Peter Michael Neumann

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at the Mathematical Institute, Oxford

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at the

OBE
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry
An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or inspired by the original Catho ...

(28 December 1940 – 18 December 2020) was a British mathematician
A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces ...

. His fields of interest included the history of mathematics
The history of mathematics deals with the origin of discoveries in mathematics and the History of mathematical notation, mathematical methods and notation of the past. Before the modern age and the worldwide spread of knowledge, written examples ...

and Galois theory
In mathematics, Galois theory, originally introduced by Évariste Galois, provides a connection between field (mathematics), field theory and group theory. This connection, the fundamental theorem of Galois theory, allows reducing certain problems ...

.
Biography

Born in December 1940, Neumann was a son of the German-born mathematiciansBernhard Neumann
Bernhard Hermann Neumann Companion of the Order of Australia, AC Fellow of the Royal Society, FRS (15 October 1909 – 21 October 2002) was a Germany, German-born United Kingdom, British-Australian mathematician who was a leader in the study of gro ...

and Hanna Neumann
Johanna (Hanna) Neumann (née von Caemmerer; 12 February 1914 – 14 November 1971) was a Germany, German-born mathematician who worked on group theory.
Biography
Neumann was born on 12 February 1914 in Lankwitz, Steglitz-Zehlendorf (today a ...

. He gained a BA degree from The Queen's College, Oxford
The Queen's College is a constituent college
A collegiate university is a university
A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) educa ...

in 1963, and a DPhil
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known a ...

degree from the University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the List of oldest universit ...

in 1966. Neumann was a Tutorial Fellow at the Queen's College, Oxford, and a lecturer at the University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the List of oldest universit ...

. His research work was in the field of group theory
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no ...

. In 1987, Neumann won the Lester R. Ford Award of the Mathematical Association of America
The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) is a professional society that focuses on mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (a ...

for his review of Harold Edwards' book ''Galois Theory''.
He was the first Chairman of the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust
The United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) is a Charitable organization, charity founded in 1996 to help with the education of children in mathematics within the United Kingdom, UK.
History
The national mathematics competitions existed pri ...

, from October 1996 to April 2004, succeeded by Bernard Silverman
Sir Bernard Walter Silverman, (born 22 February 1952) is a British statistician and Anglican clergyman. He was Master (college), Master of St Peter's College, Oxford from 1 October 2003 to 31 December 2009. He is a member of the Statistics Depa ...

.
Neumann showed in 1997 that Alhazen's problem
Alhazen's problem, also known as Alhazen's billiard problem, is a mathematical problem
A mathematical problem is a problem that is amenable to being represented, analyzed, and possibly solved, with the methods of mathematics
Mathematics (fr ...

(reflecting a light ray off a spherical mirror to hit a target) cannot be solved with a straightedge and compass construction
Straightedge and compass construction, also known as ruler-and-compass construction or classical construction, is the construction of lengths, angle
In Euclidean geometry, an angle is the figure formed by two Ray (geometry), rays, called the ...

. Although the solution is a straightforward application of Galois theory
In mathematics, Galois theory, originally introduced by Évariste Galois, provides a connection between field (mathematics), field theory and group theory. This connection, the fundamental theorem of Galois theory, allows reducing certain problems ...

it settles the constructibility of one of the last remaining geometric construction problems posed in antiquity.
In 2003, the London Mathematical Society
The London Mathematical Society (LMS) is one of the United Kingdom's learned societies
A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization
An organization, or organisati ...

awarded him the Senior Whitehead Prize
The Senior Whitehead Prize of the London Mathematical Society
The London Mathematical Society (LMS) is one of the United Kingdom's learned societies
A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic associa ...

. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry
An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order (honour), order of knights typically founded during or inspired by the ...

(OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours
The New Year Honours
The New Year Honours is a part of the British honours system, with New Year's Day, 1 January, being marked by naming new members of orders of chivalry and recipients of other official honours. A number of other Commonwealth r ...

.
After retiring in 2008, he became an Emeritus Fellow at the Queen's College.
Neumann's work in the history of mathematics
The history of mathematics deals with the origin of discoveries in mathematics and the History of mathematical notation, mathematical methods and notation of the past. Before the modern age and the worldwide spread of knowledge, written examples ...

includes his 2011 publication ''The Mathematical Writings of Evariste Galois'', an English language book of the work of by French mathematician Évariste Galois
Évariste Galois (; ; 25 October 1811 – 31 May 1832) was a French mathematician
A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ...

(1811–1832). Neumann was a long-standing supporter of the British Society for the History of Mathematics
The British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) was founded in 1971 to promote research into the history of mathematics at all levels and to further the use of the history of mathematics education, mathematics in education.
The BSHM is co ...

, whose Neumann Prize is named in his honour.
Neumann was the president of the Mathematical Association
The Mathematical Association is a professional society concerned with mathematics education
In contemporary education, mathematics education is the practice of teaching and learning mathematics, along with the associated scholarly research.
...

from 2015 to 2016.
Neumann died on 18 December 2020, ten days before his 80th birthday, from COVID-19
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease
A contagious disease is a disease
A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure
A structure is an arrangement and organization o ...

during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease
A contagious disease (or communicable disease) is a disease
...

.
Personal life

Neumann married Sylvia Bull in 1962. She was a fellow mathematics undergraduate at Oxford, where they met.References

External links

Home page

at the Mathematical Institute, Oxford

Home page

at the

The Queen's College, Oxford
The Queen's College is a constituent college
A collegiate university is a university
A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) educa ...

*
{{DEFAULTSORT:Neumann, Peter M.
1940 births
2020 deaths
Deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic in England
People from Oxford
Alumni of The Queen's College, Oxford
20th-century English mathematicians
21st-century English mathematicians
Group theorists
Historians of mathematics
History of mathematics
Historiography of mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and ca ...

Fellows of The Queen's College, Oxford
Officers of the Order of the British Empire
David Crighton medalists
English male writers
English people of German descent
English people of German-Jewish descent