Person: Geary, Robert Charles
Robert Geary was an Irish mathematician who contributed to areas of statistical theory while working in Dublin as an official statistician.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- His parents were Edmond Geary and Jennie O'Sullivan.
- Edmond Geary was from Cork and, after working in the Customs Service in Gravesend, he returned to Ireland to work in the General Registrar's Office in Charlemont House.
- We note that Edmond Geary was in charge of this 1911 census, having been a clerk for the earlier 1901 census.
- Jack Geary became a medical doctor with a practice in London.
- Geary was a primary pupil at the Glasnevin Model Training School and then a secondary pupil at O'Connell School before entering University College Dublin in 1913.
- At the O'Connell School Geary was influenced by Brother Walsh who taught him mathematics.
- After graduating with his first degree, Geary remained at University College Dublin for two further years studying for his Master's Degree.
- At the Sorbonne, Geary attended lectures by Émile Borel, who held the chair of Theory of Functions, Élie Cartan, who held the Chair of Differential and Integral Calculus, Édouard Goursat, an expert on differential equations, and Henri Lebesgue who was Professor of the Application of Geometry to Analysis.
- Geary fell in love with France during these two years and became fluent in French.
- Geary, who was still a school pupil, was present at this meeting.
- We should not infer from this that Geary favoured violence as a means of gaining Irish independence - he certainly did not.
- Geary was, by this time, in his final year as an undergraduate at University College Dublin and certainly did not support the Easter Rising.
- Geary was studying in Paris at this time and, along with three fellow students, they stationed themselves one on each of the four sides of the pitch carrying a tri-colour, the flag symbolising Irish nationalism.
- The Irish team refused to take the field until the flags were removed and Geary and his three companions were removed by the police.
- By the middle of 1923 the civil war was over but Geary had decided before that that his duty was to remain in Ireland and give the new country his full support.
- Geary had undertaken research in mathematics up to 1922 without publishing anything.
- Geary's career now progressed rapidly.
- Geary's work on estimating and comparing national incomes made an international impression and in August 1946 Richard Stone (1913-1991) invited him to spend a year in the Department of Applied Economics of Cambridge University.
- The work that Stone and Geary did at Cambridge in the years 1946-47 led to what today is known as the Stone-Geary Utility Function.
- Geary did not return to his position in Dublin at the end of his year at Cambridge, for the following year he spent at the National Accounts Branch in the United Nations Statistical Office in New York.
- Returning to Dublin, Geary was appointed as head of the newly created Central Statistics Office in 1948.
- We note that Geary had now moved from statistics to an economics post.
- Neary describes three major contributions by Geary to economics.
- There is (i) the Stone-Geary Utility Function which we mentioned above, (ii) his algorithm to determine international comparisons of real income, and (iii) his work on measuring the increase in the real income of a country coming about from changes in its terms of trade.
- Geary continued as Director of the Economic Research Institute until he retired in 1966.
- At this time the Institute honoured him by establishing the annual Geary Lecture.
- Geary continued to work as a consultant for the Institute and attended the annual lecture named after him, right up until his death.
- Although Geary's statistical work received the highest praise, the books that he wrote were somewhat less well received and had mixed reviews.
- We note that Elements of Linear Programming with Economic Applications has a second edition which appeared in 1973 but with authors R C Geary and J E Spencer.
- Geary also wrote the book (with M Palekar) A short manual on sampling.
- Geary received many honours for his statistical contributions.
- She was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in the same grave as Geary's parents.
Born 11 April 1896, Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland. Died 8 February 1983, Dublin, Ireland.
View full biography at MacTutor
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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