Joseph Fourier

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Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768-1830) was a French mathematician and physicist. He is credited with describing the Fourier series based on which the Fourier transform has been formed. He is also generally credited with the discovery of the greenhouse effect. Today his mathematical creations are extremely important in a wide range of computer-based technologies, ranging from reconstruction of graphical representations from nuclear emissions in computer-aided tomography (CAT scans), to the compression algorithm for images such as .jpg.

Contributions to science

  • Egyptology - Wrote important papers and a book on the subject - Ref: Description of Egypt
  • Engineering/physics - Unit analysis: the treatment of units as muliplicands in an equation.
                      example:                  (2m/s)*(3s) = 6m 
                      Unit analysis was of critical importance in helping to solve the very 
                      difficult problem of heat conduction.
                      The heat equation: 
  • Mathematics - Fourier series
              Integral notation: first to use limits of integration on interal sign


He was born on March 21, 1768, and passed away on May 16, 1830.

His work in mathematical physics often overshadows his contributions to science as an Egyptologist.


  • Fourier, Joseph - Description of Egypt, monograph