Person: Rayner, Margaret
Margaret Rayner was a British mathematician who did important work on isoperimetric inequalities, mathematical education, and the history of mathematics. She became vice principal of St Hilda's College, Oxford and president of the Mathematical Association.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The one exception was an aunt who was the headmistress of a village school and she was very supportive of Margaret having a high quality education.
- Margaret attended the King's High School for Girls in Warwick.
- She was near the end of her career when Rayner entered the school but, nevertheless, she was an important influence.
- Rayner was a Prefect at the King's High School for Girls in 1947, the year she graduated.
- After completing her secondary schooling, Rayner entered Westfield College, University of London, wishing to specialise in studying mathematics.
- When Rayner studied there it was still exclusively for women but it became coeducational in 1964 and merged with Queen Mary College in 1989.
- Rayner remained at Westfield College after graduating with a first degree, undertaking a Master's degree by research.
- She was still Principal when Rayner began her studies there but Stocks retired in 1951.
- She advised Rayner to apply for a temporary part-time lectureship in mathematics at St Hilda's College, Oxford.
- Rayner, by this time, had decided to aim for teaching at a higher level than schools but, nevertheless, she continued to involve herself in school education throughout her life.
- The job involved much tutoring of students but Rayner found the time to undertake research for a doctorate and, in 1960, she was awarded a DPhil by the University of Oxford for her thesis Some problems in unsteady heat flow.
- In the year that he received the prize, Payne and Rayner published a joint paper An isoperimetric inequality for the first eigenfunction in the fixed membrane problem.
- introduced the Payne-Rayner inequality, an isoperimetric inequality for the first eigenfunction of the Laplacian.
- The second joint paper by Payne and Rayner, which Ault mentions in the above quote, was Some isoperimetric norm bounds for solutions of the Helmholtz equation (1973).
- Rayner published the paper Vectors and Relative Velocity in The Mathematical Gazette in 1969.
- Tayler suggested that Wake had research interests similar to those of Rayner and he introduced the two.
- Margaret was also a wonderful teacher and mentor.
- Rayner and Wake submitted their joint paper 'Variational Methods for nonlinear eigenvalue problems associated with thermal ignition' to the Journal of Differential Equations on 11 November 1971 and it was published in 1973.
- St Hilda's College had two mathematics tutors, Margaret Rayner and Irene Moore.
- They were called Miss Rayner and Miss Moore, although they both had doctorates.
- Miss Rayner was tutor in Applied Mathematics and was the more senior.
- Lectures at the Mathematical Institute in St Giles' did not require me to wear my gown, but individual tutorials, with either Miss Rayner or Miss Moore at St Hilda's College did.
- At the Fourth International Congress on Mathematical Education held in Berkeley, California, USA, 10-16 August 1980, Rayner gave the presentation Is calculus essential?
- Rayner was an active participant in the work of the Mathematical Association serving on various of its committees including the Schools and Industry Committee, and the Finance and General Purposes Committee.
- In 1981 Rayner became Vice-Principal of St Hilda's College and she continued in that role until 1988.
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), Miss Margaret Eva Rayner, lately Vice-Chairman, Schools Examination and Assessment Council; Vice-Principal, St Hilda's College.
- In many ways Rayner embarked on a new career after she retired when she effectively became a historian.
- Rayner died on 31 May 2019 and a memorial celebration was held for her on Sunday 6 October 2019 in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, followed by a buffet lunch in the Brian Duke Foyer.
- Following her wishes a Dr Margaret Rayner Memorial Fund has been set up to support the provision of undergraduate student accommodation at St Hilda's College.
- Let us end this biography by quoting the tributes to Rayner in various announcements of her death.
- The characteristics that come to mind most immediately when thinking about Margaret are her intellectual curiosity, her energy, her capacity for making friends and her generous hospitality.
Born 21 August 1929, Tamworth, Stafordshire, England. Died 31 May 2019, Oxford, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin England, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive