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Henri Poincare

Henri Poincare (1854-1912) was a French physicist and a mathematician. He is famous as been a polymath evident of the mathematical contribution he had during his uprising. Henri is well known of his contribution towards celestial mechanics, applied and pure mathematics. The historical description of Henri is perhaps rooted on the three-body problem, which he came about after forensic research into the discipline of mathematics. Through this development, he came to discover principally a system of chaotic determinism that laid the basic foundation towards the chaos theory.

The three-body problem was since the time of Newton a principle scientific problem whose solution was not fundamentally arrived at till the research development of Henri. This problem was basically allied to research activity which would optimally provided candid solution toward more than two bodies within an orbit that were in motion. However, Henri developed it as the three-body problem, which was later developed as the n-body problem.

According to the latter development, ‘n’ stood for the number representing the actual number of bodies in an orbit but which was neccessited to being more than two. (http://turnbull. mcs. st-and. ac. uk/history/Biographies/Poincare. html ) The award to Henri for his three-body problem was in 1887 by Oscar II who was the Norway and Sweden King. The same problem was a pertinent issue in the celestial mechanics. Subjectively, the theoretical development of the problem began by describing monoclinic points within an orbit.

Consequently he formulated out the first description in a mathematic model about invariant integrals. However, the publication of his three-body problem in celestial mechanics could not score an immediate publication when his editor Phragmen found some mistake in this contribution. However, Mittag-Lefflor made campaign on stopping out the publication . In 1890, the first revised standard of his memoir was published. The price in the competition was to whoever formulated the solution to the former works of Newton.

(Henri, 1952) According to Newton, when there exists a system of very many arbitrary mass points it’s obvious that they each attracted one another, given the assumption that there were no two specific points that would however collide one another. The problem was then to find the set of representative coordinates to each of these points. These points should have been in series variables in terms of a dependent time variables, which consequently gave out a uniform converging series. (Francis, Betrand, 2003)

However, the award of the prize to Henri was not chiefly based on solving adequately the solution to the problem. However, according to Karl Werierstress who was one of the competition judges, Henri deserved the price even without formulating the true conception of the problem. According to Karl, the contribution by Henri was so important in inaugurating a superbly new era in the field of celestial mechanics. Historically, the contribution by Henri towards the three-body problem was fundamentally a launching pad towards the establishment of the chaos theory.

Though he did not provide the very correct answer to the three-body problem, his contribution provided enough approach with which the problem could get final solutions. This saw Karl Sundman solving for the problem with n=3 in the 1912. Further in 1990’s Qiudong Wang generalized the problem where ‘n’ was greater than three. (http://turnbull. mcs. st-and. ac. uk/history/Biographies/Poincare. html ) Preferentially therefore, the famous three body problem by Henri was important in the development of the chaos theory.

This theory is a description of the behaviour towards dynamical systems, which are systems with their states evolving in time. With its applicability been too broad in the foundation of the modern knowledge, the historical background of the chaos theory can be ascribed to Henri in his three-body problem


Francis, M & Betrand, R (2003) Science and Method. Courier Dover Publications Henri, P (1952) Science and Hypothesis. Courier Dover Publications Poincare Bibliography. Retrieved on 6th May 2008 from http://turnbull. mcs. st-and. ac. uk/history/Biographies/Poincare. html

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