Alexander Murray MacBeath

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Murray Macbeath
Alexander Murray Macbeath

30 June 1923
Glasgow, Scotland
Died14 May 2014(2014-05-14) (aged 90)
Warwick, England
Alma materQueens University, Belfast (B.A.)
Clare College, Cambridge (M.A.)
Princeton University (Ph.D., 1950)
Occupationmathematician, professor
Known forWWII codebreaking, MacBeath Surfaces
Spouse(s)Julie (1952-his death)
Parent(s)Alexander Macbeath (father) Grace Stewart (mother)

Alexander Murray Macbeath (30 June 1923 Glasgow – 14 May 2014 Warwick)[1][2][3] was a mathematician who worked on Riemann surfaces. Macbeath surfaces are named after him.

Early life and education[edit]

Macbeath was the son of Alexander Macbeath, a philosopher and logician who took a position at Queen's University Belfast in 1925,[4] soon after Murray was born. Murray also studied at Queen's University, where he earned a B.A. with honours.[1]

During World War II, he worked in Hut 7 of the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, breaking ciphers used for military communications by the Japanese navy and, later, army.[2]

After the war he earned an M.A. (again with honours) from Clare College, Cambridge. With a Commonwealth Fund fellowship, he then attended Princeton University,[1] where he earned his Ph.D. in 1950 under the supervision of Emil Artin.[5]


He taught at Keele University and the University of Dundee before moving to the University of Birmingham in 1963 where he stayed until 1979 as Mason Professor,[3] then moved back to the University of Pittsburgh in the United States until he reached their statutory retirement age of 60.[1]

He subsequently took up a position at the University of Dundee where he remained for a number of years, before moving to Warwickshire where at the University of Warwick he held the position of Emeritus Professor of Mathematics.


Professor Macbeath died on 14 May 2014 in Warwick, England.


  1. ^ a b c d Thomas, Campbell (2014), "Obituary: Professor Murray Macbeath, mathematician and wartime codebreaker", The Scotsman (Friday 27 June)
  2. ^ a b "Professor Murray MacBeath", The Times, Obituaries (Friday 27 June), 2014
  3. ^ a b Bill Harvey (1 July 2014), Murray Macbeath, London Mathematical Society, archived from the original on 28 December 2012, retrieved 6 July 2014
  4. ^ "Obituary: Professor Alexander MacBeath", Glasgow Herald, 16 December 1964.
  5. ^ Alexander Murray MacBeath at the Mathematics Genealogy Project