Mathematics in Victorian Britain

Overview


During the Victorian era, industrial and economic growth led to a phenomenal rise in productivity and invention. That spirit of creativity and ingenuity was reflected in the massive expansion in scope and complexity of many scientific disciplines during this time, with subjects evolving rapidly and the creation of many new disciplines. The subject of mathematics was no exception and many of the advances made by mathematicians during the Victorian period are still familiar today; matrices, vectors, Boolean ...
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Mathematics in Victorian Britain

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Overview


During the Victorian era, industrial and economic growth led to a phenomenal rise in productivity and invention. That spirit of creativity and ingenuity was reflected in the massive expansion in scope and complexity of many scientific disciplines during this time, with subjects evolving rapidly and the creation of many new disciplines. The subject of mathematics was no exception and many of the advances made by mathematicians during the Victorian period are still familiar today; matrices, vectors, Boolean algebra, histograms, and standard deviation were just some of the innovations pioneered by these mathematicians.

This book constitutes perhaps the first general survey of the mathematics of the Victorian period. It assembles in a single source research on the history of Victorian mathematics that would otherwise be out of the reach of the general reader. It charts the growth and institutional development of mathematics as a profession through the course of the 19th century in England, Scotland, Ireland, and across the British Empire. It then focuses on developments in specific mathematical areas, with chapters ranging from developments in pure mathematical topics (such as geometry, algebra, and logic) to Victorian work in the applied side of the subject (including statistics, calculating machines, and astronomy). Along the way, we encounter a host of mathematical scholars, some very well known (such as Charles Babbage, James Clerk Maxwell, Florence Nightingale, and Lewis Carroll), others largely forgotten, but who all contributed to the development of Victorian mathematics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

As a rule of thumb, if one reads a book and is unable to put it down, then it is a good book. I had to put this book down on several occasions; not because I disliked it, but because it inspired me to pick up a notepad and pencil and try several mathematics questions from nineteenth-century exam papers. The fact that I wanted to explore the book in this way, pick it up and carry on reading is a real testament to how wonderful good it really is. This is a book that provides something for a wider readership than first expected. For the mathematician, a broad variety of fields are addressed and their developments wonderfully described. For the historian, it gives a beautiful portrayal of Victorian Britain and the scholars and polymaths of that time, presented in such a way that advanced mathematical knowledge need not be necessary. For all those in between, it is a compelling read full of enthralling biographies and trivia." -- Graham Wheeler, Cambridge, Significance

...the book is a very welcome addition to the history of mathematics literature and will serve as a valuable resource for information on British mathematicians in the Victoria era." -- Mathematical Reviews

"...a most enjoyable read." --MAA Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199601394
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond Flood is Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford where, prior to this, he was Vice President. He has worked as a university lecturer in Computing Studies and Mathematics at the Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University and was president of the British Society for the History of Mathematics.

Adrian Rice is Professor of Mathematics at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, where his research focuses on 19th-century and early 20th-century British mathematics. He is a two-time recipient of the Mathematical Association of America's Tevor Evans Award for outstanding expository writing.

Robin Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University, formerly Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, a former fellow of Keble College, Oxford, and president-elect of the British Society for the History of Mathematics. He is involved with the popularization and communication of mathematics and its history, and in 2005 was awarded a Polya prize by the Mathematical Association of America for outstanding expository writing. He was formerly Editor-in-Chief of the European Mathematical Society's Newsletter and Chair of the Committee on Raising Public Awareness of Mathematics.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Adam Hart-Davis
Introduction, Adrian Rice
1. Cambridge: the rise and fall of the mathematical tripos, Tony Crilly
2. Mathematics in Victorian Oxford: a tale of three professors, Keith Hannabuss
3. Mathematics in the metropolis: a survey of Victorian London, Adrian Rice
4. Scotland: land of opportunity but few rewards, A. J. S. Mann and A. D. D. Craik
5. Taking root: Mathematics in Victorian Ireland, Raymond Flood
6. Wranglers in Exile: mathematics in the British Empire, June Barrow-Green
7. A voice for mathematics: Victorian mathematical journals and societies, Sloan Evans Despeaux
8. Victorian 'applied mathematics', A. D. D. Craik
9. Victorian astronomy: the age of the 'Grand Amateur', Allan Chapman
10. Calculating engines: machines, mathematics, and misconceptions, Doron D. Swade
11. Vital statistics: the measurement of public health, M. Eileen Magnello
12. Darwinian variation and the creation of mathematical statistics, M. Eileen Magnello
13. Instruction in the calculus and differential equations in Victorian and Edwardian Britain, I. Grattan-Guinness
14. Geometry: the Euclid debate, Amirouche Moktefi
15. Victorian algebra: the freedom to create new mathematical entities, Karen Hunger Parshall
16. Victorian logic: from Whately to Russell, I. Grattan-Guinness
17. Combinatorics: a very Victorian recreation, Robin Wilson
18. Overstating their case? Reflections on British pure mathematics in the 19th century, Jeremy Gray

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