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Geometry at the Universities

Nature volume 5, page 8 | Download Citation



PROF. THISELTON DYER has well pointed out a distinction which exists between the mathematical courses at Oxford and Cambridge. But his conclusion, that at Oxford “special attention to geometrical methods would pay very well,” though acceptable in its way, falls far short of what I advocate. The great want at both Universities is a course of geometrical studies; and the prooi that such a want exists is to be found in the fact that the geometrical treatises in use at either University, cover so very limited a range. There are not even any text-books on the geometry of the sphere, cone, cylinder, and like simple solids, or on such curves as the lemniscate, cycloid, and the simpler spirals. A few stray notes on these subjects may be found in some of the text-books, but not a thorough and systematic geometrical investigation of any of them. Geometrical treatises might with advantage range much further. A geometrical treatise on ellipsoids would be of immense use apart from its employment as a means of mental training. Geometrical treatises on paraboloids of both kinds, on hyperboloids of one sheet and of two sheets, on the various orders of ring-surfaces and screw-surfaces, and on many other tridimensional matters, would afford invaluable exercise to the student, besides having a real value to the scientific worker. I venture to express my conviction, that a course of such studies would tend to develop mathematical powers much more thoroughly even than the study of covariants and contravariants, Jacobians, Hessians, et hoc genus omne.

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  1. Brighton, Oct. 27



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