Person: Muir, Thomas
Thomas Muir was a Scot who went on to be Superintendent General of Education in South Africa and is best known for his five volume History of Determinants.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- George was a shoemaker in Biggar and it was in that town, about 15km from the town of Thomas's birth, that Thomas was brought up.
- Thomas entered the University of Glasgow intending to study his favourite subject of Greek.
- Muir spent three years lecturing on mathematics at Glasgow University and quickly gained a reputation as a fine teacher.
- The Edinburgh Mathematical Society was founded in 1883 and in the following year Muir was elected as president.
- Also in 1890 Muir was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, then two years later he went to the Cape, South Africa, as Superintendent General of Education.
- Muir was appointed to this position by Cecil Rhodes, then prime minister of Cape Colony, while Rhodes was visiting England.
- Muir was at the time deciding whether to accept an offer of the Chair of Mathematics from Stanford University in California.
- There was another reason why accepting a post in South Africa was attractive to Muir.
- In 1897 Muir was appointed vice-chancellor of the University of the Cape; he held this post for four years.
- Muir received several awards from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
- Muir was knighted in 1910, four years after he had reworked his 1890 publication to become Volume 1 of History of determinants which covered the origins to Leibniz in 1840.
- Muir was working on Volume 6 1920-1940 at the time of his death.
- In 1930, at the age of 86, Muir published Contributions to the history of determinants.
- It is worth thinking exactly what Muir was attempting here.
Born 25 August 1844, Stonebyres, Falls of Clyde, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Died 21 March 1934, Rondebosch, South Africa.
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