Person: Niven, William Davidson
William Niven was a Scottish mathematician who was a friend of Maxwell and worked on electricity, magnetism and harmonic functions.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Charles Niven, who was Professor of Natural Philosophy at Aberdeen University for 41 years, has a biography in this archive.
- James Niven studied mathematics at Queens' College, Cambridge and was bracketed eighth wrangler in the mathematical tripos of 1874.
- William Niven's secondary schooling was at the Grammar School, Aberdeen, from where he entered King's College of the University of Aberdeen.
- From there, as was the tradition of the Scottish Universities at that time, Niven went to study at the University of Cambridge matriculating in 1862.
- At Cambridge Niven studied mathematics at Trinity College, where he graduated as third Wrangler in the mathematical tripos of 1866 (the means that he was ranked third among the First Class students).
- This College, explicitly set up to train engineers for work in India, was opened on 5 August 1872 and Niven became its first mathematics professor.
- Soon, however, Niven left the Engineering College to take up an appointment as professor at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.
- After Maxwell's death, Niven looked after Maxwell's affairs and, most importantly, helped to edit the second edition of Maxwell's Electricity and Magnetism and began the task of editing Maxwell's scientific papers.
- In 1882 Niven was appointed as Director of Studies of the Royal Naval College in Greenwich.
- On his retirement in 1903 he was honoured for his services by being made KCB - at this point he became Sir William Davidson Niven.
- Niven was an active member and staunch supporter of the London Mathematical Society from his election to the Society on 8 May 1873.
Born 24 March 1842, Peterhead, Scotland. Died 29 May 1917, Sidcup, Kent, 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