Joseph Fourier was born on March 21, 1768 in the ancient and beautiful town of Auxerre, 150 kilometers south of Paris in a position dominating the river Yonne, with beautiful churches, above all the ancient fifth century abbey St. Germain and the Gothic cathedral of St. Etienne. He was the ninth of 12 children from his father’s second marriage. Joseph was the name of his father, a master taylor of Auxerre, who had been born to shopkeepers in a small town in Lorraine.

In 1794 Joseph Fourier was accepted to study at the Ecole Normale in Paris. In 1795, Joseph Fourier went to teach at the Ecole Polytechnique, In 1797, he succeeded Joseph-Louis Lagrange as chair of analysis and mechanics. While an engineer on Napoleons’ Egyptian expedition, he conducted (1798-1801) anthropological investigations and wrote the preface to the monumental

*Description de I’Egpyte*, whose publication he oversaw.

When Joseph Fourier published his book

*Teorie analytique de la chaleur*(1822), he certainly could not foresee that he had provided scientists of the 20th century with one of their most powerful research tools. He analyzed the conduction of heat in solid bodies in terms of infinite mathematical series now called the Fourier series.

**French mathematician Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768–1830)**