The Collected Mathematical Works of George William Hill

Abstract

IT is a rare mind that can handle the cumbrous developments of practical astronomy and leave uppermost with a reader the impression of variety, ease, and polish; and curiosity will be felt as to the circumstances which have developed Hill's remarkable powers. From an interesting introduction to the present volume by M. Poincaré we learn that he spent three years at Rutgers College, New Jersey, under a certain Dr. Strong. Dr. Strong “était un homme de tradition, un laudator temporis acti; pour lui Euler était le Dieu des Mathématiques, et après lui la décadence avait commencé; il est vrai que c'est là un dieu que l'on peut adorer avec profit,” and if it led Hill to the study of originals, we may overlook the depreciation of the moderns. From New Jersey he went to Cambridge to continue his studies at Harvard; very soon here, by a paper contributed for prize to a mathematical miscellany, he attracted the notice of Runkle, the editor, who was Newcomb's predecessor at the office of the American Ephemeris. Hill became attached to the Ephemeris as computer, and remained in discharge of these duties for thirty-two years. At first he worked at his own home, as was then the custom; but under Newcomb's management, and in order to complete his theory and tables of Jupiter and Saturn he lived for some years at Washington, incessantly absorbed in his task. “The only defect of his make-up of which I have reason to complain,” Newcomb has written, “is the lack of the teaching faculty.” In 1892 he withdrew to the little farm where his boyhood was passed, and where he still lives, asking nothing but the liberty to continue his labours.

The Collected Mathematical Works of George William Hill..

Vol. i. Pp. xviii + 303. (Washington: The Carnegie Institution, 1905.)

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