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André-Louis Cholesky

Claude Brezinski and Dominique Tournès
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Tom French
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I found this book to be muddled and difficult to follow. For example, on page 2, the authors present us a short paragraph of Cholesky’s high school education and his entry into École Polytechnique in the year 1895. Then, without any transition or introduction, the authors’ next paragraph takes us to the year 1789 and the founding of the Polytechnique. We get a 45-line paragraph exploring gritty details of over a century of history of the school. This paragraph is followed in turn by a 25-line paragraph listing each of Cholesky’s instructors at the Polytechnique, including the year and place of birth as well as the year and place of death for each instructor. Much of the book is like this, so that one wonders if one is reading a parish log, a military report, or a book about a famous mathematician, soldier, and educator.

Those willing to put up with the shortcomings sited above will find the chapters on Topography and Cholesky’s methods for solving linear systems of equations well done and informative. I did wish to see more concrete examples of Cholesky’s methods, however.

I found a number of the diagrams in this book difficult to read because of the poor quality of the reproduction. The reader should be forewarned that Appendices B and C (which comprise 67 pages of text and diagrams) are in French, without translation.

This book will become part of my library; it provides sources and information about André-Louis Cholesky and useful background information on topography, leveling, and solving systems of linear equations.

Tom French has a B.S. and M.S. degree in Mathematics from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He has 35 years of engineering and business experience with Lockheed Martin, where he served as a multi-functional engineering manager and program manager. He was the program manager for several large product innovations and was one of the leaders who implemented the technology revolution in the banking system in the Russian Federation. Tom has taught mathematics and computers in numerous schools, colleges and universities throughout the United States and the world. 


Biography of Cholesky

Cholesky's family

On topography

The method of Cholesky for linear systems

Other works of Cholesky

Léon Eyrolles and his superior school

An unpublished book by Cholesky

Ernest Benoît