Paul Painlevé, a french mathematician and politician.

We have before published a post (hereOnly at France, a mathematician could be a politician too) about a french mathematician and politician, Cédric Villani, In which I am sure everybody knows him very well (his website: and Wikipedia: Cédric Villani ). He is not only a mathematician, but also a public figure trying to publicize science. He has traveled to Iran. unfortunately I couldn’t take participate in his public lecture. (you know why? because officials of IPM always publish the event news only few hours before the event!)

by the way, here and now I want to introduce you another successful french mathematician who had been successful in politics too: Paul Painlevé

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Paul Painlevé (French: [pɔl pɛ̃ləve]; 5 December 1863 – 29 October 1933) was a French mathematician and statesman. He served twice as Prime Minister of the Third Republic: 12 September – 13 November 1917 and 17 April – 22 November 1925. His entry into politics came in 1906 after a professorship at the Sorbonne that began in 1892.

His first term as prime minister lasted only nine weeks but dealt with weighty issues, such as the Russian Revolution, the American entry into the war, the failure of the Nivelle Offensive, quelling the French Army Mutinies and relations with the British. In the 1920s as Minister of War he was a key figure in building the Maginot Line.[1] In his second term as prime minister he dealt with the outbreak of rebellion in Syria’s Jabal Druze in July 1925 which had excited public and parliamentary anxiety over the general crisis of France’s empire.[2]


Early life

Painlevé was born in Paris.[3]

Brought up within a family of skilled artisans (his father was a draughtsman) Painlevé showed early promise across the range of elementary studies and was initially attracted by either an engineering or political career. However, he finally entered the École Normale Supérieure in 1883 to study mathematics, receiving his doctorate in 1887 following a period of study at Göttingen, Germany with Felix Klein and Hermann Amandus Schwarz. Intending an academic career he became professor at Université de Lille, returning to Paris in 1892 to teach at the SorbonneÉcole Polytechnique and later at the Collège de France and the École Normale Supérieure. He was elected a member of the Académie des Sciences in 1900.[3]

He married Marguerite Petit de Villeneuve in 1901. Marguerite died during the birth of their son Jean Painlevé in the following year.[3]

Painlevé’s mathematical work on differential equations led him to encounter their application to the theory of flight and, as ever, his broad interest in engineering topics fostered an enthusiasm for the emerging field of aviation. In 1908, he became Wilbur Wright‘s first airplane passenger in France and in 1909 created the first university course in aeronautics.[3]

Mathematical work

Paul Painlevé as a young man

Some differential equations can be solved using elementary algebraic operations that involve the trigonometric and exponential functions (sometimes called elementary functions). Many interesting special functions arise as solutions of linear second order ordinary differential equations. Around the turn of the century, Painlevé, É. Picard, and B. Gambier showed that of the class of nonlinear second order ordinary differential equations with polynomial coefficients, those that possess a certain desirable technical property, shared by the linear equations (nowadays commonly referred to as the ‘Painlevé property‘) can always be transformed into one of fifty canonical forms. Of these fifty equations, just six require ‘new’ transcendental functions for their solution.[4] These new transcendental functions, solving the remaining six equations, are called the Painlevé transcendents, and interest in them has revived recently due to their appearance in modern geometry, integrable systems[5] and statistical mechanics.[6][7][8]

In 1895 he gave a series of lectures at Stockholm University on differential equations, at the end stating the Painlevé conjecture about singularities of the n-body problem.[9]

In the 1920s, Painlevé briefly turned his attention to the new theory of gravitation, general relativity, which had recently been introduced by Albert Einstein. In 1921, Painlevé proposed the Gullstrand–Painlevé coordinates for the Schwarzschild metric. The modification in the coordinate system was the first to reveal clearly that the Schwarzschild radius is a mere coordinate singularity (with however, profound global significance: it represents the event horizon of a black hole). This essential point was not generally appreciated by physicists until around 1963.[citation needed] In his diary, Harry Graf Kessler recorded that during a later visit to Berlin, Painlevé discussed pacifist international politics with Einstein, but there is no reference to discussions concerning the significance of the Schwarzschild radius.[10]

Early political career

Between 1915 and 1917, Painlevé served as French Minister for Public Instruction and Inventions. In December 1915, he requested a scientific exchange agreement between France and Britain, resulting in Anglo-French collaboration that ultimately led to the parallel development by Paul Langevin in France and Robert Boyle in Britain of the first active sonar.[11]

First period as French Prime Minister

Painlevé took his aviation interests, along with those in naval and military matters, with him when he became, in 1906, Deputy for Paris’s 5th arrondissement, the so-called Latin Quarter. By 1910, he had vacated his academic posts and World War I led to his active participation in military committees, joining Aristide Briand‘s cabinet in 1915 as Minister for Public Instruction and Inventions.[3]

On his appointment as War Minister in March 1917 he was immediately called upon to give his approval, albeit with some misgivings, to Robert Georges Nivelle‘s wildly optimistic plans for a breakthrough offensive in Champagne. Painlevé reacted to the disastrous public failure of the plan by dismissing Nivelle and controversially replacing him with Henri Philippe Pétain.[12] He was also responsible for isolating the Russian Expeditionary Force in France in the La Courtine camp, located in a remote spot on the plateau of Millevaches.[13]

On 7 September 1917, Prime Minister Alexandre Ribot lost the support of the Socialists and Painlevé was called upon to form a new government.[3]

Painlevé was a leading voice at the Rapallo conference that led to the establishment of the Supreme Allied Council, a consultative body of Allied powers that anticipated the unified Allied command finally established in the following year. He appointed Ferdinand Foch as French representative knowing that he was the natural Allied commander. On Painlevé’s return to Paris he was defeated and resigned on 13 November 1917 to be succeeded by Georges ClemenceauFoch was finally made commander-in-chief of all Allied armies on the Western and Italian fronts in March 1918.[3][12][14]

Second period as French Prime Minister

Painlevé then played little active role in politics until the election of November 1919 when he emerged as a leftist critic of the right-wing Bloc National. By the time the next election approached in May 1924 his collaboration with Édouard Herriot, a fellow member of Briand’s 1915 cabinet, had led to the formation of the Cartel des Gauches. Winning the election, Herriot became Prime Minister in June, while Painlevé became President of the Chamber of Deputies. Though Painlevé ran for President of France in 1924 he was defeated by Gaston Doumergue. Herriot’s administration publicly recognised the Soviet Union, accepted the Dawes Plan and agreed to evacuate the Ruhr. However, a financial crisis arose from the ensuing devaluation of the franc and in April 1925, Herriot fell and Painlevé became Prime Minister for a second time on 17 April. Unfortunately, he was unable to offer convincing remedies for the financial problems and was forced to resign on 21 November.[3][12][15]

Later political career

Paul Painlevé in the 1920s

Following Painlevé’s resignation, Briand formed a new government with Painlevé as Minister for War. Though Briand was defeated by Raymond Poincaré in 1926, Painlevé continued in office. Poincaré stabilised the franc with a return to the gold standard, but ultimately acceded power to Briand.[3] During his tenure as Minister of War, Painlevé was instrumental in the creation of the Maginot Line. This line of military fortifications along France’s Eastern border was largely designed by Painlevé, yet named for André Maginot, owing to Maginot’s championing of public support and funding.[citation needed] Painlevé remained in office as Minister for War until July 1929.[3]

Though he was proposed for President of France in 1932, Painlevé withdrew before the election. He became Minister of Air later that year, making proposals for an international treaty to ban the manufacture of bomber aircraft and to establish an international air force to enforce global peace. On the fall of the government in January 1933, his political career ended.[3]

Painlevé died in Paris in October of the same year.[12] On 4 November, after a eulogy by Prime Minister Albert Sarraut, he was interred in the Panthéon.[16]


Composition of governments

Painlevé’s First Government, 12 September – 16 November 1917


Painlevé’s Second Ministry, 17 April – 29 October 1925


  • 11 October 1925 – Anatole de Monzie succeeded Steeg as Minister of Justice. Yvon Delbos succeeded Monzie as Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts.

