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Mathematical Treasure: Works of Charles Hermite

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Charles Hermite (1822-1901) was a French mathematician. An inspiring teacher and prolific mathematician, he published works spanning number theory, algebra, and analysis. Hermite was hindered throughout his life by a physical disability that restricted his activities; nevertheless, he taught at several institutions, principally the École Polytechnique.

In 1873, Hermite proved the mathematical constant “e” to be transcendental. In this same year, he published Cours d’Analyse for the use of his Polytechnique students. The title page of the text is shown below, courtesy of the University of Toronto and the Internet Archive:

Title page of Cours d'Analyse by Charles Hermite, 1873

The “Table of Contents” indicates the concepts and topics considered.

First page of table of contents of Cours d'Analyse by Charles Hermite, 1873

Second page of table of contents of Cours d'Analyse by Charles Hermite, 1873

Third page of table of contents of Cours d'Analyse by Charles Hermite, 1873

In 1885, Hermite published a work on elliptical functions. The title page of the text is shown below, courtesy of Cornell University and Google Books:

Title page of Sur quelques applications des fonctions elliptiques by Charles Hermite, 1885

The first page of the text begins with a problem involving the equilibrium of temperatures.

First page of Sur quelques applications des fonctions elliptiques by Charles Hermite, 1885

Hermite’s collected works were published by the French Academy of Sciences in four volumes in 1905, 1908, 1912 and 1917. The title page of Volume I is shown below, courtesy of the University of Michigan Historical Math Collection:

Title page of first volume of Œuvres de Charles Hermite, 1905

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Works of Charles Hermite," Convergence (February 2019)

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