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Mathematical Treasure: Carnot's Calculus and Geometry

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Lazare Nicolas Marguérite Carnot (1753-1823) was a French engineer and geometer. As “Citizen” Carnot, he assisted the Revolutionary Republican government as an advisor and military engineer. In 1797, he published Réflexions sur la métaphysique du calcul infinitésimal. The work appeared in Oeuvres Mathématiques du Citoyen Carnot.

A portrait of Carnot serves as the frontispiece. Revolutionary feathers adorn his hat.

The “Table of Contents” for Réflexions provides an outline of the presentation.

Carnot published two notable works in geometry: De la Corrélation des Figures de Géométrie (1801) and Géométrie de Position (1803). Pages from De la Corrélation are shown below, beginning with the title page. (Selected pages from Géométrie de Position can be seen in Mathematical Treasure: Lazare Carnot's Geometry.)

The “Table of Contents” provides a listing of the topics considered.

Two sample pages from the text along with the book’s plate of illustrations:

These images are supplied through the courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich and are available via e-rara.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Carnot's Calculus and Geometry," Convergence (March 2019)