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Chrystal is best remembered today for Algebra a two volume work which was completed by 1889. He was also involved in educational reform throughout his career and was a major figure in setting up the educational system in Scotland.In 1867 Chrystal attended Aberdeen University, graduating (1871) in mathematics and physics. He obtained a scholarship to Cambridge and went to Peterhouse in 1872. While an undergraduate at Cambridge he was influenced by Adams, Stokes and Maxwell. He graduated in 1875 with Stokes as one of his examiners and became a lecturer at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. He was bracketed first with Burnside in the final examination. Chrystal was considered the most widely read among the young mathematicians.
Chrystal worked with Maxwell on the experimental verification of Ohm's Law in the newly opened Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.
In 1877 Chrystal applied for the chair of mathematics in St Andrews. With outstanding references from Maxwell, Thomson, Stokes and others he was appointed.
In 1879 he was appointed to the chair of mathematics in Edinburgh where he was to remain for the rest of his career.
Chrystal is famed for his contributions to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Electricity, Magnetism, Mathematics, Parallels and many others such as biographies of mathematicians.
Chrystal is best remembered for his two volume Algebra (1889). He wrote several papers on differential equations which were published between 1891 and 1896.
Chrystal was involved in educational reform throughout his career and was a major figure in setting up the Scottish Higher Leaving Certificate which has lasted, with modifications, to the present day.
His last major piece of work was a study of seiches, a form of wave observed on the Scottish lochs. He undertook both experimental and theoretical work on sceiches, as part of the Scottish Lake Survey.
References (2 books/articles)
References elsewhere in this archive:
Tell me about Chrystal's work on the fundamental theorem of algebra
George Chrystal was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1911. You can see a history of the Royal Medal and a list of the winners in our archive.
George Chrystal was elected an honorary member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in 1883. You can see a history of the EMS and a list of the honorary fellows.
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