Person: Jerrard, George
George Jerrard was an English mathematician who worked on the theory of equations.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Joseph Jerrard served in Ireland during the rebellion of 1798, was sent to Egypt in 1805, and served at the siege of Copenhagen in 1807.
- It was not at Cambridge, but rather at Trinity College, Dublin, that George studied.
- Jerrard was a member of the Senate of the University of London and, in January 1839, he proposed the motion "That a Committee be appointed to take into consideration the subject of books which may be required for the use of the University." Within a few months books were being purchased to build the library.
- Jerrard was also a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
- Jerrard's name appears in the list of life members of the Association around the mid 1840s.
- In 1844 George Peacock was President of the Association and, in the following year, John Herschel was President.
- As well as in the list of life members, Jerrard's name appears in a list of those "to whom books are supplied gratis." The entries list him as "Examiner in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in the University of London." His address is given as Long Stratton, Norfolk.
- It seems to have been overlooked or forgotten, and was subsequently re-discovered many years later by Mr Jerrard.
- Charles Hermite used Jerrard's result saying that it was the most important step in studying the quintic equation since Abel's results.
- Hermite did not know of Bring's result and it is almost certain that Jerrard did not know of Bring's result either.
- Jerrard wrote a further two-volume work on the algebraic solution of equations An essay on the resolution of equations (1858).
- Jerrard believed that he had successfully shown that quintic equations could be solved by the 'method of radicals' despite proofs that this was impossible.
- Abel's proof of 1824 did not convince Jerrard and, one would have to add, many other mathematicians too.
- However, William Rowan Hamilton supported Abel and pointed out errors in Jerrard's work.
- Jerrard produced his cubic radical from an equation of degree six.
- James Cockle was another British mathematician who, at first, could not accept that Abel had proved the solution to be impossible, but slowly accepted that Jerrard was wrong.
- By 1862 he was more prepared to pinpoint exactly where Jerrard had gone wrong.
- Harley, like Jerrard, worked almost exclusively on quintic equations.
- in 1862, Cockle published a guarded surrender to Abel and Hamilton which must have been a blow to Jerrard: Cockle had been the best he had had by way of a mathematical supporter.
- Moreover, by the 1860s, Cockle was being forced to point out in print mistakes of Jerrard, and in this he was joined by Arthur Cayley.
Born 25 November 1804, Bodmin, Cornwall, England. Died 23 November 1863, Long Stratton, Norfolk, 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