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Mathematics at TCD 1592-1992

years of
by T. D. Spearman

the reforms of
Bartholomew Lloyd

Bartholomew Lloyd was professor of mathematics from 1813 to 1822; he subsequently occupied the chair of natural philosophy until his appointment as Provost in 1831. He was not a particularly creative mathematician but he was well read and was aware of what was happening in mathematics on the continent and of the significance of this new work. The last decades of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth had seen an extraordinary outburst of mathematical creativity in France, unchecked by the revolution and promoted by Napoleon. Lagrange and laplace lifted Newtonian dynamics to a new level of sophistication and made fundamental contributions to many areas of mathematics. The work of Legendre and Cauchy, of the geometers Monge and Poncelet, of Fourier Ampère, and Fresnel, effectively redefined the subject. Lloyd recognised the transformation which was taking place and succeeded in implementing a total revision of the mathematical syllabus in Dublin. A tribute to this achievement was paid by another Trinity mathematician, Dionysius Lardnew, who wrote in 1820: `By the impulse which it thus received, the study of mathematics has leaped a chasm of a hundred years, and men who, according to the system pursued two years before the advancement of Dr. Lloyd to the professorship of mathematics, would be employed in fathoming the mysteries of decimal fractions are rather more respectably employed with the Mécanique Céleste.'

As Provost, Lloyd redefined the basis of tenure of the chairs of natural philosophy and mathematics. Whereas hitherto these had been held by Fellows as an additional responsibility, with a small extra salary, over and above their normal tutorial or other official tasks, they now became full-time positions with an appropriate salary to allow Fellows on appointment to give up their tutorial work and devote themselves wholly to their professorial responsibilities. This was a major step forward which would allow men like Humphrey Lloyd (Bartholomew's son) and James Mac Cullagh to do important research work and to promote their subject through their teaching in a way that would not previously have been possible.

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