Joseph Fourier – a French Mathematician

Categories: Biography

In the course of recent hundreds of years, the equation which depicts the conduction of heat in solids has turned into a great tool for examining the movement of heat and furthermore to solve a large collection of diffusion problems in different streams of science which incorporate physical sciences, natural sciences, earth sciences, and sociologies. Joseph Fourier from France, who was a standout amongst the most skilled researcher of modern science, gave this equation in the start of the nineteenth century.

This project is to exhibit a picture of how certain thoughts in the starting led Fourier in the improvement of heat equation and how later on his work encouraged and inspired others to utilize this heat equation to depict other powerful physical systems. As such, everybody related with the study of arbitrary processes decrease to Joseph Fourier's heat equation.

Amidst eighteenth century, a French physicist and mathematician Joseph Fourier was conceived in Auxerre, France. He originated from a modest family.

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He turned into an orphan when he was at 10 years old. When he was 12 years of age, he took confirmation in military school which was controlled by Benediction priests. He was extremely fascinated by arithmetic. After a couple of years he turned into a teacher in the same school and he was also a part of the regional revolutionary council, which did not prove to be a decent choice as it nearly cost him his crown under guillotine. Later being spared from death, he returned to educating students however soon Napoleon requested him to go with him to his Egyptian endeavor.

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On returning back he was made official of the Isere in France, an occupation in which he performed exceedingly good. Then again, he was given the duty of gathering all the artistic and logical discoveries in Egypt, which was then written in a book. Although, he is most prominently known for his work on the conduction of heat, which is the base of “Fourier Series”. After Napoleon's fall, he came back to Paris and again engaged himself into arithmetic, as he took more interest in academics.

Childhood and early life

On 21st March 1768, Joseph Fourier was born in Auxerre, France. His dad was a tailor by occupation. Fourier began his studies at Pallais' school, which was controlled by music teacher from the Minster at Auxerre. When he was ten years of age, he lost both of his parents. Yet, inspite of this sorrow he demonstrated great promise and was appropriately prescribed to the Bishop of Auxerre. He entered a military school in 1780, which was controlled by Benedictine priests of St. Mark on the suggestion of the Bishop. In the beginning he showed great passion for literature but a few years later he developed an immense interest in mathematics. He did not belong to a very rich family and it is known that he used to spare wax from candles so he can learn at night. In this way working constantly, he finished almost 6 volumes of Bèzout's Cours de mathèmatiques by 1782. For his study of Bossut’s Mècanique en general, he received the first prize in the following year. After his school in 1787, he entered Benedictine monastery with the intent of becoming a monk, yet he didn't know whether he wished to be a priest.


Joseph Fourier started his vocation in 1790 as a professor of arithmetic at his school in École Royale Militaire in Auxerre. At some point, he gradually became indulged into government affairs started to dream of a "free government free of kings and priests." In 1793, he joined the nearby Revolutionary Committee; however when the Kingdom of Terror started in September all through France, he tried to disassociate himself from it, yet he was unable to do so. He was sent to Orléans, where he protected one group against the other. Then he came back to Auxerre and continued teaching, not understanding that he had made many enemies. In July of 1794, he was arrested and was certain to suffer the guillotine. But on July 28, 1794, Maximilien Robespierre, best known for his defense of the Kingdom of Terror, was guillotined and with that political environment the nation began to change. Soon Joseph was released. Then, in 1794, Fourier was nominated to join the École Normale, a teacher training institute, which would open in Jan 1795. Fourier joined the 1st group of scholars and received lectures from famous professors, like Lagrange, Laplace and Monge.

After the course was completed, he initially joined École Normale as a teacher; however he later changed to the École Centrale des Travaux Publics. Now he started working with prominent mathematicians like Gaspard Monge. Sooner or later, Fourier was prisoned once again and it was connected to his previous arrest. Luckily, by that time the political atmosphere of the nation had changed and the famous researchers, and their students, asked for their freedom. Therefore, he was set free in September of 1795. He came back to educating at the École Polytechnique. In 1797 he was designated to the seat of mechanics and analysis, succeeding Lagrange in the position. He was now popular as an exceptional professor. In May 1798, Napoleon cruised to Egypt with the purpose of containing the British impact in that district and carried with him prominent researchers. Fourier went with him as scientific guide. At the time when Egypt was taken, he was chosen as secretary of the Institut d'égypte.

In the beginning of August, after its beat at the Battle of the Nile, the French ended up contained inside Egypt. Fourier utilized the opportunity to set up workshops for the French soldiers. He additionally established a series of academic facilities in the nation and did archeological investigations. After the establishment of Cairo Institute, Fourier was chosen his secretary, a post he held until he left Egypt. It was his responsibility to gather all the written and scientific discoveries made at that time and arrange them.

Also he was continuously working in arithmetic. In 1799, Bonaparte came back to France, leaving a huge force in Egypt. In 1801, Fourier also came after him and continued his work as lecturer of Analysis at the École Polytechnique. In the meantime, he published large volume of works gathered in Egypt. Later, the work was known as 'Depiction de l'égypte', to which Fourier included a broad historical introduction of ancient Egyptian civilization. Fourier was appointed as prefect of the Isère office by Napoleon in 1802. In spite of the fact that he was not willing to take on the position, he couldn't say no to Napoleon. In Grenoble, Fourier demonstrated incredible managerial skills. Two of his most known accomplishments at that time were the seepage of the Bourgoin marshes and the development of another street from Grenoble to Turin. In the meantime, he kept working in Egyptology and Arithmetic. He began to experiment with the flow of heat and published it with the title "On the spread of warmth in strong bodies" on Dec. 21, 1807 at the Paris Institute. During the remaining years, he stayed in Paris and published a series of documents from both applied and pure mathematical topics.

Updated: Feb 24, 2024
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Joseph Fourier – a French Mathematician. (2024, Feb 24). Retrieved from

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