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Pierre-Simon Laplace, 1749-1827


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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPt. IEarly Career, 1768-1778Ch. 1Youth, Education, and Election to the Academy3Ch. 2Finite Differences, Recurrent Series, and Theory of Chance7Ch. 3Probability of Events and of Their Causes: The Origin of Statistical Inference13Ch. 4Universal Gravitation29Ch. 5Distribution of Comets38Ch. 6Partial Differential Equations, Determinants, and Variation of Constants44Ch. 7The Figure of the Earth and the Motion of the Seas51Pt. IILaplace in his Prime, 1778-1789Ch. 8Influence and Reputation67Ch. 9Variation of Constants, Differential Operators70Ch. 10Probability Matured72Ch. 11Generating Functions and Definite Integrals86Ch. 12Population93Ch. 13Determination of the Orbits of Comets96Ch. 14Lavoisier and Laplace: Chemical Physics of Heat101Ch. 15Attraction of Spheroids109Ch. 16Planetary Astronomy124Pt. IIISynthesis and Scientific StatesmanshipCh. 17The Revolution and the Metric System149Ch. 18Scientific Work in the Early Revolution156Ch. 19Exposition du systeme du monde166Ch. 20A Scientific Eminence176Ch. 21Traite de mecanique celeste184Pt. IVLaplacian Physics and ProbabilityCh. 22The Velocity of Sound199Ch. 23Short-Range Forces203Ch. 24The Laplacian School209Ch. 25Theory of Error216Ch. 26Probability: Theorie analytique and Essai philosophique224Ch. 27Loss of Influence243Ch. 28The Last Analysis250Pt. VThe Laplace TransformCh. 29Laplace's Integral Solutions to Partial Differential Equations259Conclusion271Abbreviations280Bibliography281Index319

About the Author

Charles Coulston Gillispie is Dayton-Stockton Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University, where he founded the Program in History of Science in 1960. He is the author or numerous books, including The Edge of Objectivity (Princeton). He is the editor of the sixteen-volume Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Robert Fox is Professor of History of Science at the University of Oxford. Ivor Grattan-Guinness is Professor of the History of Mathmatics and Logic at Middlesex Polytechnic University in London.


"Gillispie's distinguished biography is a magisterial survey of one of the most influential scientists of the past two centuries. It is also a history of science at its most challenging."--William R. Shea, Nature "This is a rich and extremely well documented presentation of Laplace's works, which will surely prompt many scientists to go back to the original texts themselves and find out more about this great French scientist."--Jean-Bernard Robert, Physics World "This book will decidedly be the definitive one-volume work on Laplace, and will be of particular value to mathematicians and physicists who wish to know the mathematical details of the origins of a number of significant parts of their subjects."--R. L. Cooke, Mathematical Reviews "This book provides a scholarly and human view of the scientific life of Laplace, seen through the intellectual, political, and social environment of his time."--Lorenzo J. Curtis, Naturvetenskap

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