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Jules Henry Poincaré

was born 1854 in Nancy, and died 1912 in Paris, France

Poincaré came from a well-to-do family, having a father who was a professor of medicine and an uncle who was the prime minister of France several times and president of the French Republic during WWI.   He had few handicaps - he was ambidextrous and nearsighted, and had 'poor muscular coordination' after being seriously ill with diphtheria (children's illness in which fatality was the usual outcome). However he seemed to have always excelled at mathematics, and his mathematics teacher is reported to have called him 'monster of mathematics' - as Henry won all first prizes in mathematical competitions to which he was entered.

Poincaré studied at the École Polytechnique and then continued at the École des Mines. Poincaré is famous for his contribution to the analysis of mathematical thinking: he looked at his own thought processes which led to his major mathematical discoveries and analysed them. He is considered as an universalist - he made equally important contributions to mathematics, celestial mechanics, fluid mechanics, theory of relativity and the philosophy of mathematics and of science.



See Poincaré when he was a young man here.

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