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Gaston Maurice Julia

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3 Feb 1893

Sidi Bel Abbès, Algeria

19 March 1978

Paris, France

When only 25 when Gaston Julia published his 199 page masterpiece Mémoire sur l'iteration des fonctions rationelles which made him famous in the mathematics centres of his days.

As a soldier in the First World War, Julia had been severely wounded in an attack on the French front designed to celebrate the Kaiser's birthday. Many on both sides were wounded including Julia who lost his nose and had to wear a leather strap across his face for the rest of his life. Between several painful operations he carried on his mathematical researches in hospital.

Later he became a distinguished professor at the École Polytechnique in Paris.

In 1918 Julia published a beautiful paper Mémoire sur l'itération des fonctions rationnelles, Journal de Math. Pure et Appl. 8 (1918), 47-245, concerning the iteration of a rational function f. Julia gave a precise description of the set J(f) of those z in C for which the nth iterate fn(z) stays bounded as n tends to infinity. It received the Grand Prix de l' Académie des Sciences .

Seminars were organised in Berlin in 1925 to study his work and participants included Brauer , Hopf and Reidemeister . H Cremer produced an essay on his work which included the first visualisation of a Julia set.

Although he was famous in the 1920s, his work was essentially forgotten until B Mandelbrot brought it back to prominence in the 1970s through his fundamental computer experiments.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland