Person: De Tilly, Joseph Marie
Joseph Tilly was a Belgian soldier who published works on non-Euclidean geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Tilly studied the principles of geometry, Euclid's fifth postulate and non-euclidean geometry without being aware that this had become a major topic of interest.
- It was only in 1866 that he learnt about the work of the famous Russian mathematician on non-euclidean geometry, then in 1870 Tilly published a work Études de méchanique abstraite on Lobachevsky space.
- Until this point Tilly had worked in isolation and it is certainly worth emphasising just how much harder this had made his research.
- It was also made more difficult by the fact that Tilly did not have easy access to library material which is so necessary in order to write an authoritative historical work.
- There were complaints that Tilly had unduly emphasised the scientific education of future officers at the École Militaire.
- An inspector at the military school declared that Tilly was not allowed to use differentials, and that he must cease immediately from any mention of the infinitely small.
- Tilly must have carried on with his methods of teaching calculus despite these warnings and as a consequence he was dismissed from his post and forced into early retirement in August 1900.
Born 16 August 1837, Ypres, Belgium. Died 4 August 1906, Munich, Germany.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive