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Maxwell's equations

set of partial differential equations that describe how electric and magnetic fields are generated and altered by each other and by charges and currents

Maxwell's equations are a set of partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electromagnetism, classical optics, and electric circuits.


  • But the mathematicians of the nineteenth century failed miserably to grasp the equally great opportunity offered to them in 1865 by Maxwell. If they had taken Maxwell's equations to heart as Euler took Newton's, they would have discovered, among other things, Einstein's theory of special relativity, the theory of topological groups and their linear representations, and probably large pieces of the theory of hyperbolic differential equations and functional analysis. A great part of twentieth century physics and mathematics could have been created in the nineteenth century, simply by exploring to the end the mathematical concepts to which Maxwell's equations naturally lead.

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