The Sir Edmund Whittaker Memorial Prize

The following is taken from the Edinburgh Mathematical Society Committee Minute Book. It is dated 6 December 1957.

The Sir Edmund Whittaker Memorial Prize

Sir Edmund Whittaker died in Edinburgh on 24 March, 1956. He had been Professor of Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh from 1912 to 1946 and was an Honorary Member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. The Society owes much to Sir Edmund for its present position as a forum of mathematical thought and expression in Scotland and for the prominent place which its publications take in the world-wide dissemination of mathematical knowledge.

A meeting of the Society which was addressed by Professor Temple, F.R.S., was held in the Mathematical Institute, 16 Chambers Street, Edinburgh, on Friday, 17th May 1957, to commemorate Sir Edmund's work. Present at this meeting were Sir Edmund's widow, Lady Whittaker, and members of her family. One of Sir Edmund's sons, Dr J M Whittaker, on behalf of Lady Whittaker and family, asked the Society to accept the sum of £500 to be used to provide a prize which would be awarded for meritorious work in mathematics by young mathematicians in Scotland. It was suggested that this would be a fitting memorial to Sir Edmund who had always shown a helpful and kindly interest in young mathematicians and who, through the Mathematical Society and in other ways, had done so much to stimulate mathematical work in Scotland. It was left to the Committee of the Society to work out details for the administration of the award. The President received the cheque on behalf of the Society expressing the appreciation of the Society for the generous gift.

The Committee of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society considered this matter at a meeting held in the Master's Room, St Salvator's College, St Andrews, on Saturday, 1 June 1957.

The Treasurer was asked to invest the £500 in guilt-edged securities interest on which at the moment stands about 5% so that the sum of about £25 would be available each year.

The following rules governing the award of the Whittaker Prize were formulated by the Committee:

  1. Prizes will be awarded for published work of particular merit in pure mathematics, applied mathematics, mathematical statistics, or mathematical physics.

  2. The awards will be made by the Committee of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society on the recommendation of a standing Committee (hereafter the Prize Committee) consisting of the Professors of Mathematics in the four Scottish Universities and the Professor of Mathematics in the Royal College of Science and Technology (ex officio). This Committee may seek advice from other persons who by virtue of their special qualifications are competent to judge the merits of a particular piece of work. Members of the Prize Committee are not eligible for an award. Meetings of the Prize Committee will be arranged at appropriate times by the Secretary of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society.

  3. A candidate for an award must be under 35 years of age (a person whose 35th birthday is in the session of the award qualifies) and must be in at least one of the following categories:
    (a) Graduates of a Scottish University;
    (b) Associates of the Royal College of Science and Technology;
    (c) Persons engaged in post-graduate mathematical work in Scotland for at least three years.

  4. Normally one or more prizes of at least £50 will be awarded to four yearly intervals, but if the Prize Committee considers that no work worthy of an award has been published by those eligible at a time when the award falls due, it may withhold its recommendation until such a time as a suitable work appears.

  5. The Committee of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society may, at the request of the Prize Committee, waive any of the above rules in cases which merit special consideration.

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School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland