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In a review of a book by Ferdinand Gonseth in the Spring-Summer 2006 (Volume XI, Issue 1) of the HOPOS Newsletter it is said that Gonseth was the

"successor on Jerome's (sic) Franel's chair for Mathematics in French language at the ETH"

1) Was this a chair that Franel held or was it a chair Franel endowed? If the former, does the chair have a name?

2) What is the nature of a chair "for Mathematics in the French language"? Is it a history of French mathematics chair or is it a chair for a mathematician that writes in French?

Thanks for any insight.

Cheers, Scott

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Thanks much, John. Another historical tidbit about Franel is that he presented the very first paper at the very first International Congress of Mathematicians. The congress was held in Zurich in 1897. The opening lecture was to be given by Poincare who was ill and couldn't attend. Franel was called upon to read Poincare's paper. Talk about being thrown into the deep end of the pool! Cheers, Scott – Scott Guthery Apr 25 '10 at 14:11
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Franel was a number theorist who gave introductory calculus lectures in French at the ETH. Maybe the ETH offered courses in different languages, because of its location in a multilingual country. Does anybody know? Anyway, for a little more information, see this excerpt from Jerry Alexanderson's The Random Walks of George Polya.

[Added later] At this site there is a list of all professors in the history of the ETH, between 1855 and 2005. Franel is not the only professor for "Mathematik in französischer Sprache" -- there were some before Franel, and others in more recent times were Beno Eckmann and Armand Borel. There were also professors of geometry, mechanics and statistics "in französischer Sprache". So, Franel was not at all special in this respect, which strengthens my suspicion that the ETH made a point of offering courses in French.

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