Is your surname Liouville?

Research the Liouville family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Joseph Liouville

Birthplace: Saint-Omer, Pas de Calais, Nord-Pas de Calais, France
Death: September 08, 1882 (73)
Paris, Paris, Île de France, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Claude Joseph Liouville and Thérèse Liouville
Husband of Marie Louise Balland
Father of Louise Ruau; Marie Le Barbier de Blignieres; Adele Gerusez; Ernest Liouville and Celine Barbey
Brother of Félix Sylvestre Jean Baptiste Liouville

Managed by: Martin Severin Eriksen
Last Updated:

About Joseph Liouville

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

Joseph Liouville (24 March 1809 – 8 September 1882) was a French mathematician.

Liouville graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1827. After some years as an assistant at various institutions including the École Centrale Paris, he was appointed as professor at the École Polytechnique in 1838. He obtained a chair in mathematics at the Collège de France in 1850 and a chair in mechanics at the Faculté des Sciences in 1857.

Besides his academic achievements, he was very talented in organisational matters. Liouville founded the Journal de Mathématiques Pures et Appliquées which retains its high reputation up to today, in order to promote other mathematicians' work. He was the first to read, and to recognize, the importance of the unpublished work of Évariste Galois which appeared in his journal in 1846. Liouville was also involved in politics for some time, and he became a member of the Constituting Assembly in 1848. However, after his defeat in the legislative elections in 1849, he turned away from politics.

Liouville worked in a number of different fields in mathematics, including number theory, complex analysis, differential geometry and topology, but also mathematical physics and even astronomy. He is remembered particularly for Liouville's theorem, a nowadays rather basic result in complex analysis. In number theory, he was the first to prove the existence of transcendental numbers by a construction using continued fractions (Liouville numbers). In mathematical physics, Liouville made two fundamental contributions: the Sturm–Liouville theory, which was joint work with Charles François Sturm, and is now a standard procedure to solve certain types of integral equations by developing into eigenfunctions, and the fact (also known as Liouville's theorem) that time evolution is measure preserving for a Hamiltonian system. In Hamiltonian dynamics, Liouville also introduced the notion of action-angle variables as a description of completely integrable systems. The modern formulation of this is sometimes called the Liouville-Arnold theorem, and the underlying concept of integrability is referred to as Liouville integrability. In 1851, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The crater Liouville on the Moon is named after him. So is the Liouville function, an important function in number theory.


view all

Joseph Liouville's Timeline

March 24, 1809
Saint-Omer, Pas de Calais, Nord-Pas de Calais, France
November 22, 1835
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
August 31, 1845
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
September 8, 1882
Age 73
Paris, Paris, Île de France, France