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Luigi Federico Menabrea

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4 Sept 1809

Chambéry, Savoy, France

24 May 1896

St Cassin (near Chambéry), France

Luigi Menabrea studied engineering and mathematics at the University of Turin, then became an engineer in the army. He became professor of mechanics at Turin and, in 1842, published a paper extending ideas relating to Babbage 's mechanical calculator.

Menabrea began a political career which saw him become Italian Premier and Foreign Minister in 1867. During this period of politics he still did excellent scientific work, giving the first precise formulation of methods of structual analysis based on the principle of virtual work.

He also studied elasticity and the principle of least work. He published, jointly with J L F Bertrand , the first correct proof of this principle in 1870. Castigliano, with whom Menabrea was in dispute regarding this principle, became better known for the concepts of work and energy in analytical mechanics.

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