Person: Good, Irving John
Irving John Good was an English mathematician who worked at Bletchley Park and at GCHQ and later went on to work with computers and statistics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- His parents were Morris Edward Good (1885-1958) (also known by the Yiddish name Moshe Oved) and Sophia Polikoff.
- Morris Good was born in Poland at a time when it was part of the Russian Empire, He learnt the trade of a watchmaker before emigrating to England at the age of seventeen.
- Good entered Jesus College, Cambridge where he attended lectures by A E Ingham, J C Burkill, F P White and G H Hardy.
- He played a lot of chess, particularly with John Francis O'Donovan who played board one for Ireland.
- Good won the Cambridgeshire Chess Championship in 1939.
- One of those who interviewed him for the position at Bletchley was Hugh Alexander, who had twice been British Chess Champion and who Good knew, having played chess with him.
- At first Good worked in Hut 8 headed by Alan Turing but after a year Turing moved to a different area and Hugh Alexander became head of Hut 8.
- In 1943 Good moved to the "Newmanry", working under Max Newman.
- The main users at first were Newman, Michie and Good, and some months later about twenty mathematicians.
- Good was a main user and produced more than half the theory for the use of the Colossi.
- After the war ended, Good was appointed as a lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of Manchester working for Max Newman who had been appointed as professor.
- While at Manchester, Good was also involved in the project to develop an electronic computer.
- One reason for Good leaving Manchester was that his book Probability and the Weighing of Evidence had been rejected by a publisher.
- Good worked at GCHQ from 1948 until 1959.
- In 1959 Good resigned from his position at GCHQ when offered a chair at the University of Chicago.
- We mention two further books: (jointly with David B Osteyee) Information, weight of evidence, the singularity between probability measures and signal detection (1974) and Good thinking.
- This last mentioned book collects together many of Good's more philosophical and less mathematical papers.
- Good retired and was made Professor Emeritus in July 1994.
- Good died of natural causes at the age of 92.
Born 9 December 1916, London, England. Died 5 April 2009, Radford, Virginia, USA.
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