Joseph Louis Lagrange

Personal Information

Joseph Louis Lagrange was born January 25, 1736 in Turin, Italy. He was one of 11 children, and one of 2 which survived to adulthood. He was the greatest mathematician of the 18th century, studied at Turin College inspired by math and physics at age 17, mainly to have a job with a good income because his father had lost all of his prosperity. He died April 10, 1813.

Major Contribution to Physics

He contributed to making of the metric system and the decimal base. Wanting to solve isoperimetrical problems, Lagrange wrote a letter to Leonhard Euler explaining his discoveries in 1758. His early writings are in a 5 volume book called, “Miscellanea Taurinensia”. He came up with the method of isoperimetrical problems later known as “calculus of Variations”.

Calculus of Variations- finds the curve or surface that maximizes or minimizes a given expression with restrictions on a desired curve

He made a contribution to celestial mechanics, while understandiing the forces of Newtons Laws and corperating that with the study of the planets and space. He discovered the idea that as the moon goes around the earth the same side always faces the earth, because in a 2 body system such as the sun and earth the 3rd body, the moon, will remain constant.

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