Jean-Victor Poncelet

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Poncelet, Jean-Victor


Born July 1, 1788, in Metz; died Dec. 22, 1867, in Paris. French mathematician and engineer. Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1834).

Poncelet graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris in 1810. In 1812 he took part in Napoleon’s campaign in Russia and was taken prisoner; in 1814 he returned to France. He was a professor at the University of Paris from 1838 to 1848 and was director of the Ecole Polytechnique from 1848 to 1850. Poncelet’s principal contribution to geometry is his Treatise on Projective Properties of Figures, written while he was a prisoner of war in Saratov and published in Paris in 1822. In this work the projective properties of figures were treated for the first time as a special group and new methods of geometrical investigation were created. Subsequent use of these methods led to the development of projective geometry. In addition, a number of works deal with engineering mechanics and hydraulics; Poncelet developed an improved water wheel (Poncelet’s wheel) and introduced the kilogram-meter as a unit of mechanical work.


Traité des propriétés projectives des figures, 2nd ed., vols. 1–2. Paris, 1865–66.


Klein, F. Lektsii o razvitii matematiki v XIX stoletii, part 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937. (Translated from German.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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He then skips forward to the Enlightenment, continuing the discussion through to the 20th century in chapters on Francois Viete, Rene Descartes, Gerard Desargues, Giovanni Saccheri, Johann Lambert, Nicolai Lobachevski and Janos Bolyai, Bernhard Riemann, Jean-Victor Poncelet, and Felix Klein.
French mathematician and engineer Jean-Victor Poncelet (1788-1867) was a pioneer in projective geometry, and one of his most important theorems concerns closed polygons that are inscribed in one conic and circumscribed about another.