Burnside’s applied mathematics

Barrow-Green, June (2004). Burnside’s applied mathematics. In: Neumann, Peter M.; Mann, A.J.S. and Tompson, Julia C. eds. The Collected Papers of William Burnside, Volume 1. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 63–70.

URL: http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780198505853


William Burnside is best known for his work on group theory—his Theory of Groups (1897) was the first treatise on groups in English—but his academic talents were nurtured in an environment which was predominantly one of applied mathematics. Later, his teaching, both at Cambridge and Greenwich, was devoted almost exclusively to subjects of an applied nature. His first significant research papers were on applied mathematics, and his development as a pure mathematician began to evolve through his treatment of applied topics. In the first of these research papers, which was published in 1888 and written in response to a request from PG Tait, he tackled a problem in one of the topical subjects of the day, the kinetic theory of gases. In 1889 he began publishing on hydrodynamics, and for almost thirty years he continued to publish on various aspects of the subject, albeit sporadically.

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