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Gaspard Monk


Gaspard Monk, French, son of a poor trader, under the influence of a lieutenant colonel attended classes at the Military School of Mezière where he would later teach. Of great capacity, he was one of the mathematicians of the French Revolution, contributing many articles to the "Memories of the Academy of Sciences". He became one of the most notable French scientists with perhaps a higher reputation as a physicist and chemist than a mathematician. He participated with Lavoisier in experiments that would revolutionize chemistry in 1789. Monk was a member of the National Institute that took the place of the Academy at the time of the Revolution.

As a mathematician, his main work was "Descriptive Geometry", kept secretly guarded by his superiors until 1794 as they were of national defense interest. In this work we used a lot of diagrams but finally seemed to agree with Lagrange to avoid them in elementary Analytical Geometry.

Monk, as well as Carnot and Condorcet, actively participated in revolutionary campaigns, becoming Minister of the Navy and responsible for signing the official report of the king's trial and execution. After a year he stepped down from this position, always remaining active in political and military operations and published important work under the title, "Description of the Art of Making the Cannons." He was the principal advocate of educational institutions. Member of a committee of public works, in 1794, stimulated the foundation of the Polytechnic School specialized in the preparation of engineers, of which he was professor and administrator.

He taught what we call Descriptive Geometry and also the application of Analysis to Geometry, having impressed Lagrange so much with his results that he is said to have exclaimed: "With his application of Analysis to Geometry the devil of man will become immortal." It is due to Monk the resurgence of geometry in space, with a completely algebraic treatment. In 1795 he published "Analysis Sheets" shaping Analytical Geometry in three dimensions that is included in texts from current university courses and reached us, thanks to the concern of students to publish it.

At the end of the Revolution he received many honors, as he always supported Napoleon. With the restoration of the banished French monarchy ox, lost even in the post at the Polytechnic School and the National Institute, dying soon after.

Source: Fundamentals of Elementary Mathematics, Gelson Iezzi - Current Publisher