(b. Thaon, Calvados, France, 7 April 1823; d. Périers, near Caen, France, 14 June 1886)
Born into one of the older Protestant families of Normandy, Hoüel studied at Caen and the Collège Rollin before entering the École Normale Supérieure in 1843. He received his doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1855 for research in celestial mechanics and held the chair of pure mathematics at the Faculty of Sciences in Bordeaux from 1859 until his death.
Hoüel’s reputation rests primarily on the quality and quantity of his activities in mathematical exposition. His gift for languages was used to evaluate and frequently to expound or translate important foreign mathematical writings. In the theory of complex numbers Hoüel introduced many of his countrymen to the researches of William R. Hamilton, Hermann Grassmann, Giusto Bellavitis, and Bernhard Riemann through his Theéorie élémentaire des quantités complexes and other writings. of greater importance were his successful efforts to overcome the long-standing failure of mathematicians to appreciate the significance of non-Euclidean geometry. Led by his own research to doubt the necessity of the parallel postulate and by Richard Baltzer to the writings of Lobachevski, Hoüel published in 1866 a translation of one of the latter’s essays along with excerpts from the Gauss-Schumacher correspondence. By 1870 he had published translations of the classic writings in this area of János Bolyai, Beltrami, Helmholtz, and Riemann as well as his own proof of the impossibility of proving the parallel postulate. Hoüel also compiled logarithmic tables, worked on planetary perturbation theory, was an editor of the Bulletin des sciences mathématiques et astronomiques, and wrote a major text in analysis, Cours de calcul infinitéstimal.
I. Original Works. A bibliography of 131 items is given in Brunel (see below). His books include Théorie élémentaire des quantiés complexes (Paris, 1874); and Cours de calcul infinitésimal, 4 vols. (Paris, 1878–1881).
II. Secondary Literature. Most useful is G. Brunel, “Notice sur l’influence scientifique de Guillaume-Jules Hoüel,” in Mémoires de la Société des sciences physiques et naturelles de Bordeaux, 3rd ser., 4 (1888), 1–78. Obituary notices are Leopoldina, 22 (1886), 167–168; and G. Lespiault, in Mémorial de l’Association des anciens élèves de l’Ecole normale supérieuer (Paris, 1887). See also Paul Barbarin, “La correspondance entre Hoüel et de Tilly.” in Bulletin des sciences mathématiques, 2nd ser., 50 (1926), 50–64, 74–88.
Michael J. Crowe
"Hoüel, Guillaume-Jules." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 18, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/houel-guillaume-jules
"Hoüel, Guillaume-Jules." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Retrieved January 18, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/houel-guillaume-jules
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.