Supervisors and their mentors

I had two supervisors. Professor Sir Michael Atiyah was supervisor for my DPhil in Mathematics (Oxford 1967) and Richard Skemp for my PhD in Mathematics Education (Warwick 1986).

Richard obtained his PhD in Psychology at Manchester in 1959 and I have no information about his supervisors.

However, the history of supervisors and mentors in mathematics are on the Mathematics Genealogy Site here.

My colleague and student Anna Poynter wrote to me to say that one of her students had traced her academic lineage back to Sir Isaac Newton, which was certainly a surprise to me. However, the Mathematics Genealogy Site reveals the backward tracing which confirms this fact, detailing my mathematical predecessors back to Sir Isaac Newton and influences go even further to Galileo and to Tartaglia.

This amazing result becomes slightly less amazing when one sees the peculiarity of mathematics in England which traces back lines of development in Cambridge and even though I did my Doctorate in Mathematics at Oxford with Michael Atiyah, his PhD was taken at Cambridge to whence he returned, becoming President of the Royal Society, a knight bachelor and a member of the order of merit. Many contemporary mathematicians linked to Cambridge —including the 24 doctoral students and 669 doctoral descendants of Michael Atiyah, of which 55 are descendants of mine—trace their heritage back to Newton. Many others, such as Sir Christopher Zeeman and his 29 students and 701 descendants, trace their links back to Leibniz. All of these go one step before to Isaac Barrow, who derived a geometrical version of the fundamental theorem of calculus, and even further back to Galileo who studied the moons of Jupiter, and Tartaglia who discovered the first solution to the cubic equation.

1. Sir Michael Atiyah (b. 1929) Trinity College, Cambridge, PhD 1955, President of Royal Society, Master of Trinity, Order of Merit
2. Sir William Hodge (1903–1975), University of Edinburgh, BA 1923, Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry, Trinity College, Cambridge
3. Prof. Edmund Whittaker (1873–1956), Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1895
4. Prof. Andrew Forsyth (1858–1942), Trinity College, Cambridge, PhD 1881
5. Prof. Arthur Cayley (1821–1895), University of Oxford, PhD 1864, Lucasian Professor,Trinity College, Cambridge
6. William Hopkins (1793–1866), St Peter’s College, Cambridge, MA 1830, Mathematician and Geologist, highly successful private tutor with students including Francis Galton, Arthur Cayley, Lord Kelvin, James Clerk Maxwell
7. Prof. Adam Sedgwick (1785–1873), Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1811, Woodwardian Professor of Geology
8. Thomas Jones (1756–1807), Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1782, Fellow and Mathematics Tutor
9. Thomas Postlethwaite (1731–1798), Trinity College, Cambridge, BA 1753 Lecturer in Mathematics, Master of Trinity
10. Stephen Whisson, Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1742 BD 1761, Fellow of Trinity
11. Prof. Walter Taylor, Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1723, Mathematician, Regius Professor of Greek
12. Prof. Robert Smith (1689-1768), Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1715, Master of Trinity, Plumian Professor of Astronomy
13. Prof. Roger Cotes (1682-1716), Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1706, first Plumian Professor of Astronomy
14. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1668, Lucasian Professor
15. Prof. Isaac Barrow (1630-1677), Trinity College, Cambridge, MA 1652, first Lucasian Professor [& Benjamin Pulleyn]
16. Vincenzo Viviani, Universita di Pisa (1622-1703), 1642 [& Gilles Personne de Roberval]
17. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) Universita di Pisa, 1585
18. Ostilio Ricci (1540-1603), Universita di Brescia, court mathematican to Grand Duke Francesco, who gave lectures on Euclid at the University of Pisa, which Galileo attended, later becoming his student
19. Nicolo Fontana Tartaglia (1499-1500), Universita di Brescia, who mentored Ricci

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last modified: Fri, February 1, 2019 1:04 PM