Person: Jones (3), Douglas
Douglas Jones was an English mathematician known for his work in the field of electromagnetism. He spent many years as head of department at Dundee.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Jesse Jones, born in Little Harrowden, Northamptonshire, worked for Tarmac, a firm founded in 1903 dealing with road surfacing and building materials.
- Douglas had attended Ettingshall Primary School from 1927 to 1931.
- Douglas excelled in Latin and Greek at the Grammar School and was advised to enter the Civil Service.
- Competition for this was great and Douglas was not at all confident that he would make the grade so he decided to change from the Latin and Greek that he loved to mathematics.
- Back at Oxford in 1945 he attended lectures by Henry Whitehead, whom Jones described as the worst lecturer he ever experienced, and Ughtred Shuttleworth Haslam-Jones, whom he considered the best.
- Haslam-Jones (1903-1962) had been a student of G H Hardy and had graduated with a D.Phil.
- Jones' tutor was Frederick Bernard Pidduck (1885-1952) who suggested that he try for a Commonwealth Fund Scholarship so that he could spend a year in the United States.
- Jones was successful and joined Freeman Dyson, the other successful candidate in 1947.
- While still an undergraduate, Jones wrote Note on an electrostatic problem which was published in 1948.
- Graduating from Oxford in 1947 with an M.A., Jones spent the academic year 1947-48 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
- Once Jones' position in Manchester became permanent he was able to marry Ivy Styles on 23 September 1950 in Bilston.
- In 1956 Jones spent time in New York at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences where he was a visiting professor.
- While he was in New York, Jones applied for the position of Simson Professor of Mathematics at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, which would make whoever was appointed the head of the Department of Applied Mathematics, a new Department being set up by Glasgow.
- This book alone would have cemented Douglas's reputation as world leader.
- The visit that Jones had made to the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences in New York in 1956 had been very successful and, in 1962-63 he made a second, equally successful, visit.
- Jones was appointed to the Ivory Chair of Applied Mathematics at Queen's College in 1965 and energetically began the task of building the Department of Applied Mathematics.
- For the first two years of his time in Dundee, Jones was on the staff of the University of St Andrews but on 1 August 1967 the University of Dundee received its royal charter and became an independent university.
- Jones remained at Dundee for the rest of his career, holding the Ivory Chair for 27 years until he retired in 1992.
- Douglas Jones also investigated the ways in which electromagnetic waves interact with objects having sharp edges.
- There were other areas to which Jones made substantial contributions.
- One of these was mathematical biology where Jones had been influenced first by his experience at MIT in 1947-48 and then at Manchester where Alan Turing was working on biological pattern formation.
- Together with Brian Sleeman, Jones published the textbook Differential equations and mathematical biology in 1983.
- We mentioned Alan Turing's influence on Jones in mathematical applications to biology but Turing also gave Jones a deep interest in computers.
- Jones wrote the two books Assembly Programming and the 8086 Microprocessor (1988) and 80×86 Assembly Programming (1991).
- Douglas never directed the research of young staff but was always there to give encouragement and offer ideas.
- With regard to teaching back in Dundee, Douglas assigned lecturing duties that on the one hand one would enjoy and on the other he thought would be 'good for the soul'.
- Jones received many honours for his outstanding contributions.
Born 10 January 1922, Corby, Northamptonshire, England. Died 26 November 2013, Perth, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive