Person: Smithies, Frank
Frank Smithies was a Scottish mathematician who worked on integral equations, functional analysis, and the history of mathematics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Frank Smithies Senior was an engineer who was a staunch trade union man with strong Socialist views.
- It was their Socialist involvement which led to their meeting after Frank Senior moved to Edinburgh in 1907.
- Roberts was so impressed by Frank that he accepted him free of charge.
- Roberts did an excellent job and ensured that Frank was in a good position to take the entrance examination for Edinburgh University in March 1927.
- This is particularly significant since Smithies developed a love of the history of mathematics and made many excellent contributions which we discuss towards the end of this biography.
- Smithies graduated in 1933 and began research on integral equations with Hardy at Cambridge.
- Funded by a Carnegie Fellowship and a St John's College studentship, Smithies then spent two years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
- After returning to Cambridge in 1938, Smithies taught at St John's College and continued his research.
- Smithies early work was on integral equations and in 1958 his text Integral equations was published by Cambridge University Press in their Cambridge Tracts in Mathematics and Mathematical Physics Series.
- Although he published little in the way of original research in functional analysis after 1940, Smithies was the greatest influence on the development of the subject in Britain.
- Smithies looks in detail at the development of the concept of an adjoint operator in the years before the Hahn-Banach theorem.
- After Smithies retired in 1979 he began to take an interest in the history of mathematics, which he had from his undergraduate days, to a more serious level.
- In 1982 Smithies published the paper The background to Cauchy's definition of the integral.
- Smithies last paper was A forgotten paper on the fundamental theorem of algebra published in the Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London in 2000.
Born 10 March 1912, Edinburgh, Scotland. Died 16 November 2002, Cambridge, 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