Cairo 1872 - Cairo 1947


Brief scientific biography

Farid Youssef Boulad (1872-1947) was born into an old Melkite Greek Catholic family that traces its history back at least as far as fifteenth century Damascus, where they were renowned for their skill in creating fine steel blades. His father, Youssef Boulad, spent his career in agriculture, serving as the inspector-general of the estates of Prince Hassan Pasha Hafez. Thus, at the end of his secondary schooling in 1889, Farid entered the School of Agriculture in Giza, but quickly discovered that he was much more interested in and adept at mathematics, rather than natural sciences. Three years later, he was awarded an Egyptian fellowship to pursue higher studies in Europe. He was accepted into both the École nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and the École centrale des Arts et Manufactures. He chose the former school, and spent the next years studying under some of the greatest engineers in the world.

Boulad, eager to take full advantage of his opportunities, graduated at the head of his class in 1898. After completing a year's practicum in France, he returned to Egypt, where he was appointed an engineer with the national railway company. For the next thirty five years, he occupied a number of important administrative positions overseeing bridge construction and other large-scale steel constructions (such as the central railway station in Cairo).

It was his engineering responsibilities, with the necessity for executing complex calculations for solution of problems involved in constructing and reinforcing bridges that led Boulad to develop new graphical techniques. Beginning in 1903, he published a series of studies, several of which were later utilized by P. M d'Ocagne in creating new editions of his treatise on "nomography", or graphical techniques for solving equations. Boulad also helped to popularize the techniques of "nomography" in the Egypt and the Middle East by preparing an Arabic précis of the early edition of d'Ocagne's book.

For his contributions to science and his service to the state, he received the title "Bey el-Sanya" from Egypt's King Fouad (1925) and the "Légion d'honneur" (Paris, 1936). Boulad was also an enthusiastic participant in numerous international meetings as a delegate of the Institut d'Egypte, in which he presented his results. In the 10th International Congress of Mathematicians (Oslo, 1936), Boulad chaired section VIII (Pédagogie). It was in the plenary session of the International Commission on Mathematics Education at this meeting that Boulad, among others, was named "Membre honoraire de la Commission". This title was given in recognition of Boulad's services to the Commission, of which he had been a member since 1913 (according to his report to the Institut d'Egypte).

Secondary bibliography

J.-E. GOBY 1947-1948, Farid Boulad Bey, Bulletin de l'Institut d'Égypte, 30, 21-31.

On Nomography, see:

P. M. D-OCAGNE 1899, Traité de nomographie, Paris, Gauthier-Villars
T. L. HANKINS 1999, Blood, Dirt and Nomograms, Isis, 90, 50-80.

Selected Bibliography of his published mathematical studies

F. Y. BOULAD 1909, Remarque relative aux nouvaux theorems sur les moments fléchissants maxima dans une poutre du pont, Institut Égyptien Bulletin, 5th s., 3, 23-26.
F. Y. BOULAD 1909, Sur l'introduction du principe de dualité et de la méthode nomographique des points alignés, Institut Égyptien Bulletin, 5th s., 3, 59-67.
F. Y. BOULAD 1911, Application de la notion des valeurs critiques à la disjonction des variables dans les équations d'ordre nomographique supérieur, Bulletin de la Société Mathématique de France," 39, 105-129.
F. Y. BOULAD 1912, Sur les équations à quatre variables d'ordre nomographique supérieur, Bulletin de la Société Mathématique de France," 40 (1912): 383-392.
F. Y. BOULAD 1918-1919, Nouveaux théorèmes sur le virile de forces et leurs applications géométriques et mécaniques, L' Enseignement Mathématique, 20, 421- 432.

For additional bibliography, see the list of published studies included by Boulad in his review Au sujet d'un livre intitulé Le Calcul Simplifié par les Procédés mécaniques et graphiques par M. D'Ocagne, Bulletin de l'Institut d' Egypte, 10, 1929, 79-81.

Gregg De Young
Mathematics Department
The American University in Cairo