Ernest William Hobson citations

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Ernest William Hobson

Date de naissance: 27. octobre 1856
Date de décès: 19. avril 1933

Ernest William Hobson est un mathématicien anglais, connu notamment pour ses livres, certains ayant été novateurs dans le domaine de l'analyse mathématique. Il titulaire de la chaire sadleirienne de Mathématiques pures à l'Université de Cambridge de 1910 à 1931.

Citations Ernest William Hobson

„The first period embraces the time between the first records of empirical determinations of the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle until the invention of the Differential and Integral Calculus, in the middle of the seventeenth century. This period, in which the ideal of an exact construction was never entirely lost sight of, and was occasionally supposed to have been attained, was the geometrical period, in which the main activity consisted in the approximate determination of π by the calculation of the sides or the areas of regular polygons in- and circum-scribed to the circle. The theoretical groundwork of the method was the Greek method of Exhaustions. In the earlier part of the period the work of approximation was much hampered by the backward condition of arithmetic due to the fact that our present system of numerical notation had not yet been invented; but the closeness of the approximations obtained in spite of this great obstacle are truly surprising. In the later part of this first period methods were devised by which the approximations to the value of π were obtained which required only a fraction of the labour involved in the earlier calculations. At the end of the period the method was developed to so high a degree of perfection that no further advance could be hoped for on the lines laid down by the Greek Mathematicians; for further progress more powerful methods were required.“

—  E. W. Hobson

Source: Squaring the Circle (1913), pp. 10-11

„A great department of thought must have its own inner life, however transcendent may be the importance of its relations to the outside. No department of science, least of all one requiring so high a degree of mental concentration as Mathematics, can be developed entirely, or even mainly, with a view to applications outside its own range. The increased complexity and specialisation of all branches of knowledge makes it true in the present, however it may have been in former times, that important advances in such a department as Mathematics can be expected only from men who are interested in the subject for its own sake, and who, whilst keeping an open mind for suggestions from outside, allow their thought to range freely in those lines of advance which are indicated by the present state of their subject, untrammelled by any preoccupation as to applications to other departments of science. Even with a view to applications, if Mathematics is to be adequately equipped for the purpose of coping with the intricate problems which will be presented to it in the future by Physics, Chemistry and other branches of physical science, many of these problems probably of a character which we cannot at present forecast, it is essential that Mathematics should be allowed to develop freely on its own lines.“

—  E. W. Hobson

Source: Presidential Address British Association for the Advancement of Science, Section A (1910), p. 286; Cited in: Moritz (1914, 106): Modern mathematics.

„Much of the skill of the true mathematical physicist and of the mathematical astronomer consists in the power of adapting methods and results carried out on an exact mathematical basis to obtain approximations sufficient for the purposes of physical measurements. It might perhaps be thought that a scheme of Mathematics on a frankly approximative basis would be sufficient for all the practical purposes of application in Physics, Engineering Science, and Astronomy, and no doubt it would be possible to develop, to some extent at least, a species of Mathematics on these lines. Such a system would, however, involve an intolerable awkwardness and prolixity in the statements of results, especially in view of the fact that the degree of approximation necessary for various purposes is very different, and thus that unassigned grades of approximation would have to be provided for. Moreover, the mathematician working on these lines would be cut off from the chief sources of inspiration, the ideals of exactitude and logical rigour, as well as from one of his most indispensable guides to discovery, symmetry, and permanence of mathematical form. The history of the actual movements of mathematical thought through the centuries shows that these ideals are the very life-blood of the science, and warrants the conclusion that a constant striving toward their attainment is an absolutely essential condition of vigorous growth. These ideals have their roots in irresistible impulses and deep-seated needs of the human mind, manifested in its efforts to introduce intelligibility in certain great domains of the world of thought.“

—  E. W. Hobson

Source: Presidential Address British Association for the Advancement of Science, Section A (1910), pp. 285-286; Cited in: Moritz (1914, 229): Mathematics and Science.

„The actual evolution of mathematical theories proceeds by a process of induction strictly analogous to the method of induction employed in building up the physical sciences; observation, comparison, classification, trial, and generalisation are essential in both cases. Not only are special results, obtained independently of one another, frequently seen to be really included in some generalisation, but branches of the subject which have been developed quite independently of one another are sometimes found to have connections which enable them to be synthesised in one single body of doctrine. The essential nature of mathematical thought manifests itself in the discernment of fundamental identity in the mathematical aspects of what are superficially very different domains. A striking example of this species of immanent identity of mathematical form was exhibited by the discovery of that distinguished mathematician... Major MacMahon, that all possible Latin squares are capable of enumeration by the consideration of certain differential operators. Here we have a case in which an enumeration, which appears to be not amenable to direct treatment, can actually be carried out in a simple manner when the underlying identity of the operation is recognised with that involved in certain operations due to differential operators, the calculus of which belongs superficially to a wholly different region of thought from that relating to Latin squares.“

—  E. W. Hobson

Source: Presidential Address British Association for the Advancement of Science, Section A (1910), p. 290; Cited in: Moritz (1914, 27): The Nature of Mathematics.

„The second period, which commenced in the middle of the seventeenth century, and lasted for about a century, was characterized by the application of the powerful analytical methods provided by the new Analysis to the determination of analytical expressions for the number π in the form of convergent series, products, and continued fractions. The older geometrical forms of investigation gave way to analytical processes in which the functional relationship as applied to the trigonometrical functions became prominent. The new methods of systematic representation gave rise to a race of calculators of π, who, in their consciousness of the vastly enhance means of calculation placed in their hands by the new Analysis, proceeded to apply the formulae to obtain numerical approximations to π to ever larger numbers of places of decimals, although their efforts were quite useless for the purpose of throwing light upon the true nature of that number. At the end of this period no knowledge had been obtained as regards the number π of the kind likely to throw light upon the possibility or impossibility of the old historical problem of the ideal construction; it was not even definitely known whether the number is rational or irrational. However, one great discovery, destined to furnish the clue to the solution of the problem, was made at this time; that of the relation between the two numbers π and e, as a particular case of those exponential expressions for the trigonometrical functions which form one of the most fundamentally important of the analytical weapons forged during this period.“

—  E. W. Hobson

Source: Squaring the Circle (1913), pp. 11-12

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„Perhaps the least inadequate description of the general scope of modern Pure Mathematics—I will not call it a definition—would be to say that it deals with form, in a very general sense of the term; this would include algebraic form, functional relationship, the relations of order in any ordered set of entities such as numbers, and the analysis of the peculiarities of form of groups of operations.“

—  E. W. Hobson

Source: Presidential Address British Association for the Advancement of Science, Section A (1910), p. 287; Cited in: Robert Edouard Moritz. Memorabilia mathematica; or, The philomath's quotation-book https://archive.org/stream/memorabiliamathe00moriiala#page/4/mode/2up, (1914), p. 5: Definitions and objects of mathematics.

„In the third period, which lasted from the middle of the eighteenth century until late in the nineteenth century, attention was turned to critical investigations of the true nature of the number π itself, considered independently of mere analytical representations. The number was first studied in respect of its rationality or irrationality, and it was shown to be really irrational. When the discovery was made of the fundamental distinction between algebraic and transcendental numbers, i. e. between those numbers which can be, and those numbers which cannot be, roots of an algebraical equation with rational coefficients, the question arose to which of these categories the number π belongs. It was finally established by a method which involved the use of some of the most modern of analytical investigation that the number π was transcendental. When this result was combined with the results of a critical investigation of the possibilities of a Euclidean determination, the inferences could be made that the number π, being transcendental, does not admit of a construction either by a Euclidean determination, or even by a determination in which the use of other algebraic curves besides the straight line and the circle are permitted. The answer to the original question thus obtained is of a conclusive negative character; but it is one in which a clear account is given of the fundamental reasons upon which that negative answer rests.“

—  E. W. Hobson

Source: Squaring the Circle (1913), p. 12

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