Person: Couturat, Louis
Louis Couturat was a French mathematician who worked on logic and the foundations of mathematics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- At this stage in his education, before undertaking research for his doctorate, Couturat published a paper on Zeno of Elea's paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise in the Revue philosophique.
- In this work Couturat argued strongly in favour of the actual infinite.
- Dedekind, Kronecker, and Helmholtz were already strong advocates of formalist theories so Couturat took a stand against major established figures - a brave move in a doctoral thesis.
- Couturat argued that all of these generalisations had at first encountered strong opposition, but had become accepted in the end because they were suitable for representing new magnitudes and they allowed a calculus of operations which was impossible before their introduction.
- Couturat became professor at the University of Toulouse in 1895 and taught philosophy there, lecturing on Lucretius and Plato.
- Of course for Couturat to be able to take unpaid leave he had to have independent means.
- Couturat published many previously unpublished manuscripts of Leibniz in Opuscules et fragments inédits de Leibniz Ⓣ(Booklets and unpublished fragments of Leibniz) (1903).
- This work on Leibniz brought Couturat into contact with Russell, who had published A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz (1900).
- Couturat produced, in 1905, an edition of Russell's Principia Mathematica with a commentary on contemporary works on the subject.
- The Couturat-Russell correspondence began in 1897, the first letter being from Couturat to Russell concerning the Russell's An essay in the foundations of geometry.
- Couturat published a review of this essay of Russell in 1898 and the review, and Russell's reply to it, attracted Poincaré's attention to Russell's work.
- In 1905 Couturat became Henri-Louis Bergson's assistant at the Collège de France, working on the history of logic during the academic year 1905-06.
- Following his year at the Collège de France, Couturat took no further employment and devoted himself to his researches.
- Couturat and Léau were the secretaries.
- With the collaboration of the Akademie di la Lingue Internaciona Ido, created in 1908, Couturat constructed the complete vocabulary of Ido, a language derived from Esperanto with reforms growing out of scientific linguistic principles.
- Couturat stood firmly for the application of his own logical principles, despite opposition from many quarters to changes in the already established forms of Esperanto.
Born 17 January 1868, Ris-Orangis (near Paris), France. Died 3 August 1914, Between Ris-Orangis and Melun, France.
View full biography at MacTutor
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive