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Doctorant au laboratoire REHSEIS / Enseignement des mathématiques en lycée et au CNAM

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Agrégé de mathématiques
DEA : Non linear analysis
DEA : Epistemology and history of science

Objects of the thesis

The object of this thesis is the evolution of mechanics between the end of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth. The aim of this work is to give prominence to institutional factors (the role played by teaching, academic institutions and political authorities), industrial factors (problems engineers had to face in the development of the “science of machines”) and scientifics factors (relationships between mechanics and the development of calculus that authorised new perspectives for mechanical principles) which acted upon the development of mechanics during this period.

Research subjects

- The conceptual changes of mechanics at the beginning of the nineteenth century through the studies of different formalizations of this science, the industrial problems and the role of political authorities in developping new schools to train engineers.

Some communications

« Engineering schools effects on the changes of mechanics at the beginning of the nineteenth century »

What is the state of mechanics at the end of the eighteenth century ? Two trends cross our minds at first step : the newtonian tradition and Lagrange’s mechanics. But if these two names rise up, is this science (mechanics) so smooth and so steady at the end of this century ?

When we compare books about mechanics, published between 1780 and 1810, we can classify them in three groups according to the aim their authors seek for their books : encyclopedies, textbooks and books about practical mechanics intended to the training of engineers.

We focuse our attention on this third group of books intended to satisfy the need of a new trade that emerged at that time : engineering. The problems engineers and political authorities had to face were technical, pedagogical and institutional. New technical problems emerged with the increasing needs of structures (bridges...) and the development of machines. But educational challenges rised up too : political authorities had to form quickly engineers to manage new tasks.

What can we learn about engineering from the reading of these books and in what extent problems these engineers had to face could have changed the formalization of mechanics ?

« Mechanical principles advancement at the end of the seventeenth century : scientific problems, philosophical questions »

Generally speaking, the founder of mechanics is Newton and the task of mathematicians working after him on mechanics was to develop the ideas of this giant. But a thoroughly reading of books about mechanics, published at the beginning of the nineteenth century reveals different interpretations of elementary knowledges of this science. Descartes and Newton were two great philosophers who early tried to clarify and organize mechanical concepts.

Our aim is to expound first some of the problems about space and time Descartes and Newton faced and, in a second time, to study to what extent the critics they formulated were a determining factor for the development of dynamics.

Teaching activities

Mathematics teaching in secondary schools and CNAM.