News archive 2007
Mathematician elected LMS President12 Dec 2007, PR 201/07
It has been announced that Professor Brian Davies, FRS, one of Britain's leading mathematical analysts, has been elected President of the London Mathematical Society for two years from November 2007. Professor Davies is a member of the Department of Mathematics at King's College London.
The London Mathematical Society was founded in 1865 for the promotion and extension of mathematical knowledge and was granted a Royal Charter in 1965. It is the major British learned society for Mathematics, with a nationwide membership.
The London Mathematical Society is deeply involved in promoting mathematics as well as developing its grant-giving activities and learned publications. Professor Davies comments: ‘Over the last 20 years mathematicians have learned that we cannot live in ivory towers any more than anyone else. The Government now realizes that we make a vital contribution to the economy, but this message has to be repeated constantly lest they forget. It underlies most areas of science and finance and is the ultimate transferable skill. I am really looking forward to the challenge of leading it.'
Professor Davies has published more than 200 research papers and several monographs in his area of interest, spectral theory. This is the study of oscillations or vibrations both as an abstract subject and in their many applications. These range from quantum theory to the design of the Millennium Bridge – which failed because the analysis of horizontal vibrations caused by people walking across the bridge was incomplete. The development of body scanners is another field in which mathematical analysis plays an essential role.
His latest book, Linear Operators and Their Spectra, was published earlier this year. It is a wide ranging but self-contained account of the spectral theory of non-self-adjoint linear operators and was described as the ‘first genuinely accessible account of non-self-adjoint operator theory and spectral theory'. It also provides the first account of pseudospectra written from a pure mathematical point of view.
He also wrote the popular science book Science in the Looking Glass: What do Scientists Really Know in 2003, which has recently been issued in paperback. In it he discusses the basis for scientists' claims to knowledge about the world. He looks at science historically, emphasising not only the achievements of scientists from Galileo onwards, but also their mistakes. He rejects the claim that all scientific knowledge is provisional, by citing examples from chemistry, biology and geology. A major feature of the book is its defence of the view that mathematics was invented rather than discovered.
Following graduation with a first class degree and appointments at the University of Oxford, Professor Davies joined King's College in 1981 as Professor of Mathematics and was Head of the Department from 1990-3. He has edited a number of mathematical journals and book series and has been Visiting Professor at Cornell University and California Institute of Technology. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1995 and a Fellow of King's College London the following year. He served as a panel member for the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise and has been a member of the National Advisory Board of the Isaac Newton Institute.
Notes to editors
Department of Mathematics
Mathematics has been studied at King's College London throughout its history and the first Professor of Mathematics was appointed in 1830. Since then the Department of Mathematics has established a record of accomplishments in central areas of pure mathematics and applied mathematics. It received a rating of 5 in both pure and applied mathematics in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (2001). The Department provides degree programmes and course modules for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in mathematics. www.mth.kcl.ac.uk
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher 2007) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has 19,300 students from more than 130 countries, and 5,000 employees. King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. The College is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings and has an annual income of approximately £400 million. An investment of £500 million has been made in the redevelopment of its estate.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, social sciences, the health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres – more than any other university.
Melanie Gardner, Public Relations Department, King's College London, Tel: 020 7848 3073 Email: email@example.com
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