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Nicholas Halma

French mathematician; b. at Sedan, December 31, 1755; d. at Paris, June 4, 1828

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Halma, NICHOLAS, French mathematician; b. at Sedan, December 31, 1755; d. at Paris, June 4, 1828. He was educated at the College of Plessis, Paris, took Holy orders, and received the title of Abbe. In 1791 he became principal of Sedan College. When this school was closed in 1793, he went to Paris and entered military service as surgeon. In 1794 he was appointed secretary to the Polytechnic School. He held the chair of mathematics at the Prytanee of Paris, and then that of geography in the military school at Fontainebleau. As librarian of the Empress Josephine and of the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees, he was charged to instruct the empress in history and geography. Under the Restoration he was appointed curator at the library of Sainte Genevieve and became a canon of Notre Dame. In 1808 he was commissioned by the minister of the interior to continue the “History of France” of Velly, and prepared the manuscript of two volumes. His most important work, however, was the editing and the translating into Latin and French of Ptolemy’s “Almagest” (Paris, 1813-16). This work, undertaken at the instance of Lagrange and Delambre, is used to this day, almost exclusively, as a standard in connection with the history of astronomy. He also translated the “Commentaries” of Theon (Paris, 1822-25). Other works of his are: “Table pascale du moine Isaac Argyre” (Paris, 1825); “Astrologie egyptienne” (Paris, 1824); “Examen historique et critique des monuments astronomiques des anciens” (Paris, 1830).

WILLIAM FOX.


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