St Andrews Mathematical Colloquium, 1972

The Edinburgh Mathematical Society held the St Andrews Colloquium in St Andrews from 12 to 22 July 1972.

A picture of the 1972 Colloquium is available at THIS LINK.


  1. The Lecturers of the St Andrews Mathematical Colloquium, 1972.

    The following gave seven lectures:


    (a) Professor Paul Halmos (Indiana) - "The connection between linear algebra and operator theory."

    (b) Professor Frank Harary (Michigan) - "Graph theory."

    (c) Professor Steven Vajda (Birmingham) - "Mathematical programming."

    The following arranged seminars:


    (d) Professor Paul Cohn (Bedford College, London) - Algebra seminars.

    (e) Professor Jim Eells (Warwick) - Global analysis seminars.

  2. Paul Halmos describes his visit to the 1972 Colloquium.

    The following is taken from Halmos' book "I want to be a mathematician: An automathography":


    St Andrews is a small town (by now its population must be about 12,000) 35 miles north-east of Edinburgh, looking out on the North Sea. Its university is the oldest in Scotland, and the third oldest in Britain; it began in the early 1400's.

    I always liked Scotland. I like its people and the way they talk: I like the countryside, the views, the beer, the sheep, and even the climate. To be sure, its dark from December till March, and it rains a lot - but the spring is breathtakingly beautiful, and the rain is soft, gentle kind that hardly dampens your spirit or your clothes. When I was there in 1972, the hottest day of the summer came in mid July; the thermometer reached 73.

    Once every four years - in leap years to be exact - the Edinburgh Mathematical Society holds a colloquium in St Andrews. An official letter from Arthur Erdélyi reached me in November 1970, on behalf of the Planning Committee of the 1972 Colloquium: would I deliver a course of six or seven lectures? Honour, yes; honorarium, no; travel expenses - we'll try our best to arrange something with the Science Research Council; but we'll definitely provide room and board for the ten days involved. Would I? Try and stop me! I accepted by return mail, and, in due course, arrived, lectured, and enjoyed every minute of it.

    I made some new friends at that colloquium and met several old ones. Tom Blyth was the junior faculty member at St Andrews who was saddled with the chore of local arrangements, and he discharged his duties very well. He had the three principal speakers to contend with (F Harary, S Vajda, and me) and about 150 others. Harary talked about graph theory, Vajda about mathematical programming, and I about the connection between linear algebra and operator theory - what else? John Howie, the chairman of the mathematics department at St Andrews, was pleasantly and efficiently hospitable, and Paul Cohn and Jim Eells were in charge of the afternoon seminars (on algebra and global analysis, respectively) that, after the morning lectures, filled out the day.

    The people I spent the most time with were Frank and Nora Smithies. Frank could be called the father (grandfather?) of functional analysis in Britain. He spent the greater part of his life in Cambridge, and his students and his students' students grew into many influential positions in the country. He is a wonderful man and always a pleasure to be with. He knows poetry and history and languages and, of course, mathematics: he has insight and wisdom and wit; he talks softly and precisely; he likes a glass or two of sherry before his dinner, and he smokes all the time.

    Obviously not all of us at the Colloquium were Britons, but most of the members were, and, in fact, as I remember, most of them either were Scots or lived in Scotland. There were many research level conversations, but the main purpose of the Colloquium seemed to be expository ... The St Andrews Colloquium is a serious mathematical gathering - but at the same time, it is a holiday. It is a mathematical holiday. I loved it the first time, returned to every session since then, and am planning to keep doing so for as many more leap years as I can.

  3. Norrie Everitt's report on the 1972 St Andrews Colloquium.

    From the minutes of the First Ordinary meeting of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society for session 1972-73:

    Professor Everitt reported on the Colloquium held at St Andrews, 12-22nd July, 1972. It had been successful in every way: there had been a large membership of 205; the three main courses of lectures, and the two sets of more specialised seminars, had been greatly enjoyed; and the social events and local arrangements had added greatly to the members' enjoyment of the hospitality afforded by St Andrews. The Colloquium had been self-financing apart from a grant of £100 from the Royal Society, and ended with a convincing surplus that would be used to support later Colloquia. Altogether, the Colloquium had made a real contribution to mathematics in Scotland.

  4. From the Minutes of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society Committee.

    The October 1971 minutes say that Professors Halmos, Harary and Vajda had accepted invitations to give lecture courses, and Professors Cohn and Eells had agreed to lead series of seminars.

  5. Comments on the 1972 Colloquium lectures.

    5.1. Edmund Robertson wrote:

    I first met Frank Harary in 1972 when he was one of the plenary speakers at the Edinburgh Mathematical Society Colloquium in St Andrews. This was the first conference in which I played a major organising role. Harary gave a series of inspiring lectures on graph theory which had a major influence of me and soon after I introduced graph theory into my undergraduate teaching.


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School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland
http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/ems/Colloquium_1972.html