# Pierre Varignon

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Pierre Varignon | |
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Born | 1654 Caen, France |

Died | 23 December 1722 Paris |

Residence | Paris |

Citizenship | French |

Nationality | French |

Fields | Mathematics |

Institutions | Académie Royale des Sciences, Collège Royal, Collège Mazarin, Berlin Academy, Royal Society |

Known for | statics, mechanics, infinitesimal calculus, convergence of series, water clock, mechanical explanation of gravitation, Varignon's theorem |

**Pierre Varignon** (Caen 1654 – 23 December 1722 Paris) was a French mathematician. He was educated at the Jesuit College and the University in Caen, where he received his M.A. in 1682. He took Holy Orders the following year.

Varignon gained his first exposure to mathematics by reading Euclid and then Descartes' *La Géométrie*. He became professor of mathematics at the Collège Mazarin in Paris in 1688 and was elected to the Académie Royale des Sciences in the same year. In 1704 he held the departmental chair at Collège Mazarin and also became professor of mathematics at the Collège Royal. He was elected to the Berlin Academy in 1713 and to the Royal Society in 1718. Many of his works were published in Paris in 1725, three years after his death. His lectures at Mazarin were published in *Elements de mathematique* in 1731.

Varignon was a friend of Newton, Leibniz, and the Bernoulli family. Varignon's principal contributions were to graphic statics and mechanics. Except for l'Hôpital, Varignon was the earliest and strongest French advocate of infinitesimal calculus, and exposed the errors in Michel Rolle's critique thereof. He recognized the importance of a test for the convergence of series, but analytical difficulties prevented his success. Nevertheless, he simplified the proofs of many propositions in mechanics, adapted Leibniz's calculus to the inertial mechanics of Newton's *Principia*, and treated mechanics in terms of the composition of forces in *Projet d'une nouvelle mécanique* in 1687. Among Varignon's other works was a 1699 publication concerning the application of differential calculus to fluid flow and to water clocks. In 1690 he created a mechanical explanation of gravitation. In 1702 he applied calculus to spring-driven clocks.

## See also

## References

*An original entry was based on the book**A Short Account of the History of Mathematics*(4th edition, 1908) by W. W. Rouse Ball.

- Articles lacking in-text citations from May 2014
- Use dmy dates from December 2010
- 1654 births
- 1722 deaths
- People from Caen
- University of Paris faculty
- 17th-century French people
- 18th-century French people
- 17th-century French mathematicians
- 18th-century French mathematicians
- Fellows of the Royal Society
- Mathematical analysts
- Members of the French Academy of Sciences
- Roman Catholic cleric-scientists
- University of Caen alumni