Charles Dupin

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Charles Dupin in 1820.

Baron Pierre Charles François Dupin (6 October 1784, Varzy, Nièvre – 18 January 1873, Paris, France) was a French Catholic mathematician, engineer, economist, politician, and Professor of Mathematics and Economics at the Conservatory of Arts and Professions in Paris. The Dupin cyclide and Dupin indicatrix are named after him; and in 1826 he created the earliest known choropleth map.


  • I found myself obliged, through perhaps unique circumstances, to devote myself to my mathematical research, almost without help, advice or even books... Endlessly occupied by a thousand different matters and constrained my state duties, it is the work of an engineer that I herewith present and not the fruit of the meditations of a savant.
    • Charles Dupin (1808) in: Hacette (1813; 86-87); as cited in Margaret Bradley, Charles Dupin (1784-1873) and His Influence on France, Cambria Press. p. 69
  • It is to the director of workshops and factories that it is suitable to make, by means of geometry and applied mechanics, a special study of all the ways to economize the efforts of workers... For a man to be a director of others, manual work has only a secondary importance; it is his intellectual ability (force intellectuelle) that must put him in the top position, and it is in instruction such as that of the Conservatory of the Arts and Professions, that he must develop it.
    • Charles Dupin (1826), Geometrie et Mechanique des Arts et Metiers et des Beaux Arts Paris: Bachelier; Cited and translated by John Hoaglund, "Management Before Frederick Taylor," p. 30.; and cited in Wren & Bedeian (2005, 74)
  • For 12 years I have had the honor of teaching geometry and mechanics applied to the arts, in favor of the industrial class... on the most important questions to the well-being, education, and morality of the workers, to the progress of national industry, to the development of all means of prosperity that work can produce for the splendor and happiness of our country.
    • Charles Dupin (1831), Discours sur le Sort des Ouvriers [Discourse on the Condition of the Workers] Paris: Bachelier Librairie. p. 1. ; Translation Wren & Bedeian (2005, 73)
1826 choropleth map of France.

A Tour Through the Naval and Military Establishments of Great Britain, 1822


Charles baron Dupin. A Tour Through the Naval and Military Establishments of Great Britain, in the Years 1816-17-18-19 and 1820, Sir R. Phillips and Company,

  • In the following work, I have endeavoured to exhibit the full extent of the Military and Naval Forces which the government of Great Britain can bring into the field, or launch upon the ocean. I have likewise described the connection of these forces with the government of the country, and also the discipline usually exercised in order to produce a hardihood in battle, invulnerable to fear and unassailable by cowardice. My observations on these subjects were derived from a residence of five years in England; during which time I was constantly employed in visiting and viewing every object and institution worthy of notice relative to the British Army and Navy.
    • p. iii; Introduction, lead paragraph

The Commercial Power of Great Britain, 1925


Charles baron Dupin (1825), The Commercial Power of Great Britain: Exhibiting a Complete View ..., Volume 1

  • This is what it behoves us to know: as Frenchmen, for the advantage of France; as friends of all humanity, by that just and generous sentiment which makes us feel interest in the dignity, the peace, the independence, the happiness of all nations, on whatever spot of the globe nature may have placed their country.
    • p. xi
  • The successes obtained in the government of the arts, are similar to the successes obtained in the government of men. We may succeed for a time, by fraud, by surprise, by violence: we can succeed permanently only by means directly opposite. It is not alone the courage, the intelligence, the activity of the manufacturer and the merchant which maintain the superiority of the productions and the commerce of their country; it is far more their wisdom, their economy, above all their probity.
    • p. xxxi ; Highlighted section cited in: Joel Mokyr. The Enlightened Economy: Britain and the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1850. 2011. p. 237
  • If ever, in the British Islands, the useful citizen should lose these virtues, we may be sure, that for England as well as for any other country, notwithstanding the protection of the most formidable navy, notwithstanding the foresight and activity of diplomacy the most extended, and of political science the most profound, the vessels of a degenerate commerce, repulsed from every shore would speedily disappear from those seas whose surface they now cover with the treasures of the universe, bartered for the treasures of the industry of the three kingdoms.

Quotes about Charles Dupin

  • Amongst the important results of the recent attempts to extend Science to the labouring classes, maybe ranked the elementary treatises published by Baron Dupin. Possessing an extraordinary fund of scientific information, as well as of practical knowledge collected during a period of twenty years, in the workshops and manufacturing establishments of the most enlightened nations of Europe, combined with a singular degree of clearness, elegance, and ingenuity, in mathematical and physical expositions, this distinguished individual might have continued to delight and instruct inquirers of the highest description, by works classical and profound, but without having witnessed the occurrences alluded to, he might never have directed his attention and his efforts to this most interesting object, the improvement of humble and neglected intellect.
  • The total extent to which steam power is applied in Great Britain was estimated by Baron Dupin, 1825, to be equivalent to the power of 320,000 horses in constant action; and since that period it has prodigiously increased, independently of our rapidly extending railways. To this immense command of power our country owes much of its commercial prosperity, besides a vast addition to the comforts and conveniences of life.
    • The Principles and Practice and Explanation of the Machinery Used in Steam Navigation: Weale, 1851. p. 51
  • Of the early management pioneers, history has provided us with the best records for four men: Robert Owen, Charles Babbage, Andrew Ure, and Charles Dupin... Ure knew the French engineer and management writer Charles Dupin, and when Dupin visited Great Britain in 1816–1818, Ure escorted him around the Glasgow factories. Dupin commented that many of the managers of these factories were Ure’s own students.
  • The first choropleth map appears to have been made by Baron Charles Dupin in 1826 to illustrate an address to the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers in Paris. The map shows the number of persons per male child in school for each department and is the first moral statistics map.
    • Helen Wallis, ‎Arthur Howard Robinson (1987), Cartographical innovations: an international handbook of mapping terms to 1900. International Cartographic Association. p. 18
  • In the 19th century, the French geometer Charles Pierre Dupin discovered a nonspherical surface with circular lines of curvature. He called it a cyclide in his book, Applications de Geometrie published in 1822. Recently, cyclides have been revived for use as surface patches in computer aided geometric design (CAGD). Other applications of eyelides in CAGD are possible (e.g., variable radius blending) and require a deep understanding of the geometry of the cyclide.
    • Vijaya Chandru, Debasish Dutta, and Christoph M. Hoffmann. "On the geometry of Dupin cyclides." The Visual Computer 5.5 (1989): 277-290.
  • Charles Dupin's Discourse on the Condition of the Workers (1873) introduced such concepts as time study and balanced workloads.
    • George Thomas Kurian (2013), The AMA Dictionary of Business and Management, p. 96
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