Escutcheons of Science
 Gerard P. Michon, Ph.D.

Gérard P. Michon  (1956-)  Ph.D., X1976, ONM, OPA
French engineer residing in the United States

The above is a copyrighted picture.  All rights reserved.  © 2013   Gerard Michon.

Gules, a saltire gyronny of sixteen Or and Sable.  (Assumed  May 3, 2013)
De gueules, au sautoir gironné d'or et de sable, de 16 pièces.   [ CFH  2013 / 892 ]

For centuries, the family of Gérard's father  Henry Michon  (1907-1968) roamed the same part of central France as an extended noble family going by the moniker of  Michon de Vougy de Pierreclos du Marais  (or parts thereof).  The various branches of that family bore  differenced  arms, often blazonned after the pattern:  Azure, something Or between three things Argent.  The genealogical research conducted in the 1990's  by  Robert Michon  (Gérard's late half-brother)  failed to prove or disprove the existence of a connection between the two families  (Robert didn't believe there was any, in recorded history at least).

Thus,  Gérard Michon  refrained from appropriating the aforementioned  Vougy  blazoning pattern, possibly unduly.  On May 3, 2013, he assumed the newly created personnal arms described on this page.  Registration with the  Conseil Français d'Héraldique  was granted on December 7, 2013   under number 2013 / 892  (later published as  2016 / 895).

The Gules and Or tinctures are the heraldic colors of the town  (Caen)  and region  (Normandy)  where Michon grew up.  They're also the colors of his  Alma Matter  (Polytechnique)  whose traditional nickname  ("X")  is meant to be represented by the prominent saltire.  The  gironny  blazonnement evokes his birthplace  (Gironde).  Using  Azure  instead of  Sable  as third tincture would have reinforced the heraldic connection with Gironde and would have established one with UCLA  (whose colors are Or and Azure).  However, the rules of classic heraldry prescribe that Gules and Azure shouldn't touch  (besides, it simply looks ugly).

 Gerard P. Michon
 Ordre National du Merite

Gérard Philippe François Robert Michon  was born in Talence  (Gironde)  on March 29, 1956.  He's been living in Los Angeles since August 16, 1980.

At age 17, he earned top honors among all the graduating high-school students of the  Académie de Caen  with a combined score of  287 / 320  (for an average of 17.94 out of 20)  earning rare full marks  (20/20)  in both mathematics and physics, in part for having spotted a misconception in one of the questions in the written exam.  He scored "only"  16/20  in philosophy.  However, a poor oral performance in German made his score just one point short of the magic threshold of  18/20  which would have earned the rare  félicitations du jury  distinction  (which nobody earned in the district that year).  In his senior year, Michon was ranked third in the Nation when he represented his high-school  (Lycée Malherbe, Caen)  in the 6-hour  philosophy competition  of the  Concours Général des Lycées et Collèges  (he also competed in mathematics but didn't perform up to expectations).  After graduating from high-school, Michon moved to the secluded top floor of the same building, home of the  Taupe Laplace,  to prepare for the entrance exams of the major French scientific  Grandes Ecoles.
 Polytechnique Logo
 Ordre des Palmes academiques

On July 24, 1976,  Gérard Michon  was admitted  into the most prestigious engineering school in France, the Ecole Polytechnique  (he ranked 23rd in the national entrance competition).  After a year of military service, he started the Polytechnique curriculum in the Fall of 1977.  In Mathematics, the legendary Laurent Schwartz (1915-2002) was lecturing on functional analysisJean-Louis Basdevant  was giving introductory lectures on Quantum Mechanics with the help of about a dozen faculty members who were coaching students in small groups  (Michon's coach was Serge Haroche (1944-) who went on to earn the 2012 Nobel prize for physics).

Michon graduated from Polytechnique in 1979, having completed a thesis in  Computer Science  under the guidance of  Jean-Marc Steyaert (X1968)  at Polytechnique,  Philippe Flajolet (1948-2011; X1968)  at INRIA and Jean Vuillemin (X1966)  professor at Paris-Sud XI (Orsay)  himself formerly a doctoral student of  Donald Knuth  (1938-) at Stanford.  That work was also hosted at  Jussieu  in the advanced  troisième cycle  program directed by the  normalien  Maurice Nivat (1937-)  who was simultaneously professor of Computer Science at Polytechnique.  Such  ad hoc  bridges between Polytechnique and Parisian universities were growing in popularity at the time.  For obscure reasons, the Polytechnique administrators decided to put an abrupt end to them.  Nivat made the decision of  passer outre  by convening an examining committee anyway in 1979 for the two polytechnique students under his direct care  (Michon  and  Jean-Louis Legrand)  pledging to award them a  DEA  degree  (the prerequisite for a doctorate, at the time)  on the 1980  rolls of  Paris VII,  as soon as both students would be out of Polytechnique.  That  probably  happened.

Subsequently, Michon obtained two specialized master-level degrees the same year (1981).  At the time,  Polytechniciens  were required by law to obtain at least one of these or face a severe fine corresponding to the actual cost of their education at Polytechnique  (which they otherwise received for free, while being paid as junior military officers).

One of those degrees was from the  School of Engineering and Applied Science  at UCLA  (University of California at Los Angeles)  and the other from the  Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications  (ENST of Paris, before it was dubbed Télécom ParisTech).  Michon had taken advantage of an exchange program that made it possible to graduate from both institutions by replacing the final year at ENST with the completion of an MS program at UCLA.  To that end, Michon had obtained hefty scholarship funding from the French  Ministère de l'Industrie,  for 1980-1981.  Matriculating as  Gerard Philippe Michon,  he completed the UCLA requirements for the MS degree in a single year and went on to obtain a doctorate in 1983, successively under  Sheila A. Greibach (1939-)  of  GNF fame, and  Judea Pearl (1936-)  father of the slain journalist Daniel Pearl (1963-2002) and sole recipient of the Turing Award  (the highest honor in Computer Science)  for the year 2011.

Some of the doctoral dissertation is available here.  It's tersely indexed by  Google Books  but a full  scanned copy (technical report 840029)  is available online from the archives of Pearl's  Cognitive Systems Laboratory.  Crude "typesetting" on daisywheel printers was standard in Academia, back then  (just before the introduction of desktop publishing).

 Gules, a saltire moline Or.  Celtic pattern, courtesy of Neil Sloane

On March 19, 2000, the first page of  went online as the future home of hundreds  (now thousands)  of educational scientific snippets by  Dr. Michon

 Escutcheons of Science

 Galileo  Descartes In April 2003, an heraldic component appeared within Numericana, starting with tiny representations  (45 by 48 pixels)  of the arms of  Galileo  and  Descartes.  Thereafter, whenever possible, the Numericana discussions of the results of major scientists were accompanied by freshly minted thumbnails of their arms...

 Wilke Those quaint little shields were formally collected in a single  armorial of scientists  which grew fairly rapidly.  Thanks to  Colonel  Guy H. Power  (of NASA)  this would soon attract the attention of  Dr. Clemens Jochen Wilke,  a trained German chemist working as a European patent attorney.  Wilke is also an heraldic artist who has been donating some of his artwork to lavishly illustrate quite a few entries in Numericana's armorial.  The armorial is known far and wide as  Escutcheons of Science  (EoS).

The 10-th anniversary of  Numericana  (March 19, 2010)  happened to coincide with Wilke's 50-th Birthday.  For the occasion, he created the humorous heraldic composition shown above right, based on his earlier creative rendition of  Gutenberg's coat-of-arms  (including the dramatic drags, inspired by the beggar on Gutenberg's shield).  The saltire moltine  (akin to the Azure charge in the  de Broglie  shield)  simply stands for the  roman numeral  "X"  of Numericana's tenth year.  Wilke's caricature of Michon was used as a crest for the occasion.  (Wilke and Michon have corresponded extensively but they've never met or even talked.)

 Celtic pattern, courtesy of Neil Sloane    Celtic pattern, courtesy of Neil Sloane

 Coat-of-arms of Gerard P. Michon

 Round  Border  Round  
 Border  Numericana Card Back  Border
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Gérard P. Michon is  not  directly related to the following contemporary individuals:

Trivia :   According to Namespedia, approximately 28 people are called "Gerard Michon"  (there are at least two in the US and  21 in France).  The surname  "Michon"  is borne by approximately 4200 people in at least 21 countries  (2400 in France, 800 in the US).  Roughly 600 women bear the  first name  "Michon"  (almost exclusively in the United States).  It seems that only one of them is called "Michon Michon".


In the News   |   Palmes académiques   |   Knight of the National Order of Merit   |   Michon's Conjecture (c. 1980)   |   NEHGS   |   American Heraldry Society (guidelines)   |   American College of Heraldry (US)   |   Augustan Society (US)   |   Other heraldic registries:   The Heraldry Society (UK)   |   US Armorials (e.g., Derwin Mak)   |   International Register of Arms (UK)   |   South African Bureau of Heraldry   |   Conseil Français d'Héraldique   |   Math Forum (2004)   |   CS Bibliography

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