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Pierre Varignon

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Caen, France

23 Dec 1722

Paris, France

Pierre Varignon was educated at the Jesuit College in Caen. He then studied at the University of Caen where he received his M.A. in 1682. The following year he became a priest in Caen.

Led into mathematics by reading Euclid , he read Descartes ' Géométrie and thereafter devoted himself to mathematical sciences.

Varignon became professor of mathematics at the Collège Mazarin, Paris in 1688, then in 1704 in addition to the chair at Collège Mazarin, he became professor of mathematics at the Collège Royal. His lectures at the Collège Mazarin were published in Eléments de mathématiques (1731).

Varignon's chief contributions were to graphical statics and mechanics. He published Projet d'une nouvelle mécanique in 1687. He was one of the first French scholars to recognise the value of the calculus and developed analytic dynamics by adapting Leibniz 's calculus to the inertial mechanics of Newton 's Principia.

Among his other work was a publication in 1699 on applications the differential calculus to fluid flow and to water clocks. In 1702 he applied the calculus to clocks driven by a spring.

Varignon was elected to the Académie Royale des Sciences in 1688, the Berlin Academy in 1713 and the Royal Society in 1718.

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