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Robin Gandy

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Robin Gandy
Robin Oliver Gandy

(1919-09-22)22 September 1919
Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire, England
Died20 November 1995(1995-11-20) (aged 76)
Oxford, England
EducationAbbotsholme School
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (PhD)
Known forRecursion theory
Scientific career
FieldsMathematical logic
ThesisOn Axiomatic Systems in Mathematics and Theories in Physics (1953)
Doctoral advisorAlan Turing[1][2]
Doctoral students

Robin Oliver Gandy (22 September 1919 – 20 November 1995) was a British mathematician and logician.[4] He was a friend, student, and associate of Alan Turing, having been supervised by Turing during his PhD at the University of Cambridge,[1] where they worked together.[5][6][7]

Education and early life[edit]

Robin Gandy was born in the village of Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire, England.[4] A great-great-grandson of the architect and artist Joseph Gandy (1771–1843), he was the son of Thomas Hall Gandy (1876–1948), a general practitioner, and Ida Caroline née Hony (1885–1977), a social worker and later an author.[8] His brother was the diplomat Christopher Gandy and his sister was the physician Gillian Gandy.[9]

Educated at Abbotsholme School in Derbyshire, Gandy took two years of the Mathematical Tripos, at King's College, Cambridge, before enlisting for military service in 1940. During World War II he worked on radio intercept equipment at Hanslope Park, where Alan Turing was working on a speech encipherment project, and he became one of Turing's lifelong friends and associates. In 1946, he completed Part III of the Mathematical Tripos, then began studying for a PhD under Turing's supervision. He completed his thesis, On axiomatic systems in mathematics and theories in Physics, in 1952.[1] He was a member of the Cambridge Apostles.[10]

Career and research[edit]

Gandy held positions at the University of Leicester, the University of Leeds, and the University of Manchester. He was a visiting associate professor at Stanford University from 1966 to 1967, and held a similar position at University of California, Los Angeles in 1968. In 1969, he moved to Wolfson College, Oxford, where he became Reader in Mathematical Logic.

Gandy is known for his work in recursion theory. His contributions include the Spector–Gandy theorem, the Gandy Stage Comparison theorem, and the Gandy Selection theorem. He also made a significant contribution to the understanding of the Church–Turing thesis, and his generalisation of the Turing machine is called a Gandy machine.[11]

Gandy died in Oxford, England on 20 November 1995.[4][12]


The Robin Gandy Buildings, a pair of accommodation blocks at Wolfson College, Oxford, are named after Gandy.[13][14] A one-day centenary Gandy Colloquium was held on 22 February 2020 at the College in Gandy's honour, including contributions by some of his students;[15][16] the speakers were Marianna Antonutti Marfori (Munich), Andrew Hodges (Oxford), Martin Hyland (Cambridge), Jeff Paris (Manchester), Göran Sundholm (Leiden), Christine Tasson (Paris), and Philip Welch (Bristol).


  1. ^ a b c Gandy, Robin Oliver (1953). On axiomatic systems in mathematics and theories in physics. repository.cam.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. doi:10.17863/CAM.16125. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.590164. Free access icon
  2. ^ a b c Robin Gandy at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Hyland, John Martin Elliott (1975). Recursion Theory on the Countable Functionals. bodleian.ox.ac.uk (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.460247.
  4. ^ a b c Yates, Mike (24 November 1995). "Obituary: Robin Gandy". The Independent. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  5. ^ Hodges, Andrew (1983). Alan Turing: The Enigma. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-49207-1.
  6. ^ "Notices". The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic. 2 (1): 121–125. March 1996. doi:10.1017/s1079898600007988. JSTOR 421052. S2CID 246638427.
  7. ^ Moschovakis, Yannis & Yates, Mike (September 1996). "In Memoriam: Robin Oliver Gandy, 1919–1995". The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic. 2 (3): 367–370. doi:10.1017/s1079898600007873. JSTOR 420996. S2CID 120785678.
  8. ^ "Ida Gandy - Writer". Aldbourne Heritage Centre. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  9. ^ Morley, C.; Cursiter, J. (2 June 2016). "Obituary: Gillian Gandy". BMJ. 353: i3106. doi:10.1136/bmj.i3106. PMID 27256283. S2CID 41777853.
  10. ^ "Wolfson College salutes Robin Gandy on his centenary | Wolfson College, Oxford".
  11. ^ Wilfried Sieg, 2005, Church without dogma: axioms for computability, Carnegie Mellon University
  12. ^ Robin Gandy — The Alan Turing Scrapbook, archived at Archive.Today
  13. ^ "Accommodation types – Robin Gandy Buildings". UK: Wolfson College, Oxford. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Robin Gandy Buildings, Wolfson". Flickr. 6 April 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  15. ^ "The Gandy Colloquium". UK: Wolfson College, Oxford. 22 February 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  16. ^ Isaacson, Daniel (2020). "Wolfson College salutes Robin Gandy on his centenary". UK: Wolfson College, Oxford. Retrieved 14 April 2020.