- E. T. Whittaker
Infobox Scientist

name = E. T. Whittaker

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caption = E. T. Whittaker

birth_date =24 October 1873

birth_place =Southport , inMerseyside

death_date =24 March 1956

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nationality =United Kingdom

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field =mathematics

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prizes =Copley Medal

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footnotes =**Edmund Taylor Whittaker**(24 October 1873 -24 March 1956 ) was a mathematician who contributed widely toapplied mathematics ,mathematical physics and the theory ofspecial functions . He had a particular interest innumerical analysis , but also worked oncelestial mechanics and thehistory of physics . Near the end of his career he received theCopley Medal , the most prestigious honorary award in British science.**Life**He was born in

Southport , inMerseyside . He was educated atManchester Grammar School andTrinity College, Cambridge from 1892. He graduated as Second Wrangler in the examination in 1895 and also received the Tyson Medal for Mathematics and Astronomy. In 1896, Whittaker was elected as a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and remained at Cambridge as a teacher until 1906. Between 1906 and 1911 he was theRoyal Astronomer of Ireland and professor of astronomy atTrinity College Dublin where he taught mathematical physics. In 1911 Whittaker became professor atEdinburgh University and remained there for the rest of his career.Whittaker was a

Christian and became a convert to theRoman Catholic Church (1930). In relation to that he was a member of thePontifical Academy of Sciences from 1936 onward and was president of a Newman Society. Earlier at Cambridge in 1901 he married the daughter of a learnedPresbyterian minister. They had five children, including the mathematicianJohn Macnaughten Whittaker (1905-1984).He wrote the biography of a famous Italian mathematician,

Vito Volterra for Royal Society in 1941.Whittaker was, in 1954, selected by the

Fellows of the Royal Society to receive theCopley Medal , the highest award granted by the scientificRoyal Society of London , "for his distinguished contributions to both pure and applied mathematics and to theoretical physics". Back in 1931 Whittaker had received the Royal Society'sSylvester Medal "for his original contributions to both pure and applied mathematics". Whittaker died in Edinburgh, Scotland.**"Whittaker & Watson"**He is remembered as the author of "A Course of Modern Analysis" (1902), which in its 1915 second edition in collaboration with

George Neville Watson becameWhittaker and Watson , one of the handful of mathematics texts of its era to become indispensable.**pecial functions**He is the

eponym of theWhittaker function orWhittaker integral , in the theory ofconfluent hypergeometric function s. This makes him also the eponym of theWhittaker model in the local theory ofautomorphic representation s. He published also onalgebraic function s andautomorphic function s. He gave expressions for theBessel function s asintegral s involvingLegendre function s.**Partial differential equations**In the theory of

partial differential equation s, Whittaker developed a general solution of theLaplace equation in three dimensions and the solution of thewave equation . He developed theelectrical potential field as adirection al flow ofenergy (sometimes referred to asalternating current s). Whittaker's pair of papers in 1903 and 1904 indicated that anypotential can be analysed by aFourier -like series of waves, such as aplanet 'sgravitational field point-charge. The superpositions of inward and outward wave pairs produce the "static" fields (orscalar potential ). These wereharmonic ally-related. By this conception, the structure ofelectric potential is created from two opposite, though balanced, parts. Whittaker suggested thatgravity possessed a wavelike "undulatory" character.**Applied mathematics and mathematical physics**He wrote "The Calculus of Observations: a treatise on numerical mathematics" (1924) and "Treatise on the Analytical Dynamics of Particles and Rigid Bodies: With an Introduction to the Problem of Three Bodies" (1937). He was the editor of Eddington's "Fundamental Theory" (1946), and wrote"From Euclid to Eddington, A Study of Conceptions of the External World" (1949), including a first scholarly account of some of the research between 1900 to 1925.

**History of science**In 1910, he wrote "A History of the Theories of

Aether andElectricity ", which gave a very detailed account of theaether theories fromRené Descartes toHendrik Lorentz , and which made Whittaker a respected historian of science. In 1951 (Vol. 1) and 1953 (Vol. 2), he published an extended and revised edition of his book in two volumes. The second volume contains some controversial statements. For example, it contains a chapter named "The Relativity Theory of Poincaré and Lorentz", where he creditedHenri Poincaré and Lorentz for developingspecial relativity , and he attributed toAlbert Einstein 's relativity paper only little importance. He also attributed the formula $E=mc^2$ to Poincaré.**Publications*** Whittaker, Edmund Taylor, "A Course of Modern Analysis". 1902.

* Whittaker, Edmund Taylor, "On the partial differential equations of mathematical physics". Math. Ann., Vol. 57, 1903, p.333 - 355.

* Whittaker, Edmund Taylor, "On an expression of the electromagnetic field due to electrons by means of two scalar potential functions". Proc. Lond. Math. Soc. Series 2, Vol. 1, 1904, p. 367 - 372.

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* Whittaker, Edmund Taylor, "On the functions which are represented by the expansions of the interpolation theory," Proc. Royal Soc. Edinburgh, Sec. A, vol.35, pp.181-194, 1915.

* Whittaker, Edmund Taylor, "On the quantum mechanism in the atom". Proc. R. Soc. Edinb., Vol. 42, 1922, p.129 - 146

* Whittaker, Edmund, "The Calculus of Observations: a treatise on numerical mathematics". 1924.

* Whittaker, Edmund, "A Treatise on the Analytical Dynamics of Particles and Rigid Bodies".1927.

* Whittaker, Edmund, "Space and Spirit. Theories of the Universe and the Arguments for the Existence of God". 1946.

* Whittaker, Edmund, "The beginning and End of the World" Oxford 1942.

* Whittaker, Edmund, "Eddington’s Principle in the philosophy of Science" Cambridge 1951.

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* Whittaker, Edmund, "From Euclid to Eddington: A Study of Conceptions of the External World" Dover 1958.**References*** Aitken, A. C., "The contributions of E T Whittaker to algebra and numerical analysis". Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, 1958.

* Dingle, H., "Edmund T Whittaker, mathematician and historian". Science, 1956.

* Temple, G. F. J., "Edmund Taylor Whittaker". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society of London, 1956.

* "Whittaker Memorial Volume". Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, 1958.

* Bearden, T. E., "Gravitobiology : Conception of Edmund Whittaker (papers of 1903-1904)". Tesla Book Co., Chula Vista, CA, USA.**External links***MacTutor Biography|id=Whittaker

* [*http://www.mathpages.com/home/kmath571/kmath571.htm Whittaker and the Aether*] at MathPages

*MathGenealogy|id=18571

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