Mathematics tradition

Mathematics has a long tradition at King's. Here are four famous mathematical Fellows:

William Oughtred

William Oughtred (1574-1660) came to King's in 1592 and became a Fellow here. He learned little about mathematics at school (Eton) and was largely self-taught. He is credited as the inventor of the slide rule in 1622. He also introduced many of the mathematical symbols and abbreviations we use today, like '×' for multiplication, '::' for proportion, and 'sin' and 'cos' for the sine and cosine functions. His Clavis Mathematicae (The Key to Mathematics)(1631) became a classic work and was used by Isaac Newton amongst others.

Frank Ramsey

Frank Ramsey (1903-1930) was elected a Fellow in 1924 at the tender age of 22. He did important work on the foundations of mathematics and wrote influential papers about economics and philosophy. In mathematics he is best known for introducing the combinatorial principles which are the basis for Ramsey Theory, one of the most subtle and remarkable areas of modern combinatorics. He died tragically young in 1930.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing (1912-1954) came to King's in 1931 and was elected a Fellow in 1935 on the basis of his independent proof of the Central Limit Theorem. He is popularly known for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park in the World War Two. His 1937 paper introducing the Turing Machine gave the first clear mathematical analysis of the notion of computation. From 1945 he was involved in the development and use of practical computers, first at the National Physical Laboratory and then at Manchester University. Throughout his life he maintained wide mathematical interests, and before he died had completed some pioneering work in mathematical biology.


Philip Hall (1904-1982) came to King's as an undergraduate in 1922, and was elected a Fellow in 1927. He remained a Fellow until his death in 1982. Most of his work was in Group Theory, and related areas of Algebra. The early Hall's Theorem characterises Soluble Groups. Hall's Marriage Theorem is one of a series of basic combinatorial principles. Perhaps his most influential contribution was the Hall polynomials, which play an important role in Representation Theory.

These mathematicians were all much loved figures and in keeping with their memory we encourage friendly cooperation and support amongst our students and researchers.

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