Greenwich has been a centre for scientific computing since the foundation of the Royal Observatory in 1675. Early Astronomers Royal gathered astronomical data with the purpose of enabling navigators to compute their longitude at sea. Nevil Maskelyne in the 18th century organised the work of computing tables for the Nautical Almanac, anticipating later methods used in safety-critical computing systems. The 19th century saw influential critiques of Charles Babbage’s mechanical calculating engines, and in the 20th century Leslie Comrie and others pioneered the automation of computation. The arrival of the Royal Naval College in 1873 and the University of Greenwich in 1999 has brought more mathematicians and different kinds of mathematics to Greenwich. In the 21st century computational mathematics has found many new applications. This book presents an account of the mathematicians who worked at Greenwich and their achievements.
• A scholarly but accessible history of mathematics at Greenwich, from the seventeenth century to the present day, with each chapter written by an expert in the field
• The book will appeal to astronomical and naval historians as well as historians of mathematics and scientific computing.
Introduction. The King’s Observatory at Greenwich and the first Astronomers Royal: Flamsteed to Bliss. Greenwich, Nevil Maskelyne and the solution to the Longitude Problem. George Biddell Airy, Greenwich and the Utility of Calculating Engines. The Mathematical Riddles of Greenwich. Thomas Archer Hirst at Greenwich, 1873 – 1883. A Professor at Greenwich: William Burnside and his contributions to mathematics. L.J. Comrie: Mechanising Mathematical Tablemaking at Greenwich. The Royal Observatory 1881 – 1998. At the foot of the hill – the Royal Naval College and after. Artful Measures: Mathematical Instruments at the National Maritime Museum. Appendix – the Mathematical Tourist at Greenwich.