Clairaut, Alexis Claude
BornParis, France, 7 May 1713
DiedParis, France, 17 May 1765
Alexis Clairaut was an outstanding mathematician and a prominent French Newtonian. Clairaut was the only one of 20 children of his parents to reach adulthood. His father, Jean-Baptiste Clairaut, taught mathematics in Paris and educated his son at home to an extremely high standard. Alexis used Euclid’s Elements while learning to read and by the age of nine had mastered N. Guisnée’s classical mathematics textbook on algebra, differential calculus, and analytical geometry.
In 1726, at the age of 13, Clairaut read his first paper “Quatre problèmes sur de nouvelles courbes” to the Paris Academy of Sciences. After completing a work on double curvature curves, he was proposed for membership in the academy on 4 September 1729, but he was so young that his election was not confirmed by the king until 1731. Then, at the age of 18, Clairaut became the youngest person ever elected to the academy. He joined a small group of remarkable...
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