Painlevé’s Third Ministry, 29 October – 28 November 1925


  • Sur les lignes singulières des fonctions analytiques – 1887/On singular lines of analytic functions.
  • Mémoire sur les équations différentielles du premier ordre – 1892/Memory on first order differential equations.
  • Leçons sur la théorie analytique des équations différentielles, A. Hermann (Paris), 1897/A course on analytic theory of differential equations.
  • Leçons sur les fonctions de variables réelles et les développements en séries de polynômes – 1905/A course on real variable functions and polynomial development series.
  • Cours de mécanique et machines (Paris), 1907/A course on mechanics and machines.
  • Cours de mécanique et machines 2 (Paris), 1908/A course on mechanics and machines 2.
  • Leçons sur les fonctions définies par les équations différentielles du premier ordre, Gauthier-Villars (Paris), 1908/A course on functions defined by first order differential equations.
  • L’aéroplane, Lille, 1909/Aeroplane.
  • Cours de mécanique et machines (Paris), 1909/A course on mechanics and machines.
  • L’aviation, Paris, Felix Alcan, 1910/Aviation.
  • Les axiomes de la mécanique, examen critique ; Note sur la propagation de la lumière – 1922/Mechanics axioms, a critical study ; Notes on light spread.
  • Leçons sur la théorie analytique des équations différentielles, Hermann, Paris, 1897/A course on analytical theory of differential equations.
  • Trois mémoires de Painlevé sur la relativité (1921-1922)/Painlevé’s three memories on relativity.

See also


  1. Jump up^ Smart, Nick (1996). “The Maginot Line: An Indestructible Inheritance”. International Journal of Heritage Studies2 (4): 222–233. doi:10.1080/13527259608722177.
  2. Jump up^ Thomas, Martin (2005). “Albert Sarraut, French Colonial Development, and the Communist Threat, 1919–1930”. Journal of Modern History77 (4): 917–955. doi:10.1086/499830.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k O’Connor, John J.Robertson, Edmund F.“Paul Painlevé”MacTutor History of Mathematics archiveUniversity of St Andrews.
  4. Jump up^ Painlevé, P. (1897). Leçons sur la théorie analytique des équations différentielles. Paris: Libraire Scientifique à Hermann.
  5. Jump up^ Ablowitz, M. J. and Clarkson, P.A. (1991) Solitons, nonlinear evolution equations and inverse scattering. Cambridge University Press
  6. Jump up^ Wu, T. T.; B. M. McCoy; C. A. Tracy; E. Barouch (1976). “Spin-spin correlation functions for the two-dimensional Ising model: Exact theory in the scaling region”. Physical Review B13: 316–374. Bibcode:1976PhRvB..13..316Wdoi:10.1103/PhysRevB.13.316.
  7. Jump up^ Jimbo, Michio; Tetsuji Miwa; Yasuko Môri; Mikio Sato (April 1980). “Density matrix of an impenetrable Bose gas and the fifth Painlevé transcendent”. Physica D1 (1): 80–158. Bibcode:1980PhyD….1…80Jdoi:10.1016/0167-2789(80)90006-8.
  8. Jump up^ Tracy, C. A.; H. Widom (1997). “On Exact Solutions to the Cylindrical Poisson-Boltzmann Equation with Applications to Polyelectrolytes”. Physica A244: 402–413. arXiv:cond-mat/9701067Freely accessibleBibcode:1997PhyA..244..402Tdoi:10.1016/S0378-4371(97)00229-X.
  9. Jump up^ Diacu, Florin N. (1993). “Painlevé’s Conjecture”. The Mathematical Intelligencer13 (2): 6. doi:10.1007/BF03024186.
  10. Jump up^ Harry Graf Kessler. “Berlin. 20. February 1925. Freitag” [Diary entry for Berlin 25 February 1925]. Projekt Gutenberg.
  11. Jump up^ Michael A. Ainslie Principles of Sonar Performance Modelling, Springer, 2010 ISBN 3-540-87661-8, page 13
  12. Jump up to:a b c d “Paul Painlevé” in Encyclopædia Britannica
  13. Jump up^ Cockfield, Jamie H. (1999). With snow on their boots : the tragic odyssey of the Russian Expeditionary Force in France during World War I (1st St. Martin’s Griffin ed.). New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. p. 137. ISBN 978-0312220822.
  14. Jump up^ Keegan, John (2003). The First World War. UK: Random House. p. 403. ISBN 0-7126-8040-3.
  15. Jump up^ “Édouard Herriot” in Encyclopædia Britannica
  16. Jump up^ “Painlevé To Be Buried in Pantheon Today”The New York Times. 4 November 1933. p. 13. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  17. Jump up^ Polmar, Norman; Genda, Minoru (2006). Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, Inc. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-57488-664-1.
  18. Jump up^ Schmadel, Lutz D.; International Astronomical Union (2003). Dictionary of minor planet names. Berlin; New York: Springer-Verlag. p. 84. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3.

