Heaviside Operational Calculus and the Advent of the Laplace Transform

Oliver Heaviside FRS (1850–1925) made several contributions to classical electromagnetic theory, electrical engineering as a science that was just establishing at the end of the 19th century, with development of electrical transmission line theory, phenomena relating to nineteenth century telegraphic problems and the advent of the operational calculus that became the Laplace transformation technique as it is used today. Oliver Heaviside FRS  was born on 18 May 1850 at 55 King Street (now known as Plender Street, Camden), London, UK, and died in Torquay on 3 February 1925, at the age of 74. Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of Heaviside’s life was that he left school at a young age, having received no formal education beyond the age of 14. Therefore, he had left with little knowledge beyond algebra and trigonometry. Despite a lack of official schooling in mathematical and scientific methods, he was able to make very many significant scientific achievements, and his ingenuity and creativity rivals even the most revered of university-educated peers in the great Victorian era of scientific discovery.

His carer was a trajectory from being a schoolboy to becoming an eminent electromagnetician (as prescribed by his friend G.F.C. Searle FRS), embodienging of the well-known ‘self-improvement’ philosophy staple of the Victorian middle-class culture and the rise of electricity from a curious Physics phenomena to industrial, commercial and residential applications that were developed by several other great minds at the turn on the 20th century. His work has been underappreciated; although some universities still taugh the “Heaviside methodology” in solving circuits by the first half decade of the 1980’s, the reality of scientific based education steadily waned towards the adoption of computer based simulations and simplified directly methodologies without much rigor for the modern and contemporary educational needs at the end of the 20th century.

Heaviside made major and lasting contributions not only to classical physics, but also to both pure and applied mathematics, as well as countless contributions to the electrical engineering science that underpins most modern electrical/electronic technology. The Heaviside Centenary Volume published by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) provides a good account of his outstanding works in these areas, including some important findings from his unpublished notebooks.

To Be Continued -:-

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