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MAWKMAI—MAXIMA AND MINIMA

MAWKMAI (Burmese Maukmè), one of the largest states in the eastern division of the southern Shan States of Burma. It lies approximately between 19° 30′ and 20° 30′ N. and 97° 30′ and 98° 15′ E., and has an area of 2,787 sq. m. The central portion of the state consists of a wide plain well watered and under rice cultivation. The rest is chiefly hills in ranges running north and south. There is a good deal of teak in the state, but it has been ruinously worked. The sawbwa now works as contractor for government, which takes one-third of the net profits. Rice is the chief crop, but much tobacco of good quality is grown in the Langkö district on the Têng river. There is also a great deal of cattle-breeding. The population in 1901 was 29,454, over two-thirds of whom were Shans and the remainder Taungthu, Burmese, Yangsek and Red Karens. The capital, Mawkmai, stands in a fine rice plain in 20° 9′ N. and 97° 25′ E. It had about 150 houses when it first submitted in 1887, but was burnt out by the Red Karens in the following year. It has since recovered. There are very fine orange groves a few miles south of the town at Kantu-awn, called Kadugate by the Burmese.


MAXENTIUS, MARCUS AURELIUS VALERIUS, Roman emperor from A.D. 306 to 312, was the son of Maximianus Herculius, and the son-in-law of Galerius. Owing to his vices and incapacity he was left out of account in the division of the empire which took place in 305. A variety of causes, however, had produced strong dissatisfaction at Rome with many of the arrangements established by Diocletian, and on the 28th of October 306, the public discontent found expression in the massacre of those magistrates who remained loyal to Flavius Valerius Severus and in the election of Maxentius to the imperial dignity. With the help of his father, Maxentius was enabled to put Severus to death and to repel the invasion of Galerius; his next steps were first to banish Maximianus, and then, after achieving a military success in Africa against the rebellious governor, L. Domitius Alexander, to declare war against Constantine as having brought about the death of his father Maximianus. His intention of carrying the war into Gaul was anticipated by Constantine, who marched into Italy. Maxentius was defeated at Saxa Rubra near Rome and drowned in the Tiber while attempting to make his way across the Milvian bridge into Rome. He was a man of brutal and worthless character; but although Gibbon’s statement that he was “just, humane and even partial towards the afflicted Christians” may be exaggerated, it is probable that he never exhibited any special hostility towards them.

See De Broglie, L’Église et l’empire Romain au quatrième siècle (1856–1866), and on the attitude of the Romans towards Christianity generally, app. 8 in vol. ii. of J. B. Bury’s edition of Gibbon (Zosimus ii. 9-18; Zonaras xii. 33, xiii. 1; Aurelius Victor, Epit. 40; Eutropius, x. 2).


MAXIM, SIR HIRAM STEVENS (1840–  ), Anglo-American engineer and inventor, was born at Sangerville, Maine, U.S.A., on the 5th of February 1840. After serving an apprenticeship with a coachbuilder, he entered the machine works of his uncle, Levi Stevens, at Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1864, and four years later he became a draughtsman in the Novelty Iron Works and Shipbuilding Company in New York City. About this period he produced several inventions connected with illumination by gas; and from 1877 he was one of the numerous inventors who were trying to solve the problem of making an efficient and durable incandescent electric lamp, in this connexion introducing the widely-used process of treating the carbon filaments by heating them in an atmosphere of hydrocarbon vapour. In 1880 he came to Europe, and soon began to devote himself to the construction of a machine-gun which should be automatically loaded and fired by the energy of the recoil (see Machine-Gun). In order to realize the full usefulness of the weapon, which was first exhibited in an underground range at Hatton Garden, London, in 1884, he felt the necessity of employing a smokeless powder, and accordingly he devised maximite, a mixture of trinitrocellulose, nitroglycerine and castor oil, which was patented in 1889. He also undertook to make a flying machine, and after numerous preliminary experiments constructed an apparatus which was tried at Bexley Heath, Kent, in 1894. (See Flight.) Having been naturalized as a British subject, he was knighted in 1901. His younger brother, Hudson Maxim (b. 1853), took out numerous patents in connexion with explosives.


MAXIMA AND MINIMA, in mathematics. By the maximum or minimum value of an expression or quantity is meant primarily the “greatest” or “least” value that it can receive. In general, however, there are points at which its value ceases to increase and begins to decrease; its value at such a point is called a maximum. So there are points at which its value ceases to decrease and begins to increase; such a value is called a minimum. There may be several maxima or minima, and a minimum is not necessarily less than a maximum. For instance, the expression (x2 + x + 2)/(x − 1) can take all values from −∞ to −1 and from +7 to +∞, but has, so long as x is real, no value between -1 and +7. Here −1 is a maximum value, and +7 is a minimum value of the expression, though it can be made greater or less than any assignable quantity.

The first general method of investigating maxima and minima seems to have been published in A.D. 1629 by Pierre Fermat. Particular cases had been discussed. Thus Euclid in book III. of the Elements finds the greatest and least straight lines that can be drawn from a point to the circumference of a circle, and in book VI. (in a proposition generally omitted from editions of his works) finds the parallelogram of greatest area with a given perimeter. Apollonius investigated the greatest and least distances of a point from the perimeter of a conic section, and discovered them to be the normals, and that their feet were the intersections of the conic with a rectangular hyperbola. Some remarkable theorems on maximum areas are attributed to Zenodorus, and preserved by Pappus and Theon of Alexandria. The most noteworthy of them are the following:—

1. Of polygons of n sides with a given perimeter the regular polygon encloses the greatest area.

2. Of two regular polygons of the same perimeter, that with the greater number of sides encloses the greater area.

3. The circle encloses a greater area than any polygon of the same perimeter.

4. The sum of the areas of two isosceles triangles on given bases, the sum of whose perimeters is given, is greatest when the triangles are similar.

5. Of segments of a circle of given perimeter, the semicircle encloses the greatest area.

6. The sphere is the surface of given area which encloses the greatest volume.

Serenus of Antissa investigated the somewhat trifling problem of finding the triangle of greatest area whose sides are formed by the intersections with the base and curved surface of a right circular cone of a plane drawn through its vertex.

The next problem on maxima and minima of which there appears to be any record occurs in a letter from Regiomontanus to Roder (July 4, 1471), and is a particular numerical example of the problem of finding the point on a given straight line at which two given points subtend a maximum angle. N. Tartaglia in his General trattato de numeri et mesuri (c. 1556) gives, without proof, a rule for dividing a number into two parts such that the continued product of the numbers and their difference is a maximum.

Fermat investigated maxima and minima by means of the principle that in the neighbourhood of a maximum or minimum the differences of the values of a function are insensible, a method virtually the same as that of the differential calculus, and of great use in dealing with geometrical maxima and minima. His method was developed by Huygens, Leibnitz, Newton and others, and in particular by John Hudde, who investigated maxima and minima of functions of more than one independent variable, and made some attempt to discriminate between maxima and minima, a question first definitely settled, so far as one variable is concerned, by Colin Maclaurin in his Treatise on Fluxions (1742). The method of the differential calculus was perfected by Euler and Lagrange.

John Bernoulli’s famous problem of the “brachistochrone,” or curve of quickest descent from one point to another under