From Deep Learning to Quantum computing, celebrating Joseph Fourier’s extraordinary heritage

Published on the 3rd of April 2018 on LinkedIn


Great scientists can change the course of history, our understanding of the past and our entire view of the world. As the late Stephen Hawking once said, Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.


Joseph Fourier had a significant influence on modern science and technology


Among them was Joseph Fourier, who was born 250 years ago last week, one of the greatest mathematicians and physicians in the world, who had a significant influence on modern science and technology, and paved the way for generations of innovations.

Joseph Fourier is the famous discoverer of the law of heat conduction, which he modelled on what are still known nowadays as the “Fourier series”. His discoveries are so universal that radio and speech signals are based on them and today they are the foundations of high-performance computational algorithms such as FFT (Fast Fourier Transform), which in particular allows image compression (such as JPEG format), multiplication of very large whole numbers or to facilitate speech recognition. FFT also occurs in Deep Learning, especially for convolutional neural networks, inspired by the visual cortices of animals, and used for video recognition or natural language processing.


The Fourier discoveries at the heart of quantum computing


These universal Fourier discoveries are also timeless: they are at the heart of quantum computing, where the pairing of “position-momentum” replaces that of “time-frequency” from traditional computing, enabling, for example, an easier solution to the Schrödinger equation for a free particle.


An Atos Joseph Fourier Award to encourage research


Last week, in partnership with GENCI (French National Equipment for Intensive Computing), Atos launched the 7th edition of the Atos Joseph Fourier competition in celebration of this great French mathematician; it is an opportunity for us to pay homage to the great scientists of our past and also those of our future.

It’s up to all of us, especially the technology industry, to nurture and seek talent and discovery.

We’ll be looking to enable some great scientists to move forward in their research in the areas of Numerical simulation, AI and Quantum computing – topics that will influence future generations – by offering the winners access to machine time on GENCI supercomputers and Atos prize money.

They are after all the bearers of the torch of discovery for all of us.