In 1795, French mathematician Gaspard de Prony invented
an ingenious trick to solve a recovery problem,
aiming at reconstructing functions from their values
at given points, which arose from a specific application
in physical chemistry. His technique became
later useful in many different areas, such as signal
processing, and it relates to the concept of sparsity
that gained a lot of well-deserved attention recently.
Prony’s contribution, therefore, has developed into a
very modern mathematical concept.