The lesser names : the teachers of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and other aspects of Scottish mathematics, 1867–1946
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The Edinburgh Mathematical Society started out in 1883 as a society with a large proportion of teachers. Today, the member base is mainly academical and there are only a few teachers left. This thesis explores how and when this change came about, and discusses what this meant for the Society. It argues that the exit of the teachers is related to the rising standard of mathematics, but even more to a change in the Society’s printing policy in the 1920s, that turned the Society’s Proceedings into a pure research publication and led to the death of the ‘teacher journal’, the Mathematical Notes. The thesis also argues that this change, drastic as it may seem, does not represent a change in the Society’s nature. For this aim, the role of the teachers within the Society has been studied and compared to that of the academics, from 1883 to 1946. The mathematical contribution of the teachers to the Proceedings is studied in some detail, in particular the papers by John Watt Butters. A paper in the Mathematical Notes by A. C. Aitken on the Bell numbers is considered in connection with a series of letters on the same topic from 1938–39. These letters, written by Aitken, Sir D’Arcy Thompson, another EMS member, and the Cambridge mathematician G. T. Bennett, explores the relation between the three and gives valuable insight into the status of the Notes. Finally, the role of the first women in the Society is studied. The first woman joined without any official university education, but had received the necessary mathematical background from her studies under the Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women. The final chapter is largely an assessment of this Association’s mathematical classes.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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