Person: Chrystal, George
George Chrystal is best remembered today for Algebra: a two volume work which was completed by 1889. He was also involved in educational reform throughout his career and was a major figure in setting up an educational system in Scotland.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Chrystal graduated from Aberdeen in 1871 with first class honours in mathematics and natural philosophy, and received the Town's Gold Medal given to the best student of the year.
- Chrystal graduated from Cambridge on 30 April 1875 and he was second wrangler placed equal with Burnside (John William Lord of Trinity was first wrangler).
- On 10 February 1875, Chrystal became second Smith's prizeman, the first Smith's prize being given to Burnside.
- Shortly after his graduation, Chrystal was elected a fellow and lecturer of Corpus Christi College.
- In the summer of 1877 the chair of mathematics in the University of St Andrews became vacant and Chrystal applied for the post.
- Being the Regius Chair of mathematics it was a crown appointment and Chrystal received a telegram from the Home Secretary on Saturday 3 November 1877 informing him that he was successful.
- Before leaving for Germany to marry, Chrystal applied for the vacant chair of mathematics in the University of Edinburgh.
- Chrystal chose as his subject The History of Mathematics, talking in particular about the former occupants of the Edinburgh chair of mathematics.
- Chrystal was to hold the Edinburgh chair for the rest of his career.
- Despite holding the chair of mathematics at Edinburgh, Chrystal continued his interest in experimental work there.
- Summer after summer Chrystal flitted through these laboratories, busy with his own researches, but not too busy to take a keen interest in all that was being done.
- Chrystal was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 2 February 1880.
- Most of Chrystal's published papers appear in the publications of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
- Chrystal was the main force behind the success in finding new accommodation for the Society.
- The Treasury granted £25,000 for the purchase of 22-24 George Street in Edinburgh, and £3,000 to cover the cost of removal and equipment.
- The Society still occupies this accommodation in George Street, but has recently purchased the adjacent property which will soon become part of the premises.
- The Royal Society of Edinburgh was not the only Edinburgh Society with which Chrystal was closely connected.
- The first regular meeting was held on 12 March 1883, and Chrystal had the honour of giving the first introductory address, the subject of which was Present Fields of Mathematical Research.
- Tait and Chrystal were the first two Honorary members elected by the Society and as Honorary members, they were not eligible to serve as officers of the Society.
- Another area in which Chrystal's influence was far reaching was in the reforms in Scottish school education.
- In 1885 Chrystal, along with some other university professors, was invited to make inspections of secondary schools, and as a result the idea of a Leaving Certificate Examination occurred to him.
- Chrystal's mathematical publications cover many topics including non-euclidean geometry, line geometry, determinants, conics, optics, differential equations, and partitions of numbers.
- The last few years of Chrystal's life were devoted to a different research topic from anything he had studied up to that point.
- Chrystal published three major papers on the subject in 1904, 1905 and 1906 which were all published by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
- In these and subsequent papers Chrystal studied seiches in lakes of many different shapes.
- It is interesting to look at some descriptions of Chrystal's character.
- Professor Chrystal is perhaps the most approachable of all our professors.
- There are few classes so completely dominated by their teachers as Professor Chrystal's; he has a fine and tactful sarcasm which he knows well how to use ...
- But those who only know the Chrystal of the class-room know little of him.
- There is the Chrystal of the private interview - a kindly, sympathetic, helpful teacher.
- There is the Chrystal who, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, advises the timid urchin hesitating on the threshold of his academic career, or guides the inexperienced footsteps of students as they face out into the unknown world.
Born 8 March 1851, Old Meldrum (near Aberdeen), Scotland. Died 3 November 1911, Edinburgh, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Algebra, Origin Scotland
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive