Person: Whittaker, Edmund Taylor
Edmund Whittaker's best known work is in analysis, in particular numerical analysis, but he also worked on celestial mechanics and the history of applied mathematics and physics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Whittaker graduated as Second Wrangler in the examination of 1895, and was awarded the Tyson Medal.
- Whittaker was elected as a fellow of Trinity College in 1896 and became first Smith's prizeman in 1897 for a work on pure mathematics, namely on uniform functions.
- After Whittaker became a Fellow of Trinity College he began to teach and give lecture courses and, among his first pupils were G H Hardy and J H Jeans.
- Whittaker made revolutionary changes to the topics taught at Cambridge.
- Other courses Whittaker taught at Cambridge included astronomy, geometrical optics, and electricity and magnetism.
- Whittaker's interest in astronomy is illustrated by the courses he taught, but he also joined the Royal Astronomical Society serving as its secretary from 1901 to 1906.
- George Chrystal, the professor at Edinburgh, died in November 1911 and in the following year Whittaker took up the chair in Edinburgh where he remained for the rest of his career.
- Soon after he arrived in Edinburgh, Whittaker set up the Edinburgh Mathematical Laboratory to give a practical side to his interest in numerical analysis.
- Whittaker's best known work is in analysis, in particular numerical analysis, but he also worked on celestial mechanics and the history of applied mathematics and physics.
- The unification came in the form of bringing together different special functions, as mentioned above, and exhibiting them all as special cases of what became known as a 'Whittaker integral'.
- This motivated him to study the mathematics lying behind somewhat ad hoc methods that the actuaries were using and Whittaker proved some important results on interpolation as a consequence.
- Whittaker received many honours.
- Whittaker was a committed Christian and joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1930.
Born 24 October 1873, Southport, Lancashire, England. Died 24 March 1956, Edinburgh, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Applied Maths, Astronomy, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive