Paul Painleve, French mathematician

Paul Painleve, French mathematician

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Credit: GEORGE GRANTHAM BAIN COLLECTION/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Paul Painleve (1863-1933), French mathematician, politician and patron of aviation. Painleve received his doctorate in mathematics in 1887 and intending an academic career became a professor at the Sorbonne and the Ecole Polytechnique, among other institutions. Applying his work on differential equations to the theory of flight, he became enthused by the emerging field of aviation. In 1908 he became Wilbur Wright's first aeroplane passenger in France and in 1909 he created the first university course in aeronautics. He entered his political career as a leftist deputy in 1910, becoming prime minister at a crucial period of World War I in 1917 and again during the 1925 financial crisis.

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