Further reading

  • Dutton, David (1981). “Paul Painlevé and the end of the sacred union in Wartime France”. Journal of Strategic Studies4 (1): 46–59. doi:10.1080/01402398108437065.
  • Greenhalgh, Elizabeth (2011). “Paul Painlevé and Franco-British Relations in 1917”. Contemporary British History25 (1): 5–27. doi:10.1080/13619462.2011.546094.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Alexandre Ribot
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Georges Clemenceau
Preceded by
Édouard Herriot
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Aristide Briand


Only at France, a mathematician could be a politician too

Only at France, a mathematician could be a politician too: cederic vilani, the French mathematician who wins the 2010 fileds medal, Has Become a Crucial Political Figure in France, as reported.

Read the complete article:

To hear Cedric Villani tell it, the French are better than everyone else at love, wine — and math.

A winner of the Fields Medal — the Nobel Prize equivalent for mathematics — Villani has in less than a year risen to become a key political figure in France with the ear of the tech-savvy President Emmanuel Macron. On Thursday, Villani takes center-stage when he unveils the country’s Artificial Intelligence strategy, aimed at putting his claim of France’s mathematical superiority to work in the global battle for emerging disruptive technologies.

“There is a deficit of contact between science and politics,” the 44-year-old said in an interview. “It’s part of my job to reinforce that link. It will be France’s role to lead the rest of Europe.”

Villani is an unlikely warrior in Europe’s AI battle, trying to take on China and the U.S. that are leaps ahead. The skinny scientist and lawmaker with his penchant for Gothic suits, giant frilly bow-ties favored in the late 19th century and bespoke spider-shaped brooches often draws more attention for the way he looks than for what he has to say.

Yet Macron is relying on Villani to help his modernization push by being one of the new — more optimistic — faces of France, a role the scientist has embraced with gusto. His 150-page AI report comes on top of the work he’s done on crafting a new and better way of teaching math in the country and as he prepares his next project that will involve reviewing France’s pedagogical techniques and reflects on data privacy.

New Level

Next month he’ll travel with Macron to the U.S., after having visited China with him in January. He was among the key speakers at a pre-Davos gig organized by Macron at the Versailles Palace in January to show foreign investors, including Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai, that science was now at the core of France’s ambitions.

“Villani brings France’s policies up to a whole new level of knowledge and thinking, and it seems fair that he is given even more help to do his scaling up,” said Andre Loesekrug-Pietri, an investor who launched the Joint European Disruption Initiative with major European scientific figures to accelerate investment in fundamental research. He and Villani studied together at the top Paris school of Louis-Le-Grand.

Ever since Villani won the Fields medal in 2010, the soft-spoken math whiz has endeavored to make math a part of the conversation in France and to bring more science to politics. Mathematics has taken him from Paris’s prestigious Ecole Normale Superieure, to stints at Berkeley University and Princeton University and to the helm of the French capital’s Institut Henri Poincare, the world-renowned mathematical center.

Political Life

His mathematics research fellow, Giuseppe Toscani of the University of Pavia in Italy, recalls Villani’s phenomenal ability to synthesize everything. The two men published research together in the late 1990s.

“He has the (almost unique) characteristic to be the best at anything he takes on,” Toscani said in a written response to questions. “Mathematics is one, among others. From that point of view, I am sure he will make important contributions in his new political life.”

Villani is part of Macron’s effort to change France’s political landscape, drawing into parliament people who are not professional politicians. The scientist has attempted to be more than just a new face. A fan of Marvel Comics’s Amazing Fantasy, Villani abides by the superhero’s mantra that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

France doesn’t have a Science Advisory Committee like in the U.S. The French prime minister is supposed to have a similar body, but Villani notes, “it hasn’t been used in a long, long time.”

‘Sexy’ Math

Villani, who carries a pocket watch at all times and a giant, full and often half-open backpack, is a busy man. His aides talk about their boss’s extreme multi-tasking: he writes with one hand, types with the other all while speaking on the phone.

“I must do everything at the same time, that’s the difficulty,” Villani said.

The scientist is also contributing to a much-debated government plan to revise the constitution, which has taken him into uncharted and controversial waters. For the most part, though, he’s sticking to his real passion — making France the place to be for math and science.

In a June 2016 TED Talk about why his field of study is “so sexy,” Villani joked about French people’s reputation and added more seriously that Paris has more mathematicians than any other city in the world.

“What is it that French people do better than all the others? If you take a poll, the top three answers might be: love, wine and whining… Maybe. But let me suggest a fourth one: mathematics.”

It was a article; you can see the original page here