Monday, May 19, 2008


One of the nicest things about France is that streets are named after writers, painters, mathematicians, scientists, and other people of accomplishment. Here's a picture of a street sign in the 14th arrondissement, showing a street named after Étienne Bezout (1730-1783).

I became interested in Bezout a few years ago when I wrote an article entitled "Origins of the Analysis of the Euclidean Algorithm" for Historia Mathematica. One of Bezout's accomplishments was his textbook, Cours de Mathématiques à l'Usage des Gardes du Pavillon et de la Marine, which went through dozens of editions, first under Bezout, and later, at the hands of others. Supposedly even Napoleon I learned mathematics from Bezout's book.