Person: Whiteside, Derek Thomas
Tom Whiteside was an English historian of mathematics who specialised in Isaac Newton.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Tom's first schooling was at St John's Church of England Primary School in Blackpool, then he attended Blackpool Grammar School from September 1943.
- Tom acquired a reputation throughout the school for being impervious to pain; something of a stoic.
- Tom never rushed his words.
- After the award of his degree, Whiteside undertook two years' National Service spent as a Trooper in the 5th Royal Tank Regiment stationed at Barce in Libya, on the northern fringe of the Sahara desert.
- Peter Geoffrey Hall was the same age at Whiteside but after leaving Blackpool Grammar School in 1951 he had gone to St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he studied Geography and Geology.
- Whiteside followed his school friend's advice and filled in an application form to enter St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and sent it off.
- Richard Bevan Braithwaite, Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy, was at King's College, and he accepted Whiteside as a research student.
- This meant that Whiteside became a postgraduate student in the Faculty of Moral Science.
- Braithwaite and Whiteside were not well suited and so after a year he changed his supervisor to Michael Anthony Hoskin who at the time was a research fellow at Jesus College.
- Whiteside threw himself into the study of the Newton papers, which was to become his life's work.
- Whiteside was awarded a second research fellowship, this time from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, which supported his studies from 1961 to 1963.
- Whiteside was appointed as a Research Assistant in the Whipple Museum of the History of Science of Cambridge University in 1963, holding this position for nine years.
- During this period Whiteside spent 1969 as Woodward Visiting Professor at Yale University, Connecticut, USA.
- Tom was widely honoured as the foremost historian of mathematics of his generation, and the editor of the magisterial Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton.
- The Department was proud that latterly Tom preferred to be a member of this rather than any other department in the University, and we took pleasure in his presence amongst us for many years.
- Let us examine first the work for which Whiteside will be best remembered, his monumental achievement in publishing the eight volumes of The mathematical papers of Isaac Newton.
- It was as early as 1960, before Whiteside had published his thesis and attained international distinction, that he approached Cambridge University Press with a proposal to edit Newton's unpublished mathematical work.
- Before the first volume appeared, however, Whiteside published the first of two volumes The mathematical works of Isaac Newton which contained English translations of Newton's published mathematical works on the calculus.
- Volume 7: As customary, in this magnificent edition of Newton's mathematical papers, all Latin pieces (except for secondary texts of minor importance) have been translated into English on facing pages.
- there is every reason to say "Whiteside, we thank thee".
- Despite the huge task undertaken by Whiteside in editing these volumes over the span of 20 years, it would be wrong to think that he worked on these to the exclusion of writing other papers.
- Another of Whiteside's 1970 papers is The mathematical principles underlying Newton's Principia mathematica.
- Of course, when Whiteside completed his twenty years work on Newton's unpublished mathematical papers, he was still only 49 years of age and in the prime of his research abilities.
- Whiteside received many honours for his outstanding contributions to the history of mathematics.
- In the citation for this honour he was praised for the rise to fame of "the local slum boy." Finally let us mention the honour he received by having the volume The investigation of difficult things : Essays on Newton and the history of the exact sciences in honour of D T Whiteside (1992) published for his 60th birthday.
- We have already given an indication of Whiteside's character from comments from a school friend above.
Born 23 July 1932, Blackpool, England. Died 22 April 2008, Wokingham, Berkshire, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive