members for about two decades until it was quashed by Napoleon Bonaparte who insisted that his own method be used after he became president of the Académie in 1801. The Borda count is in use today in some academic institutions, competitions and several political jurisdictions. The Borda count has also served as a basis for other methods such as the Quota Borda system and Nanson's method.

In 1778, He published his method of reducing Lunar Distances for computing the longitude, still regarded as the best of several similar mathematical procedures for navigation and position-fixing in pre-chronometer days; and used, for example, by Lewis and Clarke to measure their latitude and longitude during their exploration of the North-western United States.

Another of his contributions is his construction of the standard metre, basis of the metric system to correspond to the measurements of Delambre.

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Geographical origins

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