Dr Peter Neumann (1940-2020)

It is with great sadness that the London Mathematical Society (LMS) has learned of the death of Dr Peter Neumann. Dr Neumann was a very influential and popular figure in UK mathematics and in the LMS.

He was elected a member of the Society in 1964 and went on to have considerable input into the Society’s activities and he played a particularly significant role in the Society’s publications. Dr Neumann was Publications Secretary (1967-1972); Journal Editor (1976-1979); Bulletin Book Review Editor (1979-1981); Bulletin Editor (1979-1984) and Monographs Editor (1999-2003). He was also an Officer of the Society, holding the position of Vice President from 1990-1992. The Society honoured Dr Neumann with the award of the LMS Senior Whitehead Prize in 2003 and he also won the joint LMS-IMA David Crighton Medal (with Arieh Iserles) in 2012.

Dr Neumann was the son of renowned mathematicians Bernhard and Hanna Neumann. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Oxford where he was also awarded his DPhil. After completing his DPhil, Dr Neumann became first a Tutorial Fellow and subsequently a lecturer at the University of Oxford. He was a major figure both in algebra and the history of mathematics, publishing around 100 papers and books, and also supervising more than 40 doctoral students. His research included pioneering work in the theory of permutation groups, both finite and infinite; influential work on the design of algorithms in computational algebra; and wide-ranging historical work, including a comprehensive text on the writings of Évariste Galois. In 2015 he gave a presentation on this work at the LMS-BSMH De Morgan Day at De Morgan House as part of the LMS 150th Anniversary.

He was also notably the first Chair of the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT), which aims to advance the education of young people in mathematics. In 2008 he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The Queen's College, Oxford, where he was a student and later a Tutor and Fellow, has established an online tribute to Dr Neumann's memory here.  

A longer obituary will appear in the LMS Newsletter.