Date of Award

Spring 1984

Document Type



Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science


On January 25, 1736 Joseph-Louis Lagrange was born in the Italian city of Turin to a well-to-do family. "Lagrange's father, once the Treasurer of War for Sardinia, married Marie-Therese Gros, the only daughter of a wealthy physician of Cambiano, by whom he had eleven children. Of this numerous brood only the youngest Joseph-Louis survived beyond infancy."1 2 At the time of his birth Lagrange's family was rather wealthy, but by the time Joseph-Louis was old enough to inherit the fortune, his father had lost, it in speculation. Later Lagrange regarded this as the luckiest thing that had ever happened to him: "If I had been rich, I probably would not have devoted myself to 2 mathematics."