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Clairaut worked on a wide range of problems within mathematics. He studied the Three Body Problem and he wrote several important memoirs on the calculus.In 1731 Clairaut became the youngest person ever elected to the Paris Academy of Sciences. He there joined a small group, led by Pierre Louis Maupertuis, who supported the natural philosophy of Newton.
In 1736 and 1737 he took part in a Lapland expedition led by Maupertuis. This was organised by the Paris Academy of Sciences to verify Newton's theoretical proof that the Earth is an oblate spheroid.
In 1743 he published Théorie de la figure de la Terre confirming the Newton-Huygens belief that the Earth was flattened at the poles.
He helped the Marquise du Chatelet translate Newton's Principia into French. In 1752 his Théorie de la lune , a mathematical study of the motion of the Moon, cleared up unanswered questions using Newtonian mechanics. In this Clairaut uses methods to find singular solutions of differential equations.
Clairaut calculated to within a month the return in 1759 of Halley's comet to its perihelion (closest point to the Sun).
Clairaut worked on a wide range of problems within mathematics. He studied the Three Body Problem and he wrote several important memoirs on the calculus. For example Sur quelques questions de maximis et minimis in 1733 and Recherches générals sur le calcul intégral in 1739. A book on algebra Élements d'algèbre was published in 1749 and a geometry book Élements de géometrie in the year of his death 1765.
References (18 books/articles)
A page from a work by Clairaut:
Title page of Recherches sur les courbes à double coubure (1731)
References elsewhere in this archive:
Tell me about Clairaut's work on general relativity and on orbits and gravitation
Alexis C Clairaut was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1737. You can see a history of the Royal Society and a list of the members among the mathematicians in our archive.
Rue Clairaut is in the 17th Arrondissement in Paris. You can see a list of Paris streets named after mathematicians in our archive.
There is a Crater Clairaut on the moon. You can see a list of lunar features named after mathematicians.
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