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Concept# Siméon Denis Poisson

Summary

Baron Siméon Denis Poisson FRS FRSE (si.me.ɔ̃ də.ni pwa.sɔ̃; 21 June 1781 – 25 April 1840) was a French mathematician and physicist who worked on statistics, complex analysis, partial differential equations, the calculus of variations, analytical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, elasticity, and fluid mechanics. Moreover, he predicted the Poisson spot in his attempt to disprove the wave theory of Augustin-Jean Fresnel, which was later confirmed.
Poisson was born in Pithiviers, Loiret district in France, the son of Siméon Poisson, an officer in the French army.
In 1798, he entered the École Polytechnique in Paris as first in his year, and immediately began to attract the notice of the professors of the school, who left him free to make his own decisions as to what he would study. In his final year of study, less than two years after his entry, he published two memoirs, one on Étienne Bézout's method of elimination, the other on the number of integrals of a finite difference equation and this was so impressive that he was allowed to graduate in 1800 without taking the final examination,. The latter of the memoirs was examined by Sylvestre-François Lacroix and Adrien-Marie Legendre, who recommended that it should be published in the Recueil des savants étrangers, an unprecedented honor for a youth of eighteen. This success at once procured entry for Poisson into scientific circles. Joseph Louis Lagrange, whose lectures on the theory of functions he attended at the École Polytechnique, recognized his talent early on, and became his friend. Meanwhile, Pierre-Simon Laplace, in whose footsteps Poisson followed, regarded him almost as his son. The rest of his career, until his death in Sceaux near Paris, was occupied by the composition and publication of his many works and in fulfilling the duties of the numerous educational positions to which he was successively appointed.

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Pierre-Simon, Marquis de Laplace (ləˈplɑ:s; pjɛʁ simɔ̃ laplas; 23 March 1749 – 5 March 1827) was a French scholar and polymath whose work was important to the development of engineering, mathematics, statistics, physics, astronomy, and philosophy. He summarized and extended the work of his predecessors in his five-volume Mécanique céleste (Celestial Mechanics) (1799–1825). This work translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems.

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