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Fourier, Joseph (1768–1830)

JOSPEH FOURIER WAS a French mathematician, also acknowledged as an Egyptologist and administrator, who greatly influenced mathematical physics through his Théorie analytique de la chaleur (1822; The Analytical Theory of Heat). He analyzed the con-duction of heat in solid bodies in terms of infinite mathematical series now called the Fourier series. His work went well beyond the area of heat conduction, stimulating research in mathematical physics. Since Fourier, the discipline has been identified with the solution of boundary-value problems, focusing on many natural occurrences such as sunspots, tides, and the weather. Fourier has also contributed to the theory of functions of a real variable, one of the main branches of modern mathematics. The mathematician was one of the earliest proponents of the theory of ...

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