This article describes the emergence of formal methods in theory of partial differential equations in the French school of mathematics through Janet’s work in the period 1913–1930. In his thesis and in a series of articles published during this period, Janet introduced an original formal approach to deal with the solvability of the problem of initial conditions for finite linear PDE systems. His constructions implicitly used an interpretation of a monomial PDE system as a generating family of a multiplicative set of monomials. He introduced an algorithmic method on multiplicative sets to compute compatibility conditions, and to study the problem of the existence and the uniqueness of a solution to a linear PDE system with given initial conditions. The compatibility conditions are formulated using a refinement of the division operation on monomials defined with respect to a partition of the set of variables into multiplicative and non-multiplicative variables. Janet was a pioneer in the development of these algorithmic methods, and the completion procedure that he introduced on polynomials was the first one in a long and rich series of works on completion methods which appeared independently throughout the twentieth-century in various algebraic contexts.
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DOI 10.1007/s00407-020-00255-y
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Histoire de la Mecanique.Adolf Grunbaum, Rene Dugas & Louis de Broglie Neuchatel - 1954 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 15 (1):119-121.
On the Genesis of the Cartan–Kähler Theory.Alberto Cogliati - 2011 - Archive for History of Exact Sciences 65 (4):397-435.
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