Baron Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier
1768 - 1830

 This French Mathematician and Physicist, famous for his pioneer work on the representation of functions by trigonometric series, was born at Auxere, France on March 21, 1768. He was the son of a tailor who became a teacher of mathematics at age sixteen at the military school in Auxere. He later joined the faculty at the Ecole Normale at Paris in the year of its founding (1795) when he was twenty-seven. His teaching success soon led to the offer of the Chair of Analysis at the Ecole Polytechnique and in 1807, he was made a member of the Academy of Sciences.

Fourier's masterpiece was his mathematical theory of heat conduction stated in Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822). As one of the most important books published in the 19th-century, it marked an epoch both in the history of pure and applied mathematics. In it, Fourier developed the theory of the series known by his name and applied it to the solution of boundary-value problems in partial differential equations. This work brought to a close a long controversy, and henceforth it was generally agreed that almost any function of a real variable can be represented by a series involving the sines and cosines of integral multiples of the variable.

 After a long and distinguished career, Fourier died in Paris on May 16, 1830 at age 62.

Grigull, Sandner, Straud, Winkler. Origins of Dimensionless Groups of Heat and Mass Transfer. Lehrstuhl a Fuer Thermodynamik Technische Universitaet Muenchen. IHTC, Muenchen 1982.

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