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Jean Charles de La Faille

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1 March 1597

Antwerp, Belgium

4 Nov 1652

Barcelona, Spain

Jan-Karel della Faille or Jean Charles de La Faille attended the Jesuit school in Antwerp, joining the Jesuit Order in 1613. He spent two years at a Jesuit College in Malines before returning to Antwerp. De la Faille became a disciple of Saint-Vincent , who he met in Antwerp. In 1620 he went to France taking a theology degree at Dole and teaching mathematics there. De la Faille taught at the Jesuit College of Louvain from 1626 until 1628 when he went to Spain and was appointed to the Imperial College in Madrid.

Philip IV had become king of Spain and Portugal in 1621. He led Spain and Portugal to victories up to 1635 but then France declared war and he suffered defeats. De la Faille advised Philip IV on questions of defence and of military engineering during this period. La Faille also taught mathematics and military engineering in Madrid. In 1640 Philip IV suffered the loss of Portugal when it declared its independence. De la Faille helped Philip IV by serving as adviser on fortifications along the Spanish - Portuguese border from 1641 until 1644.

In 1644 De la Faille, still working for Philip IV, made military expeditions to Naples, Sicily and Catalonia.

De la Faille wrote Theses mechanicae in 1625. He is famed, however, for a work Theoremata de centro gravitatis partium circuli et ellipsis in 1632 in which he was the first to determine the centre of gravity of the sector of a circle.

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