Person: Rankin, Robert Alexander
Robert Rankin was Professor of Mathematics at Glasgow for many years. He worked on number theory and the theory of functions.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The Rev Oliver Rankin became Professor of Old Testament Language, Literature and Theology in the University of Edinburgh in 1937.
- Robert attended Garlieston School and from there went to Fettes College, an independent school in Edinburgh.
- At Cambridge Rankin began to undertake research in number theory under Ingham's supervision.
- The research which Rankin undertook at this time, on the difference between two successive primes, won him the Rayleigh Prize in 1939.
- Rankin was elected a Fellow of Clare College in 1939.
- At Fort Halstead Rankin worked on the development of rockets.
- The British Government, however, paid little attention to the work of Rankin and his team.
- Of course during the war his work on rockets was classified information, but once the war was over the information was declassified and Rankin was released early from his war service on the condition that he wrote up the theoretical work which he had done on rockets.
- In 1951 Rankin left Cambridge when he was appointed Mason Professor of Pure Mathematics at Birmingham University.
- He was not to spend long in Birmingham for, in 1954, T M MacRobert retired from the Chair of Mathematics at the University of Glasgow and the Principal of that university tempted Rankin to move back to Scotland to fill the vacancy.
- Rankin wrote over 100 research papers, mostly on the theory of numbers and the theory of functions.
- A major historical work was Ramanujan : Letters and commentary a joint work with B C Berndt which Rankin published in 1995; it has been instantly recognised as a exceptional contribution to the history of mathematics.
- The paper appeared in the conference proceedings of which Rankin was himself an editor.
- We should note that Rankin himself had made a number of contributions to studying the number of representations of an integer as a sum of squares.
- One characteristic of Rankin was the care with which he undertook all things in his life.
- Rankin received many honours for his outstanding contributions to mathematics.
- Mathematics was certainly not Rankin's only interest.
- Latterly, with his deep interest in the history of mathematics, Rankin was extremely encouraging to me in developing this archive.
Born 27 October 1915, Garlieston, Wigtownshire, Scotland. Died 27 January 2001, Glasgow, Scotland.
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