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History of Ancient


René Descartes
31 March 1596– 11 February
1650 (54)
• Descartes was born in La Haye
en Touraine (now Descartes),
• also known as Renatus Cartesius .
• his mother Jeanne Brochard died of
tuberculosis when he was one year
• His father Joachim was a member in
the provincial parliament.

• In Amsterdam, he had a relationship
with a servant girl, Helène Jans, with
whom he had a daughter, Francine,
who was born in 1635 in Deventer
• He claimed to be a devout
Roman Catholic, however, in his own
era, Descartes was accused of
harboring secret deist or atheist
• Died February 11, 1650 (aged 53)
Stockholm, Sweden
• The cause of death was said to be
• Main interests Metaphysics,
Epistemology, Science, Mathematics
• At the age of eleven, he entered the Jesuit
Collège Royal Henry-Le-Grand at La

• After graduation, he studied at the
University of Poitiers, earning a
Baccalauréat and Licence in law in 1616.
His father's wishes that he should become
a lawyer.
• However, his main interest is not in law, so
he spent the rest of his youth traveling,
visiting courts and armies, mixing with
• In the summer of 1618 he joined the army
• 10 November 1618, while walking
through Breda, Descartes met
Isaac Beeckman, who sparked his
interest in mathematics and the
new physics.
• In April 1629 he joined the
University of Franeker and the next
year, he enrolled at the
Leiden University to study
Influence in Mathematics
• the Cartesian coordinate system
being named for him. It allows
geometric shapes to be expressed
in algebraic equations.
• He is credited as the father of
analytical geometry.
• analytical geometry is the bridge
between algebra and geometry,
crucial to the discovery of calculus
and analysis.
• Descartes was also one of the key figures in the
Scientific Revolution.

• His theory provided the basis for the calculus of

Newton and Leibniz.
• e.g by applying infinitesimal calculus to the
tangent line problem, it allows the evolution
of that branch of modern mathematics.
• Descartes' rule of signs is also a commonly
used method to determine the number of
positive and negative roots of a polynomial.
• discovered an early form of the law of
conservation of momentum

• Descartes also made contributions to
the field of optics
• He showed by using geometric
construction and the
law of refraction that the angular
radius of a rainbow is 42 degrees.
• invented the notation which uses
superscripts to show the powers or
exponents, for example the 2 used
in x2 to indicate squaring.

Some of his writings : -

• 1618. Compendium Musicae. A treatise

on music theory
• 1626–1628. Regulae ad directionem
ingenii (
Rules for the Direction of the Mind).
• 1630–1633. Le Monde (The World) and
L'Homme (Man). Descartes' first
systematic presentation of his natural
• 1637. La Géométrie (Geometry).
Descartes' major work in
• 1647. Notae in programma
(Comments on a Certain

• 1644. Principia philosophiae (
Principles of Philosophy), a Latin
textbook at first intended by
Descartes to replace the
Aristotelian textbooks then used in
• 1647.
The Description of the Human Body