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Emeritus Professor Alfred Goldie, MA

Alfred Goldie

Members will be very sorry to learn of the death, on 8 October 2005, of Emeritus Professor Alfred Goldie.

Born in 1920, Professor Goldie attended Wolverhampton Grammar School before being awarded a State Scholarship and an Open Major Scholarship at St Johns College, Cambridge, to read Mathematics. He was awarded a First in Part II of the Mathematical Tripos in 1941, then leaving Cambridge for war work on the staff of the Armament Research Department, Ministry of Supply. He received his BA degree from Cambridge in 1942, and proceeded to the MA in 1946. In the latter year, Professor Goldie entered academic life as an assistant lecturer at the University of Nottingham. He took up a lectureship in Pure Mathematics at Kings College, Newcastle, in 1948, becoming Senior Lecturer in 1958 and Reader in Algebra in 1960.

In 1963, Professor Goldie was appointed to the second Chair in Pure Mathematics at Leeds, with a specific brief to foster research and postgraduate teaching. By the time of his arrival in Leeds, he was already an established mathematician, with an international reputation as an algebraist, particularly in the theory of rings. His early research had been concerned with a study of general algebraic systems, and had led to a number of papers. However, in the early 1950s, his interests switched to ring theory and the new ideas that had recently been introduced by the then leading authority in this field, Professor Nathan Jacobson of Yale University. Professor Goldie initially collaborated with his colleague at Newcastle, Professor F F Bonsall, in the successful application of Professor Jacobsons work to the study of Banach algebras, their paper Annihilator Algebras, published in 1954 in The Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, producing considerable interest. Professor Goldie went on to produce seminal papers on the theory of non-commutative rings, his discoveries being widely hailed as a very considerable advance and leading to an invitation from Professor Jacobson to spend the year 1960-61 at Yale. Goldies Theorem was to provide the cornerstone of a whole body of future research; substantial applications of the theorem were made by Professor Goldie and his students, whilst many doctoral theses and publications by researchers in other parts of the world had their origins in his work.

With Professor Goldies example and guidance, the Department of Pure Mathematics at Leeds achieved a very considerable reputation nationally and internationally for the quality and calibre of its research. A most successful Head of Department from 1970 to 1972, and Chairman of the School of Mathematics from 1976 to 1979, Professor Goldie also held a number of visiting appointments in the USA, Canada and other European countries. He was a strong believer in the stimulus of international collaboration and he and his colleagues in the Department, including John McConnell, Christopher Robson and Toby Stafford (the first two of whom had been his research students), enjoyed fruitful interactions with a series of distinguished academic visitors to Leeds. Professor Goldie was awarded the prestigious Senior Berwick Prize of the London Mathematical Society, the major British learned society for Mathematics, in 1970, and served on the Council of the Society, being made its Vice-President for the period from 1978 to 1980. A man of vivid personality and strong opinions, he was a tireless advocate of the need for proper resources to sustain the international quality of mathematics and the other sciences in this country.

Professor Goldie retired from his Chair in September 1986, when the title of Emeritus Professor was conferred upon him by the University. His retirement was also marked by an international symposium in Leeds. In the words of the Senate resolution adopted on his retirement at this symposium the extent of his fame, and the affection and admiration felt for him, were movingly demonstrated by over one hundred participants from around the world. The fact that the symposium, focused on his research achievements, was followed by a research conference with no significant discontinuity, demonstrated the continuing influence of his work. Professor Goldie remained active in his subject after retirement, including serving as one of the editors of the Journal of Algebra.

Professor Goldie is survived by his second wife, Margaret, and a son, John, and two daughters, Isobel and Helen.