Etienne Bézout

Born: 31 March 1730 in Nemours, France
Died: 27 Sept 1783 in Basses-Loges (near Fontainbleau), France

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Etienne Bézout was appointed examiner of the Gardes de la Marine in 1763. One important task that he was given in this role was to compose a textbook specially designed for teaching mathematics to the students.

Bézout is famed for the texbooks which came out of this assignment. The first was Cours de mathematiques à l'usage des gardes de la marine, a four volume work which appeared in 1764-67.

In 1768 Camus, who was the examiner for the artillery, died. Bézout was appointed to succeed him and began work on another mathematics textbook. He produced Cours complet de mathematiques à l'usage de marine et de l'artillerie, a six volume work which appeared in 1780. This was a very successful textbook and for many years it was the book which students hoping to enter the Ecole Polytechnique studied.

However Bézout is famed for more than being a writer of textbooks. He also did important work on the use of determinants in solving equations, where he generalised Cramer's Rule. His algebraic researches appeared in Théorie générale des équation angébraiques which was published in 1779.

Bézout also gave the first satisfactory proof of a result of Maclaurin on the intersection of two algebraic curves.

Bézout was elected to the Académie des Sciences in 1758.

References (6 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

Tell me about Bezout's work on quadratic cubic and quartic equations

Tell me about Bezout's work on matrices and determinants

Rue Bézout is in the 14th Arrondissement in Paris. You can see a list of Paris streets named after mathematicians in our archive.

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JOC/EFR January 1997