EMS St Andrews Colloquium 1926

The Edinburgh Mathematical Society held the second of its Edinburgh Colloquia in 1914. The 1914 Colloquium ended as World War I was starting and clearly the disruption in Europe over the next years prevented any further Colloquia being organised. However, after the war ended and life began to return to normal, the Society decided to start a new series of Colloquia to be held in St Andrews.

The first of these was held 3 August to 13 August, 1926.
An announcement of the Colloquium appeared in The Mathematical Gazette in May 1926. The full reference of the announcement is St Andrews Mathematical Colloquium, 1926, The Mathematical Gazette 13 (182) (May 1926), 135.

  1. Announcement of the St Andrews Mathematical Colloquium, 1926.

    The version we give below of the announcement is from the Application for Membership Leaflet:

    Under the auspices of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, a Mathematical Colloquium will be held in St Andrews from 3rd August to 13th August, 1926.

    The following courses of lectures have been arranged:

    1. The Significance of Dynamics for Scientific Thought, by George D Birkhoff, Ph.D.
      Professor of Mathematics in Harvard University, U.S.A.

    2. Recent Developments in Algebraic Geometry, by H W Richmond, LL.D., F.R.S.
      Fellow of King's College, Cambridge.
      An important extension of Geometry made during the last fifty years is the study of Geometry of more than three dimensions. As a logical method of approach to this, it will first be shown how greatly Plane Geometry is dependent upon that of space; and then how much the latter is simplified in places by the notion of a Four-Dimensional Geometry.

    3. Recent Developments in Applied Mathematics (Gravitation), by S Brodetsky, D.Sc.
      Professor of Applied Mathematics in the University of Leeds.

    4. The History of Mathematics in Scotland, by G A Gibson, M.A., LL.D., F.R.S.E.
      Professor of Mathematics in the University of Glasgow.
      Economic condition of Scotland: the Founding of three Universities in the Fifteenth Century: range of Mathematics and its position in the curriculum. The effect of the Reformation. The Founding of Edinburgh University. Conditions in the Seventeenth Century. Advances in the Eighteenth Century. The Founding of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
      In the course, the work of Napier, Gregory, Simson, Maclaurin, Stirling, Matthew Stewart, etc., will be considered.

    5. An Introduction to the Invariant Theory, by H W Turnbull, M.A., F.R.S.E.
      Fereday Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, Professor of Mathematics in the United College, University of St Andrews.
      History of the concept "invariant." Growth of Algebraic method: interplay of Algebra and Geometry in construction of symbolic methods. Bearings on Geometry, Physics and the theory of numbers. The "Chemico-Algebraic" theory. Present day developments.

    6. Informal Talks will, it is expected, be given by Professor E T Whittaker, F.R.S., and others.

  2. Colloquium Arrangements.

    The following is taken from a handout prepared by E. T. Copson:

    All lectures will be delivered in University Hall. The opening address of the Colloquium will be given at 8.30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3.

    The University Hall

    is situated at a distance of half a mile from the Railway Station, and is situated at the corner of Kennedy gardens and Carnegie Gardens.

    Golf, Tennis, etc.

    Golf can be played on all four courses at very moderate charges. There are two grass tennis courts at the University Hall, for use of members. In Kinburn Park, (five minutes walk from the Hall) are nine excellent public hard courts. Competitions in both golf and tennis will be arranged.

  3. Report on the St Andrews Mathematical Colloquium, 1926.

    The report of the meeting given below is from the Minute Book of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society:

    St Andrews Colloquium, August 1926.

    The Society held a Summer School at the University Hall, St Andrews, from August 3rd to 13th. It was attended by approximately eighty people, from the leading British Universities and also from Australia, the United States, Russia, Egypt and India.

    On the evening of the 3rd, Professor Whittaker gave the opening address. He remarked upon the success of the two previous colloquia (1913 and 1914) which the Society had held. He considered that they were especially important in that they brought together the two branches of the mathematical profession, the academic and the scholastic. he hoped that the 1926 Colloquium would not be less successful than the previous ones. Professor Turnbull welcomed the members of the Colloquium on behalf of the Principal and the Senatus of the University of St Andrews. He said that he had a singular advantage in that he had had experience of both sides of the mathematical profession.

    On the 4th, Professor G. D. Birkhoff gave two lectures on The Significance of Dynamics for Scientific Thought. He discussed some recent work on the theory of orbits, and possible applications to the theory of spectra. He also dealt with the philosophical aspects of dynamics.

    Professor G. A. Gibson gave two lectures on the 6th and 9th on the History of Mathematics in Scotland.

    Courses of five lectures were given by Dr H. W. Richmond on Recent Advances in Geometry, Professor S. Brodetsky on Gravitation, Professor H. W. Turnbull on The Invariant Theory.

    On the evening of the 9th, Professor H F. Baker gave an informal talk on The Passing of Metrical Geometry. He emphasised the great beauty and simplicity introduced into geometry by the use of projective rather than metrical ideas.

    On the evening of the 11th, Professor E. T. Whittaker gave an informal talk on Hilbert's World-Function. He traced the gradual development of the attempt to explain all physics by means of a single variational principle, beginning with the optical principle of least time, through the work of Hamilton on least action, up to the most recent work of Hilbert.

    On the evening of the twelfth, a vigorous discussion, led by Professor H. F. Baker, was held on the teaching of geometry in schools. The general trend of the discussion was that some attempt at the logical development of geometry is necessary, though the use of practical work in the early stages was advantageous. The suggestion that analytical geometry might profitably be discussed in schools and synthetic geometry left to the University was considered inadvisable and impractical. This was the last meeting of the Colloquium, which dispersed on the morning of the 13th.

JOC/EFR April 2016

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