“Knowledge gained by experience”: Olaus Henrici—engineer, geometer and maker of mathematical models

Barrow-Green, June (2021). “Knowledge gained by experience”: Olaus Henrici—engineer, geometer and maker of mathematical models. Historia Mathematica (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hm.2020.10.003

Abstract

The German mathematician Olaus Henrici, who was born in Denmark in 1840, studied engineering and mathematics in Germany before making his career in London. Initially, and for only a short time, he worked in an engineering business. He subsequently took on academic positions, first at University College London and then, from 1884, at the newly formed Central Institution (later Central Technical College) where he established a Laboratory of Mechanics. While at University College he became an active promoter of pure geometry and a producer of models of surfaces. In this paper I explore the geometrical side of Henrici’s work, setting it into the context of his career and arguing that his interdisciplinary background was a key factor in his success as a creator of models.

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