J. W. S. Cassels

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J. W. S. Cassels
Born 11 July 1922
Durham, North East England
Died 27 July 2015 (aged 93)
Other names Ian Cassels
Nationality British
Fields Mathematics
Institutions University of Cambridge
Alma mater University of Edinburgh (MA)
Trinity College, Cambridge (PhD)
Doctoral advisor Louis Mordell
Doctoral students Bryan John Birch
Antonia Jones
José Felipe Voloch
Victor Flynn
Notable awards De Morgan Medal (1986)
Royal Society Sylvester Medal (1973)
Fellow of the Royal Society (1963)

John William Scott "Ian" Cassels, FRS (11 July 1922 – 27 July 2015[1]) was a British mathematician.


Cassels was educated at Neville's Cross Council School in Durham and George Heriot's School in Edinburgh. He went on to study at the University of Edinburgh and graduated with an undergraduate Master of Arts (MA) degree in 1943.

His academic career was interrupted in World War II when he was involved in cryptography at Bletchley Park. After the war he became a research student of Louis Mordell at Trinity College, Cambridge; he received his PhD in 1949 and was elected a fellow of Trinity in the same year.

Cassels then spent a year lecturing in mathematics at the University of Manchester before returning to Cambridge as a lecturer in 1950. He was appointed Reader in Arithmetic in 1963, the same year he was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London. In 1967 he was appointed as Sadleirian Professor of Pure Mathematics at Cambridge. In 1969 he became Head of the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics. He retired in 1984.

Mathematical work[edit]

He initially worked on elliptic curves. After a period when he worked on geometry of numbers and diophantine approximation, he returned in the later 1950s to the arithmetic of elliptic curves, writing a series of papers connecting the Selmer group with Galois cohomology and laying some of the foundations of the modern theory of infinite descent[citation needed]. His best-known single result may be the proof that the Tate-Shafarevich group, if it is finite, must have order that is a square; the proof being by construction of an alternating form.

Cassels often studied individual Diophantine equations by algebraic number theory and p-adic methods.

His publications include 200 papers. His advanced textbooks have influenced generations of mathematicians; some of Cassels's books have remained in print for decades.



  1. ^ https://listserv.nodak.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=NMBRTHRY;b55dbdac.1508
  2. ^ Makes hilarious reading, thanks to Cassels' wit, because we have a first rate mathematician commenting on the third rate mathematics of much of economics. It contains statements such as "the authors of this theorem think that they have proved such and such."

External links[edit]