Person: Mathews, George Ballard
George Mathews was an English mathematician. Most of his research was on number theory but he also worked on analysis and geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- He had two younger siblings, Harriet Hannah Mathews and Arthur Mathews, twins born in July 1865 in Canonbury, Islington.
- In 1872 George Ballard Mathews entered Ludlow Grammar School in Ludlow, Shropshire.
- After graduating from Ludlow Grammar School Mathews went to University College, London where he studied mathematics taught by Olaus Henrici and also began to study Sanskrit.
- In 1879 St John's College, Cambridge offered him a senior scholarship in either mathematics or classics, leaving Mathews to make his choice of subjects.
- The most successful coach at Cambridge over many years had been Edward John Routh and, when Mathews matriculated at Cambridge, Routh had coached every Senior Wrangler in the Mathematical tripos since 1862.
- It was Mathews who broke Routh's run of 22 consecutive Senior Wrangler's when he graduated as Senior Wrangler in 1883.
- The year after graduating, 1884, Mathews was elected a Fellow of St John's College and awarded a Smith's Prize, and later in the same year he was appointed to the chair of mathematics at the University College of North Wales at Bangor, this being the year the university opened.
- Most of Mathews' research was on number theory but he also wrote texts on Bessel functions and on projective geometry.
- The book A treatise on Bessel functions and their applications to physics (1895) was written by Mathews in collaboration with Andrew Gray who was the professor of physics at Bangor.
- Here Mathews was luckier than with the number theory work, since even when Watson's treatise on Bessel functions was published in 1922, it did not cover the applications of Mathews' book which continued to be useful and well used.
- Mathews also wrote Algebraic equations (1907) which is a clear exposition of Galois theory, and Projective geometry (1914).
- In addition to his treatises and many papers on the classical theory of numbers, Mathews also wrote some articles for Encyclopaedia Britannica, in particular writing the article on universal algebra and the one on number.
- Another role Mathews played in mathematics teaching and administration was as an examiner to the Universities of Ireland and to the University of Manchester.
- His versatility led a colleague at Bangor to assert that Mathews could equally well fill four or more chairs at the college.
- "Not at all," said Mathews, "there is all the difference in the world between a massive intellect and a dense one!" ...
- Mathews was exceedingly sensitive, and almost morbidly afraid of appearing to put himself forward in any way, so that he hardly received the recognition which was his due.
- Mathews was honoured, however, with election to the Royal Society of London in 1897.
- Many articles by Mathews appeared in Nature during 1920-22, but these were extremely difficult years for him for he was suffering from cancer and underwent a series of operations.
Born 23 February 1861, Canonbury, London, England. Died 19 March 1922, Liverpool, 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