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The Wit and Wisdom of Augustus De Morgan

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“It is easier to square the circle than to get round a mathematician”

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William De Morgan’s father, Augustus De Morgan, was Professor of Mathematics at University College London. Augustus published prodigiously, is celebrated for his work in logic and is well-known as the founding President of the London Mathematical Society. He was renowned as a teacher and one of his most famous pupils was Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, who is recognised for her work on Charles Babbage's general purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. William attended some mathematical classes at UCL although perhaps not quite as many as his father would have liked! As well as being an accomplished mathematician, Augustus was a clever and witty wielder of the pen. In this talk, I shall describe the multifaceted mathematical world of Augustus De Morgan.

Professor June Barrow-Green

Professional biography

I am Professor of History of Mathematics in the School of Mathematics and Statistics having joined the OU as a full-time PhD student in 1989. I worked in an art gallery in London for several years before studying mathematics as an undergraduate at Kings College London. I then worked in the City for two years before returning to Kings to study for an MSc in mathematics, after which I went to the OU. I chose the OU for my PhD study because, at the time, it was the only university in the country which offered the opportunity for graduate study in history of mathematics in a mathematics department.

I am chair of the International Commission on the History of Mathematics, and a member of the Council of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, having served as the Society’s President. I am also the Archive Curator for the IMU, and a Visiting Professor at the LSE. I was an elected member of the Council of the London Mathematical Society and served as the Society's Librarian (2007-2018). I have been invited to speak at the ICM 2022 in St Petersburg.

In 2021 I was awarded the Royal Society Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal for my research in 19th and 20th century mathematics.

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Organiser The De Morgan Foundation

Organiser of The Wit and Wisdom of Augustus De Morgan

The De Morgan Foundation and the De Morgan Collection

The De Morgan Foundation owns an unparalleled collection of ceramics and oil paintings by William and Evelyn De Morgan. The husband and wife duo were key proponents of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the late 19th and early 20th Century.

The De Morgan Foundation is a registered, independent charity that receives no revenue funding from the government. All income goes towards managing the care of the De Morgan Collection, loans, tours, research and educational activities. We rely on the generosity of our Friends and supporters to enable us to carry out this important work.

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