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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Fact: Stokes' Theorem

George Stokes (1819 - 1903)
The University of Cambridge, founded in 1209, has produced many of the greatest scientific minds of all time. It makes sense that Sir George Stokes, famous in both the fields of mathematics and physics, spent the entirety of his career within those halls.

On this day in 1850, Stokes' theorem appeared in writing for the first time. Stokes' theorem is used in multivariable calculus to relate a line integral to a surface integral. To view the notation used for Stokes' theorem that isn't supported in Blogger, click here; Mathworld did excellent work of describing the math behind the theorem. As a sidenote, this theorem appears as a topic in this Center of Math textbook.

A pictoral representation of Stokes' theorem
At the time that his most famous mathematical theorem was first discovered, Stokes was one year into his position as a professor of mathematics at Cambridge. He kept this position until his death 54 years later in 1903. During his career, Stokes made contributions many fields of science. He published several papers relating to fluid dynamics and motion, fluorescence, polarization, and light. His published, and unpublished, works have done much for the development of mathematical physics.

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