(May 9, 1746 – July 28, 1818)
Although Gaspard Monge is credited with inventing Descriptive Geometry, I must attest that Renaissance-era artisans such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Duerer (of Nuremberg) were aware of it. Duerer’s publication in 1525 titled Underweysung der Messung mit dem Zirckel und Richtscheyt (i.e. Instructions for Measuring with Compass and Ruler), which dealt with the rudiments of the subject, is over two centuries older than Professor Monge. Still, Monge deserves commendation, because he was the first person known to have used scrupulous mathematics in analyzing and consolidating the hitherto artistic theme. He is as well, revered for his pioneering treatise on Differential Geometry in 1795. Many scholars tagged him the “Father of Differential Geometry” due to that. But long before these works and discoveries, Monge proved his mettle by becoming a teenaged physics tutor. He also explored chemistry and metallurgy before opting for a military career. It was while serving in the French engineering corps that he revamped descriptive geometry. The importance of his findings was such that France kept it secret for more than a decade. Those works alleviated many insuperable problems encountered in both architecture and civil engineering. And apart from spearheading the founding of École Polytechnique in Palaiseau (in 1794), Gaspard Monge collaborated with Antoine Lavoisier, Adrien-Marie Legendre, Pierre-Simon Laplace and others in establishing the metric system of measurements. In recognition for his vast contributions, France’s then-emperor Napoleon Bonaparte ennobled him in 1808: as Count of Péluse. The illustrious geometer and École Polytechnique’s ex-Commanding General, Jean-Victor Poncelet, was Monge’s student.