Alan Turing (1912 – 1954)
Alan Turing is considered to be the father of modern computing and artificial intelligence. His concept of the Turing machine is still one of the most widely examined theories of computation.
His early work was undertaken at King’s College, Cambridge where he was elected a Fellow in 1935 based on the strength of a dissertation on the central limit theorem. From 1936 to July 1938 he studied mathematical logic at Princeton University, in the world-leading research group led by Church. Turing obtained his Ph.D. in June 1938. His dissertation introduced the notion of relative computing, where Turing machines are augmented with so-called oracles, allowing a study of problems that cannot be solved by a Turing machine.
From September 1938 Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) on the problem of the German Enigma machine; on 4th September 1939, the day after the UK declared war on Germany, Turing reported to Bletchley Park, the wartime station of GCCS. Within weeks of arriving, Turing had designed the bombe, named after the original Polish designed bomba kryptologiczna (or cryptologic bomb). The bombe, with an enhancement suggested by mathematician Gordon Welchman, became one of the primary tools, and the major automated one, used to attack Enigma-protected message traffic.
After the Second World War Turing worked on the design of the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the National Physical Laboratory. In 1948 he was appointed Reader in the Mathematics Department at Manchester. Soon afterwards he became Deputy Director of the Computing Laboratory at the University of Manchester, and worked on software for one of the earliest true computers - the Manchester Ferranti Mark 1. During this time he continued to do more abstract work, addressing the problem of artificial intelligence; he proposed an experiment now known as the Turing test, an attempt to define a standard for a machine to be called `intelligent‘. The idea was that a computer could be said to `think’ if it could fool an interrogator into believing that the conversation was with a human.
In 1952 Alan Turing turned his attention to the then emerging field of morphogenesis, proposing a new hypothesis for pattern formation in biological systems. Tragically, Turing did not have time to further develop his ideas in this area; he died on the 7 June 1954, at the age of 41.
Alan Turing's biography on MacTutor
Alan Turing's Wikipedia page
Cornelius Lanczos (1893–1974)
Cornelius Lanczos discovered an exact solution to the Einstein field equation. It is one of the simplest known exact solutions in general relativity and is regarded as an important example. Watch him talk about mathematics, his work with Albert Einstein and his fascinating, restless life during his 1972 visit to UMIST.
We are delighted to make available online a series of video tapes produced in 1972. These historic tapes show Cornelius Lanczos talking about his fascinating and restless life as (among other things) student of Eötvös and Fejér in Hungary, theoretical physicist, assistant of Albert Einstein in Germany, numerical analyst and inventor of the tau method, (re-)discoverer of the fast Fourier transform and singular value decomposition, inventor of the Lanczos algorithm while working at the US National Bureau of Standards, and head of the Theoretical Physics Department at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Study.
In the last years of his long life Lanczos gave excellent lectures at UMIST (a predecessor institution of The University of Manchester), and apparently it was Ronald Butler who initiated the recording of these video tapes. The first tape (55 minutes) is devoted to Lanczos' views on mathematics and his contributions to numerical analysis. The second tape (45 minutes) is autobiographical, and the third tape (54 minutes) contains a discussion about the life and work of Albert Einstein.
Click here to read Cornelius Lanczos' biography on Wikipedia
Lanczos about Mathematics
Lanczos about his life
About Albert Einstein
Frank Adams (1930-1989)
J Frank Adams made fundamental advances in algebraic topology. He wrote five extremely influential textbooks on the subject and was one of the founders of stable homotopy theory.
After studying in Cambridge, Adams moved to Oxford as a Junior Lecturer. In 1957 he visited Chicago and Princeton as a research associate and returned to become College Lecturer at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Following further time in Princeton, he took up a Readership at Manchester in 1962 and succeeded Newman as Fielden Professor from 1964 to 1971. Adams produced work of outstanding depth and originality throughout his career, including a seminal sequence of papers on homotopy theory that was completed during his first years in Manchester. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society at the early age of 34 and received the Society's Sylvester Medal in 1982. The London Mathematical Society awarded him their Junior Berwick Prize in 1963 and their Senior Whitehead Prize in 1974.
Click here to read Frank Adams' biography on MacTutor
Sydney Goldstein (1903-1989)
Sydney Goldstein made fundamental contributions in fluid dynamics, especially aerodynamics.
After his studies at Leeds and Cambridge, Goldstein became a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, in 1929. In the same year he was appointed Lecturer in Mathematics at Manchester, where the strong influence of Reynolds and Lamb’s work in fluid dynamics had a profound impact on him. He moved to Cambridge in 1931 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1937. On Lamb's death Goldstein took over the editorship of Modern Developments in Fluid Dynamics, which appeared in 1938. During the war years he worked on boundary layer theory at the National Physical Laboratory. He returned to Manchester in 1945 when the University made two inspiring appointments to the Department of Mathematics: Max Newman to the chair of Pure Mathematics and Goldstein to the chair of Applied Mathematics. He held the Beyer Chair of Applied Mathematics from 1945 to 1950.
Click here to read Sydney Goldstein's biography on MacTutor
Brian Hartley (1939-1994)
Brian Hartley is known for his outstanding work in many different areas of group theory.
He made important contributions to the theory of locally finite groups, group-rings, soluble groups, simple groups, permutation groups, linear groups and representation of groups. Hartley spent periods at Cambridge and in the USA before being appointed as a Lecturer at the newly established University of Warwick in 1966, where he was promoted to a Readership in 1973. He moved to a chair at the University of Manchester in 1977 and served as head of the Mathematics Department between 1982 and 1984. At the time of the Cold War Hartley put considerable effort into building links to mathematicians in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He even learned Russian to follow Soviet Mathematics better. In Manchester, he was the driving force behind the algebra seminar run jointly with the UMIST Mathematics Department which was significant in bringing together the two departments. He collaborated widely and published over a hundred papers.
Click here to read Brian Hartley's biography on MacTutor
Sir Horace Lamb (1849-1934)
Horace Lamb made important contributions to applied mathematics, in particular to acoustics, seismology and fluid dynamics.
He is best known for his book Hydrodynamics, which with his several other textbooks played a major role in university teaching and research for many years. After his mathematical studies at Cambridge, Lamb was appointed in 1875 to the Chair of Mathematics at Adelaide. In 1885 he returned to England to take up a Professorship in Mathematics at the University of Manchester, and became the first holder of the Beyer Chair of Applied Mathematics in 1888, which he held until 1920. Under his influence the Mathematics Department at Manchester grew rapidly. Elected to the Royal Society in 1884, he was a member of the Council of the Society and twice its Vice-President. Lamb received the Society’s Royal Medal in 1902 and in 1923 was further honoured with the Copley Medal. A strong supporter of the London Mathematical Society, he served the Society as President in 1902-04 and received its De Morgan Medal in 1911. Lamb was knighted in 1931.
Click here to read Sir Horace Lamb's biography on MacTutor
James Lighthill (1924-1998)
James Lighthill was known for his pioneering work in the fields of hydrodynamics, wave mechanics, aerodynamics, biomechanics, and for creating the field of aeroacoustics. His studies on supersonic flows proved vital in the development of the Concorde supersonic airliner.
In 1946, Lightill was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, where he set up a very strong fluid dynamics group. In 1950 he was promoted to the Beyer Chair of Applied Mathematics, a position which he held until 1959. On leaving Manchester, Lighthill became Director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough for five years, and in 1969 took up the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, where he was succeeded by Stephen Hawking. He held the position of Provost of University College London for ten years from 1979. Lighthill was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1953, and was awarded the Society's Royal Medal in 1964 and the Copley Medal in 1998. He received many other honours and accolades including over twenty honorary doctorates, the Gold Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Naylor Prize of the London Mathematical Society, and election to Fellow of the French Academy of Sciences and the US National Academy of Science. Lighthill was knighted in 1971.
Click here to read James Lighthill's biography on MacTutor
Louis Mordell (1888-1972)
Louis Mordell was a distinguished number theorist. In Manchester he discovered one of his best known results, namely the finite basis theorem (or Mordell–Weil theorem), which proved a conjecture of Henri Poincaré.
He also made a conjecture about algebraic equations that became known as Mordell’s conjecture and was eventually proved by G. Faltings in 1983.
Born in the United States, Mordell travelled to England to study Mathematics at Cambridge University. In 1920 he joined the Manchester College of Technology and became Reader at Manchester University in 1922. He was appointed to the Fielden Chair of Pure Mathematics the following year and built up the Department, attracting a number of outstanding mathematicians who had been forced from posts in continental Europe. Mordell was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1924 and received the Sylvester Medal of the Society in 1949. He was elected President of the London Mathematical Society from 1943 to 1945 and won the De Morgan Medal in 1941 and the Senior Berwick Prize in 1946.
Click here to read Louis Mordell's biography on MacTutor
Max Newman (1897-1984)
Max Newman was the first person in Britain to contribute to modern topology. He made a significant contribution to the British success in deciphering German messages and he was a particularly effective academic manager.
