Ian Porteous

Ian Porteous (1930-2011) was an undergraduate student in Edinburgh 1948-1952. Subsequently, he was both an undergraduate and a graduate student at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a Ph.D. in 1960 under the supervision of William Hodge and Michael Atiyah. He was at the University of Liverpool from 1959 until his retirement in 1998. He was active in research, principally in singularity theory - notably as the author of the Porteous formula (still widely used), and also in mathematical education. The Mathematical Reviews listing, the Wikipedia article, the Guardian obituary, the Scotsman obituary, and Peter Giblin's tribute together give a good account of Ian's achievements.

At Edinburgh Ian was awarded 4 class medals "Mathematical Physics" 1948-49, "Mathematics: General Analysis" 1950-51, "Higher Algebra and Geometry" 1950-51, 1951-52, and also the "Napier Medal and G.B. Gadgil Prize" in 1952. Ian's widow Shona and son Rob have presented the 5 medals to the School. The photographs of the medals below were taken by Carmen Rovi:

Class medals are no longer awarded, but the Napier Medal and G.B.Gadgil Prize are still going strong. Ian's brother Hugh was awarded it in 1965. The Latin text of the Napier Medal has the English translation: "In memory of Baron Napier of Merchiston this medal was donated for presentaton annually for excellence in the study of Mathematics among the students of Edinburgh by W.W.Rouse Ball, M.A., Fellow of the College of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity at the University of Cambridge."

Page last modified on Sunday December 15, 2013 10:18:24 UTC