Legendre there was a feeling of "more than coldness," owing to his appropriation, with scant acknowledgment, of the fruits of the other's labours; and Dr Thomas Young counted himself, rightly or wrongly, amongst the number of those similarly aggrieved by him.
C. Maclaurin, Legendre and d'Alembert had furnished partial solutions of the problem, confining their 1 Annales de chimie et de physique (1816), torn.
Legendre, in 1783, extended Maclaurin's theorem concerning ellipsoids of revolution to the case of any spheroid of revolution where the attracted point, instead of being limited to the axis or equator, occupied any position in space; and Laplace, in his treatise Theorie du mouvement et de la figure elliptique des planetes (published in 1784), effected a still further generalization by proving, what had been suspected by Legendre, that the theorem was equally true for any confocal ellipsoids.
The device known as the method of least squares, for reducing numerous equations of condition to the number of unknown quantities to be determined, had been adopted as a practically convenient rule by Gauss and Legendre; but Laplace first treated it as a problem in probabilities, and proved by an intricate and difficult course of reasoning that it was also the most advantageous, the mean of the probabilities of error in the determination of the elements being thereby reduced to a minimum.
See also notices by Emile Darnaud (Paris, 1874), "Marcus" (Paris, 1879), P. Legendre in Hommes de la revolution (Paris, 1882), E.
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