G. N. Watson
George Neville Watson
31 January 1886
|Died||2 February 1965 (aged 79)|
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
|Known for||Whittaker and Watson text|
Watson's quintuple product identity
|Awards||Smith's Prize (1909)|
Sylvester Medal (1946)
De Morgan Medal (1947)
Fellow of the Royal Society
|Institutions||University of Birmingham|
University of Cambridge
|Doctoral advisor||E. T. Whittaker|
Prof George Neville Watson FRS HFRSE LLD (31 January 1886 - 2 February 1965) was an English mathematician, who applied 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 and Watson" text. In 1918 he proved a significant result known as Watson's lemma, that has many applications in the theory on the asymptotic behaviour of exponential integrals.
He was educated at St Paul's School in London, as a pupil of F. S. Macaulay. He then studied Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge. There he encountered E. T. Whittaker, though their overlap was only two years.
From 1914 to 1918 he lectured in Mathematics at University College, London. He became Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Birmingham in 1918, replacing Prof R S Heath, and remained in this role until 1951.
He was President of the London Mathematical Society 1933/35.
He died at Leamington Spa on 2 February 1965.
Sometime in the late 1920s, G. N. Watson and B. M. Wilson began the task of editing Ramanujan's notebooks. The second notebook, being a revised, enlarged edition of the first, was their primary focus. Wilson was assigned Chapters 2-14, and Watson was to examine Chapters 15-21. Wilson devoted his efforts to this task until 1935, when he died from an infection at the early age of 38. Watson wrote over 30 papers inspired by the notebooks before his interest evidently waned in the late 1930s.
Ramanujan discovered many more modular equations than all of his mathematical predecessors combined. Watson provided proofs for most of Ramanujan's modular equations. Bruce C. Berndt completed the project begun by Watson and Wilson. Much of Berndt's book Ramanujan's Notebooks, Part 3 (1998) is based upon the prior work of Watson.
In 1925 he married Elfrida Gwenfil Lane daughter of Thomas Wright Lane.