David Rees (mathematician)

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David Rees
Born (1918-05-29)29 May 1918
Died 16 August 2013(2013-08-16) (aged 95)[1]
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Doctoral students Michael P. Drazin
O.A.S Karamzadeh
Inder Bir Passi
Known for Rees algebra
Rees factor semigroup
Rees matrix semigroup[2]
Rees's theorem[2]

David Rees ScD Cantab, FIMA, FRS (Mathematics) (29 May 1918 – 16 August 2013) was an emeritus professor of pure mathematics at the University of Exeter, having been head of the Mathematics / Mathematical Sciences Department at Exeter for many years. During the Second World War, Rees was active on Enigma research in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park.[3][4]

Rees initially worked on semigroup theory, and Rees factor semigroup is named after him. He also gave a characterization of completely simple and completely 0-simple semigroups, nowadays known as Rees' theorem. The matrix-based semigroups used in this characterization are called Rees matrix semigroups.[2][5] At the behest of Douglas Northcott he switched his research focus to commutative algebra.[6] In 1954, in a joint paper with Northcott, Rees introduced the Northcott-Rees theory of reductions and integral closures which has subsequently been influential in commutative algebra.[7]

In 1993 Rees was awarded the Pólya Prize by the London Mathematical Society. In August 1998 a conference on Commutative Algebra was held at Exeter in honour of David Rees' 80th Year. He was an Honorary Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge[8]


In 1952,[9] he married Joan S. Cushen, who became a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at Exeter, with four children:

  1. (Susan) Mary Rees FRS, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Liverpool, b. 1953[10][11][12]
  2. Rebecca Rees, b. 1955[13]
  3. Sarah E. Rees, Professor of Pure Mathematics at Newcastle University, b. 1957[14][15]
  4. Deborah Rees, b. 1960[16]


  1. ^ "2013 death notices". Royal Society. Retrieved 2013-08-20. "Professor David Rees FRS, 29 May 1918 - 16 August 2013 (elected 1968), Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics, University of Exeter, Council service: 1979 - 1981" 
  2. ^ a b c "Rees semi-group of matrix type - Encyclopedia of Mathematics". Eom.springer.de. 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  3. ^ Rodney Sharp. "David Rees obituary | Education". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  4. ^ "Bletchley Park Roll of Honour". Bletchley Park Trust. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Attila Nagy (2001). Special classes of semigroups. Springer. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0-7923-6890-8. 
  6. ^ Biographical memoirs of fellows of the Royal Society: Volume 53
  7. ^ "Professor Douglas Northcott - Obituaries, News - The Independent". The Independent (London). 
  8. ^ "Downing College". Dow.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  9. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: JUN 1952 4a 395 CAMBRIDGE - David Rees = Joan S. Cushen
  10. ^ GRO Register of Births: SEP 1953 4a 294 CAMBRIDGE - Susan M. Rees, mmn = Cushen
  11. ^ Asthana, Anushka. "Academics - Times Online". The Times (London). 
  12. ^ Professor Mary Rees FRS
  13. ^ GRO Register of Births: DEC 1955 4a 222 CAMBRIDGE - Rebecca Rees, mmn = Cushen
  14. ^ GRO Register of Births: DEC 1957 4a 338 CAMBRIDGE - Sarah E. Rees, mmn = Cushen
  15. ^ Prof. Sarah Rees
  16. ^ GRO Register of Births: JUN 1960 7a 442 EXETER - Deborah Rees, mmn = Cushen

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