Person: Mirsky, Leon
Leon Mirsky worked in Number Theory, Linear Algebra and Combinatorics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Conditions in Russia were difficult at the time Leon was born for the Russian Revolution had begun in 1917.
- Mirsky's parents wanted to leave Russia but were unable to do so.
- This move, Leon's parents hoped, would give Leon a chance of a better life than Soviet Russia presented.
- However, the Germany to which young Leon had entered in 1926 was suddenly dramatically changed in 1933 when Hitler and the Nazi party came to power.
- The school, from which Mirsky graduated in 1936, was taken over by the military for the war effort in 1939 and never reopened as a school.
- Leaving Herne Bay College, at age seventeen, Mirsky entered King's College, London, where he had to study four subjects in his first year for the Intermediate Science Examination.
- Mirsky had already discovered at Herne Bay College that laboratory work was not his strong point so he was quite proud to cope with the laboratory work in the Physics course.
- One of the friends that Mirsky made at King's College, London, was Geoffrey Kneebone who was one year ahead of him.
- Mirsky and Kneebone shared interests in philosophy, literature and history as well, of course, as mathematics.
- They shared their interest in exploring these topics throughout the rest of Mirsky's life.
- Another friend he made at King's College was Ron Clark who introduced Mirsky to rock climbing and the two shared this interest in the vacations when they went youth hostelling.
- Another fellow student with Mirsky was Peter Gant who later taught mathematics at Felsted School.
- Mirsky was now in a very unhappy situation of being educated in England having been born in Russia and brought up for five years in Germany.
- By the time Mirsky arrived in Bristol, Linfoot had begun to undertake research in optics which he did for patriotic reasons when war started.
- However he was still an excellent advisor for Mirsky who was keen to write his Master's thesis on number theory.
- Leon greatly admired Richard's power as a mathematician and often paid glowing tribute to the benefit he derived from the association ...
- Luise Rado encouraged Leon's literary interests, particularly by reading English and German poetry with him.
- After completing the two year temporary position, Mirsky went to the University of Manchester where he had again a temporary assistant lectureship.
- In the same year of 1947 Mirsky was promoted to lecturer at Sheffield.
- We noted before that Mirsky had not undertaken research for a Ph.D. but once on the permanent staff at Sheffield he set his sights on earning a doctorate.
- Being a staff member, this was not a standard route to a Ph.D. and Mirsky worked on his own without the benefit of a thesis advisor.
- Aileen and Leon Mirsky shared a love of music and literature.
- Mirsky had three main areas of research.
- bears witness to Mirsky's gift for exposition; his hallmark was elegance combined with clarity.
- His early work was on number theory which was his first love but, after Geoffrey Walker was appointed as his head of department at Sheffield in 1947 and asked Mirsky to teach a course on linear algebra, he became fascinated in that topic in addition to his number theory interest.
- There was never any hint of familiarity with his audience and Leon always wore a gown to emphasize the formality of the occasion.
- But Leon's tastes reflected the lighter side of his nature as well.
- no account of Leon, however brief, is complete without mention of his kindness and the steadfast friendship he displayed throughout his life.
Born 19 December 1918, Russia. Died 1 December 1983, Sheffield, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Algebra, Origin Russia
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive