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Jacques Salomon Hadamard (December 8, 1865 ‚Äď October 17, 1963) was a Frenchmarker mathematician who made major contributions in number theory, complex function theory, differential geometry and partial differential equations.


The son of a teacher, Am√©d√©e Hadamard, of Jewish descent, and Claire Marie Jeanne Picard, Hadamard attended the Lyc√©e Charlemagnemarker and Lyc√©e Louis-le-Grandmarker, where his father taught. In 1884 Hadamard entered the √Čcole Normale Sup√©rieuremarker, having been placed first in the entrance examinations both there and at the √Čcole Polytechniquemarker. His teachers included Tannery, Hermite, Darboux, Appell, Goursat and Picard. He obtained his doctorate in 1892 and in the same year was awarded the Grand Prix des Sciences Math√©matiques for his prize essay on the Riemann zeta function.

In 1892 Hadamard married Louise-Anna Trénel, also of Jewish descent, with whom he had three sons and two daughters. The following year he took up a lectureship in the University of Bordeaux, where he proved his celebrated inequality on determinants, which led to the discovery of Hadamard matrices when equality holds. In 1896 he made two important contributions: he proved the prime number theorem, using complex function theory (also proved independently by de la Vallée Poussin); and he was awarded the Bordin Prize of the French Academy of Sciences for his work on geodesics in the differential geometry of surfaces and dynamical systems. In the same year he was appointed Professor of Astronomy and Rational Mechanics in Bordeaux. His foundational work on geometry and symbolic dynamics continued in 1898 with the study of geodesics on surfaces of negative curvature. For his cumulative work, he was awarded the Prix Poncelet in 1898.

After the Dreyfus affair, which involved him personally because his wife was related to Dreyfus, Hadamard became politically active and a staunch supporter of Jewish causes though he professed to be an atheist in his religion.

In 1897 he moved back to Paris, holding positions in the Sorbonnemarker and the Coll√®ge de Francemarker, where he was appointed Professor of Mechanics in 1909. In addition to this post, he was appointed to chairs of analysis at the √Čcole Polytechniquemarker in 1912 and at the √Čcole Centrale in 1920, succeeding Jordan and Appell. In Paris Hadamard concentrated his interests on the problems of mathematical physics, in particular partial differential equations, the calculus of variations and the foundations of functional analysis. He introduced the idea of well-posed problem and the method of descent in the theory of partial differential equations, culminating in his seminal book on the subject, based on lectures given at Yale Universitymarker in 1922. He was elected to the French Academy of Sciences in 1916, in succession to Poincar√©, whose complete works he helped edit. Later in his life he wrote on probability theory and mathematical education. He was awarded the CNRS Gold medal for his lifetime achievements in 1956.

Hadamard's students included Maurice Fréchet, Paul Lévy, Szolem Mandelbrojt and André Weil.

On creativity

In his book Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, Hadamard uses introspection to describe mathematical thought processes. In sharp contrast to authors who identify language and cognition, he describes his own mathematical thinking as largely wordless, often accompanied by mental images that represent the entire solution to a problem. He surveyed 100 of the leading physicists of the day (approximately 1900), asking them how they did their work. Many of the responses mirrored his; some reported seeing mathematical concepts as colors.

Hadamard described the experiences of the mathematicians/theoretical physicists Carl Friedrich Gauss, Hermann von Helmholtz, Henri Poincar√© and others as viewing entire solutions with ‚Äúsudden spontaneousness.‚ÄĚ The same has been reported in literature by many others, such as Denis Brian, G. H. Hardy,, B. L. van der Waerden,, Harold Ruegg., Friedrich Kekul√© (dreamed of benzene ring) and Tesla.

Hadamard described the process as having four steps of the five-step Graham Wallas creative process model, with the first three also having been put forth by Helmholtz:
  • Preparation
  • Incubation
  • Illumination
  • Verification


  • ( Princeton University Press, 1945)

See also



  • Denis Brian Einstein: A Life (John Wiley and Sons, 1996) ISBN 0-471-11459-6
  • Jacques Hadamard The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field (Dover, 1954) ISBN 0-486-20107-4
  • C. G. Jung The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. Volume 8. The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. (Princeton, 1981) ISBN 0-691-09774-7
  • Robert Kanigel The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan (Washington Square Press, 1992) ISBN 0-671-75061-5
  • Marie-Louise von Franz, Psyche and Matter (Shambhala, 1992) ISBN 0-87773-902-1

Further reading

  • .

External links

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