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Wednesday, 3 December 1986, 12:00AM

Why Geometry?

Professor Clive Kilmister

The Professorship of Geometry established by Sir Thomas Gresham is the oldest Chair of mathematics in Britain, predating the Savilian Professorship at Oxford by 23 years and the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge by 67 years. What induced Thomas Gresham to create the role and has it been a success? What precisely did he mean to include under the term 'geometry'?

professor-clive-kilmister

Professor Clive Kilmister was the Gresham Professor of Geometry between 1972 and 1988, but he otherwise spent his academic career at King’s College London from 1950 until his retirement in 1984.

He was both an undergraduate and postgraduate student at Queen Mary College London. After his PhD related to Arthur Eddington’s later work, which was supervised by George McVittie, Professor Kilmister became an Assistant Lecturer in the King’s Mathematics Department. When Hermann Bondi arrived in 1954, Clive joined him and Felix Pirani in establishing the King’s Gravitational Theory Group. This was one of the small number of centres which, in the 1950s, spearheaded the international renaissance of research into Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Professor Kilmister was an applied mathematician who had broad interests. These included the history, philosophy and teaching of mathematics. At various times he was President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science and President of the Mathematical Association. In addition to his research papers Professor Kilmister wrote books on many different topics ranging from classical dynamics and relativity to language and logic and Bertrand Russell.

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