Person: Grattan-Guinness, Ivor
Ivor Grattan-Guinness was an English historian of mathematics and logic. He was a pioneer in expanding the role of the history of mathematics in education.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Gerald Henry Grattan-Guinness had studied mathematics at King's College, London, between 1927 and 1930.
- It was in Bakewell that Ivor attended primary school.
- In 1958, while Grattan-Guinness was a pupil there, the College merged with Hillhouse Technical School forming a new boys' grammar school at a new campus in the Salendine Nook area of Huddersfield.
- This new college was called Huddersfield New College and it was from this excellent school that Grattan-Guinness graduated in 1959.
- After winning an Open Minor Scholarship to Wadham College, Oxford, Grattan-Guinness matriculated and began studying there in autumn 1959.
- Grattan-Guinness graduated with a B.A., with honours in mathematics, from the University of Oxford in 1962.
- There was one, very positive, side to Grattan-Guinness taking this job in London.
- Offord was an expert on measure theory and Grattan-Guinness was tempted to change to undertake research on the history of measure theory but he decided to stay with Fourier and related ideas.
- Collingwood suggested that Grattan-Guinness would find interesting material at the Mittag-Leffler Institue and Collingwood personally funded Grattan-Guinness's research visit there in 1968.
- Grattan-Guinness was awarded a Ph.D. in 1969 for his thesis The development of the foundations of mathematical analysis from Euler to Riemann.
- This work, with its extensive examination of the mathematics of Cauchy and his immediate predecessors, also served to focus Grattan-Guinness's attentions on the early nineteenth-century French scene, a vast topic that came to dominate his research for some two decades.
- We mentioned above that Grattan-Guinness began teaching at Enfield College of Technology in 1964.
- In some sense Grattan-Guinness remained there for his whole career, although the changes in the Institution over the years makes it looks as if he worked at different institutions.
- Grattan-Guinness had been promoted to reader in mathematics, holding this position until 1993 when he was made professor of the history of mathematics and logic.
- Grattan-Guinness supervised the doctoral theses of nine Ph.D. students.
- Ivor was a consummate professional and expected his students to be likewise, encouraging active participation in meetings, seminars and conferences, and fostering connections with other in the history of mathematics community.
- regular weekly or fortnightly meetings with him, usually over lunch near an archive in central London, were the student's opportunity to discuss their work with Ivor and occasionally reveal any discoveries they had made.
- Such revelations were frequently accompanied by Ivor's wide-eyed exclamations of "Really??" To the novice researcher, such expressions of excitement and interest, the free acknowledgement of gaps in his own knowledge, and the willingness to learn from his students were the sources of tremendous encouragement and inspiration.
- There are many important contributions made by Grattan-Guinness other than his research and teaching contributions and we must indicate some of them here.
- Although others have enjoyed longer periods as editor, Ivor's role was crucial in decisively rescuing the fortunes of the journal when they had reached a low ebb.
- Ivor brought rigour, and considerable vigour and thoughtfulness, to editing a journal with a very wide remit in the history of science.
- In terms of discipline building, however, perhaps Ivor's greatest accomplishment lay in establishing a more specific field.
- We have to marvel at Grattan-Guinness's output over his career spanning forty years.
- Above this, however, the biographical approach was consonant at a deeper level with Ivor's convictions about the need to understand what he conceived of as the intellectual and social 'factors' entering into the process of mathematical and scientific research.
- For Ivor, though, the sociologists were illogical.
- Grattan-Guinness received many honours.
- we are pleased to recognize Ivor Grattan-Guinness with the highest honour in the history of mathematics, the Kenneth O May Prize and Medal, awarded for lifetime scholarly achievement and commitment to the field.
- Finally we note that in 2010, Grattan-Guinness was made an honorary member of the Bertrand Russell Society.
- Let us end by quoting, from two of his Ph.D. students, comments about Grattan-Guinness's character.
- An erratic driver, car journeys with Ivor were always memorable, not least for having survived them.
- Their home in Bengeo, Hertford, was a haven for visiting scholars from all over the world, and Ivor continued his researches until the final weeks of his life.
Born 23 June 1941, Bakewell, Derbyshire, England. Died 12 December 2014, Bengeo, Hertford, 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