Distinguished Figures in Mechanism and Machine Science

Volume 1 of the series History of Mechanism and Machine Science pp 295-318

Théodore Olivier (1793–1853)

  • J. M. HervéAffiliated withGrande Voie des Vignes, Ecole Centrale Paris

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Théodore Olivier is mainly known as being, in 1829, one of the four founders of Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures also named today Ecole Centrale Paris. He was a former student of Gaspard Monge and he taught descriptive geometry. He highly contributed to the science of ruled surfaces and to the theory of gearing. He designed many selfexplanatory models; most of them are movable. In rigid-body kinematics the locus of the instantaneous axes of any time-dependent motion is a ruled surface. That way, Olivier pioneered Julius Plücker’s work about straight-line geometry and, consequently, disclosed basic tools for the “screw theory” devised by Robert Ball. Moreover, with his book about the general skew arrangement of two gear wheels together with his models of gears, Olivier is one of the scientific ancestors of Jack Phillips with his book issued in 2003 on General Spatial Involute Gearing.