MHA Newman's early work was in Cambridge where he undertook fundamental and influential work in combinatorial topology. In 1942 he moved to the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park leading a unit called the `Newmanry', where work was done in developing machines to decipher the German `Fish' signals. Moving to Manchester in 1945, Newman succeeded Mordell as Fielden Professor and during the next 19 years he demonstrated remarkable abilities in enhancing the Department of Mathematics leading his staff to give of their best. He attached great importance to the quality of undergraduate teaching. When the British Mathematical Colloquium was founded in 1949 it was Newman who ensured that its first meeting was in Manchester. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1939 and was awarded the Sylvester Medal in 1959 and De Morgan Medal in 1962. He was President of the London Mathematical Society (1950-1951) and President of the Mathematical Association in 1959.
Click here to read Max Newman's biography on MacTutor
Lewis Fry Richardson (1881-1953)
Lewis Fry Richardson devised a method for the numerical solutions of differential equations by using finite difference in conjunction with the technique now known as Richardson extrapolation.
This led to his seminal work on numerical weather prediction and his classic book Weather Prediction by Numerical Process.
Richardson's working life was as varied and eclectic as his interests, and included periods in industry, the Meteorological Office and several Universities and Colleges. He worked at the Manchester College of Technology from 1912 to 1913 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1926. After retirement Richardson spent the rest of his life pioneering a mathematical study of the causes of war. He is noted for his studies of atmospheric turbulence, and the 'Richardson number' is named after him. His posthumous publication on the problem of contiguity proved to be influential in research on fractals.
Click here to read Lewis Fry Richardson's biography on MacTutor
Maurice Priestley (1933-2013)
Professor Maurice Priestley, was a highly regarded figure in the field of time series analysis. He made outstanding contributions to the spectral analysis of non-stationary time series and density estimation. His book "Spectral Analysis and Time Series" (1982) has become a standard reference on the subject. He was the founding Editor in Chief of the "Journal of Time Series Analysis" and remained in this role until the end of 2012. He passed away on 15th June 2013.
Maurice Priestley was born in Manchester on 15th March 1933. He attended the Manchester Grammar School, then went to Jesus College, Cambridge, to study mathematics. After completing his undergraduate degree, he stayed on at the Statistical Laboratory, Cambridge, and took its Diploma in Mathematical Statistics in 1955. This happened at a time of a golden age for the Statistical Laboratory and Maurice Priestley was particularly influenced by Dennis Lindley and Henry Daniels.
In the following two years, as Scientific Officer at the Royal Aircraft Establishment he started working on spectral analysis and gained practical experience with it. Maurice Priestley collaborated with Gwilym Jenkins and published a joint paper with him in JRSS B in 1957. They were about the same age and both went on to make their names in time series and spectral analysis.
Maurice returned to Manchester to study for a Ph.D. under the guidance of Maurice Bartlett. He was also appointed assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester. In the early 1960's Priestley held visiting professorships at Princeton and Stanford Universities in the USA. In 1970 Maurice Priestley became full professor at the Department of Mathematics at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), a post he held until his retirement. He had several spells, totalling more than twelve years, as Head of the Department of Mathematics at UMIST. He played a very active role in the UMIST administration and served with distinction on many committees. He was also a Honorary Professor at the University of Sheffield and the driving force in the establishment of the joint Manchester-Sheffield School of Probability and Statistics. After his retirement Maurice was appointed Emeritus Professor at UMIST and, after the merger between UMIST and VUM, University of Manchester.
From the early 1970's the UMIST Department of Mathematics established itself as a focal point for research in time series, especially non-stationary, non-linear and non-Gaussian time series. Young members of staff, including H. Tong and T. Subba Rao, quickly established themselves. The Department attracted a stream of internationally renowned visitors, including H. Akaike, T. W. Anderson, E. J. Hannan, E. A. Parzen, M. Rosenblatt, T. Ozaki and G. Wahba. The Manchester-Nottingham Time Series group, founded by Maurice Priestley and Clive Granger, held regular meetings to discuss and stimulate new developments in these areas. Without doubt the Manchester School under the leadership of Maurice Priestley played a significant role in the rapid developments in nonlinear and non-stationary processes in the 1970's.
Maurice published a number of very influential papers: on spectral estimation (Technometrics, 1962), the role and choice of bandwidth in the estimation of spectral density function (Applied Statistics, 1965), the analysis of stationary processes with mixed spectra (JRSS B, 1962; two papers), the seminal paper on evolutionary spectra and non-stationary processes (JRSS B, 1965), a read paper to the Royal Statistical Society, with discussion, statistical tests for non-stationarity (Priestley and Subba Rao, JRSS B, 1969).
The ideas introduced by Maurice Priestley have had and continue to have impact on developments not only in time series analysis but other subjects, such as kernel density estimation and non-parametric regression. Priestley's name can be found in terminology, as well - Priestley's evolutionary spectrum and the Bartlett-Priestley window for non-parametric spectral density estimation.
In honour of Maurice Priestley, Room G.108 in Alan Turing Building is named after him.