Tuesday, September 19, 2023

1888 Math Exam

Nothing to do with cells or modeling, but I recently purchased a 1885 copy of John Casey's rendition of Euclid's Elements. John Casey was born in Limerick, Ireland, and became a lecturer in mathematics at University College Dublin. He wrote one of the more well-known editions of Euclid's elements. In his preface he states:

"This edition of the Elements of Euclid, undertaken at the request of the principals of some of the leading Colleges and Schools of Ireland, is intended to supply a want much felt by teachers at the present day—the production of a work which, while giving the unrivalled [sic] original in all its integrity, would also contain the modern conceptions and developments of the portion of Geometry over which the Elements extend."

You can find a copy at Project Gutenberg (https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/21076) if you are curious. 

What's interesting about the book I received, is not so much the geometry, but what I found inside. 

Inside was a copy of a math Pass Examination paper from 1888, presumably from University College Dublin but at least somewhere in Ireland (I purchased the book from Dublin). Update: There are two inscriptions in the book. The first is a simple "W.H Dunlop May 1886".  The second is more interesting and written in a very elegant cursive style where the book was transferred two years later to: Michael J Buckley. Catholic University Dublin. 19.1.'88. This is the name of the first university dedicated to accepting Catholics from Ireland (Trinity College was the Anglican University founded by Elizabeth I, so you can imagine the problem). However, the university didn't do too well financially and had problems awarding degrees because it didn't have a royal charter. In 1908/1909, it became the University College Dublin with its own charter. 

The exam had 10 questions, one involving reaping a field, another about selling a horse, and another about carpeting a room. The remaining 7 are pure math questions, with a number of them being numerical estimation questions, eg, roots, squares etc. I think modern students could do these questions, though they might struggle with the numeric computations unless they have a calculator at hand. I took a photograph of the exam for all to see: