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Pierre-Simon Laplace

Pierre-Simon Laplace

French mathematician and astronomer

Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace 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. In statistics, the Bayesian interpretation of probability was developed mainly by Laplace.

Laplace formulated Laplace's equation, and pioneered the Laplace transform which appears in many branches of mathematical physics, a field that he took a leading role in forming. The Laplacian differential operator, widely used in mathematics, is also named after him. He restated and developed the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the Solar System and was one of the first scientists to postulate the existence of black holes and the notion of gravitational collapse.

Laplace is remembered as one of the greatest scientists of all time. Sometimes referred to as the French Newton or Newton of France, he has been described as possessing a phenomenal natural mathematical faculty superior to that of any of his contemporaries. He was Napoleon's examiner when Napoleon attended the École Militaire in Paris in 1784. Laplace became a count of the Empire in 1806 and was named a marquis in 1817, after the Bourbon Restoration.


March 23, 1749
Pierre-Simon Laplace was born in Beaumont-en-Auge.


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