Sir George Biddell Airy

Airy served as astronomer royal and director of the Greenwich Observatory from 1835 to 1881. He was known to his contemporaries more as an administrator (somewhat unliked due to his strict control of funds) than as an astronomer or mathematician. He nevertheless had strong mathematical ties graduating as Senior Wrangler from Cambridge in 1823 and at one time holding the Lucasian professorship (Barrow and Newton were the first and second holders of the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge). Undergraduates come across Airy's name in the first course in differential equations. Airy's equation


is usually assigned in the section on series solutions. The equation is interesting in that solutions are monotone for positive values of x and oscillatory for negative values.

Sir George Airy (1801-1892) Sir
Sir George Airy (1801-1892)) Sir George Airy (1801-1892)
Tonga (1984), No. 586 Great Britain (1984), No. 1061

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