The Life and Legacy of Oliver Heaviside

This image shows the physists Oliver Heaviside, a renowned scientist who advanced the world of phyics. Oliver Heaviside: The Maverick Mind that Shaped Modern Physics

Please provide a rating, it takes seconds and helps us to keep this resource free for all to use

[ 10 Votes ]

About Oliver Heaviside

Oliver Heaviside was born on May 18, 1850, in London, England, and passed away on February 3, 1925, in Torquay, England. Heaviside was largely self-taught and had a profound impact on various fields, including telecommunications, mathematics, and electrical engineering.

Despite suffering from scarlet fever at a young age, which left him partially deaf, Heaviside's curiosity and drive led him to pursue self-study in electricity and telegraphy. His personal life was relatively solitary, with no records of marriage or children, and he spent most of his later life in isolation.

Heaviside's Discoveries

Heaviside made several pioneering contributions to mathematics and physics. He developed methods to solve differential equations associated with electrical circuits, later known as the Heaviside Step Function. He also reformulated Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism into the form we use today.

One of the most significant contributions by Heaviside was the prediction of the existence of an ionized layer in the Earth's upper atmosphere, now known as the Heaviside Layer, which reflects radio waves and enables long-distance radio communication.

Despite the importance of his work, Heaviside often faced opposition from the scientific community, partly due to his lack of formal education and his unorthodox methods.

Heaviside's Key Achievements

Heaviside's key achievements include his formulation of Maxwell's equations into their modern form, his work on transmission lines, and his prediction of the Heaviside Layer. His work has significantly influenced modern electrical engineering and telecommunications.

The Heaviside step function and the Heaviside cover-up method are both named in his honor, reflecting his influential contributions to the field of mathematics.

Heaviside's Formulas

One of Heaviside's key contributions was the development of operational calculus, particularly the Heaviside Step Function:

The Heaviside Step Function:

H(t) = 0 for t < 0 and H(t) = 1 for t ≥ 0


  1. H(t): The Heaviside step function
  2. t: Time

Oliver Heaviside Quotes

The great physicist Oliver Heaviside is renowned for their intellect and advancement in the world of physics, here are some of their most famous and insightful quotes

Oliver Heaviside Tutorials and Calculators

The following tutorials and calculators are influenced by the work the great physicist Oliver Heaviside, each calculator contains a tutorial that explains Oliver Heaviside in the field