Saturday 25 March 2023

Charles Hermite (1822 - 1901)

Sunday morning in Paris was opportunity to walk to the Montparnasse cemetery and pay respect to some of my personal heroes buried there. While the graves of Beckett, Cortázar and Poincaré attract quite many attention and visitors, it is less known that the great French mathematician Charles Hermite is buried there as well. Not only that he was a mentor to Henri Poincaré, Henri Padé, Thomas Stieltjes and Mihajlo Petrovic Alas, but his work on interpolation and function approximation is at the very core of the modern numerical methods used in computational fluid dynamics and radiative transfer (even when this is not so obvious or properly acknowledged). His work from 1878 ("Sur la formule d'interpolation de Lagrange") should be read by anyone interested in function approximation. The name on his grave stone are barely readable nowadays.