Person: Dowker, Clifford Hugh
Hugh Dowker was an English mathematician known for his work on knot theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Hugh certainly did not have an easy time with his school education for in primary school he had to walk two miles every day to reach the school.
- At this stage he had gone far further than someone from Dowker's background could ever expect to go in academic pursuits so it was natural for him to wish to end his education at this point.
- Again Dowker was surprised to find that his lecturers at Toronto advised him to go to Princeton to study for a doctorate under Lefschetz.
- Apart from Lefschetz, the mathematicians who were to have an important influence on Dowker included Aleksandrov, Fox, Hurewicz and Steenrod.
- Dowker's doctoral thesis extended basic results in homotopy theory from compact metric spaces to normal and parametric spaces.
- After the award of his doctorate in 1938 Dowker was appointed as an instructor to the University of Western Ontario for the year 1938-39.
- Dowker also did war work with the United States Air Force, working on the trajectory of projectiles.
- Senator Joseph R McCarthy whipped up strong feelings against communism in the United States and several of Dowker's friends began to come under suspicion from the authorities who saw imaginary problems everywhere.
- Although most of Dowker's work was in topology, his war work set him up well for the applied mathematics post where he continued his research on projectiles.
- Dowker was appointed to a personal chair at Birkbeck College in 1962, a post which he held until his retirement in 1970.
- In 1956 Dowker published Lectures on sheaf theory which followed the approach which had been adopted by Henri Cartan.
- In 1983, the year in which Dowker died after a long illness, he published a joint paper Classification of knot projections with Morwen B Thistlethwaite.
Born 2 March 1912, Parkhill, Western Ontario, Canada. Died 14 October 1982, London, England.
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