Alexander Macfarlane (mathematician)

Alexander Macfarlane (mathematician)

right|thumb|Alexander Macfarlane [">cite journal | author = Colaw, J. M. | title = Alexander Macfarlane, M.A., D. Sc., LL.D | journal = The American Mathematical Monthly | year = 1895 | volume = 2 | pages = 1 – 4 | doi = 10.2307/2971573 ]

Alexander Macfarlane (April 21 1851August 28, 1913) was a Scottish-Canadian logician, physicist, and mathematician.

He was born in Blairgowrie, Scotland. During his life, Macfarlane played a prominent role in research and education. He was, at various times in his life, physics professor at the University of Texas (1885 – 1894) [See the [ Macfarlane papers at the University of Texas] .] , professor of Advanced Electricity, and later of mathematical physics, at Lehigh University. MacFarlane was the secretary of the Quaternion Society (1899 - 1913) and compiler of its publications.

He was also the author of a popular 1916 collection of mathematical biographies ("Ten British Mathematicians"), a similar work on physicists ("Lectures on Ten British Physicists of the Nineteenth Century", 1919), and he compiled a bibliography on quaternions in 1904. Significantly, he invented hyperbolic quaternions, precursor to Minkowski space.(He was imbued with hyperbolic geometry through his brother-in-law G. B. Halsted while they taught in Austin.)He actively participated in several International Congresses of Mathematicians including the primordial meeting in Chicago, 1893, and theParis meeting of 1900 where he spoke on "Application of space analysis to curvilinear coordinates".

He retired to Chatham, Ontario, where he died in 1913.


For further reading

* Knott, Cargill Gilston, "Alexander Macfarlane" (obituary), Nature, 25 September 1913.

External links

* [ Biography of Alexander Macfarlane] including primary and secondary references and links.
* [ Electric Scotland historical biography]
* [ Macfarlane papers at the University of Texas]

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