Ian Sneddon

Times obituary

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Cultured Glasgow mathematician

Professor Ian Sneddon, OBE, mathematician, was born on December 8, 1919. He died on November 4 aged 80.

Ian Sneddon was one of Scotland's most eminent mathematicians. A graduate of Glasgow University, he took the new Simson Chair of Mathematics there in 1956 and remained until his retirement in 1985. At one time he declined the vice-chancellorship at an English university, preferring to remain in Glasgow and to get on with more mathematics.

Besides publishing many papers, he established a small group of young researchers, sharing his insights with them and helping them in every possible way.

Ian Naismith Sneddon was educated at Hyndland School and at the Universities of Glasgow and Cambridge. He began working as a scientific officer with the Ministry of Supply, concerned with the mathematical theory of elasticity relating to armaments.

After the war he spent a year in Bristol working on nuclear physics and collaborating with Neville Mott on Wave Mechanics and its Applications (1948). He then returned to Glasgow as a lecturer in natural philosophy for four years. By this time his main interest was in classical applied mathematics rather than in theoretical physics. He then spent six years as the first Professor of Mathematics at the new University of North Staffordshire at Keele, before returning to Glasgow.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1958 and twice served as a vice-president. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983.

He served on the boards of the Scottish National Orchestra, the John Currie Singers and the Citizens' Theatre, and was a member of the advisory council of Scottish Opera. He was appointed OBE in 1969.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons.

© The Times, 2000