Mathematics in Victorian Britain

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-10-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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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.

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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