Borda was a French mathematician, physicist, and sailor. He was elected to the French Academy of Sciences in 1764. for his Mémoire sur le mouvement des projectiles.
Borda was a mariner and a scientist, spending time in the Caribbean testing out advances in chronometers. He entered the French Navy as an engineer, making improvements to waterwheels and pumps. He was appointed as France’s Inspector of Naval Shipbuilding in 1784, and with the assistance of the naval architect Jacques-Noël Sané in 1786 introduced a massive construction programme to revitalise the French navy based on the standard designs of Sané. In 1770, Borda formulated a ranked preferential voting system that is referred to as the Borda count. The French Academy of Sciences used Borda’s method to elect its members for about two decades until it was quashed by Napoleon Bonaparte who insisted that his own method be used after he became president of the Académie in 1801. The Borda count is in use today in some academic institutions, competitions and several political jurisdictions. The Borda count has also served as a basis for other methods such as the Quota Borda system and Nanson’s method. In 1778, he published his method of reducing Lunar Distances for computing the longitude, still regarded as the best of several similar mathematical procedures for navigation and position-fixing in pre-chronometer days. Another of his contributions is his construction of the standard metre, basis of the metric system to correspond to the measurements of Delambre. As an instrument maker, he improved the reflecting circle and the repeating circle.
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