(June 21, 1781 – April 25, 1840)

Poisson was an outstanding genius whose contributions to mathematical physics are hard to beat. Aged 17 years, he gained admission into the highly competitive École Polytechnique Paris as top qualifier and wasted no time in letting his presence felt. The great Joseph-Louis Lagrange and Pierre-Simon Laplace were among the professors awed by his abilities. Consequently, he was exempted from the general routine and encouraged to pursue his preferred areas of interest. This allowance enabled him to publish two remarkable treatises in 1800. Upon graduation that same year, the Polytechnique hired him as Deputy Lecturer. His motto was, “Life is good for two things: doing mathematics and teaching mathematics.” Therefore, it was no surprise that his brilliance alongside workaholic disposition, enabled him attain the rank of Full Professor within 6 years. Siméon Denis Poisson would successively succeed Joseph Fourier and Laplace, and simultaneously serve in various capacities on various boards: thanks to continued patronage by both Lagrange and Laplace. At the peak of his career, only Carl Friedrich Gauss and Augustin-Louis Cauchy outranked him mathematically. However, he remained a better teacher than both; and for several years served as Math Pedagogical Supervisor for the whole of France. A prolific researcher, Poisson’s works spanned across heat, electricity, magnetism, mechanics, optics, statistics and various areas of mathematics. Over 400 treatises are credited to him. In addition to being the eponym of Poisson lunar crater, as well as several mathematical concepts and theorems, he is among the 72 honorees whose names are emblazoned on the Eiffel tower.

9 Comments

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