Edinburgh Mathematical Society Centenary Meeting

The following is an extract from the minutes of the Fourth Ordinary Meeting of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society held in the New Senate Hall, Old College, University of Edinburgh, at 5.00 p.m. on Friday 4th February 1983:


The following were nominated for Ordinary Membership of the Society:

Dr K A Brown and Dr S J Pride.

The speakers

The President then introduced the speaker Professor Michael Atiyah, Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford. He expressed the Society's good fortune, on this special occasion, of having as speaker an outstanding mathematician with a high international reputation, among whose many honours is the Fields Medal awarded in Moscow in 1966. The President noted, with particular pleasure, that the speaker is an Honorary Member of the Society.

Professor Atiyah addressed the Society on:

"Angular Momentum, Convex Polyhedra, and Algebraic Geometry".
With the help of two overhead projectors and colourful transparencies, he delivered a lively survey lecture, drawing on several branches of mathematics. The central theme was a result (Koushnirenko) which relates the number of solutions of a set of polynomial equations to the volume of the convex hull of the index set. He gave elementary examples and then a proof based on symplectic geometry and complex projective space. This was motivated, in its most elementary form, by Archimedes' theorem on the surface areas of related spheres and cylinders, and by ideas of angular momentum and Hamiltonian dynamics of uncoupled harmonic oscillators. Among various extensions and corollaries, the method could be used to evaluate a class of Fourier transforms. The results coincide with the stationary phase approximation but in this case are exact.

The President then called upon Professor G F Roach, last year's President, who initiated the preparations for the centenary, to give a vote of thanks.

Professor Roach referred to the first meeting of the Society held on 2nd February, 1883 in the Mathematical Classroom of Old College just a few paces away. This was devoted to formulating rules of the Society. The first meeting of a mathematical nature was on 12th March 1883 and included a survey lecture by Professor Chrystal on "Present Fields of Mathematical Research". He observed that, in 1983, few mathematicians are able to give such an overview, but Professor Atiyah is one of these few, and it was therefore especially fitting that he should speak on this occasion. He concluded by thanking Professor Atiyah for a memorable lecture.

In adjourning the meeting, the President reminded the meeting of the arrangements for the reception and dinner and announced that the Minute Book would be available at the reception to be signed by all members and guests.

The meeting ended at 6.25 p.m.

The meeting was followed by a reception and dinner. Details are given at THIS LINK


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