Person: Turnbull, Herbert Westren
Herbert Turnbull was Regius Professor of Mathematics at University of St Andrews from 1921 to 1950. He was an expert in Invariant Theory and an enthusiast for the History of Mathematics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Herbert was educated at Sheffield Grammar School.
- After graduating, Turnbull taught at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (1909), and then at the University of Liverpool (1910).
- After his year as a lecturer at the University of Liverpool, Turnbull taught at the Hong Kong University, becoming master at St Stephen's College in Hong Kong in 1911, and warden of the University Hostel two years later.
- Turnbull had duties as a mathematics lecturer at the University in addition to being warden of the hostel.
- On his return to England, Turnbull worked as a school teacher for three years in the leading independent school at Repton in the county of Derbyshire in the north of England.
- As an undergraduate at Cambridge Turnbull had become fascinated by the topic of invariant theory.
- Turnbull was appointed Regius Professor of Mathematics in the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard at the University of St Andrews in 1921.
- Before he was appointed to the Regius Chair of Mathematics at St Andrews Professor Turnbull had been a missionary in China.
- Turnbull was interested in algebra, particularly invariant theory building on work of Gordan and Clebsch.
- Turnbull was also interested in the history of mathematics.
- Firstly it tells us something of Turnbull's character and attitude towards mathematics.
- Turnbull published his own historical research into mathematics in the James Gregory Tercentenary Volume (1939).
- Turnbull's major beautifully written works include The Theory of Determinants, Matrices, and Invariants (1928), The Great Mathematicians (1929), Theory of Equations (1939), The Mathematical Discoveries of Newton (1945), and An Introduction to the Theory of Canonical Matrices (1945), which was jointly written with Aitken.
- The Mathematical Discoveries of Newton arose from two lectures which Turnbull gave on Newton.
- It is so typical of Turnbull that he chose to emphasise the extraordinarily positive aspects of Newton's life and work.
- After he retired in 1950 Turnbull, at the request of the Royal Society, began to work on the Correspondence of Isaac Newton.
- Turnbull received many honours for his work, the most major being his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1932.
- Outside mathematics Turnbull had several major interests.
- At these gatherings Mrs Turnbull was a gracious and lively hostess.
- The inevitable shyness of the younger guests was overcome by drawing room games, but the highlight of the evening, for those who could appreciate it, was the performance on two pianos by Professor and Mrs Turnbull.
Born 31 August 1885, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, England. Died 4 May 1961, Grasmere, Westmoreland, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Algebra, Ancient Chinese, Chinese, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive