Person: Macbeath, Alexander Murray
Murray Macbeath was a Scottish mathematician who worked at Bletchley Park during the war. He specialised in discrete and transformation groups.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Murray's school education was in Belfast and he continued his university studies there at Queen's University, graduating with a B.A. with first class honours in Mathematics in 1942.
- Macbeath was assigned to Hut 7 which had the task of breaking the Japanese navy codes.
- Others, such as Gordon Welchman, have taken a different approach and so much of the work done by Macbeath and others at Bletchley Park is now well known.
- Macbeath spoke Gaelic as well as English but to crack Japanese codes one had to be fluent in Japanese.
- Macbeath published Non-convex regions in three and more dimensions (1949) and participated in the Seminar on convex sets at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, during 1949-1950.
- Macbeath spoke in the seminar on compactness theorems and his contribution appeared in the mimeographed notes that were produced.
- In 1950 Macbeath was awarded his Ph.D. by Princeton University for his 53-page thesis The Geometry of Non-Homogeneous Lattices.
- Before returning to England, Macbeath and two friends travelled round the United States in a car.
- Back in England, Macbeath was appointed as a senior fellow at Clare College, Cambridge.
- Macbeath left Cambridge when he was appointed as a lecturer at the newly opened University College of North Staffordshire which had been founded in 1949.
- It became the University of Keele in 1962 but Macbeath left long before that to take up the chair of mathematics at University College, Dundee.
- Macbeath was appointed to fill the chair of mathematics at University College, Dundee, taking up the appointment in 1953.
- Henry Jack was one of the lecturers in Macbeath's department and they wrote the joint paper The volume of a certain set of matrices (1959).
- It was while he was in Dundee that Macbeath became interested in Hurwitz Groups, a topic in which he became a leading expert.
- In 1963, Macbeath was appointed professor of mathematics at Birmingham University and he held this post until 1979.
- Soon after arriving in Birmingham, Macbeath published Elementary Vector Algebra (1964).
- Macbeath was a good athlete and liked to keep fit.
- Macbeath retired in 1990 and returned to live in his native Scotland.
- In England, Macbeath lived in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, and now was given an honorary position at the University of Warwick.
- Among the honours that Macbeath received, we note that he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 7 March 1955.
Born 30 June 1923, Glasgow, Scotland. Died 14 May 2014, Warwick, 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