Person: Hartley, Brian
Brian Hartley was an English mathematician whose main topic was locally finite groups where he used his wide knowledge of finite groups in proving properties of infinite groups which were in a sense close to finite.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- In the autumn of 1943 Brian began his schooling at Spring Hill Infants School, Accrington.
- Brian didn't spend all his primary education at this school for he attended the Peel Park Infants in Accrington in 1945-46.
- Brian's performance at school was outstanding and, in 1950, he won a place at Accrington Grammar School.
- His results in the General Certificate were phenomenal, easily a record for the school." Like many boys good at mathematics, Brian also excelled at chess.
- Hartley loved sports, particularly cycling and running.
- There were different aspects to liking these sports for Brian.
- There was yet another aspect that Brian loved which was his natural competitive spirit so that when he was at school he enjoyed both the training and the competition that came from being a member of the cross-country team.
- Hartley was awarded two scholarships to attend university, a State Scholarship based on his outstanding results in the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level papers, and a Major Scholarship in Natural Sciences at King's College, Cambridge, won in examinations taken in December 1956.
- At this stage Hartley entered a Mathematics Faculty which was full of world-leading researchers.
- There was Abram Besicovitch, who retired one year after Hartley began his studies and was replaced as Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics by Harold Davenport.
- At a dance at Christmas 1960, Hartley met Mary E Mawer.
- Let us return to pick up the story of Hartley's Cambridge career.
- In December 1961, while only beginning to undertake research, Hartley was elected to a Research Fellowship at Clare College.
- Hartley's 127-page Ph.D. thesis The stability group of a series of subgroups was submitted in 1964 but before that, in May 1963, he had submitted a paper jointly written with Philip Hall, with the same title as his thesis to the London Mathematical Society.
- Hartley's first published paper was The order-types of central series which appeared in 1965.
- Hartley spent the year 1964-65 in Chicago which at that time was a world centre for algebra with many leading ring theorists on the staff such as Adrian Albert, Yitz Herstein, Irving Kaplansky, who was the departmental chairman, and Saunders Mac Lane.
- Although in a different area of group theory from Hartley, John Thompson was also at Chicago and had just gained world fame with his 1963 paper, written with Walter Feit, proving all nonabelian finite simple groups were of even order.
- During the year in Chicago, Hartley enjoyed the music scene, both classical and jazz, and continued his love of the outdoors learning to ski and going on camping holidays.
- On the staff were Chris Zeeman, the head of the Department of Mathematics, David Epstein, Roger Carter, Sandy Green, Luke Hodgkin, Brian Sanderson and Ralph Schwarzenberger.
- Sandy Green was given the task of recruiting algebraists onto the staff for the academic year beginning in October 1966 and, after taking advice from Philip Hall, invited Stewart Stonehewer, Trevor Hawkes and Brian Hartley.
- All accepted and Stonehewer and Hartley took up their appointments for the academic year 1966-67.
- Except for spending 1969-70 at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia and 1974-5 in Madison, USA, at the University of Wisconsin, Hartley remained at Warwick until he was appointed to a chair in Manchester in 1977.
- Although Hartley was appointed to the University of Manchester in 1977, he had been one of the two main organisers of the 1977-78 Warwick Symposium on Infinite Groups and Group Rings.
- This was an excellent location for Hartley who cycled daily to the University from his home along fairly minor roads.
- If group rings are considered a part of group theory, then Hartley only wrote two papers which were not on group theory, one being on Lie algebras and the other on cryptography and large primes.
- Brian was an outdoor person.
- Above all, Brian and Mary delighted in hill walking, which occupied most weekends.
- Brian was a very practical person who was good with his hands.
- Ravello is a stunningly beautiful town on the Amalfi coast and Brian loved being there.
- In Ravello, Brian told me about the NATO Advanced Study Institute on Finite and Locally Finite Groups he was helping to organise in Istanbul, Turkey, which was be held in August of that year.
- It was a great shock to me to hear of Brian's death just over a month after he returned from the Istanbul conference.
- Brian died walking in the hills that he loved.
- There was a mountain in northern England that Brian always wanted to climb, namely Helvellyn, and he decided to try it before he got too old.
- The picture of Brian Hartley above was taken in August 1993 at the Groups Galway / St Andrews Conference, held in Galway, Ireland.
Born 15 May 1939, Accrington, Lancashire, England. Died 8 October 1994, Lake District, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Group Theory, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive