# Mathematician:Pierre-Simon de Laplace

## Mathematician

French mathematician and astronomer whose work greatly influenced the development of the mathematics governing astronomy.

Pioneered the field of mathematical physics.

Considered himself to be the greatest mathematician in France.

Known within his lifetime as "the Newton of France".

Often criticised by those who believe that his apparently insincere political views, and tendency to change sides to maximise his personal advantage, are a character flaw.

Others believe that his generous spirit, and willingness to help and encourage younger scientists, are of greater importance.

## Nationality

French

## History

- Born: 23 March 1749 in Beaumont-en-Auge, Normandy, France
- Died: 5 March 1827 in Paris, France

## Theorems and Definitions

- Laplace Distribution
- Laplace's Equation
- Laplace Transform
- Laplacian, also known as the Laplace Operator or Laplace-Beltrami Operator (with Eugenio Beltrami)
- Laplace-Runge-Lenz Vector (with Carl David Tolmé Runge and Wilhelm Lenz)

Results named for **Pierre-Simon de Laplace** can be found here.

Definitions of concepts named for **Pierre-Simon de Laplace** can be found here.

## Publications

- 1784:
*Théorie du movement et de la figure elliptique des planètes* - 1796:
*Exposition du système du monde* - 1799 – 1825:
*Traité de Mécanique Céleste*(5 volumes) - 1812:
*Théorie Analytique des Probabilités* - 1814:
*Essai philosophique sur les probabilités*

His complete works have been published as:

*Œuvres complètes de Laplace*, 14 volumes (published 1878 – 1912). However, this does not include his 1784:*Théorie du movement et de la figure elliptique des planètes*.

## Also known as

Some sources report his name as **Pierre Simon de Laplace** (that is, without the hyphen).

## Notable Quotes

*Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis.*- -- to Napoleon, who had questioned the fact that God was not mentioned in
*Traité de Mécanique Céleste*

- -- to Napoleon, who had questioned the fact that God was not mentioned in

*At bottom, the theory of probability is only common sense reduced to calculation; it makes us appreciate with exactitude what reasonable minds feel by a sort of instinct, often without being able to account for it ... It is remarkable that [this] science, which originated in the consideration of games of chance, should have become the most important object of human knowledge.*- -- Introduction to
*Théorie Analytique des Probabilités* - -- Quoted as epigraph to 1937: Eric Temple Bell:
*Men of Mathematics*: Chapter $\text{V}$

- -- Introduction to

*[This very simplicity] is the reason for our not being sufficiently aware how much admiration it deserves.*- -- on the system of Arabic numerals

## Critical View

*Laplace is the great example of the wisdom of directing all of one's efforts to a single central objective worthy of the best a man has in him.*

## Sources

- John J. O'Connor and Edmund F. Robertson: "Pierre-Simon de Laplace": MacTutor History of Mathematics archive

- 1937: Eric Temple Bell:
*Men of Mathematics*... (previous) ... (next): Chapter $\text{V}$: "Greatness and Misery of Man" - 1937: Eric Temple Bell:
*Men of Mathematics*: Chapter $\text{XI}$ - 1986: David Wells:
*Curious and Interesting Numbers*... (previous) ... (next): A List of Mathematicians in Chronological Sequence - 1986: David Wells:
*Curious and Interesting Numbers*... (previous) ... (next): $10$ - 1989: Ephraim J. Borowski and Jonathan M. Borwein:
*Dictionary of Mathematics*... (previous) ... (next):**Laplace, Pierre-Simon, Marquis de**(1749-1827) - 1992: George F. Simmons:
*Calculus Gems*... (previous) ... (next): Chapter $\text {A}.23$: Laplace ($\text {1749}$ – $\text {1827}$) - 1997: David Wells:
*Curious and Interesting Numbers*(2nd ed.) ... (previous) ... (next): A List of Mathematicians in Chronological Sequence - 1997: David Wells:
*Curious and Interesting Numbers*(2nd ed.) ... (previous) ... (next): $10$ - 1998: David Nelson:
*The Penguin Dictionary of Mathematics*(2nd ed.) ... (previous) ... (next):**Laplace, Pierre-Simon, Marquis de**(1749-1827) - 2008: David Joyner:
*Adventures in Group Theory*(2nd ed.) ... (previous) ... (next): Chapter $2$: 'And you do addition?': $\S 2.2$: Functions on vectors: $\S 2.2.5$: Determinants - 2008: David Nelson:
*The Penguin Dictionary of Mathematics*(4th ed.) ... (previous) ... (next):**Laplace, Pierre-Simon, Marquis de**(1749-1827) - 2014: Christopher Clapham and James Nicholson:
*The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Mathematics*(5th ed.) ... (previous) ... (next):**Laplace, Pierre-Simon, Marquis de**(1749-1827)