Peter M. Neumann

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Peter M. Neumann

Neumann in 2008
Peter Michael Neumann

(1940-12-28)28 December 1940
Died18 December 2020(2020-12-18) (aged 79)
Oxford, England
AwardsSenior Whitehead Prize (2003) David Crighton Medal (2012)
Academic background
Alma materThe Queen's College, Oxford
Doctoral advisorGraham Higman
Academic work
DisciplineAlgebra and history of algebra
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
Doctoral students

Peter Michael Neumann OBE (28 December 1940 – 18 December 2020)[2] was a British mathematician. His fields of interest included the history of mathematics and Galois theory.


Born in December 1940, Neumann was a son of the German-born mathematicians Bernhard Neumann and Hanna Neumann. He gained a BA degree from The Queen's College, Oxford in 1963, and a DPhil degree from the University of Oxford in 1966.[2] Neumann was a Tutorial Fellow at the Queen's College, Oxford, and a lecturer at the University of Oxford.[3][when?] His research work was in the field of group theory. In 1987, Neumann won the Lester R. Ford Award of the Mathematical Association of America for his review of Harold Edwards' book Galois Theory.[4][5]

He was the first Chairman of the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust, from October 1996 to April 2004, succeeded by Bernard Silverman.[6]

Neumann showed in 1997 that Alhazen's problem (reflecting a light ray off a spherical mirror to hit a target) cannot be solved with a straightedge and compass construction. Although the solution is a straightforward application of Galois theory it settles the constructibility of one of the last remaining geometric construction problems posed in antiquity.[7]

In 2003, the London Mathematical Society awarded him the Senior Whitehead Prize.[8] He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.[9]

After retiring in 2008, he became an Emeritus Fellow at the Queen's College.

Neumann's work in the history of mathematics includes his 2011 publication The Mathematical Writings of Evariste Galois, an English language book of the work of by French mathematician Évariste Galois (1811–1832).[10] Neumann was a long-standing supporter of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, whose Neumann Prize is named in his honour.[11]

Neumann was the president of the Mathematical Association from 2015 to 2016.[2]

Neumann died from COVID-19 on 18 December 2020, ten days before his 80th birthday, during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.[12][13][14]

Personal life[edit]

Neumann married Sylvia Bull in 1962. She was a fellow mathematics undergraduate at Oxford, where they met.[13]


  1. ^ "Dr Peter M Neumann, O.B.E." The Queen's College, Oxford. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Leddy, Dorothy (2020). "M500 298". p. 21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Blackburn, Simon R.; Neumann, Peter M.; Venkataraman, Geetha (18 October 2007). Enumeration of Finite Groups (Cambridge Tracts in Mathematics) — About the Author. ISBN 978-0521882170.
  4. ^ The Lester R. Ford Award, MAA, retrieved 2010-02-01.
  5. ^ "Book Review of Galois Theory by Harold M. Edwards". Amer. Math. Monthly. 93: 407–411. 1986. doi:10.2307/2323619. JSTOR 2323619.
  6. ^ The UK Mathematics Trust Yearbook 2003–2004. United Kingdom Mathematics Trust. 2004. ISBN 0953682358.
  7. ^ Highfield, Roger (1 April 1997). "Don solves the last puzzle left by ancient Greeks". Electronic Telegraph. 676. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  8. ^ "List of Prizewinners". London Mathematical Society. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  9. ^ "Officers of the Order of the British Empire" (PDF). BBC News. UK: BBC. p. 32. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  10. ^ Neumann, Peter M. (2011). The Mathematical Writings of Evariste Galois. Heritage of European Mathematics. European Mathematical Society. ISBN 978-3037191040.
  11. ^ "Neumann Prize". UK: British Society for the History of Mathematics. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  12. ^ "Dr Peter Neumann (1940 – 2020)". News. London Mathematical Society. 21 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  13. ^ a b Neumann, David (4 January 2021). "Peter Neumann obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  14. ^ Cameron, Peter (18 December 2020). "Peter Neumann". Peter Cameron's blog. Retrieved 22 December 2020.

External links[edit]