Person: Semple, John Greenlees
John Semple was a Irish mathematician whose most important work was in Algebraic geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- After this he went to Cambridge where he sat the Mathematical Tripos of 1927, gaining a distinction, and went on to study for a doctorate at St John's College, Cambridge, under Baker.
- After winning the Rayleigh Prize in 1929, Semple was appointed to a lecturing post at the University of Edinburgh.
- After holding this post for one year (1929-30) he was awarded his doctorate by Cambridge for a thesis on Cremona transformations, was elected a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, and, still in the same year 1930, was appointed to the Chair of Pure Mathematics at Queen's University, Belfast.
- The Department of Mathematics at Queen's University flourished under Semple's leadership.
- Semple, however, did not try to avoid such duties, rather he took on more than a reasonable share of them being Dean of the Faculty of Arts for three years and serving on the University Senate.
- In London he quickly became close friends with the Head of the Mathematics Department, George Temple (to have a Semple and a Temple in the same department must have been very confusing!).
- The Mathematics Department of King's College was moved to Bristol, and this translation Semple had to organise since Temple was seconded to war work.
- These were difficult years and it was Semple's leadership that kept the department functioning and having it well placed to reopen in London in 1943.
- Soon after King's College reopened Semple took on two major tasks for the London Mathematical Society, namely Secretary of the Society and Editor of the Journal of the London Mathematical Society.
- During this period he began a collaboration with Roth and together they wrote the first of three famous texts which Semple was to co-author.
- Roth and Semple also worked together setting up and running the London Geometry Seminar which operated for 40 years and provided one of the major focal points for geometry research throughout the world.
- Semple also worked with Du Val who joined the London Geometry Seminar but they only wrote one joint paper.
- Semple's work was on various aspects of geometry, in particular work on Cremona transformations and work extending results of Severi.
- In 1953, between the publication of these two books, Temple moved to a chair at Oxford and Semple became Head of Mathematics at King's College.
- Around this time he seemed to become somewhat disillusioned with the direction that research in algebraic geometry was going and 1957 saw the publication of the last research paper that Semple would write for over ten years.
- If Semple rather regretted the direction that research in algebraic geometry was taking, he certainly did not show it in his book Algebraic curves.
- Semple had retired from his chair at King's College two years before the publication of this book.
Born 10 June 1904, Belfast, Ireland. Died 23 October 1985, 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