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Hontion: CAMBRIDGE WAREHOUSE,
17, PATERNOSTER ROW.
GDamfcrtofle: DE1GHTON, BELL, AND CO. ILeipMt E. A. BROCKHAUS.
GEORGE GABRIEL STOKES, M.A., D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S,
FELLOW OF PEMBROKE COLLEGE AND LUCASIAN PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS
Reprinted from the Original Journals and Transactions,
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
[The rights of translation and reproduction are reserved.]
It Is now some years since I was requested by the Syndics of the University Press to allow my papers on mathematical and physical subjects, which are scattered over various Transactions and scientific Journals, to be reprinted in a collected form. Many of these were written a long time ago, and science has in the mean time progressed, and it seemed to me doubtful whether it was worth while now to reprint a series of papers the interest of which may in good measure be regarded as having passed away. However, several of my scientific friends, and among them those to whose opinions I naturally pay the greatest deference, strongly urged me to have the papers reprinted, and I have accordingly acceded to the request of the Syndics. I regret that in consequence of the pressure of other engagements the preparation of the first volume has been so long in hand.
The arrangement of the papers and the mode of treating them in other respects were left entirely to myself, but both the Syndics and my friends advised me to make the reprint full, leaning rather to the inclusion than exclusion of a paper in doubtful cases. I have acted on this advice, and in the first volume, now presented to the public, I have omitted nothing but a few papers which were merely controversial.
As to the arrangement of the papers, it seemed to me that the chronological order was the simplest and in many respects the best. Had an arrangement by subjects been attempted, not only would it have been difficult in some cases to say under what head a particular paper should come, but also a later paper on some one subject would in many cases have depended on a paper on some different subject which would come perhaps in some later volume, whereas in the chronological arrangement each paper reaches up to the level of the authors knowledge at the time, so that forward reference is not required.
Although notes are added here and there, I have not attempted to bring the various papers up to the level of the present time. I have not accordingly as a rule alluded to later researches on the same subject, unless for some special reason. The notes introduced in the reprint are enclosed in square brackets in order to distinguish them from notes belonging to the original papers. To the extent of these notes therefore, which were specially written for the reprint, the chronological arrangement is departed from. The same is the case as regards the last paper in the first volume, which suggested itself during the preparation for press of the paper to which it relates. In reprinting the papers, any errors of inadvertence which may have been discovered are of course corrected. Mere corrections of this kind are not specified, but any substantial change or omission is noticed in a foot-note or otherwise.
After full consideration, I determined to introduce an innovation in notation which was proposed a great many years ago, for at least partial use, by the late Professor De Morgan, in his article on the Calculus of Functions in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, though the proposal seems never to have been taken up. Mathematicians, have been too little in the habit of considering the mechanical difficulty of setting up in type the expressions which they so freely write with the pen; and where the setting up can be facilitated with only a trifling departure from existing usage as regards the appearance of the expression, it seems advisable to make the change.
Now it seems to me preposterous that a compositor should be called on to go through the troublesome process of what printers call justification^ merely because an author has occasion to name