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On Heaviside’s contributions to transmission line theory : waves, diffusion and energy flux.

Donaghy-Spargo, C. M. (2018) 'On Heaviside’s contributions to transmission line theory : waves, diffusion and energy flux.', Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society A : mathematical, physical and engineering sciences., 376 (2134). p. 20170457.


This paper surveys some selected contributions of Oliver Heaviside FRS (1850–1925) to classical electromagnetic theory and electrical engineering science. In particular, the paper focuses on his contributions to the development of electrical transmission line theory and his deep insights into the ‘physical’ nature of the phenomena relating to nineteenth century telegraphic problems. Following a brief historical introduction to the life of Heaviside to put his achievements in context, we explore his contributions to the reformulation of Maxwell's equations and the understanding of electromagnetic wave propagation along the external region of transmission lines. This leads naturally to his researches regarding the electromagnetic diffusion process inside the line conductors and his subsequent realization that the circuital parameters, usually assumed constant, are not always so. Finally, taking both these internal and external viewpoints of the conductors, his important work regarding the flow of energy described by his ‘energy current’ concept is presented. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Celebrating 125 years of Oliver Heaviside's ‘Electromagnetic Theory’’.

Item Type:Article
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Date accepted:11 June 2018
Date deposited:30 July 2018
Date of first online publication:29 October 2018
Date first made open access:30 July 2018

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