John Hammersley

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John Hammersley
Born(1920-03-21)March 21, 1920
DiedMay 2, 2004(2004-05-02) (aged 84)
Alma materSedbergh School
Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
Trinity College, Oxford
Doctoral studentsGeoffrey Grimmett
John Spouge
Dominic Welsh

John Michael Hammersley (21 March 1920 – 2 May 2004)[1][2][3] was a British mathematician best known for his foundational work in the theory of self-avoiding walks and percolation theory. He was born in Helensburgh in Dunbartonshire, and educated at Sedbergh School. He started reading mathematics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge but was called up to join the Royal Artillery in 1941. During his time in the army he worked on ballistics.

John Hammersley (left) with Harry Kesten in the Mathematical Institute, Oxford University, 1993

He graduated in mathematics in 1948. He held a number of positions, both in and outside academia. His book Monte Carlo Methods with David Handscomb was published in 1964.

He was an advocate of problem solving, and an opponent of abstraction in mathematics, taking part in the New math debate.

He was a Fellow (later Professorial Fellow) of Trinity College, Oxford from 1961, Reader in Mathematical Statistics at Oxford University from 1969, and elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grimmett, G.; Welsh, D. (2007). "John Michael Hammersley. 21 March 1920 -- 2 May 2004: Elected FRS 1976". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 53: 163. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2007.0001.
  2. ^ Geoffrey Grimmett, Dominic Welsh. "John Michael Hammersley (1920–2004)". arXiv:math.PR/0610862.
  3. ^ David R. Wood. "The Academic Family Tree of John M. Hammersley" (PDF).