The Net Advance of Physics RETRO:
Physical Science and Mathematics Problem-Sets from the Long Nineteenth Century

If one can't be Senior Wrangler, one might still earn this ...

There is no better way (or perhaps no other way) to learn a mathematical science than to work problems. Although the problem-set in some form goes back to antiquity, it blossomed in the Long Nineteenth Century (considered on this website to be the years 1750-1925). Looking at (or, preferably, working through) old problem-sets is not a waste of time: it brings a double reward. On the one hand, the problems (with rare exceptions) still serve their original purpose; mathematics does not become obsolete. On the other, the changing emphasis of problem-sets, the way in which topics rise and fall in popularity, provides a window into intellectual history.

This page features compilations of theoretical problems in pure and applied mathematics, physics, astronomy, chemistry, and engineering. Published in the Long Nineteenth Century, they range widely in intended audience. The page as it now appears (2015 March) is a first attempt at what we hope will eventually become a comprehensive collection. The classification scheme leaves much to be desired, and we have not had time to look through every compilation in detail. We have so far included only English-language sources. Please contact the editors at redingtn [at] mit [full stop] edu with any suggestions.

All links are to the Internet Archive and are in the public domain in the United States. A few texts are marked with an asterisk; these were scanned for the Archive by Google. It is our observation that Google scans are much more likely to contain errors, such as missing or unreadable pages or figures, than those from other sources, and we have tried to avoid them whenever possible.