Person: Ferrar, William Leonard
Bill Ferrar was an English mathematician who worked on the convergence of series. He is best known for his undergraduate text-books. He eventually became Principal of Hertford College Oxford.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Bill Ferrar began his schooling in Ashley Down Infant School, and progressed to Queen Elizabeth's Hospital School, Brandon Hill.
- Ferrar entered Queen's College Oxford in 1912 after winning a scholarship to the College in the examinations of December 1911.
- Ferrar's tutor at the Queen's College was C H Thompson and he was very impressed with his young student.
- He sent Ferrar to Cambridge for six weeks in the summer vacation of 1913 to study with G Neville Watson.
- Watson arranged for Ferrar to study infinite series and, in particular, theorems relating to their convergence.
- This was a very important time for Ferrar since it set him up for the Junior Mathematical Scholarship examinations and also gave him an introduction to the topic on which he spent much time on research for the rest of his life.
- Immediately Ferrar volunteered for service in the army.
- The death of J E Campbell left a vacant fellowship at Hertford College, Oxford, which Ferrar was invited to fill and he took it up in September 1925.
- At the Annual Meeting of the Mathematical Association on 3 January 1939, Ferrar gave the talk Algebra in the Higher School Certificate.
- Ferrar wrote many research papers which deal with the convergence of series, an interest which came from working with G N Watson at Cambridge during a summer vacation while an undergraduate.
- Ferrar attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Oslo in July 1936.
- In addition Ferrar published many papers in the Quarterly Journal of Mathematics during his period as editor.
- And then there was my Ration Book which caused the Bursar, Dr W L Ferrar, some anxiety, being blue rather than the standard buff colour.
- Dear Dr Ferrar was much absorbed in post-grad studies, writing his excellent maths text books and his bursar-ship.
- The London Mathematical Society was also important for Ferrar who served on the Council from 1933 to 1942.
- After he finished his period as secretary, Ferrar served a further four years on Council, two of them as Vice-President.
- Ferrar is also famed for his ten outstanding textbooks including A textbook of convergence (1938), Algebra: a textbook of determinants, matrices and quadratic forms (1941), and Finite matrices (1951).
- In 1947 Ferrar submitted 35 papers and 2 books for the degree of Doctor of Science at Oxford and made many of his colleagues, who had begun to think of him as solely an administrator, realise what an outstanding research record he had.
- Edna Ferrar died in 1986 and was buried in Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford.
- Bill Ferrar died in 1990 and was buried with his wife.
Born 21 October 1893, Bristol, England. Died 22 January 1990, Oxford, England.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive