Murphy, Robert

Robert Murphy (1806-1843)              

Robert Murphy was born in Mallow, County Cork, in 1806 to a shoemaker.  He had an accident aged eleven and during eighteen months recovery read extensively and started to solve mathematical puzzles.  At this time he read the works of Euclid and studied algebra.

Robert Murphy entered Caius College, Cambridge in 1825.  He graduated third wrangler in 1829, was elected to a Perse Fellowship also in 1829, took holy orders and in 1831 he became a Dean of the College.  He received an MA degree in 1832.

Murphy wrote on three topics: algebraic equations, integral equations and operator calculus.  His work forms a corpus of 400 pages.  He was a major influence on George Boole.

Robert Murphy was unable to manage money and he started to gamble and drink.  He lost his position as Junior Dean and failed to obtain the Plumian Chair at Cambridge.  His lifestyle took a toll on his health and he died, probably of tuberculosis in 1843.  He is buried in an unmarked grave in Kensal Green in London.

Further Reading

Anthony J. Del Latto and Salvatore J. Petrilli.  2013.   Robert Murphy: Mathematician and Physicist – Introduction. Loci.

Mollan C.  2007.  Its Part of What We Are.  Dublin, Royal Dublin Society.


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