Person: Wright (2), Edward Maitland
Edward Wright was a number theorist and collaborator of G H Hardy. He was Professor of Mathematics at Aberdeen for many years and went on to become Principal of the university.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Maitland Wright owned a soap making factory in Farnley, a small village near Leeds.
- However, the fortunes of the soap factory changed and when Edward was three years old the business collapsed.
- Of course, living in boarding schools meant that Edward could attend lessons and he got a pretty good education in modern languages and classical studies.
- When Edward reached fourteen years of age he had still not been taught any mathematics, other than basic arithmetic, but then he was taught some basic algebra which fascinated him.
- In one sense this proved fortuitous as far as mathematics was concerned for Wright could no longer work on physics since he now had no access to a laboratory, so he put all his effort into teaching himself mathematics.
- This spurred Wright on to investigate the possibility of obtaining a scholarship.
- By this time Wright was twenty years old and scholarships for Oxford and Cambridge were almost all restricted to people younger.
- Wright left Oxford in the following year when, at the age of 29, he was appointed as Professor of Mathematics at Aberdeen.
- One of Wright's first papers, published in 1930, was on Bernstein polynomials.
- Wright's best known mathematical contribution was his joint authorship of An introduction to the theory of numbers written with Hardy.
- The topics in the book were, to a large extent, determined by various lecture courses on number theory that Hardy and Wright had given.
- After the war ended Wright returned to his duties as professor of mathematics at Aberdeen.
- Most would have given up mathematical research during 14 years as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of a University but not Wright who continued to produce a stream of high quality papers until 1981.
- Consequently, Patterson had to face a lot of ribbing by his fellow professors about the "scheming mathematicians" who were secretly running the institution, since they refused to believe that all Wright wanted Patterson for was to check the mathematics on which Wright had been working in the course of the meeting.
- Patterson ascribed Wright's productivity to his having made excellent use of University meetings.
- Wright received many honours for his outstanding contributions.
Born 13 February 1906, Farnley, near Leeds, England. Died 2 February 2005, Reading, 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