G. N. Watson

G. N. Watson books and biography


G. N. Watson

(George) Neville Watson (31 January 1886 – 2 February 1965) was an English mathematician, a noted master in the application of complex analysis to the theory of special functions. His collaboration on the 1915 second edition of E. T. Whittaker's A Course of Modern Analysis (1902) produced the classic “Whittaker & Watson” text.

His Treatise on the theory of Bessel functions (1922) was a virtuoso display, in particular in the asymptotic expansions of Bessel functions. It also became a classic.

He subsequently spent many years on Ramanujan's formulae in the area of complex multiplication, mock theta functions and class numbers, and for some time looked after Ramanujan's lost notebook. His interests included solvable cases of the quintic equation.

He was educated at St Paul's School, as a pupil of F. S. Macaulay, and Trinity College, Cambridge. There he encountered Whittaker, though their overlap was only two years. He became Professor at the University of Birmingham in 1918, where he remained until 1951.

He is sometimes confused with the mathematician G. L. Watson, who worked on quadratic forms.

  • G. N. Watson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  • O'Connor, John J.; Edmund F. Robertson "G. N. Watson". MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.

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