• Winfried Scharlau
  • Hans Opolka
Part of the Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics book series (UTM)


Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768–1830) was not a number theorist. He would probably not even have called himself a mathematician, but a physicist. His main area of research was the mathematical theory of heat. He wrote several papers about the topic and one basic book, Théorie analytique de la chaleur (Paris, 1822; an English translation was published in 1878). Fourier was a professional politician; as prefect of the Départment d’Isère (at Grenoble), he was closely associated with Napoleon. He accompanied Napoleon on his campaign in Egypt and had the reputation of being quite knowledgeable about that country.


Chief Problem Scientific Biography Balance Opinion Professional Politician Extreme Tenuity 
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  1. J. Fourier: Théorie analytique de la chaleur, Engl. translation, Cambridge, 1878.Google Scholar
  2. J. Ravetz and I. Grattan-Guinness: Fourier, Jean Baptiste Joseph in Dictionary of Scientific Biography.Google Scholar
  3. I. Grattan-Guinness: Joseph Fourier, 1768–1830, Cambridge, London, 1970.Google Scholar
  4. J. Herivel: Joseph Fourier, the Man and the Physicist, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1975.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winfried Scharlau
    • 1
  • Hans Opolka
    • 1
  1. 1.Mathematisches InstitutUniversität MünsterMünsterWest Germany

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