Scholarly Societies Project

Analytical Society


Analytical Society
Founding of the Society
Authority / Notes

According to Enros (1979), p.103, on 1812, May 7, seven students of Cambridge and a recent graduate met and decided to form the Analytical Society. Four days later, on 1812, May 11, at the first formal meeting of the Society, several other people joined the Society. Enros (1979), pp.105-106 notes that the goal of the Society was to promote the analytical approach in the differential and integral calculus; they discouraged the use of geometrical demonstrations and the fluxional notation of Isaac Newton (1643-1727).

Enros (1979), p.107 points out that almost all of the members of the Society were undergraduate students at Cambridge, but that the emphasis of the Society was on mathematical research. According to Enros (1979), p.109, the two leading members of the Society were John Herschel (1792-1871) (the only child of the astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822)), and Charles Babbage (1791-1871).

Enros (1979), p.121 suggests that the founders and early members of the Society were motivated to form the Society mainly because of their common interest in the analytical approach to calculus, and their dissatisfaction with the way in which calculus was taught at Cambridge. He goes on to say that the goal of the Society was not to reform mathematical studies in Cambridge, but rather to help promote analysis.

According to Enros (1979), p.143, in 1812, November, the members of the Society decided to publish a volume of their Memoirs. As it happened, the only contributors to the volume were Herschel and Babbage. Enros (1979), p.145 notes that this volume was published in late November of 1813. Enros (1979), p.149 indicates that the volume was comprised of three memoirs: one by Babbage and two by Herschel. In addition, the volume contained a Preface, giving a brief history of pure analysis, written mostly by Babbage (Enros (1979), p.152).

Enros (1979), pp.157-158 refers to the dissolution of the Society at the end of 1813, evidently because it was a society composed of students, but not related to student interests.

According to Enros (1979), p.193, in 1817 Babbage and Herschel considered the possibility of reviving the Analytical Society, perhaps based in London, and issuing a second volume of the Memoirs. But nothing came of these proposals.

Seat of the Society
Authority / Notes
This location is supported by the narrative in Enros (1979).
Name of the Society
1812, May 11 - 1813 Analytical Society

Enros (1979), p.103 gives this as the founding name in 1812, and May 11 as the date of the first formal meeting.

Its publications establish this name for 1813 as well; Enros (1979), pp.157-158 refers to the dissolution of the Society at the end of 1813.

Journals of the Society
Full Journal Title

Memoirs of the Analytical Society

[Oxford Univ. cat.]

Camb. Mem. Analyt. Soc.
[RSLC, v.1, p.xxv.]