Person: Kneebone, Geoffrey Thomas
Geoffrey Kneebone was an English mathematician who is best known for the two books he wrote with J G Semple
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The Mathematics Department of King's College was moved to Bristol, where Kneebone worked.
- 1943 was the year Kneebone was awarded his Ph.D. for his thesis The foundations of mathematics: A critical examination of the foundations of the mathematical theory of probability and statistics.
- was a mathematical study, but a remark in the Preface expressed a holistic view that stayed with Kneebone through his later work on the foundations of mathematics: 'mathematics itself cannot be regarded as something self-contained, but must be treated as an integral part of the whole body of possible knowledge'.
- After the award of his thesis, in 1943 Kneebone was appointed as an assistant lecturer at Westfield College, part of the University of London.
- When Kneebone joined the College, it was a women's college and had been since its founding in 1849.
- Kneebone remained at Bedford College for the rest of his career, where he was promoted to Reader in the Foundations of Mathematics in 1964 and Reader in Mathematics from 1976 until he retired in 1983.
- Nevertheless, Dr Kneebone, as well as giving excellent lectures, always managed to discuss out weekly written work with us individually.
- In our first year both he and Mrs Kneebone invited us to their home.
- Kneebone's main research interests were in the philosophy of mathematics and he wrote papers such as Philosophy and Mathematics (1947), Induction and Probability (1949), Abstract Logic and Concrete Thought (1955), and The Philosophical Basis of Mathematical Rigour (1957).
- Let us give a flavour of Kneebone's thoughts by quoting from the first of these papers.
- Perhaps Kneebone is best known today as the author of several highly successful textbooks.
- Anther book to which Kneebone contributed is Exploring University Mathematics.
- This book is based on lectures given at Bedford College in 1965 and has as its first chapter Sets and functions by Kneebone.
- Kneebone describes the problems that arose from thinking of a function as something with a smooth curve satisfying the Intermediate Value Theorem, and gives two definitions of the natural numbers, from Peano's axioms and in terms of set theory.
- These included the studies of Walter van Stigt on L E J Brouwer and of Steve Russ on Bernard Bolzano, as well as the theses of Albert Leisenring and Tim Flannagan on the Hilbert epsilon operator (the last two as Ph.D. students of Kneebone).
- Following Kneebones death in 2003, an obituary appeared in Alumni News (No 22, Winter 2003).
- some of my fellow Bedford students have been discussing the possibility of setting up a memorial fund in Dr Kneebone's name to fund a Mathematics prize of some sort at Royal Holloway.
- In 2009, the Geoffrey Kneebone Scholarship was set up to be awarded to a postgraduate student at Bedford College.
- The Scholarship was initiated by two of Kneebone's former students, Dorothy Foster and Glenys Ingram.
Born 24 February 1918, Brentford, Middlesex, England. Died 30 September 2003, 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