Interesting Facts about Green’s Theorem

Firstly, Green’s Theorem is named after the mathematician George Green (14 July 1793 – 31 May 1841). Something remarkable about George Green is that he is almost entirely self-taught. He only went to school for one year (when he was 8 years old). His father was a baker, and George helped out in the bakery. Later, at the age of 40 he went to Cambridge to get a formal degree, but even before that he had already discovered Green’s Theorem. It is a mystery where did George Green learn his mathematical knowledge from. (During his time there was clearly no such thing as internet.)

It is unclear to historians exactly where Green obtained information on current developments in mathematics, as Nottingham had little in the way of intellectual resources. What is even more mysterious is that Green had used “the Mathematical Analysis,” a form of calculus derived from Leibniz that was virtually unheard of, or even actively discouraged, in England at the time (due to Leibniz being a contemporary of Newton who had his own methods that were championed in England). This form of calculus, and the developments of mathematicians such as LaplaceLacroix and Poisson were not taught even at Cambridge, let alone Nottingham, and yet Green had not only heard of these developments, but also improved upon them.

One of the applications of Green’s Theorem that I find interesting is finding the area of the ellipse: (Scroll down to Example 16.4.3). I find the proof very neat, you may want to check it out.