The meeting features the Hirst Lecture 2019, given by the winner of the Hirst Prize and Lectureship 2018, Professor Jeremy Gray.
The Hirst Prize and Lectureship for the History of Mathematics is awarded for contributions to the study of the history of mathematics. The prize will be awarded in recognition of original and innovative work in the history of mathematics, which may be in any medium. This prize is awarded jointly by the LMS and the British Society for the History of Mathematics.
2.30pm Opening of the meeting
2.45pm June Barrow-Green (The Open University) George Birkhoff: “The Poincaré of America”
Abstract: In 1912, only a few months after the death of Poincaré, the American mathematician George Birkhoff shot to international fame by providing a proof of Poincaré’s ‘last geometric theorem’, a theorem with which Poincaré had struggled during the last two years of his life. Birkhoff continued to work on topics connected to Poincaré, in particular dynamical systems, and went on to become one of the leaders of American mathematics during the first half of the 20th century. I shall consider Birkhoff in the light of my title (which was given to Birkhoff by Nikolai Krylov in 1924), setting his work in the context of his career in the United States.
3.45pm Tea & coffee break
4.15pm Hirst Lectrure Jeremy Gray (OU and Warwick) Jesse Douglas, Minimal Surfaces, and the first Fields Medal
Abstract: Jesse Douglas received one of the first two Fields Medals in 1936 for his work on minimal surfaces: he was the first person to solve the Plateau problem for discs spanning an arbitrary contour, and to generalise the problem successfully to surfaces of arbitrary topological type. Yet his work provoked a long-running and painful battle with Tibor Radó and Richard Courant, and today it is not easy to find out what Douglas actually did, or much about his life.
The talk is based on joint work with Mario Micallef (Warwick).
5.15pm Wine reception
6.30pm Society Dinner
57-58 Russell Square
De Morgan House, 57-58 Russell Square
London, WC1B 4HS-WC1B 4HS