La nomination de H. Poincaré à la chaire de physique mathématique et calcul des probabilités de la Sorbonne. (Nomination of H. Poincaré to the chair of Mathematical Physics and Probability at the Sorbonne). (French) Zbl 0628.01040

Cah. Sémin. Hist. Math. 9, 221-230 (1988).
Two aims of the paper are as follows: to explain the circumstances surrounding the appointment of H. Poincaré to the aforementioned chair and show the formation of a group of top French scientists in 1880’s, when a total of eleven famous scientists either died or retired from Sorbonne and had to be replaced by the same number of younger (17.5 years, on average) scientists. Although the author reascertains the fact that the necessary conditions for appointments at Sorbonne are the excellence and achievement in science and mathematics in particular, they become sufficient only when coupled with a support of influential man and similar “non-mathematical” factors. For Poincaré, the support was provided by his teacher Hermite (who also worked hard on establishing E. Picard (his son in law) and P. Appel (his nephew)) and by a newly appointed Minister of Education whose doctor happened to be Poincaré’s father. The author also explains that the appointment of Poincaré to the chair of Mathematical Physics was not coincidental, but rather natural.
Reviewer: R. Dimitric


01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies
01A72 Schools of mathematics
01A73 History of mathematics at specific universities

Biographic References:

Poincaré, H
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