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9780801882913

James Joseph Sylvester : Jewish Mathematician in a Victorian World

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780801882913

  • ISBN10:

    0801882915

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-03-29
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ Pr
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List Price: $78.00

Summary

Here, in this first biographical study of James Joseph Sylvester, Karen Hunger Parshall makes a signal contribution to the history of mathematics, Victorian history, and the history of science. A brilliant Cambridge student at first denied a degree because of his faith, Sylvester came twice to America to teach mathematics, ultimately becoming one of Daniel Coit Gilman's faculty recruits at Johns Hopkins in 1876 and winning the coveted Savilian Professorship of Geometry at Oxford in 1883. He held professorships of natural philosophy, worked as an actuary, was called to the bar, and taught mathematics to cadets training for engineering and artillery posts in the British Army. During his long, distinguished career he also edited England's Quarterly Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics and established the American Journal of Mathematics, the first sustained mathematics research journal in the United States. Situating Sylvester's life within the political, religious, mathematical, and social currents of nineteenth-century England, Parshall penetrates the myth of this venerated figure, revealing how he lived, the choices he made and why, how the world in which he lived affected him -- and how he affected that world. The story of Sylvester's life sheds light on the evolution of mathematical thought. It also examines the ways in which mathematics may be done and what factors may shape a mathematician's ideas. Parshall explores the development of academic professionalization, nineteenth-century mathematical culture, and the emergence of modern algebra as a mathematical discipline. She highlights the human side of what many view as that most arcane and otherworldly of intellectual endeavors, mathematics, which indeed answers to such diverse factors as religion, ego, and depression.

Author Biography

Karen Hunger Parshall is a professor of history and mathematics at the University of Virginia.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
INTRODUCTION
James Joseph Sylvester: The Myth, the Mathematician, the Man
1(8)
CHAPTER 1 Born to "the Faith in Which the Founder of Christianity Was Educated" 9(40)
The Josephs of Liverpool
11(5)
The Abraham Joseph Family of London
16(6)
The Royal Institution School, Liverpool
22(4)
CHAPTER 2 A Price of Dissent
26(23)
Cambridge Debates Dissent
27(2)
Within the Walls of St. John's
29(7)
A Two-Year Hiatus
36(2)
Back at St. John's
38(5)
The 1837 Tripos
43(6)
CHAPTER 3 The Hollow Walls of Academe 49(32)
An Unexpected Opportunity
51(4)
Professor of Natural Philosophy at University College London
55(9)
Looking beyond England
64(5)
Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia
69(7)
Struggling against an "Adverse Tide of Affairs"
76(5)
CHAPTER 4 Actuary by Day...Mathematician by Night 81(26)
The Actuary: An Emergent "Professional Man"
83(2)
J.J. Sylvester, Esq., M.A., F.R.S., Actuary and Secretary
85(7)
The Institute of Actuaries
92(2)
Divided Loyalties: Mathematician or Actuary?
94(7)
Establishing a Mathematical Routine
101(6)
CHAPTER 5 Into the Invariant-Theoretic Unknown 107(30)
The Emergence of a Theory of Invariants
107(5)
Crafting the "New Algebra"
112(10)
The Problem of Syzygies
122(8)
From Actuary to Academic?
130(7)
CHAPTER 6 A New Beginning 137(24)
Changing Responsibilities
138(6)
The Royal Military Academy, Woolwich
144(3)
Professor of Mathematics Once More
147(9)
A Roving Mathematical Eye
156(5)
CHAPTER 7 At War with the Military 161(31)
First Battle
161(4)
Temporary Truce
165(6)
Second Battle
171(5)
Hard-Won Victories
176(16)
CHAPTER 8 The Uneasy Years 192(33)
Victorian England and Educational Reform
193(3)
Reform and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich
196(5)
Mathematics Misrepresented and Misunderstood: Taking on Huxley
201(5)
The BAAS and Science Education
206(5)
Poetry Soothes the Soul
211(4)
Life after Woolwich
215(4)
New Possibilities on the Horizon?
219(6)
CHAPTER 9 Exploring Familiar Ground on Unfamiliar Territory 225(24)
First Impressions
226(3)
Getting Started
229(6)
Thriving in the Graduate Classroom
235(4)
Launching the American Journal of Mathematics
239(4)
Sustaining the American Journal of Mathematics
243(6)
CHAPTER 10 Tackling New Challenges in a Home Away from Home 249(29)
Sylvester and His Early Students
249(5)
From Invariant Theory to the Theory of Numbers
254(8)
From Number Theory to "Universal Algebra"
262(5)
A Troubled Transition to the Theory of Partitions
267(6)
Henry Smith Is Dead
273(5)
CHAPTER 11 A Bittersweet Victory 278(26)
An Oxford in Transition
279(6)
Between Two Worlds
285(8)
A Rocky Year
293(3)
Hopkins in Oxfordshire?
296(8)
CHAPTER 12 The Final Transition 304(25)
Increasing Signs of Age
305(8)
An International Competition
313(4)
A Steady Decline
317(9)
The Final Years
326(3)
EPILOGUE James Joseph Sylvester: The Man and His Legacies 329(10)
Notes 339(80)
References 419(28)
Index 447

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