Alexis Claude Clairaut

Clairaut, Alexis Claude

 

Born May 7, 1713, in Paris; died there May 17, 1765. French mathematician and astronomer.

Clairaut exhibited his mathematical gifts in childhood and at the age of 18 was made an adjunct of the Paris Academy of Sciences. In mathematical analysis he introduced the concepts of line integral, total differential of a function of several independent variables, and general and singular solutions of first-order differential equations. He also developed a new theory of the motion of the moon (1751) and conducted studies of the earth’s shape, proving a number of fundamental theorems in advanced geodesy. On the basis of his study of the motion of Halley’s Comet in 1759, he determined the time of its next passage through perihelion (the error was only about one month). In mechanics he created a dynamic theory of relative motion (1742). In 1754, Clairaut was elected an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

WORKS

In Russian translation:
Teoriia figury Zemli, osnovannaia na nachalakh gidrostatiki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.

REFERENCE

Brunet, P. La Vie et l’oeuvre de Clairaut. Paris, 1952.
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1713 Alexis Claude Clairaut born; a French mathematician, geodesist and astronomer; studied the motion of the Moon; calculated an ephemeris for Halley's comet before its return in 1759.