Person: Byrne, Oliver
Oliver Byrne was an Irish civil engineer and prolific author of works on subjects including mathematics, geometry and engineering. He is best known for his 'coloured' book of Euclid's Elements.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Not much is known about Byrne's early years and, confusingly, some of the information that is available seems to be incorrect.
- However, there is no record of Byrne attending Trinity College, Dublin, and no record that he graduated from Trinity College.
- Byrne tried to get a paper "How to measure the Earth with the assistance of Railroads" accepted for publication.
- Byrne also wrote, under the pseudonym E B Revilo (this is just Oliver Byrne reversed!), the strange book The creed of St Athanasius proved by a mathematical parallel.
- Byrne then erected two vertical columns: the left containing the English Book of Common Prayer translation of the Quicunque Vult (the traditional description of the Athanasian Creed), the right containing parallel mathematical equations involving infinity that purported to establish the truth of the statements on the left.
- On 23 November 1839, Byrne made an application for financial support from the Royal Literary Fund.
- Byrne taught at the College of Civil Engineers, Putney, South West London from around the beginning of 1840.
- First Part: Fallacy of Phrenology (1844), and Description and Use of the Byrnegraph: An Instrument for Multiplying, Dividing and Comparing Lines, Angles, Surfaces, and Solids (1846).
- Let the Messrs Byrne write a book in defence of Ireland, and her cause will be ruined for ever.
- By January 1858, Byrne was making application for funds to allow him to return to England.
- Byrne's problems caused by the gas explosion had been made worse when he had a cab accident in which his right arm and collar-bone were injured.
- Byrne published many other works which we have not discussed above and also had a number of inventions which again we have chosen not to discuss.
Born 31 July 1810, Avoca, County Wicklow, Ireland. Died 9 December 1880, Maidstone, Kent, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive