Olinde Rodrigues

Olinde Rodrigues

Benjamin Olinde Rodrigues (1795–1851), more commonly known as Olinde Rodrigues, was a French banker, mathematician, and social reformer.

Rodrigues was born into a well-to-do Sephardi Jewish family[1] in Bordeaux.

Rodrigues was awarded a doctorate in mathematics on 28 June 1815 by the University of Paris.[2] His dissertation contains the result now called Rodrigues' formula.[3]

After graduation, Rodrigues became a banker. A close associate of the Comte de Saint-Simon, Rodrigues continued, after Saint-Simon's death in 1825, to champion the older man's socialist ideals, a school of thought that came to be known as Saint-Simonianism. During this period, Rodrigues published writings on politics, social reform, and banking.

In 1840 he published a result on transformation groups, which amounted to a discovery of the quaternions, in all but name, three years prior to William Rowan Hamilton's. However, during his own times, his work on mathematics was largely ignored, and he has only been rediscovered late in the twentieth century.

Rodrigues is remembered for three results: Rodrigues' rotation formula for vectors; and the Rodrigues formula about series of orthogonal polynomials; and the Euler–Rodrigues parameters.

He died in Paris in 1851.


  1. ^ Simon Altmann, "Rotations, Quaternions and Double Groups"(Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1986, ISBN 0-19-855372-2): "The family is often said to have been of Spanish origin, but the spelling of the family name rather suggests Portuguese descent (as indeed asserted by the 'Enciclopedia Universal Illustrada Espasa-Calpe')". For more information on the Rodrigues as Portuguese Jews in Bordeaux see also the Jewish Encyclopedia "?". Jewish Encyclopedia. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1332&letter=B. 
  2. ^ Altmann and Ortiz(2005), p. 12
  3. ^ Olinde Rodrigues (January, 1816). "De l'attraction des sphéroïdes". Correspondence sur l'École Impériale Polytechnique 3 (3): pp. 361–385. 


  • Simon L. Altmann (1989). "Hamilton, Rodrigues and the quaternion scandal". Mathematics Magazine 62 (5): 291–308. doi:10.2307/2689481. JSTOR 2689481. 
  • Simon L. Altmann (2005). Rotations, Quaternions and Double Groups. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-44518-6. 
  • Simon L. Altmann; & Eduardo L.Ortiz (eds.) (2005). Mathematics and social utopias in France: Olinde Rodrigues and his times. American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI. ISBN 0-8218-3860-1.  Corrects some of the traditional thinking about Rodrigues as a mathematician

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