Background
Edmond Nicolas Laguerre was born on April 9, 1834, in Bar-le-Duc, France. He was the elder of two sons in the family.
École Polytechnique, Paris, France
Laguerre's parents were forced to move him from one public school to another because of his health problems. However, he was able to enter the École Polytechnique in Paris in 1852, but he suffered from tiredness every day. He excelled in modern languages and mathematics.
French Academy of Sciences, Paris, France
Laguerre was a member of the geometry section of the Academy of Sciences in Paris.
École Polytechnique, Paris, France
Laguerre's parents were forced to move him from one public school to another because of his health problems. However, he was able to enter the École Polytechnique in Paris in 1852, but he suffered from tiredness every day. He excelled in modern languages and mathematics.
educator mathematician scientist
Edmond Nicolas Laguerre was born on April 9, 1834, in Bar-le-Duc, France. He was the elder of two sons in the family.
Laguerre's parents were forced to move Laguerre from one public school to another because of his health problems. However, he was able to enter the École Polytechnique in Paris in 1852, but he suffered from tiredness every day. He excelled in modern languages and mathematics. His overall showing, however, was relatively poor; he ranked forty-sixth in his class. Nevertheless, he published his celebrated “On the Theory of Foci” when he was only nineteen.
In 1854 Laguerre left school and accepted a commission as an artillery officer. For ten years, while in the army, he published nothing. Evidently he kept on with his studies, however, for in 1864 he resigned his commission and returned to Paris to take up duties as a tutor at the École Polytechnique. He remained there for the rest of his life and in 1874 was appointed examinateur. In 1883, with the help of Joseph Bertrand, Laguerre obtained the chair of mathematical physics at the Collège de France. At the end of February 1886 his continually poor health broke down completely; he returned to Bar-le-Duc, where he died in August.
Although his efforts in geometry were striking, all Laguerre’s geometrical production - with but one exception - is now unknown except to a few specialists. Unfortunately for Laguerre’s place in history, this part of his output has been largely absorbed by later theories or has passed into the general body of geometry without acknowledgment. For example, his work on differential invariants is included in the more comprehensive Lie group theory.
Laguerre’s one theorem of geometry which is still cited with frequency is the discovery - made in 1853 in “On the Theory of Foci” - that in the complex projective plane the angle between the lines a and b which intersect at the point O. This theorem is commonly cited as being an inspiration for Arthur Cayley when he introduced a metric into the projective plane in 1859 and for Felix Klein when he improved and extended Cayley’s work in 1871. These assertions appear to be false. There is no mention of Laguerre in Cayley, and Cayley was meticulous to the point of fussiness in the assigning of proper credit. Klein is specific; he states that Laguerre’s work was not known to him when he wrote his 1871 paper on non-EucIidean geometry. Presumably, the Laguerre piece was brought to Klein’s attention after his own publication.
Nevertheless, Laguerre’s current reputation rests on a very solid foundation: his discovery of the set of differential equations (Laguerre’s equations) and their polynomial solutions (Laguerre’s polynomials). These ideas have been enlarged so that today generalized Laguerre equations are usually considered. Laguerre also studied the Laguerre equation in connection with his investigations of the integral and published the results in 1879.
Laguerre was a member of the geometry section of the Academy of Sciences in Paris.
Laguerre was pictured by his contemporaries as a quiet, gentle man who was passionately devoted to his research, his teaching, and the education of his two daughters.
Physical Characteristics: Laguerre was in rather poor health as a boy, and that affected not only his studies, but his life in general.
Laguerre was married and had two daughters.