Person: Hill (2), Micaiah
M J M Hill was professor at University College, London. He did important work on hydrodynamics and also on the teaching of mathematics, particularly on teaching Euclid's Elements.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- In India Samuel John Hill opened a new Anglo-Vernacular School in Berhampur in 1868 and took charge of the Berhampur station two years later.
- Samuel Charles Hill was educated at the Sons of Missionaries School, Blackheath, England and became an historian of India writing a number of popular books.
- William Kirkpatrick Hill studied at the University of London, and became a schoolmaster, journalist and author.
- George Francis Hill was also educated at the Sons of Missionaries School, Blackheath, studied classics at University College London, and joined the Coins and Medals Department of the British Museum.
- From now on let us refer to Micaiah John Muller Hill simply as Hill.
- The school moved to a new building in Blackheath, London, in 1857 and it was in that building that Hill studied.
- Hill graduated from the Sons of Missionaries School in 1872 and, in October of that year, he entered University College, part of the University of London, to study mathematics.
- After only two years of study at University College, Hill graduated with a B.A. in 1874 being ranked the top student in Mathematical Honours.
- Before the award of his M.A. degree from the University of London, Hill had matriculated as a scholar at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, at the start of the Michaelmas term in 1875.
- In the Mathematical Tripos examinations of 1879 Hill was Fourth Wrangler.
- Although Hill was Fourth Wrangler, he was equal 1st Smith's Prizeman in 1879 showing his outstanding research potential.
- Hill was a candidate to fill the vacant St Andrews chair and he requested a testimonial from James Clerk Maxwell to support his candidacy.
- Hill was unsuccessful, Scott Lang being appointed to the St Andrews Chair.
- Despite Hill's highly successful years at Cambridge, he lacked the experience needed for the St Andrews Chair so he returned to University College, London where he was appointed as assistant to Olaus Henrici.
- This College had been founded in 1875, five years before Hill was appointed; it went on the become Mason University College in 1898 and was incorporated into the University of Birmingham in 1900.
- In Birmingham, Hill lived in a boarding house.
- In 1884, after four years in Birmingham, Hill returned to London when he was appointed Professor of Pure Mathematics at University College.
- Hill and Karl Pearson would remain colleagues at University College for forty years.
- Endowed Chairs were the exception and stipends largely consisted of professors' shares of fees, so that there was a strong inducement to make one's teaching popular rather than profound, a temptation fortunately resisted in most cases, certainly in the case of Hill.
- When Hill first took up his duties, the department of Mathematics boasted only a single assistant.
- The bulk of the routine work of undergraduate teaching, such the correction of students' exercises, fell upon the professor, and this work Hill, trained as he had been in a hard school, performed with unflagging energy and zeal, and an unselfish devotion which won him the affection and admiration of generation after generation of students.
- Given the pressures on Hill in his new appointment, it is not surprising that he published little in the first few years after becoming a professor at University College.
- Hill published further important contribution to singular equations with On Node-and Cusp-Loci, which are enveloped by the Tangents at the Cusps (1890) and On the locus of singular points and lines which occur in connection the theory of the locus of ultimate intersections of a system of surfaces (1892).
- Gwen Hill became a radiologist.
- Let us return to Micaiah Hill's career.
- Now it is important to understand that Hill started out his research career making significant advances to hydrodynamics and he continued with this interest.
- Hill read patiently and carefully every line, and in the end his only (and characteristic) comment was that it was a "very courageous " solution! Above all, he loved his students, a feeling which was universally and deeply reciprocated.
- In 1900 Hill published the book The Contents of the Fifth and Sixth Books of Euclid.
- Hill was elected President of the London Branch of the Mathematical Association and gave the Presidential Address on The Theory of Proportion on 10 February 1912.
- Griffith tried to gain recognition of the abilities of Srinivasa Ramanujan and wrote to Hill on 12 November 1912 sending some of Ramanujan's work and a copy of his 1911 paper on Bernoulli numbers.
- Hill did read Ramanujan's paper about the Bernoulli numbers quickly and wrote to Griffith again on 7 December 1912.
- Hill was one of those who fought for the establishment in London of a real teaching University; and from the re-constitution of the University in 1900 until 1926, when ill-health compelled his retirement, he was a member of its Senate, in which his balanced judgment, ever-courteous modesty, and, above all, his transparent honesty of purpose and that moral atmosphere which radiated from him and impressed all, even the bitterest opponents of his policy, who came into contact with him, soon gained for him a position of ascendancy.
- Hill had served on the senate of the University of London from 1900 to 1926, and as vice-chancellor from 1909 to 1911.
Born 22 February 1856, Berhampur, Bengal (now Odisha), India. Died 11 January 1929, Golders Green, Middlesex, England.
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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